Ask anyone what are the best things you can do for maintaining a healthy lifestyle, most often the answer (besides more exercise) is to start with managing trans fats and junk food in your diet. No arguing with that advice. But what continues to be overlooked is our dependence on sugar, particularly when made in the form of a sweetener called fructose. In its worst form known as high fructose corn syrup, evidence continues to mount that its over-consumption is a red flag for encouraging cancer development. The recommended daily limits for sugar are 35 grams for men and 23 grams for women. Yet many people blow away a day’s limit every day with one 50g soda. So how does one get to healthy levels without falling into depression at having to reduce your life-long allegiance to soda, juices, certain yogurts and salad dressings, not to mention candy, certain breads, granola and energy bars? (Go to Dr Mercola’s web-site for an exhaustive list of such foods.)
Don’t worry that downsizing your sugar consumption will leave you gnawing on carrots and broccoli and not much else. There are diet changes you can make that will take the sting out of vastly reducing your favorite sucrose-filled foods and simultaneously boost your body’s cancer defenses. For my lunch every day I make a large salad topped with delicious items such as arugula, medley of sprouts, goat cheese, roasted pine nuts, and a dressing of olive oil and lemon. A touch of balsamic vinegar can also be added to give a bit of sweetness to the salad if you prefer.
In place of regular juice, organic green vegetable juice as part of a “juicing” program is a much healthier way to go giving your body vital nutrients, especially if your digestion is in any way compromised. Adding a half an apple or pear and also some lemon can sweeten green juice up to satisfy any palate.
Speaking of juice, limit alcohol consumption to two drinks a day for men and one for women. That doesn’t mean you are free to stay drink free Monday through Thursday and then go kablooey with eight drinks on Friday! (Sugar is an over-looked ingredient in alcohol; the highest amounts are found in brandy and liqueurs.) I enjoy a dry glass of red wine as my occasional go-to alcohol drink.
Know the difference between fermented and unfermented soy products. According to many sources, unfermented soy such as soy milk, tofu and protein powders are high in plant estrogens. [Beware the internet though – you will find some sites that tell you to stay away from soy and other sites that will say that soy is okay. As for me, I prefer to stay away from soy, due to the fact that some cancers are estrogenic in nature and adding soy could be detrimental).
Look for animal-based omega-3 fats. They are believed to reduce inflammation, which is a factor in some cancers. Herring, mackerel, anchovies, salmon and sardines (not canned) are the best sources, and to a lesser extent beef and eggs from grass-fed sources. I take a krill oil tablet daily and also eat salmon about once a week (preferably wild caught if possible). I also love red meat occasionally and I source grass fed beef for my occasional steak treat.
Turmeric (the active ingredient in curcumin) is a pervasive East Indian spice where its traditional use is believed to contribute to cancer rates in India ten times lower than the West. Its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects apply not just with cancer prevention but as a treatment as well. To ensure that turmeric is absorbed well, black pepper should be mixed in. An exceptionally healthy salad dressing (one serving) can be made with 2 tbsp of turmeric powder mixed with olive oil and the black pepper.
BPA (bisphenol A), a compound used in the production of plastic water bottles, canned goods and even print products such as your supermarket receipts, has been under ongoing scrutiny as a possible carcinogen. Its use in baby bottles has been banned in Canada and Europe. That’s enough to suggest perhaps dialling back on water from plastic bottles and any canned food.
Perhaps the food item that ranks highest for its cancer prevention qualities? The broccoli sprout. It’s too bad that this green veggie is maligned for its bland taste and uninspiring look, yet broccoli can be given a taste jolt with added items such as olive oil and garlic (or grass fed butter). But if broccoli in any form still makes you gag, perfectly good vegetable alternatives for cancer prevention are cauliflower, bok choy (I love to saute this veggie with tons of garlic and olive oil on a low heat) or Brussel sprouts (baked, and then add bacon bits – delicious!).
Finally, remember that any extra expense incurred with smarter eating is a wise investment in your long term health.