Dietary Strategies for Fighting Cancer

For lots more advice on nutrition to combat cancer, visit www.eatandbeatcancer.com

Dietary Strategies for Fighting Cancer: The Theories

The science of nutrigenomics—how nutrients interact with genes to affect health—is all the rage now, and we’re seeing more and more evidence that phytonutrients—nutrients from plant foods—can directly impact cancer genes. How do these nutrients work?  Here are the various theories. 

Phytonutrients can

● boost the immune system

● stop the cancer cells’ growth cycle and interfere with chemicals and processes, such as elevations in blood glucose, that promote growth

● encourage cancer cells to mature into healthy tissue (differentiation) or to commit suicide (apoptosis)

● stop them from producing blood vessels that allow them to grow and spread (anti-angiogenesis)

● reduce the effects of hormones, including estrogen, that fuel growth

● control inflammation in the body (the theory being that inflammatory chemicals suppress the immune system and encourage tumors to grow and spread).

Controlling the inflammatory process by eating fish or fish oils high in Omega-3 fatty acids and maintaining even blood sugar levels are among the many dietary strategies for improving our health.   

 

Cauliflower Creations

CAULIFLOWER & CHICKPEA SOUP WITH TURMERIC

Prep Time: 30 minutes (20 prep/ 10 min to cook)    Serves 6

Ingredients:
1 cauliflower (flowers and stems chopped into small pieces)
2 medium or 3 small onions (diced)
3 garlic cloves (minced)
1 t red chili pepper (minced)
1 T turmeric
1 t cumin
1 t salt
1 cup chickpeas (1 can drained and rinsed until foam disappears or 1/2 cup dried beans soaked overnight and cooked)
6 cups vegetable broth (or 1 box plus 2 cups water)

1-2 T olive oil, for sauteeing

1 bunch watercress

cracked black pepper and extra salt,  to season

Directions:

● Saute onion, garlic, red pepper in olive oil until soft

● Add turmeric, cumin, salt and toss with onions

● Add cauliflower, chickpeas and then toss to coat with seasonings

● Add broth and bring to boil, then simmer for 10 minutes

● Season to taste with salt and cracked black pepper

● Serve immediately, adding handful of watercress on top or bottom of  bowl

Leftovers?  Blend remaining soup in blender and keep in fridge.

Kale Chips

CRUNCHY KALE CHIPS

Prep time: 30 minutes (5 minutes work. Then, put in oven.)  Serve as snack.

The kale dehydrates, so plan on preparing a few batches.

1 medium-sized head of kale

1 T olive oil

Salt

Pizza pan (with holes in it) or baking sheet

Directions:

● Remove stems from kale and chop leaves into 3 -4 inch pieces. Toss with olive oil.  Give it a good sprinkling of salt. Place one layer of kale on a pizza pan or baking sheet.  (Do not pile up kale in layers.) Bake at 275 F for 20-25 minutes, until all leaves are crispy. (If using baking sheet, turn it midway.)

● To re-use chips, just heat them up at a low temp for a couple of minutes.

Variation:

Instead of adding olive oil and salt, use a couple of tablespoons of tahini and some Indian spices to taste. Using your hands, toss the kale in the tahini, making sure the greens are evenly coated. Then add some of your favorite mix of spices.

Chickpeas

HOW TO COOK CHICKPEAS

Soak chickpeas overnight with kombu, a sea vegetable, and lots of water (at least 3 inches above the chickpeas). Discard the kombu and soaking water, and transfer the beans to a large pot. Cover with fresh water 3 inches above the beans. Bring to boil and simmer for approximately 1 ½ hours, until they’re soft but not mushy.  Add salt towards the end. Skim off the foam as you cook. (Using kombu and eliminating foam will help with the gas.)

A postscript on kombu: Most is sold dried in packages and comes from Japan. If you buy it, make sure it’s been sitting around a long while–harvested, that is, prior to the Spring 2011 disaster. Your store should ask the distributor.

BALILA, A LEBANESE SIDE DISH

Prep time: 5  minutes (once chickpeas are cooked)

1 cup cooked chickpeas (1 can or ½ cup dried, soaked overnight and cooked as above)

1 piece kombu  (if you’re cooking the chickpeas)

2 T olive oil

2 T lemon juice

3 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped

½ t ground cumin powder

Salt to taste

Parsley for garnish

Directions:

● Follow recipe above for cooking chickpeas or rinse canned several times in running water, making sure to get rid of the foam.

● Mash about half of the chickpeas—but just a little bit. You want them to be a but soft, but not mushy like humus.

● Mix the remaining ingredients (except the parsley) and pour over chickpeas. Garnish with parsley.

Turmeric

Turmeric’s Many Talents

Turmeric concoction with chickpeas

Turmeric, the yellow spice that gives curry its bright color and peppery flavor, has been revered in India and China for thousands of years for its wide range of medicinal properties.

It’s nature’s most powerful anti-inflammatory and has shown great promise in many studies as an anti-cancer agent—reducing tumor growth and metastases, helping stimulate cancer cells to commit suicide and enhancing the effectiveness of chemotherapy.  (Read “The Role of Curcumin in Cancer Therapy,” published in 2007 in Current Problems in Cancer, for a review of the studies.)

The theory is that curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, interferes with NF-kappa B cells, considered the black knight of cancer because they protect cancer cells against the body’s natural defense mechanisms.

If you’re planning on adding turmeric to your diet, however, you can’t just rely on curry powder, with its relatively little turmeric, or pop a few turmeric tablets. If taken alone, turmeric is poorly absorbed by the gut. To cross the intestinal barrier, turmeric must be combined with black pepper (which increases its effectiveness somewhere between 1 to 2000 times) and olive oil. Heating it also increases its bio-availability.

The right dose? Nobody really knows. If you’re fighting active cancer, ask your doctor what s/he would do if s/he were you, based on the evidence thus far and the dosages used in studies. Otherwise, a teaspoon a day might even be better than the ole apple trick.

Here’s how to make your daily dose more palatable:

Turmeric Concoction

1  T turmeric

1 T ground cumin

1/2 T ground black pepper

salt to taste

Mix well. Add to mustard and heat it up. Mix with eggs or chickpeas. Add tomatoes, onions, cilantro or dill if  desired.

Warning: At very high dosages, turmeric can cause diarrhea.

Reclining Big Toe 2

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ARMS Place  your hands in the strap, palms facing each other, and extend your arms above your head. Lift your head, gently drawing your arms backwards. Don’t hike your shoulders.

LIFTED LEG  Press your lifted leg into the strap and away from your body. Gently move the femur of your raised leg to the back of your thigh so that you feel space in the groin. You can then draw that leg as close as possible to your core as long as you maintain the space you’ve created in the groin.

GROUNDED LEG Keep the thigh on the ground moving downward (grounding your femur) and press that foot into a wall, real or imaginary.

FEET Make sure they are parallel, not turned out. Keep both feet active, toes spreading. Imagine you have toes in your heels, and spread them, too.

Reclining Big Toe 3

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Open the leg to the side of the body, keeping the center of both knees in line with the center of the toes. Keep the other thigh pressing into the ground. Try to keep both sides of the sacrum evenly pushing into the ground, although that will not be easy. Imagine that the hip bones, where Angi is touching, are moving in towards each other. Spread the toes, and imagine  your feet are pushing through walls.

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Very gently bring the raised leg to the opposite side. Keep your other thigh pressing into the ground. Pause at various spots along the way that feel they need releasing and gently sway your leg, drawing it towards and away from your shoulder, to lubricate the hip joint. Then hold the position and breathe into the sensation.

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When the sensation softens, you can move your leg further, into the next layer of tension. You don’t want pain, just “delicious discomfort”—Angi’s signature expression.

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Roll over on your hip a bit towards your extended leg, and rest your foot on a block or on the ground.  Imagine that both feet are pushing into walls.

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Turn your head towards the other side. Keep your shoulders on the ground, although that’s not always possible. You can always place a blanket o

Legs Up the Tree

This posture is good for stretching hamstrings, releasing the back, calming the nerves and improving  sleep. Don’t do it on your own if you have high blood pressure.

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Bring one hip close to a tree or a wall.

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Swivel the legs up, and lie on the ground.

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Keep the feet active.  Push through the heels and spread the toes. To stretch all three hamstring muscles, keep your legs straight.  Straighten the knees by drawing your femurs towards the tree, but don’t strain the hamstrings. If need be, move further away from the tree.

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You can do this with or without a block under your sacrum. The sacrum should be evenly pressing into the block to build stability and a strong foundation in your sacral area.

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You can also do this with straps, placing one around the tops of your thighs, one a little lower and one just above or below your knees.