Posted on April 23 2022
How many of these are you eating?
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), breast cancer is the most common cancer among women worldwide, claiming the lives of hundreds of thousands of women each year around the globe.
Breast cancer has now overtaken lung cancer as the world’s primarily commonly diagnosed cancer. It is responsible for one in six of all cancer deaths among young women, according to statistics released by the International Agency for Research Centre on Cancer (IARC) in December 2020.
However, it is preventable if we take care of our health, eat healthily and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Below are the 12 foods proven to reduce the risk of breast cancer.
According to the American cancer society, certain types of breast cancer increase estrogen in the body. Soy is very anti-estrogenic and anti-carcinogenic and can block the action of estrogen in tissues. Two servings per day of soy is proven to prevent cancer growth.
Cruciferous vegetables have phytochemicals known as Isothiocyanates and indole 3-carbinol. These two bioactive substances appear to have a proactive effect against breast cancer. Another compound found in cruciferous vegetables is sulforaphanes which is known for its antioxidant, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. Aim to consume at least 100 grams of cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, kohl Rabi etc per day.
Flaxseed are beneficial for human health and is one of the richest in Lignans contents. Lignans are phytoestrogens that relieves menopause symptoms and also balances the effects of estrogens by connecting to their receptors. It acts as an anti-estrogen, thus inhibiting the growth of cancer cells.
We are all aware of the fact that fibre is all about bowel movements. And bowel movements are very essential to flush out unwanted components, excess proteins, and excess estrogen. A study in 1500 women correlated pre-cancerous changes in the breast with the frequency of bowel movements to conclude that a well functioning bowel is of utmost importance.
Bile acids released by the liver can damage DNA so much that they can initiate cancerous changes. If there is no flushing of the bowel often, the bile acids get reabsorbed by the body, which then may build up in the breast. Regular fibre intake is essential for a healthy bowel.
Berries are rich in Ellagic acid, anthocyanins, and proanthocyanidins. A Harvard study on berries shows that one cup of berries in a week slows down the rate of cognitive decline. Similarly, another extensive study of 20 years by Harvard on 93,600 women concluded that women who ate most berries had minor cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
Furthermore, bioactive compounds such as proanthocyanidins, anthocyanins and other flavonoids offer protection against breast cancer by seizing the cells cycle.
Another breast cancer-preventing superfood is apple. Apple is rich in flavonoids and anthocyanins. According to several studies, people who eat an apple daily have a 24% less risk of breast cancer than those eating fewer apples. In addition, it is to be known that the apple peel extracts have triterpenoid compounds that can restrict cancers ten times more effectively. However, remember that apple is to be eaten whole or blended but not juiced.
Tomato contains the magic ingredient- lycopene. It is anti-inflammatory, anti-angiogenic, slows the cancer cells growth, stimulates the cancer cells to die (apoptosis), and limits free radical damage done by reactive oxygen species. Unlike most phytochemicals, plant-based compounds like sulforaphanes are best consumed in their raw state so that their enzymes don’t get destroyed. However, heating tomatoes for more than 15 minutes increases the lycopene bioavailability by 300 per cent.
Mushrooms can be called superfoods- they are rich in flavones, isoflavones, and polyphenols. Button mushrooms contain the highest estrogen-blocking ability of all other mushrooms. It inhibits an enzyme called aromatase that causes the peripheral conversion of steroids into estrogen, the cancer fuel agent in our body. Daily intake of 10 grams or half a button mushroom a day dropped cancer rates in Chinese women by 64% over those who were not mushroom eaters.
GARLIC, ONIONS, LEEKS, CHIVES, SHALLOTS:
These foods are known for the allium compounds (allicin, allyl solution) flavonoids. A French study analysed that women who consumed 11 to 12 servings of allium compound vegetables a week had a 75% drop in breast cancer risk. However, the same can get destroyed during cooking. Since we use onions for almost all recipes, we can garnish the foods with some raw onions.
Kelp or seaweed are rich in numerous health-promoting bioactive component saponins, sterols, triterpenes, flavonoids. Seaweed is also a good source of vitamin A, vitamin B12, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, manganese, magnesium, selenium, copper or zinc.
Moreover, seaweed can also contain some unique compounds such as various fucoidans, stearidonic acid, all of which have been shown to have anti-cancer properties. For example, a Korean study showed that consumption of edible seaweed drops breast cancer by over 50%. I insist my clients have one vegan sushi dinner per week. This is the best way to consume nori sheets.
TURMERIC AND SPICES:
Turmeric is rich in Curcumin. Turmeric is the fundamental reason for us Indians to be five times less likely to have breast cancers than the westernised countries. And the magic in turmeric is the presence of the most active ingredient- curcumin. Curcumin (CUR) compound has antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.
Cacao contains more antioxidants (flavonoids or/and polyphenol) than many other superfoods like berries, akai berries, green tea. It is also rich in procyanidins, which is a compelling lead compound in cancer prevention and treatment. A chocolate smoothie with cacao is my go- to a few times a week.
Instead of getting excited and buying all of the above once, see how you can make a lifestyle changes so that the above foods are part of your nutrition forever.
Example, we have a rule in the house to always have a soup with cruciferous vegetables before dinner. This is part of our lifestyle now and ensures we get our cruciferous vegetables in. Meals are always swerved with raw onions at our home and garlic pickle/ chutney is a staple on our dining table.
See how you can change your lifestyle itself to include the above list.
Trust this helps,