Tag Archives: Healthy Diet

Think Beyond Pink for Breast Cancer Prevention: Think Bright Colors

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

Diet plays a critical role in a woman’s risk for breast cancer. Daily foods with bright colors are not only appetite-appealing, they can also be quite therapeutic, as research reveals that colorful fruits and vegetables are powerful weapons to fight breast cancer.

Two categories of dietary nutrients with bright colors are fruits and veggies that are red or orange/yellow.

Red grapes_comboThink Red.

Red grapes, red grape-derived products such as grape juice, and red wine are rich in resveratrol, a health-beneficial antioxidant that protect against breast cancer in both animal and human studies. Also, resveratrol offers cardiovascular protection. It’s important to remember that red and dark red grapes contain higher levels of resveratrol than green grapes and red wine.

I love sweet red grapes. I often eat red grapes as a snack or desert and incorporate them in my salads. To enjoy this nutritious red fruit, follow your taste and deploy your creativity.

Think Orange and Yellow.

Carrots bunch_1389068-mFruits and veggies with vibrant orange, yellow, and red colors are rich resources of carotenoids, organic pigments, micronutrients and antioxidants. These foods include carrots, sweet potatoes, winter squash, and red peppers, plus some greens like spinach and kale. Research shows that eating plenty of these fruits and vegetables can be particularly beneficial for women at risk of non-estrogen-dependent cancer and those with a genetically increased risk for cancer.

More-peppers_580768-mThere are many ways to increase your daily consumption of bright-colored, plant-based foods. You can use them in fresh salads or sandwiches for lunch and prepare steamed or stir-fried veggie dishes for dinner. Whatever way you choose, these healthy treats are quick and easy to prepare, and they are yummy. Similarly, regular ingestion of tomatoes does good to you, because tomatoes are a wonderful source of lycopene, one of carotenoid compounds.

Keep in mind that carotenoid-rich fruits and veggies are low in dietary lipids that facilitate human absorption of micronutrients. Therefore, it’s always wise to consume them with olive oil or avocado (i.e., healthy fat) to improve the carotenoids’ bioavailability.

Conclusion

Not only can a colorful diet of fruits and veggies reduce your breast cancer risk, it can protect you from other major human diseases and positively affect your mental and emotional levels. Just remember: rainbows on your plate help create a healthy rainbow in your life!

 

Image credits: by redvisualg; DeLaMartre; and awottawa

Dos and Don’ts to Control Weight and Defend Colon Cancer

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

Obesity_DT_1341867955b7W3ZfLet’s face the facts first.

An estimated over 60% of Americans and about 2.3 billion people worldwide are overweight and/or obese.

Growing scientific evidence supports a strong link between obesity and colorectal cancer. Obese individuals (BMI > 30) have a 20-40% greater risk to develop colon cancer than those with normal weight (BMI < 25).

Most people don’t realize that obesity increases the risk of colon cancer, though knowing that obesity causes serious health problems such as heart disease and diabetes.

To defend colon cancer, it’s critical to maintain a healthy weight. The following Dos and Don’ts are your guide for strategic weight management:

Do eat plenty of vegetables, fruits and a balanced diet.
Antioxidants, particularly carotenoids, zeaxanthin, and resveratrol are your best defense against colon cancer and other cancers as well. These cancer-fighting nutrients and vitamins can be obtained from a diet high in vegetables, fruits, and whole wheat, and low in red or processed meats, sugar, and refined grains.

Do intake high-fiber food.

Do drink sufficient water daily.

Do drink tea, e.g. green tea.
Catechins from Green tea can promote weight management through its effects on metabolism and metabolic enzymes. While increasing your metabolism, tea catechins also support fat oxidation to facilitate natural fat-burning process in the body, thereby contributing to its cancer-fighting property. See more Tea and Cancer Prevention.

Do exercises at least 30 min a day, 5 days a week.
Exercising doesn’t mean that you have to work out hard at a gym or run for miles daily. There are many simple ways to get exercises into your day and keep you physically active. Check out these gym alternatives 10 Joyful Moves to Boost Your Physical Activity and Walk to Reduce Colon Cancer Risk.

Don’t eat high-fat, high-sugar, or high-calorie diet.
Research has shown that a high-energy, high-processed meat, high-animal fat diet is associated with colon cancer development.

Don’t consume red meat and processed foods.

Don’t eat a big meal.

Don’t drink sugar-loaded beverages.  

Don’t drink alcohol.
Alcohol is high in calories, when combined with a high-fat diet, it may lead to weight gain. Overweight or obese individuals should watch out.

Don’t be physically inactive.
Physical inactivity has been linked to increased risk of several types of cancer. To keep energy balance, just remember this simple equation:  Calories in = Calories out

Don’t stress out! 
Stress can mess up your diet and daily active routines, making your weight management out of control.

The bottom line is:
Obesity is very preventable with a healthy, balanced diet and regular exercises. And colon cancer is preventable!

Image credit:  By Travelling-light

A Cancer-protective Salad ─ How to Combine Beneficial Foods I’ve Discussed

Creative Cancer Prevention Salad_CPD2A Cancer-protective salad is a colorful salad on sight, composed of immune boosting foods and cancer-fighting antioxidants. Here I show you how to prepare it:

  1. Use green leafy veggies as basis: Spinach or Romaine lettuce or combination.
  2. Build on colors: Broccoli, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, or carrots. Fruits such as peach, orange or grapes are welcome mixers.
  3. Include protein: Chicken or fish (e.g. salmon). In addition, beans, eggs (hard-boiled then sliced or diced), nuts and seeds can be good choices for vegetarians.
  4. Mix with cancer-fighting ingredients: Avocado, olive oil, minced garlic, or even lemon. Red wine vinegar or freshly-ground pepper can also be used.
  5. Garnish with healthy herbs: Basil, chives, rosemary or your favorites, fresh or dried. They go with the above salad components easily. Don’t have herbs? Sprinkle a few pieces of green onions.
  6. Don’t forget raisins ─ a tasty trick! Alternatively, add grapes for natural sweetness, much healthier than synthetic sweeteners and sugar.

You might say, oh, I know this … I eat them… Surely, many people know it, but amazingly many more people load their salads with processed red meat, cheese, unhealthy fats/dressing, and much worse — salt. Knowledge without action is powerless.

Again, here are the key differences that make this salad cancer-protective and delicious.

  1. Cancer-fighting synergy from various foods
  2. Rich fiber diet ─ an aid to reduce risks of cancer and heart diseases
  3. Wise substitutions in ingredients
  4. Healthy cooking and preparation

Bonus ─ a lunch to dinner recipe: By adding whole wheat pasta into it, the colorful dish turns into your time-saving dinner with heart-healthy and cancer-protective benefits!

Photo credit: by http://www.freeimages.com/photo/salad-1317825 & CPD

Green Leafy Vegetables Help Reduce Cancer Risks

Research shows that eating plenty of fruits and vegetables has been associated with reduced risks for several cancers. Fruits and vegetables contain a wide variety of potential cancer-inhibitory nutrients and antioxidants. Today, let’s just focus on dark green leafy vegetables.

Dark green leafy vegetable family includes the following members commonly available on the market:
* Spinach
* Kale
* Collard Greens
* Mustard Greens
* Swiss chard
* Romaine Lettuce
* Bok Choy

Key cancer protective factor
Dark green leafy vegetables are rich in folate, a group of water-soluble B vitamins.

Key role in cancer prevention
Folate’s primary function is to maintain DNA integrity. Free radicals generated by sunlight, cigarette smoke, air pollution, infection, toxins, and metabolism constantly attack our DNA and cause much of the damage. Without DNA repair, damaged cells can develop into cancer. Folate keeps up DNA stability by regulating DNA biosynthesis, repair and methylation.

Let me explain a little bit more about DNA methylation. Plainly speaking, it involves the addition of a methyl group to DNA structure. DNA methylation patterns go wrong in cancer, often causing tumor-suppressor genes to switch off; which occurs in common cancers in the United States, such as colon, lung, prostate, and breast cancer.

Accumulating evidence indicates that inappropriate diet may contribute to one third of cancer deaths. Folate deficiency has been implicated in the development of several types of cancer, including cancer of the colorectum, breast, ovary, pancreas, brain, lung and cervix.

Key sources for safe intake
To safely and effectively increase folate intake, you should consume dark green leafy vegetables, and other naturally folate-rich foods like asparagus, strawberries, and legumes. Supplements are not preferred, as recent studies indicate that an excessive intake of synthetic folic acid (either high-dose supplements or fortified foods) may promote human cancer.

So, eat a lot of green leafy vegetables every day. They are loaded with cancer protective phytochemicals, antioxidants and nutrients. Also, you enjoy other health benefits beyond cancer prevention.

How do you incorporate dark green leafy vegetables into your daily diet?

Photo credit: By mahr; By jonsson; and By Sultry

Tomatoes and Tomato-rich Diet on Cancer Prevention

Tomatoes are loaded with a wide variety of nutrients and antioxidants, delivering a broad range of health benefits… What you can take away from this post is how to maximize its cancer prevention potential through an easy, tasty diet.

Lycopene found in tomatoes is a strong antioxidant, and has been suggested to function as a protective factor against prostate cancer. Also, there is controversy raised over “Lycopene or tomato extract reduces prostate cancer risk”. Thus, the impact of tomatoes on prostate cancer risk holds no established promise for now.

However, there is a large body of evidence — that a diverse diet rich in fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk of prostate cancer, as well as that of other cancers.

Countless combination of tomatoes with fruits and veggies can serve you a heart healthy and cancer prevention diet. Here I share a very simple one based on my own experience – fresh tomatoes and basil leaves from the homegrown garden.

The dishes you can make:
1. Tomato basil salad
2. Tomato basil pasta
3. Tomato basil soup
4. Tomato basil sauce
5. Tomato basil pasta salad (my favorites — whole wheat pasta, Farfalle pasta)
6. Add shrimp or chicken to tomato basil dishes.
7. Add other colorful veggies or healthy ingredients to tomato basil dishes or sandwiches.
You’ve got the idea….

To make it delicious and healthy, certainly mix the dish with such ingredients as olive oil, garlic, or lemon juice, but little or no salt.

Tip: Basil herb is better used fresh in cooked dishes, either as marinate or garnish, or toss — add at the last moment, as cooking dissolves its flavor.

Remember, one nutrient alone won’t help you combat any cancer. The key is to regularly consume a variety of nutrients and antioxidants from natural food sources, as the overall benefits of a fruit-vegetable-rich diet on cancer prevention are validated.

How often do you eat tomatoes? What’s your favorite recipe with tomato? We appreciate it if you share.

Photo credit: by topfer

Delicate Mushrooms Are Strong Supporters for a Healthy Immune System

Do you eat mushrooms? I love them, white button mushroom, Portobello mushroom, fragrant mushrooms (Shiitake in Japanese name) etc. are used in many of our dishes.

Immune function, particularly natural and cell-mediated immune response, is critical to preventing and controlling infection and tumor. Nutritional food is one of strategies to efficiently modulate the immune cell response. Mushrooms have been among foods that possess immune modulating properties.

The most common mushroom in the US is the white button mushroom found in every supermarket and available year round. Studies indicate that they can enhance natural and cell-mediated immune response, and promote efficient defense mechanisms against microbial invasion and tumor development.

Fragrant mushroom has always been one of my favorite ingredients added to our family cuisine – the taste is delicious! That’s why one of my must-packed items from my China trip is dried fragrant mushrooms. They have long been reserved as both a delicacy and medicinal food. Fragrant (or Shiitake) mushroom can strengthen immune system through its component called lentinan, which stimulates the production of T lymphocytes, macrophages, and natural killer cells, as well as interleukins, the biologically active modifiers of inflammation and immunity.

In short, various strains of mushroom (white button, shiitake, maitake, etc.) have strong immune impact, which contribute to their anti-tumor properties. They are available fresh in many U.S. supermarkets and oriental grocery stores. Plus they are easy to incorporate into your daily diet.

Advice: It’s always safe to clean mushrooms thoroughly and cook them before consuming them, in order to avoid carcinogens or toxic compounds from any pesticides and any pathogens on the surface of raw mushrooms.

Photo credits: by Bura ; by frankenstoen

Garlic—Its Healing and Preventative Properties and How to Reap Maximal Benefits for Your Immunity

Garlic (allium sativum) is a spice, a medicinal herb, one which is becoming popular as a natural product against health problems such as cardiovascular disorders, immune dysfunctions, and cancer. In particular, both epidemiological and laboratory findings have demonstrated that garlic consumption reduces cancer incidences of the stomach, colon, breast and cervix.

What is the science behind the wonders and mystery of garlic’s properties? Here I sum up how it may boost the immune system and lower cancer risks.

1. Anti-microbial: Garlic protects effectively against bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites, without damaging your normal cells. This natural antibiotic, unlike synthetic ones, has an affect on a broad spectrum of microorganisms with little or no resistance from the body. So it can work as your long-lasting agent for preventing and fighting infections.

2. Anti-inflammatory: Garlic acts as an antioxidant, inhibiting the secretion of inflammatory mediators/factors, reducing the migration of neutrophils, antagonizing the oxidation by free radicals, and stimulating immune response.

3. Anti-carcinogenic: Its anticancer properties are rather complex, and have been proposed to function through a number mechanisms that include scavenging of free radicals, increasing availability of substance(s) and enzymes that detoxify genetic damaging chemicals, assisting with DNA repair, and inhibiting tumor cell proliferation.

Furthermore, research suggests the anticancer effect of Allicin, a major component of garlic, is associated with its immune stimulatory properties. It’s of interest that garlic can be useful as a natural remedy against immune suppression. Apparently, suppression of immune response is linked with increased risk of cancer or other malignancies.

The next question is how you can turn scientific knowledge into a practical aide for your own health. Incorporating garlic into your diet requires a few guidelines to gain most of benefits from it. Things to consider are:

The amount—How much is enough? How many cloves a day?
Although accumulated evidence supports the health benefits of garlic, additional studies are needed to determine the quantity required by humans to minimize cancer risk. The current suggestion is to eat a minimum of two medium-sized cloves daily, based on a recent study that used garlic extract concentration equivalent to an adult’s intake. This amount can be increased to five cloves, again based on consumption of Asian adults.

Preparation—Should it be cooked or not?
The best way to consume garlic is to eat in raw (i.e. in its natural form). However, cooked ones are fine except for microwaving, which destroys much of the effective components. Some scientists claim that lightly cooked, crushed garlic provides similar health benefits found in raw garlic.

Crushed or not crushed?
Crushing may be best, since it enables the beneficial components to be released. Crush or chop the garlic at room temperature and allow it to sit for about 15 minutes.

How to reduce garlic’s odor and unpleasant breath?
Personally, I find cooking a dish with garlic and parsley together helps reduce the odor. After a meal, brush your teeth (including tongue) thoroughly. Since this concern is beyond the scope of this post, you may find solutions from other resources such as How to Get Rid of Garlic Smell and Garlic Breath Removal.

Supplements as an alternative—garlic pill or not?
Garlic supplements have some advantages, since eating lots of garlic isn’t always practical and/or socially appealing. The bottom line is—there is no clear evidence whether the pill provides the same benefits as garlic or its extracts, and whether the effective compounds detected in garlic remain potent after manufacturer’s processing. Also, depending on your health needs, you may wish to consult with your physician.

After all, maintaining immune stimulation can significantly reduce the risk of cancer. So, enjoy your daily dose of garlic!

What’s your take on garlic? Do you have a favorite recipe to share?

Photo credits: by nkzs ; by vieux bandit

Make A Seasonal Dish Your Year-round Cancer Preventive Antioxidant

Unlike American folks, who cook sweet potatoes as a Thanksgiving side dish, Asian people use the vegetable as a staple. Today we will talk about how you can take advantage of its nutritional value for cancer prevention benefits.

Sweet potatoes are rich in beta-carotene, which can inhibit abnormal differentiation of epithelial cells that make up the skin covering the whole surface of the body–the frontline defense against bacteria, viruses and other pathogens. Beta-carotene, a so-called cancer-preventative antioxidant, can eliminate carcinogenic free radicals, block binding of carcinogens with the nuclear proteins, and thus prevent cancer.

Beta-carotene is crucial to the production of vitamin A. Your body requires this vitamin, creating it from foods containing beta-carotene. Also, vitamin A is essential for eye health, and sweet potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin A. In addition, sweet potatoes are a good source of copper, dietary fiber, vitamin B6, vitamin C, potassium, manganese, and iron. When you obtain well-balanced nutrients, you are unlikely to suffer from nutrition deficiency, and so boost the capability of your immune system.

Eating more sweet potatoes is particularly important for the following groups of people:

1. Vegetarians or those who do not consume red meat. Without animal sources such as beef, liver, or butter, these folks must obtain vitamin A from plants that contain carotenoids.

2. Cigarette lovers and “second hand smokers” with no choice. Because smoking releases trillions of free radicals that cause cell damage, these individuals need to have strong carotenoid and antioxidant defenses. Carotenoids are simply red and yellow pigments in plants and animals. In addition to providing colors, they also act as antioxidants to neutralize free radicals, keep them from damaging cells, and protect the network of other antioxidants.

Two bonuses from sweet potatoes:
1. Fiber-richness, which effectively stimulates intestinal movements, reduces cancer-causing toxin retention, thereby preventing colon cancer – good for those with constipation.
2. Natural sweetness, which makes the sweet potato a dessert without artificial sugar. But those diagnosed with diabetes should be aware of the possibility of increased blood sugar levels.

Can you see sweet potatoes as an important food for overall health and immune benefits?

Photo credit: by NatalieMaynor

What’s in a Cup of Tea? Catechins for Helping Immune Functions and Weight Management

Do you drink tea? What is your favorite tea? How often do you drink it? Let’s have a little, “Tea Talk”. After water, tea is the most popular drink in the world. In addition to its great variety of tastes, drinking tea has been associated with many health benefits including prevention of heart disease and cancer.

So, what is the key ingredient for tea’s benefits?
Catechins — a potent and effective form of polyphenol antioxidants. Green tea is chemically characterized by its abundance in catechins. According to research, a typical cup of brewed green tea contains, by dry weight, 30–40% catechins, while equal amount of Oolong tea contains roughly 16% and black tea 3–10% catechins.

What is the science behind tea’s cancer protective effect?
Cancer protective benefits of tea catechins have been attributed to the following areas:
1. Antioxidant properties, which positively impact on the ability of the body’s cells to handle oxidative stress.
2. Enhancement on immune functions through its nutrients’ absorption and anti-microbial effect. Tea catechins can inhibit pathogen growth and modulate immune cells and inflammation markers.
3. Promotion of weight management through its effects on metabolism and metabolic enzymes. While increasing your metabolism, tea catechins also intensify fat oxidation and themogenesis, helping burn body fat naturally.
4. Protection against digestive and respiratory infections.
5. Inhibition on cancer cell growth, which is related to the diminished tumor growth and metastases observed from scientific studies.

In Bushman’s literature review (1998) on green tea and human cancer, which examined a total of 31 human studies and four reviews, the majority of these studies indicate that tea consumption is associated with reduced risks for cancers of the colon, urinary bladder, stomach, esophagus, pancreas and lung. New findings also showed that high consumption of green tea was closely associated with decreased numbers of lymph node metastases among pre-menopausal Stage I and II breast cancer patients.

Any substitute of green tea?
Sure. Tegreen 97, produced by Pharmanex, provides a highly concentrated, proprietary extract of green tea catechins. Each Tegreen 97 capsule contains the catechins equivalent of seven cups of green tea without the caffeine. With other polyphenol antioxidants as its constituents, Tegreen 97 is one of the most potent antioxidant products on the market, providing your body with maximum protection for critical cell structures such as DNA. Interestingly, studies from Pharmanex also showed that Tegreen 97 can have a significant beneficial effect in managing serious health conditions such as weight gain and need for blood sugar control.

It is recommended that consumers select a tea extract that is decaffeinated and standardized for total polyphenol contents and/or catechin concentrations. When shopping the tea market, please be aware of all of this. Also, Pharmanex Tegreen 97 meets all the criteria.

Photo credit: by Kanko

Protein and Immune System

The backbone of your immune system is made from protein; without adequate protein your immune system can’t survive, and is less able to stay and fight cancer. It’s critical to include healthy protein such as fish, poultry and beans in your daily diet, because they provide plenty of protein yet without much saturated fat. Here I emphasize a few foods high in immune boosting protein.

Beef
Sure, a diet high in red meat is not good for your health. This doesn’t mean you should ban beef. Beef is rich in immune boosting mineral zinc, in addition to protein. Zinc in your diet is very important for the development of white blood cells, the heroic immune system cells that recognize and destroy invading bacteria, viruses, and other harmful foreign bodies. Zinc deficiency weakens your immune system; even mild zinc deficiency can increase your risk of infection. Since vegetarians and those who avoid red meat (beef and pork) let pass this major source of zinc, these folks should make sure to consume zinc-rich oysters, fortified cereals, poultry, yogurt or milk.

Fish and shellfish
Research showed that of all fats, omega-3s — found in fish such as salmon — created the highest blood levels of flu-fighting T cells and interferon-gamma cytokines. Cytokines are various protein molecules secreted by cells of the immune system that regulate the immune functions.

Shellfish like oysters, lobsters, crabs and clams contain plentiful of selenium. Getting adequate selenium can increase immune cell production of cytokines. Cytokines help clear flu viruses out of your body.

The bottom line:
Dietary deficiencies in protein and key micro-nutrients have long been associated with immune dysfunction.

Photo Credits: by Art By Steve Johnson and  TheBusyBrain