Kathy Beach, Certified Health Coach & Nutrition Counselor shares her approach on how to optimize your chances of staying cancer free. As a cancer survivor herself, Kathy is especially passionate about coaching other cancer survivors to empower them to successfully navigate the cancer journey and move forward into a life of optimal health and wellbeing.
When treatment finally ends there is the inevitable question that goes through every cancer survivors’ head – what now? What can I do now to optimize my chances of staying cancer free? Luckily, the answer to that is “a lot”! The first step is to recognize the incredible healing power of food. Remember that old adage “you are what you eat”? Well, it is quite true. Think of it this way, every morsel that you put in your mouth is becoming you, literally! Old cells die and new cells are formed every minute of every day and what is the foundation for that process? Yes, that’s right, it is the food you eat. With that in mind lets explore some of the powerful foods and drinks that you should incorporate into your cancer fighting strategic nutrition plan.
The idea is to structure our diets around the most nutrient rich, cancer fighting foods possible. Dr. Joel Fuhrman actually coined the term nutritarian, which is a person who does that on a daily basis. Perhaps, another similar way to look at it is that we need to make the shift to a plant-strong diet. This simply means that one half of your plate at every meal should be plants. The amazing thing is that as we begin to make choices with this in mind we actually start to crowd out the other disease promoting foods in our diet. G-BOMBS is an acronym that Dr. Fuhrman uses to help us remember the most health promoting foods on the planet.
G – Greens
B – Beans
O – Onions
M – Mushrooms
B – Berries
S – Seeds
Greens are the food most missing from the Standard American Diet (also known as SAD!). They may be the most challenging for people to incorporate but also the most essential. Nutritionally, greens are very high in calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorous, zinc, and vitamins A, C, E, and K. They are packed with fiber, folic acid, chlorophyll and tons of other micronutrients and phytochemicals. The list of choices is long – broccoli, brussels sprouts, bok choy, cabbage, kale, collards, watercress, mustard greens, dandelion greens, arugula, endive, chicory, and wild greens. Spinach, Swiss chard, and beet greens are excellent too, but best eaten in moderation because they are high in oxalic acid that binds to calcium. To balance this effect cook these with something rich like olive oil or add nuts or seeds to the dish. So as you plan your meals for next week incorporate one or two of the greens from the list above that are new to you, find a recipe and go for it! Think about what is on the rest of your plate as well and make it your mission to get as many G-BOMBS as you can each day.
You may be wondering about whether all of the above vegetables must be organic? Well, the answer would be yes in a perfect world, but since that is not the case it is better to get familiar with The Clean 15 and The Dirty Dozen (ewg.org) and then make the best choices possible as your budget allows. As far as cooking methods, it is best to vary what you do – try steaming, lightly sautéing in olive oil, water sautéing, roasting, or lightly pickling and don’t forget to eat some of you veggies raw every day!
As beverages are concerned, green tea has been very well studied and it seems to have some very powerful anti-cancer effects. One of which is the anti-angiogenesis effect of the compound EGCG in green tea. Angiogenesis is the formation is new blood vessels by cancer cells. After two or three cups the levels of EGCG rise in the blood and block the cancer cells signal for the growth of new blood vessels. So, if you like tea, make sure some of it is green and if you are a coffee drinker start substituting green tea once or twice a day.
Remember, this should not be overwhelming and stressful. It is a process and it takes time to make lasting changes to your lifestyle. Just make one new change this week and another the next week and before you know it you have gotten on an anti-cancer eating plan!
Kathy Beach, MS, ATC
Certified Health Coach & Nutrition Counselor