Fighting Cancer with Phytonutrients

Most of us have searched for “foods that can prevent cancer” online but little did we know that the simplest answer to our question is to eat plants. These contain phytonutrients that when you eat or drink, may help prevent disease,  keep your body working properly and even combat carcinogens.

Phytonutrients, or phytochemicals, came from the Greek word “phytos” which means plants. These chemicals help protect plants from germs, fungi, bugs, and other threats. Foods containing phytonutrients are fruits, vegetables and plant-based products like whole grains, nuts, beans and tea.

Laboratory findings show that phytonutrients have the potential to stimulate the immune system, block substances we eat, drink and breathe from becoming carcinogens, reduce the kind of inflammation that makes cancer growth more likely, prevent DNA damage and help with DNA repair and slow the growth rate of cancer cells.

These are some phytonutrients that can prevent cancer and the foods you likely to find them:

Isoflavones

These chemicals may protect against breast cancer by protecting cells from estrogen. These plant estrogens are able to take up space on estrogen receptors where the body’s estrogen otherwise would have attached. Because these plant estrogens are much weaker than human estrogen, they help minimize the hormonal activity that is believed to promote cancer growth. Foods rich in isoflavones are soybeans and soy products (tofu, soy milk, edamame, etc.) which can also inhibit tumor growth.

Isothiocyanates

These are found in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, collard greens, kale, cauliflower and Brussel sprouts.

Studies found out that these have been shown to prevent lung cancer among non-smokers as well as other types of cancer because it may induce detoxification of carcinogens, block tumor growth and work as antioxidants.

Resveratrol

Resveratrol is found in red wine, grapes, berries, and peanuts.

It shows a dramatic tendency to decrease risk of many types of cancer. Studies show that resveratrol may slow tumor growth in the lungs by preventing the replication of DNA, prevent tumors from forming both in the lungs and the colon by destroying potential carcinogens, prevent liver cancer because of its antioxidant activity, prevent breast cancer by protecting cells from the harmful effects of linoleic acid, a type of fatty acid implicated in breast cancer, and arrest the growth of leukemia cells.

Allicin

Allicin is found abundantly in fresh garlic and in smaller amounts in onions, chives, and leeks.

This chemical acts as an antioxidant similar to vitamins A, C, and E, and may help protect the body from free radicals. It is also possible that allicin fights cancer by reacting with carcinogens and changing their structure so they can no longer initiate tumors.

Terpenes

Terpenes are found in cherries, citrus fruit peel and rosemary.

These may protect cells from becoming cancerous, slow cancer cell growth, strengthen immune function, limit production of cancer-related hormones, fight viruses and work as antioxidants.

Just as the old saying goes, “You are what you eat.” Maximum health benefits are possible if one eats a varied diet high in a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans. Take in foods that have high contents of phytochemicals, these are fruits and vegetables which are brightly-colored and have strong taste.

You’ll be on your way to living life to the fullest with a healthy diet coupled with an active lifestyle!

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