Lifestyle coach and Nutritionist Naini Setalvad .
I’ve always been fascinated by nutritional immunology. Foods have the power to prevent, reverse and retard diseases and certain foods can radically transform cancer survivors’ immunity to the extent that they don’t even realize they have had or continue to live with cancer. A typical cancer-fighting, antioxidant-rich diet includes fresh fruits, fresh vegetables (including juices), legumes, nuts, seeds, fresh coconut, cold pressed oils and cow’s ghee. The emphasis is on a largely vegetarian diet because there is growing evidence that damage from free radicals is minimized when we go green!
The PLENTY principle
I always counsel people to live by the PLENTY principle. Here’s what it means:
So what are antioxidants? They fight free radicals, boost immunity, fight visible signs of aging, viruses, and cellular degeneration. They’re the best things in the universe to keep you cancer-free and recover from treatment if you have had cancer. So here’s a look at all the possible antioxidant-rich foods you can have every day!
So you like your coffee? Luckily for you, that cuppa java is antioxidant-rich. That or a cup of green tea for its hit of free radical–neutralizing polyphenols and flavonoids. Combine that with a green smoothie made of coriander, mint, wheatgrass and spinach. The phytochemicals in coriander (hara dhaniya) fight cancers of the breast and liver. Did you know wheatgrass is one molecule away from haemoglobin in human blood so it’s the closest you can get to receiving a blood transfusion without actually getting one!
Serve up your smoothie with a side of fruit like apple, banana, oranges, papaya, mangoes, red grapes and berries, sprinkled with cinnamon. Consume skin and rind as far as possible. Did you know pomegranate has three time the antioxidant properties of green tea? Berries contain Vitamins C and K, Folic Acid and the powerful antioxidant anthocyanins. Cinnamon is anti-inflammatory and contains high amounts of polyphenols, so sprinkling it over fruit doesn’t just taste great; it’s great for you as well.
Slice up some red or yellow bell peppers to dip into hummus made with selenium rich chick peas. All peppers are a power house of cancer fighting beta carotene and flavonols. Other cancer preventing and heart-skin-hair friendly munchies include pumpkin, sesame and sunflower seeds, almonds, pistachios and walnuts. A handful of walnuts also prevents plaque buildup in arteries and reduces inflammation, all without causing weight gain, which makes them an excellent snack. Another great option is small handful of dates and figs, choc-a-bloc with polyphenols, flavonoids, and anthocyanins.
Start your meal with a bowlful of cancer-fighting greens including spinach, fenugreek, lettuce, and cruciferous veggies like cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, Bak Choy and Brussels sprouts. Make sure to add toxin eliminating onions and garlic in a bean or lentil side. Studies show adding garlic and onion to your food cuts your risk of cancer by 40 percent. Daals and beans like rajma and channa are a great source of fiber, low in fat and bursting with antioxidants that can lower cholesterol and the risk of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and stroke. Eat some natural whole grain as well; barley (jau) amaranth (rajgirha) barnyard millet (sama, vergu,moraiya), unpolished rice, Sorghum (jowar), Finger Millet (nachni), Pearl Millet (bajri) , oats and whole wheat are a great way of building immunity and providing instant energy.
For dinner, serve up a main of tofu, quinoa or fish with a side of beta carotene-rich yellow-red vegetables including sweet potato, pumpkin, yellow peppers, tomatoes, and greens. Fish is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids and reduces the risk of many cancers. The humble sweet potato is not fattening. It’s a powerful beta carotene recognized for its anti-cancer properties and enters cell membranes to fight cancer causing free radicals. Use cancer fighting cold pressed oils like olive, groundnut, sesame, mustard and sunflower that contain Omega 3-6 Fatty Acids. Liberally sprinkle turmeric on food; this great spice contains an active phytochemical, curcumin, that reduces your cancer risk. Meanwhile the flavonoids in ajwain (Bishop’s Weed) cause cancer cells to mutate.
Red wine lovers rejoice! One portion-controlled glass of red wine and dark chocolate have high amounts of cancer-fighting polyphenols. Alternately you can have low fat yogurt with organic honey or berries. Studies show that strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and mulberries can prevent cancer, inhibit the growth of tumor cells and kill colon and stomach cancer cells.
Exercise and more
Research suggests that people who do moderate to vigorous exercise for three to four hours a week have a 30 to 40 percent lower risk of developing breast cancer compared to those who are sedentary. Positive thinking and visualization can help you heal as can Yoga. Studies show that yoga heals at the cellular level. So let food be your medicine and medicine be your food!