FOODS TO FIGHT BREAST CANCER
FOODS TO FIGHT BREAST CANCER
October marks Breast Cancer Awareness month, a time to come together for the cure and to create awareness for the tools already available to us! As a functional medicine provider, I focus on the root causes of a condition. This can be seen as addressing the why or origin of a chronic health condition vs. silencing the symptoms. When looking at chronic conditions, a functional medicine approach examines the epigenome or environmental impact of our genetic code.
The epigenome concept is very empowering to the individual as it states that our environment including toxins, stress levels, nutrients, sleep patterns, etc. have the ability to up-regulate “turn on” or down-regulate “turn off” specific gene expression. So someone could have a gene that is positive for breast cancer but based on their epigenome it may or may not be expressed “activated”. As a registered dietitian, I naturally go to diet as an equal impact on both ends of the spectrum. From trans-fats to antioxidants, foods and food-like products can play a great role on our health and disease risk.
TOP 3 CANCER PREVENTING/TREATING FOODS
These plant-based compounds protect DNA in our cells from oxidative damage caused by free radicals. Antioxidants are found in significantly higher levels in sustainable or organic living soil. When a plant has to defend itself from pests, insects, drought, etc. it builds up a shield of antioxidants. Plants that are provided a synthetic shield do not produce as many antioxidants or vital compounds! Eating fruits, vegetables, and herbs from your local farmer should have the most amount of antioxidant capacity. Discuss with them their growing methods and pest treatment to make the best decision for nutrient density.
Both soluble and insoluble fiber play a role in cancer prevention and both are abundant in whole non-processed foods. Soluble fiber absorbs fluids and works like a gel filling up our stomach and slowing our breakdown of foods. This compound can help contribute to satiety which can promote weight loss which helps with cancer prevention. Insoluble fiber works to block the absorption of estrogen-based compounds whether phyto-estrogens (plant-based compounds) or xenoestrogens (substance-based compounds). The blocking of external estrogen absorption can play a significant role in cancer prevention, in fact research studies support women that consume 30g of fiber daily have a significant 32% risk reduction vs. those that consume 20g with a minimal 2% reduction. Aim for 35g of fiber per day for optimal disease prevention.
3. Cruciferous Vegetables:
Sulfur-containing cancer fighting compounds are abundant in these plants including broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts, bok choy, kale, and arugula. Sulforaphane is an abundant phytocompound (plant-based compound) found to prevent cancer and inhibit the growth of tumors in the body.
TOP 3 CANCER CAUSING FOODS
1. Trans Fats:
These predominantly man-made fats are highly toxic and have been shown to increase risk for heart disease, breast cancer, hormone imbalance, and colon cancer. These processed fats that are mechanically manipulated to mimic the structure and function of saturated fats while prolonging shelf life seem to be an economical solution, but at what cost? The statistics don’t lie…avoid foods that are fried, processed, or contain hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils.
2. Petroleum-derived food colorants:
These synthetic compounds bind to estrogen receptors and can interfere with hormonal balance causing an increased risk for estrogen-related cancers. The compounds are also lipid (fat) soluble meaning that they are absorbed in fat cells of the body. We are now seeing in research fat cells are functioning as endocrine (hormonal) cells which raises concern that these toxic food colorants may be trapped in our fat cells and may be functioning as hormonal cells!
These compounds are found in plastics including plastic water bottles. Xenoestrogens are estrogen-mimicking compounds that leach into foods or water supply and increase risk for hormone-related cancers. When acidic foods are stored in plastics or bottles are frozen and thawed out estrogen is leached out at a higher rate.