Hi hivers! I trust we are doing fine? I bring you yet another interesting and educative article :).
In our much modernized world, Cancer diseases are definitely a class of diseases that give the medical world a lot worries. When most people are diagnosed with Cancer, it seems more like a death sentence than a diagnosis really. It is quite saddening but like the saying goes; “There is always light at the end of a tunnel!” hence we should not give our hopes up. Science has proven times without numbers that almost nothing is impossible for us to achieve as long as we are determined to overcome that very problem. It’s good news that our scientists and physicians continue to get a deeper understanding of Cancer day after day in their bid to find a cure for these monstrosities!
In this article, I will discuss a number of diets that can help fight off cancer cells or at least help to reduce the risk of getting them in the first place. And I'll briefly discuss the function of the various bioactive molecules they contain. Since the food we eat are all made of chemical compounds and molecules anyways ;)
Hippocrates the very first doctor said “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”. This was 3,500 years ago and trust me guys, it is still very much relevant and probably the best health tip any doctor can offer you! As you read through, you will get to see and understand the reasons and principles behind this genius idea of Hippocrates.
Quick fact: 30% of most common cancers can actually be prevented
When it comes to treating cancer, we talk about various forms of treatment such as; Immunotherapy, Chemotherapy, Radiation, Surgery and the likes. These are actually treatments that are needed by cancer patients and should not be entirely replaced by Natural Therapies. This is because a total replacement with Natural Therapies does not ensure that the patient will get cured.
The magical twist to successfully treating Cancer actually involves the blending of two or more therapies mentioned above. Although it may seem overwhelming for the patient, it is the best option they’ve got!
So What Is Integrative Oncology?
It is defined as a patient-centered, evidence informed field of Cancer care that makes use of mind and body practices, natural products, and/or lifestyle modifications alongside the conventional cancer treatments.
This is a form of treatment a lot of oncologists are starting to adopt due to the effectiveness of this sort of treatment scheme. Integrative oncology sets out to optimize health, quality of life and clinical outcomes in cancer patients. It also helps to empower people to prevent cancer and become active participants before, during and after cancer treatment.
Diet as a Part of Integrative Oncology
The average meal we consume daily is very unhealthy! These days almost all the food we eat comes from factories instead of farms! These sorts of food from the factories tend to contain a lot of foreign molecules such as artificial sweeteners, colors and preservatives.
One funny thing I noticed about many people these days, is that we all bother about eating low-fat or fat-free foods and the likes, when our focus ought to be on the basics. Which leaves one with very interesting question;
What Then are The Healthiest Diets Out There?
According to a US News report in 2018, the MEDITERRANEAN DIET tops the list of healthy diets for anyone and most especially cancer patients. It is said to reduce overall mortality which includes a reduction in the risk of cancer, heart diseases, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and even Parkinson’s disease.
The diet focuses on plant-based foods, fruits, whole grains, vegetables, legumes and nuts. It also involves the use of healthy fats e.g. Olive Oil instead of Butter. And furthermore, it encourages the use of herbs and spices instead of Salt! (something I’ll really like to try out!)
The consumption of Red Meat is also limited to not more than once a week and there is an increase in the intake of fish to at least two days a week. As hivers, we need to know that fishes are generally healthier for consumption. And it is advised we actually eat with our family and friends! A tradition, that seems to be fading away in our generation.
In addition, Exercise is not left out in this amazing diet and physicians also advise people to ensure that the Wine drinking part of the diet is kept on the low side! ;) We don’t want you getting drunk while on a treatment, right? Winks**
Paleo Diet and Ketogenic Diet
Though these restrictive diets seem to be quite popular especially among the ladies :), some physicians actually find them hard to comply with and dangerous most especially for cancer patients.
The Paleo diet for instance eliminates grains and certain fruits from our diet! Of which fruits have been shown to be quite effective in reducing cancer risks. The Ketogenic diet on the other hand also eliminates similar foods and all types of fruits.
Since both diets eliminate grains, it’s not quite advisable for cancer patients because it is known that fibers from grains can help reduce cancer! So from my findings, I really don’t think I am a big fan of these diets though they surely have their own advantages for applications other than cancer.
Moving on, I’ll share with us Various Phytonutrients Found In Food That Can Help To Fight Cancer!
What are Carotenoids you may ask?
Well, they are pigments that give various fruits and vegetables such as carrots, kale, cantaloupe etc. their beautiful yellow, orange and green colors!
We have about 40-50 carotenoids in our diet, of which Alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, and lycopene are some of the most commonly studied. These studies show that these compounds are effective antioxidants known to reduce oxidative damage, increase the death of cancer cells and also curb the growth of these cells.
Dietary studies also show that people who took a considerable amount of foods rich in these compounds had reduced risk of prostate, skin, larynx, esophagus, cervical, bladder and mouth cancers.
Important Notice; Dear hivers, please ensure you get these carotenoids from Food and not from supplements.
You may wonder; Why should we do as stated above?
Well, I’m privy to the knowledge that Beta-carotene supplements have been found to increase the risk of lung cancer in male smokers and aggressive prostate cancer. In addition, a review of clinical trials exposed the fact that beta-carotene supplements could be linked to an increase in overall and cardiovascular related death.
I’m sure we understand much better now! Smiles**
Cruciferous Vegetables like Broccoli, cabbage, mustard, e.t.c. have a lot of minerals, vitamins (C, E, K, folates) and fibres. The phytonutrients of interest in these vegetables is Glucosinolates. When we chew and eat these vegetables, important bioactive chemical substances such as Indole-3-carbinol and Sulforaphane are released.
These compounds are known to possess anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, plus they help in the detoxification of harmful substances found in the body system e.g carcinogens.
An increased dietary intake of these types of veggies has shown efficacy in lowering the risk of ovarian, breast, prostate, lung, colon, endometrial, pancreas and Stomach cancer!
In other words, I urge us to eat cruciferous vegetables every day!
ANTHOCYANINS & PTEROSTILBENE
We all love berries right? From blueberries to strawberries! Well I definitely do and it is actually recommended that we have these berries as part of our daily diet. The bioactive compounds mentioned above are pigments found in these berries and of course they are responsible for the bright red, blue and purple colors of the berries.
Various laboratory and animal studies have shown that these compounds help to inhibit growth of new blood vessels that feed these tumors and they have also been found to stop the growth of pre-malignant cells and increase the rate at which these cancer cells die.
They have been effective in lowering the risk of colon, esophagus and breast cancer in animal models.
Oh wow! I just took a scroll up and found how rather lengthy the article already is..lol! I wouldn’t want to bore us so I will put a pause to the topic here guys. I’ll definitely drop the continuation soon, so be on the look out! I look forward to your comments and views on this post and I hope you got a few things out of the post too.
And finally to sign off, I’d like to share with you the World Health Organization definition of health which dates back to 1948, and I want us to reflect on it and share our thoughts about it also;
“Health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”
You can FOLLOW me for more awesome articles guys!
A Comprehensive Definition for Integrative Oncology
Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease with a Mediterranean Diet
1948 WHO definition of health
Mediterranean Diet and Invasive Breast Cancer Risk Among Women at High Cardiovascular Risk in the PREDIMED Trial: A Randomized Clinical Trial
Health Benefits of Vegetables With Glucosinolates
The Benefits of Anthocyanins
Pterostilbene and Cancer: Current Review
1948 WHO definition of health
Thanks for reading through! Cheers!
AS COMPOSED BY QUE - A Pharmaceutical and medicinal Chemistry Student