Thursday, July 19, 2012

guest post: diet that prevents cancer

Today we have a guest post from Jillian McKee on cancer prevention through diet.

Now I know that most of us with lupus do not have cancer, although it is possible to end up with both. And in fact, most of us with an autoimmune disease have more than one autoimmune diagnosis and we all (all of us in the modern world) have risk of cancer.


When I was first diagnosed in 1993, there was no internet (not for the public anyway) and little to nothing in terms of books and options, even in the world of complementary medicine, for lupus. Everything I did find that seemed promising seemed to contain the specific warning "contraindicated for systemic lupus" (AUGH!). 


I found I often just wound up reading books aimed at cancer patients and then adapting that info to fit my situation. After all, healthy food is healthy food, and a healthy mindset is a healthy mindset, right? Well, mostly yes. There are some things that work for almost everyone, like get enough rest, eat real food (not junk), drink water, and have happy thoughts.

So, even though this is a "cancer" post, some of this info may be of help to you. As with all blog posts, take what you need and leave the rest. And here we go:

A Healthy Diet Can Help Prevent Cancer

According to the National Cancer Institute, 35 percent of cancer-related illnesses are linked to malnutrition. When the body is not receiving proper nutrients, the immune system cannot fight free radicals and other carcinogens. When the body is under stress or ingests harmful substances, the risk of cancer increases. Cancer patients should improve their nutrition to prevent cancer and reduce the risk its spreading throughout the body.

If smoking and a sedentary lifestyle are also accompanying a poor diet, cancer risk can be as high as 85 percent. Cancer patients must constantly monitor what they eat. Diet not only affects physical health, but also affects our energy levels, self-esteem, and mood. Cancer patients must make positive choices to refrain from exacerbating their condition. Treatments for mesothelioma and others cancers can cause side effects, which can be alleviated through a healthy diet.

What Is Recommended?
In general, patients should select foods that are high in fiber, vitamin C, omega-3s and lycopene. Each plays a role in fighting free radicals known for causing cancer.

Green leafy vegetables, for instance, are high in fiber. Fiber reduces “colon transit time” and reduces the time that any carcinogens are in contact with the colon wall. With carcinogens leaving the body, friendly bacteria can easily replace harmful bacteria in the body. Americans should eat between 25 to 35 grams of fiber per day, but most only eat 10 grams. Though leafy green vegetables are a common source of fiber, fruits, beans, nuts, seeds, pastas, whole grain cereals and breads are also recommended. Fiber should be included in a healthy diet.

Fish high in oils are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Salmon, tuna, halibut, herring and mackerel are all great choices that should be consumed three times each week. Polyunsaturated fatty acids such as DHA and EPA play a role in cancer prevention. Berries, brussel sprouts, and mushrooms are also good sources of these acids.

Antioxidants, anti-carcinogens, and bioflavonoids each are beneficial in preventing cancer. Foods rich in phytonutrients include dark green leafy vegetables, berries, legumes, citrus fruits and whole grains.

Soy protein is recommended for those at risk of breast and prostate cancer. Soy also contains phytonutrients that fight hormone-sensitive cancers. Genistein, daidzein, Bowman Birk inhibitor, and lecithin all play a role in the cancer fighting process.

Cancer patients should select foods based on the 80:20 rule. Eighty percent of food items selected should be from the plant kingdom and 20 percent from the animal kingdom. Patients who adhere to this rule are generally healthier.

Bringing a wealth of personal and professional experience to the organization, Jillian McKee has worked as the Complementary Medicine Advocate at the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance since June of 2009. Jillian spends most her time on outreach efforts and spreading information about the integration of complementary and alternative medicine when used in conjunction with traditional cancer treatment.