I think most of us are aware that eating healthy can help prevent us from getting cancer, but how those foods work in our favor is less understood. Much of it comes down to the antioxidants and phytochemicals that the fruits and vegetables offer. These “special” food components work hard to protect the cells of the body from dangerous compounds that are found in the food we eat as well is in the environment. They also work to protect against cell damage and mutations of the cell. So, what exactly are those foods that pack a mean punch?
- Broccoli: Phytochemicals called glucosinolates are found in broccoli and various other cruciferous vegetables such as kale, cauliflower, and cabbage and work to produce protective enzymes that guard against cancer, detoxify harmful substances like pollutants in the environment, and act as an antimicrobial agent by fighting bacteria such as H. Pylori.
- Garlic: Stinky, but effective. Those same sulfur compounds that cause you to have bad breath are also thought to halt the formation of cancer causing substances in the body. It also speeds the repair of damaged DNA, and works to kill cancer cells that have formed. It also fights harmful bacteria and decreases the risk of colon cancer. This is most effective when consuming actual garlic from cloves, not a supplement.
- Strawberries: Strawberries, and berries in general are packed with antioxidants such as ellagic acid such as vitamin C which works to build up the enzymes that can destroy cancer causing agents and decrease the speed of tumor growth. They also contain flavonoids and anthocyanins, additional powerful antioxidants.
- Tomatoes: Tomatoes, especially cooked tomatoes, like those found in spaghetti or pizza sauce, are rich in lycopene, a very powerful antioxidant that can greatly reduce the risk of prostate cancer and others by halting the growth of tumors by interfering with cell growth, and boosting the immune system.
- Carrots: Cooked carrots that is! Cooked carrots are high in the antioxidant beta-carotene, which is believed to protect the cell membranes from damage and toxins as well as to slow the growth of cancer cells.
Incorporating these helpful foods into your diet as well as making sure to get plenty of exercise, protecting yourself through self screenings and check-ups, and practicing prevention habits will go a long way to help keep you cancer-free.
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