Over 2,000 years ago, Hippocrates first proclaimed that you should “let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Now this age-old philosophy has been surpassed by modern medicine. Vegetables, nuts and fish have been pushed aside and in their place is a modern solution–a tablet.
As modern medicine strives to discover new and novel solutions to our ever-changing health needs, it’s begun to refocus on the best ingredients nature has to offer. Taking a leaf out of Hippocrates’ book, scientists begun to question the health effects of diet in the 90s. Specifically why, when disease rates in America were soaring, did those living in the Mediterranean have a 72 percent reduced risk of having a heart attack? Why did they have a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, raised cholesterol and even cancer?
The evidence is overwhelming–diet is hugely important for your health and the well-being of your body. Diet may even be able to help prevent and fight breast cancer. The key question is: which nutrients should you be giving your body to do this? Let’s take a look.
1. Broccoli sprouts
Don’t let the name deceive you–broccoli sprouts look more like watercress than their green tree companions. These peppery tasting shoots are naturally high in an antioxidant called sulforaphane. This compound was studied by scientists from the University of Bologna and showed the ability to both slow and reverse the growth of cancerous tumours.
Design a diet to help fight breast cancer: Add a handful of these peppery shoots to your salads, soups or sandwiches.
Is breast cancer genetic or is it a preventable disease? If you’ve been paying attention to the headlines recently, you’d be forgiven for thinking genetics play the largest role. Genes such as BRCA1 and BRCA2 have been made famous as the key cause of inherited cancers.
Variations to your DNA are definitely proven to put you at risk of developing breast cancer but researchers are trying to figure out if this risk could be prevented by your diet?
In 2014 the Journal of Nutrition published a study with dramatic results: a diet high in walnuts inhibited the growth rate of human breast cancers by 80 percent. It also went on to show that whole walnuts had a far more potent effect than diets containing the same amount of omega-3 fatty acids from other sources. Why? Full of complementing phytonutrients like vitamin E and plant sterols, walnuts appear to be nature’s answer to a multi-vitamin.
Design a diet to help fight breast cancer: Sprinkle your morning porridge with walnuts or try a raw walnut and cacao protein ball.
Sitting at the top of the healthy fruit pyramid, these rounded powerhouses are packed full of antioxidants as well as a newly discovered phytonutrient named pterostilbene—a phytonuritent that’s showing promise of slowing the growth of breast cancer.
Researchers from Clark Atlanta University have honed in on the blueberry-born nutrient for its abilities to supress breast cancer growths. When breast cancer tumours grow, there are several biological switches, scientifically called receptors that are turned on. When these switches have been flipped from off to on, tumours grow quickly. The pterostilbene ingredient naturally found in blueberries has shown the ability to switch off these receptors resulting in the slowing of breast cancer growth.
Design a diet to help fight breast cancer: Snack daily on a handful of blueberries or try adding them into a morning smoothie mix.
A potent source of B vitamins like folate – spinach will not only help you to grow strong, it may also help reduce your breast cancer risk. A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology showed that a diet high in folate looks highly likely to reduce breast cancer risk.
Unlike other vitamins, your body isn’t able to build up a reserve of folate. If you lack a consistent dietary source, within two weeks your body becomes folate-deficient. With very subtle symptoms folate deficiency can be hard to spot. This makes adding a consistent source of folate to your diet especially important.
Design a diet to help fight breast cancer: Add a regular side portion of steamed spinach to your main meal.
Fatty fish like salmon are not just heart-healthy foods, they may also help slow your breast cancer growth. Home to a polyunsaturated fatty acid named DHA as well as the “sunshine vitamin,” there are two ways a diet rich in salmon may help fight breast cancer.
When cancers grow, there are many changes that need to happen for your body to sustain them. Take away the ability for your cancer to make these changes and you effectively slow its growth. This is exactly what scientists from the University of Kyoto showed DHA to be very effective at.
On the flip side, there are also several different changes that are crucial to the normal growth of healthy breast tissue. Changes that are thought to be controlled by a healthy level of vitamin D – the sunshine vitamin. Scientists from the University of California strengthened this link when in 2007 they published a study linking a 2000 IU daily intake of vitamin D to a huge 50 percent reduction in the incidence of breast cancer.
Design a diet to help fight breast cancer: Twice a week integrate wild-caught Atlantic salmon into your main meal. Try a poached fillet with vegetables or add a flaked portion to a quinoa salad.
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