Tag Archive | eating for cancer prevention

Follow The Rainbow

Hey, it has been a while since I have posted about cancer prevention and healthy living, so here goes…….

When eating for disease prevention, the best health tip that you can follow is to “follow the rainbow”, meaning that you should include as many colorful foods in your diet as possible.  No, I am not telling you to eat bag of Skittles a day, I am referring to nature’s treats, fruits and vegetables!

Nothing looks more appealing than a plateful of richly colored food.  The beautiful colors found in fruits and vegetables are the result of chemicals called anti-oxidants.  While there are tiny amounts of anti-oxidants found in meats and dairy (due to the fact that animals eat plants), by far the vast majority of anti-oxidants are found in plant based foods.  There are many classes of anti-oxidants, such as beta-carotene, which gives squash its yellow color; lypocene, which gives tomatoes their red color; and crytoxanthins, which lend oranges their orange color.  It is not important that you know all these fancy words, but it is important for you to know that you need to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables in order to get the health benefits from an array of anti-oxidants.

So why are anti-oxidants important to good health?  Good question!  Throughout our lifetime, our bodies produce a nasty substance called free radicals.  Free radicals are the result of normal metabolism and energy production in the body, and are formed when we exercise.  They are also produced by exposure to the sun’s rays, pollution from the environment, and poor diet, among other things.  These free radicals wreak havoc on the body, causing our tissues to become stiff and rigid.  Eventually, these free radicals will lead to degenerative diseases in the body, such as arthritis, heart disease and cancer.   The good news is, we can help to protect our bodies from the damage of free radicals by building a shield around them so that they are unable to damage the cells in our body.  This protective shield is formed by anti-oxidants.

Our bodies can manufacture some types of antioxidants, but not others, and our natural antioxidant production tends to decline with age.  Fortunately for us, plants are able to produce these anti-oxidant shields which protect their cells from the harmful effects of free radicals, and by eating plants, we get the same protection.  It is impossible to stop our bodies from accumulating free radicals, after all, they are a bi-product of living and breathing.  In addition, pollutants and carcinogens are all around us: in our air, food, water and sunlight. However, we don’t have to do it alone.  By eating more fruits and vegetables we are able to borrow their anti-oxidant super powers, and thereby reduce the aging and disease effects that free radicals cause in our bodies.

So, some of you are thinking, “I am not a big fan of fruits and veggies, so I will just take an anti-oxidant supplement instead.”  Sorry, think again.  When you eat whole foods, you get more than the anti-oxidents. You also get essential vitamins, minerals, and energy in the form of protein, fat and carbohydrates.   Although you can get some types of nutrients through supplements, it is better to get them through food. The nutrients and other components in whole foods are more balanced, more biologically active, and are usually better absorbed by the body, according to a 2009 article by David R. Jacobs, Jr. published in the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.”  While taking a supplement can do no harm, it is wise not to depend on them as your main source of vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants.  See how many colors you can incorporate into your meals today!

Why I Don’t Eat Sugar (and why NO cancer survivor should!)

 

sugar postWhen I was going through treatments for stage 3 breast cancer in 2012, my chemo nurse, Linda, would often say, “Cancer LOVES sugar!” I really didn’t get what she meant at that time, but now I do. The truth is, cancer actually feeds on sugar.  A PET scan (positron emission tomography), which is used to detect cancer in the body, works precisely on this premise. Before the scan, patients drink a glass of glucose (sugar) water, and then the scan detects where the glucose is being metabolized fastest in the body. These “hot spots” are the areas of the body that most likely contain cancer, since cancer cells consume anywhere from ten to fifty times more glucose than normal cells do! So in fact, when you feed your body sugar, you are actually feeding cancer cells. If you have EVER had a diagnosis of any type of cancer, chances are, there are still cancer stem cells living in your body. Do you want to FEED these cells, or STARVE them? It’s a no-brainer, right?

It is practically impossible to cut sugar completely out of the diet, since it is contained in so many foods….like my favorite bottled spaghetti sauce. But be smart, read the labels, avoid processed foods, especially those high in sugar, and avoid white sugar like the plague!!!!

Just because I don’t eat sugar, does not mean that I can’t enjoy a sweet treat from time to time. For example, these black bean brownies (recipe below) are absolutely delicious, and contain no sugar, flour or dairy.  (OK, I will admit that the first time I heard of them, I thought, “beans in brownies, YUCK!  But then I remembered at one time thinking, “carrots in cake, YUCK!”  I was wrong then too.)

brownies

Not only do these fudgey, chocolatey treats taste fabulous, they are also good for you. Black beans are nutritional gold. They are rich in protein and contain both soluble and insoluble fiber, which helps the digestive process and lowers “bad” cholesterol, guarding heart health. The fiber in beans also keeps you feeling full longer, so you will eat less. What’s not to love about them?

What about the sugar, you ask? Well, technically speaking, maple syrup is sugar, since it is mainly made up of sucrose. However, unlike white sugar, it is not refined, and is therefore a more natural source of sweetener.   Also unlike sugar, which is just empty calories, maple syrup contains minerals and antioxidants. 100 grams of maple syrup contains:

Calcium: 7% of the RDA.

Potassium: 6% of the RDA.

Iron: 7% of the RDA.

Zinc: 28% of the RDA.

Manganese: 165% of the RDA.

Finally, maple syrup is sweeter tasting than sugar, so you need only about one-third the amount to get the same sweetness as sugar. (Keep this in mind if swapping out for healthier alternatives!)

Making healthier food choices (while not scrimping on taste) is an important part of MY cancer-fighting lifestyle. If you want to learn more about living a cancer prevention lifestyle, then I encourage you to check out our new on-line cancer survivorship program, Cancer Plan 4 Life. We are now offering a FREE 4 day kickstart program for those of you who want to learn the basics of living a cancer prevention lifestyle. This black bean brownie recipe is just one of hundreds of cancer fighting recipes that you can access on the kickstart program (and you have 30 days to review the program, with a full month’s access to hundreds of mouth-watering cancer-fighting recipes). We teach all about healthier alternatives, so that you don’t have to give up any of your favorite foods, but rather you “swap out” for healthier alternatives. (Which, in most cases, are lower in fat and calories, so as an added bonus, you will likely lose weight while eating for cancer prevention!) You will also be given daily meditations which were specifically recorded for cancer survivors, as well as a daily journal and lots of other cool, cancer-fighting tools. Are you ready to live life by our motto? Survive and Thrive!

free

 

Black Bean Brownies

Source: http://www.chocolatecoveredkatie.com

Yields 9-12 brownies

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups cooked black beans (or one 15 ounce can, drained and well rinsed)
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 cup 100% pure maple syrup (NOT “pancake” syrup!)
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil (at room temperature it is in solid form, like butter or margarine, but it is MUCH better for you)
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder (make sure it is aluminum free)
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (I use vegan chocolate chips)
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (OPTIONAL)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine all ingredients except chocolate chips and walnuts in a good food processor, and blend until completely smooth. Really blend well. (A blender can work if you absolutely must, but the texture—and even the taste—will be much better in a food processor.) Stir in the chips and nuts, then pour into a greased 8×8 pan. Optional: sprinkle extra chocolate chips over the top. Cook the black bean brownies 15-18 minutes, then let cool at least 10 minutes before trying to cut. Makes 9-12 brownies. (Best when refrigerated for a few hours, to give them a really fudgey texture.) ENJOY!