As a Certified Specialist in Cancer Nutrition I have a passion for empowering people to put control back into their own hands when it comes to cancer prevention.
According to the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR), 1 in 3 cancers can be prevented by diet and exercise. When we add smoking cessation to the equation this number jumps to 2 in 3 cancers. Although the causes of cancer are multi-factorial and still somewhat misunderstood we definitely know that there are aspects we have control over.
All of us create cancer cells in our body every day. Did you know that? It’s true. It’s not just a random act that afflicts some people and not others. If we accept this, then why is it that some of us seem to properly manage these cells while others have cells that continue to grow uncontrollably eventually creating a tumor?
Of course, genetics play a role but definitely not the only role…or even the primary role I might argue. We have more power to influence our genes than was ever thought before. We can actually turn genes on or off based on our lifestyle choices. This is a topic of medicine known as epigenetics, which I personally think is super interesting and exciting.
There are 2 other body systems that are arguably even more important than our genetics. First, our immune system. Our primary line of defense. If the immune system is working in an optimal way it should easily recognize cancer cells and properly destroy them.
Second, our detoxification pathways. We are exposed to more toxins now than ever before in our history. They come from a plethora of sources; air, water, food, cleaning products, body care products, medications, etc. If our detoxification or elimination pathways become impaired we no longer process toxins properly, which allows for build-up in the body.
So what can we do about this? How do we support both our immune system and our detoxification pathways with our food choices?
In order to support the immune system we need to lower inflammation and fill our bodies with nourishing foods. Chronic inflammation is a constant distraction and drain on our immunity.
We also need to maximize the nutritional quality of our diet while we identify and eradicate both internal and external stressors.
This is accomplished by a combination of eating a high quality immune boosting diet, supporting microbial health and diversity in the gut, getting good quality sleep, managing stress, getting regular exercise, and being a part of a supportive community.
What about detoxification? How do we maximize these pathways in the body? Of course, all the above points that support immunity will also support detoxification with a few add-ons.
First and foremost, reducing your exposure to toxins is key. We can’t control everything we’re exposed to but there are quite a few places of exposure that we have control over. Here’s a list of some actions you can take today to start reducing your toxic burden:
- Buy organic whenever possible.
- Drink filtered water.
- Use glass, ceramic, or stainless steel for containers — stay away from plastics.
- Buy BPA-free cans and bottles.
- Use natural cleaning and body care products — the Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a fantastic resource for helping you identify which products are safe.
You can also support detoxification by staying properly hydrated, sweating regularly, and eating foods that nourish the liver, one of our primary detoxification organs. Here are my top liver-supporting foods:
- Alliums — garlic, onions, shallots, leeks
- Cruciferous Veggies — broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, kale, cabbage
- Dark Leafy Greens — kale, swiss chard, collards, bok choy, spinach, dandelion, arugula
- Others — asparagus, radishes, beets, milk thistle
The best Anti-Cancer Diet includes ALL the above!
These goals might feel a bit utopian but I would argue that they’re not. They are absolutely within your grasp.
Start with baby steps, put one foot in front of the other, and gradually add on each of the supporting factors. Every step you take moves you closer to a cancer-free life.
If you’re not sure where to start, then I suggest beginning by removing the foods that will sabotage your goals of recovery. Download your FREE Guide here: “The 4 Most Toxic Foods To Avoid During Cancer Recovery“.