Despite major advancements in methods of treatment, cancer continues to be the most dreaded disease in the world, with its very name evoking the image of impending disaster. Ironically, even the chemo and radiation which are the established cures come with a plethora of side-effects. Not only does the patient lose hair, but also strength, vitality and immunity. One needs every ounce of energy one can marshal to survive this scourge.
Cancer patients have to make sure that they eat what empowers them and totally avoid what weakens them. So every morsel that goes past their lips must be a friend instead of a foe. Some of the best food items for them, are:Grapes: Both grapes and grape juice are rich sources of resveratrol, a type of natural phytochemical. In laboratory studies, resveratrol prevents the kind of damage known to trigger the cancer process in cell, tissue and animal models.
Resveratrol also slows the growth of cancer cells and inhibits the formation of tumours in lymph, liver, stomach and breast cells. Black grapes are particularly good. Make sure that the grapes are pesticide-free. Sorry but wine doesn’t qualify.
Apples: Apple peels have potent antioxidant and antiproliferative effects on human cancer cells in a petri dish. They work best against estrogen receptor negative breast cancer, which is much harder to treat than estrogen receptor positive breast cancer.
Ginger: It forces cancer cells to commit suicide in a process called apoptosis. The beauty is that it leaves the healthy cells around them unharmed. Trials on ovarian cells in lab animals have been very encouraging.
Garlic: Its pungent cloves too have a similar impact, particularly in gastrointestinal cancers.
Turmeric (haldi): Curcumin in the spice interferes with the cell-signalling pathways, making it impossible for cancer cells to grow and spread.
Leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables: When chewed, these release antioxidant sulforaphane that not only prevents but also fights colon and prostate cancers. However, guard against overcooking.
Berries: DNA mutation and cancer are caused by oxidation. Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and blackberries fight it valiantly.
Green and black tea: These have antioxidant kaempferol which has proved promising especially in the battle against breast cancer. Brew your own teas. Bottled ones (iced tea) are not that good.
Tomatoes: These are teeming with lycopene antioxidant which is most effective on prostate cancer.
Patients should procure all the needed vitamins and minerals through whole foods instead of supplements. B-complex vitamins can be had from whole grains, spinach, peanuts, dried beans or peas and fresh oranges. Now the foods that have to be shunned. The first item is man-made sugar. Eating sugar leads to the production of insulin, a hormone that the body utilises to regulate sugar levels, metabolism and cell growth. Also cut down red meats and saturated fats drastically, if not completely.