World Cancer Day: Role of Nutrition in Cancer Recovery
By Karan Kakkad
World Cancer Day is an International day marked on 4th of February every year to raise awareness of cancer and to encourage its prevention, detection and treatment. As per the National Cancer Registry Programme Report 2020, released by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), cancers of the lung, mouth, stomach and oesophagus were the most common among men while cancers of breast and cervix uteri were most common among women.
When we look at data of the last 20 years, there has been a significant rise in cancer cases and the reasons are multifactorial – from unhealthy eating, poor lifestyle to smoking and poor emotional health. The more we resort to the above-mentioned factors, the more our immunity is compromised which then would upregulate the cancer genes and downregulate the health promoting genes.
Hence when it comes to recovery from cancer, we need to focus on the four pillars of good health – right nutrition, physically active lifestyle, good quality sleep and emotional health. Although we need to focus on all these four pillars, right nutrition is one the very strong verticals when it comes to preventing or quick recovery from cancers. Our immunity is our first line of defence and studies have shown that cancer cells grow rapidly when our immunity is not able to fight them off. Interestingly 85% of our immunity lies in our gut. Therefore, taking care & improving the health of our gut is the key to building long lasting immunity.
We all have billions of bacteria that live in our gut and their food is fiber. So, when we eat foods rich in fiber, not only are we eating but also, we are feeding our gut bacteria. And when we consume processed or junk and animal foods, we are not getting any fiber and thereby weakening the health of our gut. Hence the key message is to eat more of real foods or plant foods like more fruits, vegetables, beans & legumes and less of processed, junk & animal foods.
Although eating more of plant foods & less of processed and animal foods can help in speedy recovery or prevention from cancer, below are specific six foods that can help in increasing immunity and are loaded with anti-cancer properties:-
- Beetroot – Beets seem to inhibit carcinogen formation and increase production of immune cells and body enzymes that help fight cancer development. Whether cooked or raw, beets provide an array of nutrients, including potassium and vitamin C which helps in building the body’s immune system.
- Garlic – It is garlic’s antibacterial properties that may help to prevent cancer as well as its ability to enhance genetic repair, slow down cell proliferation, and prevent the formation of carcinogenic substances in the body.
- Onions – Onions are superfood when it comes to building immunity. They contain quercetin, a type of plant chemical called a flavonoid. Some flavonoids have antiproliferative properties—that is, the ability to block the growth of unhealthy cells. The onion extracts were also found to inhibit the growth of cancer cells.
- Seeds – Pumpkin seeds contain antioxidants like carotenoids and vitamin E which can reduce inflammation and protect your cells from harmful free radicals. Flax seeds are an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids which prevent cancer by inhibiting cancer cell proliferation and disrupting steps that are critical to tumour growth. They also help reduce inflammation which means they could reduce the possibility of cellular mutations. Including 2-3 tbsp of pumpkin seeds or flax seeds can help in recovering quickly from cancer.
- Green vegetables – Broccoli, cabbage, collard greens, kale, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, green beans are all green vegetables that contains powerful phytochemicals, including carotenoids, indoles and glucosinolates and isothiocyanates, which have been studied and shown to slow the growth of many cancers.
- Drumsticks – Moringa has been proven to slow the growth of pancreatic cancer cells and helped chemotherapy work better. Other lab studies show that moringa leaves, bark, and roots all have anti-cancer effects. Adding drumsticks in our soup daily can help a long way in preventing or quickly recovering from cancer.
We need to realise that more than 70% cancers are lifestyle driven and when it comes to preventing or reversing any lifestyle diseases, food is indeed our best medicine.
Karan Kakkad is a Disease Reversal expert based in India. He is the Founder & CEO of Reverse Factor. To know more call 8100550660 or visit www.reversefactor.in