Here’s yet another reason to really pay attention to nourishing your body while you fight cancer or try to prevent it: As much as 70 percent of your immune system is in and around your gastrointestinal tract. If you take care of your gut, your immune function will grow stronger. And that will help you resist all kinds of diseases, including cancer. Here’s what you need to know…
Supporting the immune system is one of the motivations behind the push toward eating probiotics and fermented foods. The primary goal is to restore a healthy crop of intestinal microbes (called “flora”) to your gut. It’s an important step toward maintaining good health and defeating cancer.
Probiotics are “friendly” strains of bacteria and yeast that serve our immune, endocrine, and neurological systems. Our modern diets and overuse of antibiotics have caused a massive decline in the level of healthy bacteria in our bodies.
Plus, it’s not uncommon these days to find people in the U.S. who don’t consume any kind of fermented or cultured food on a regular basis. These foods contain yeasts and bacteria that replenish and support the vast colonies of microbes in your gut.
When you destroy the healthy microbes in your colon, harmful strains of yeast and bacteria take over and inflict terrible damage to your health. You won’t hear this from conventional doctors, but most experts in alternative cancer treatments believe if you want to defeat cancer, it’s essential to have a healthy balance of intestinal flora.
Probiotics help you come through
chemotherapy in better shape, too
Probiotics are especially useful while going through chemotherapy because they help protect the gut cells from the damage chemotherapy drugs can inflict. One of the side effects of powerful conventional cancer drugs is the inability to eat. Whether you’re suffering from nausea, or you’ve lost your appetite, these drugs are often the cause.
What’s more, in advanced cancer, up to 80 percent of patients suffer from cachexia, a physical wasting condition that involves weight loss and muscle loss.
Because of these risks it’s essential that anyone with cancer create or maintain a healthy gut so the body can absorb nutrients necessary for healthy function. And whether you suffer from late-stage cancer or you’re healthy as a horse, probiotics are clinically proven to help your body digest and absorb nutrients.
Probiotics can also help prevent cancer
Certain kinds of probiotics even help ferment fiber from our food, producing a molecule called butyric acid that’s believed to help stabilize DNA during replication. This action alone reduces the changes that may lead a cell to turn cancerous.
Probiotics also stop the growth of harmful microbes that create carcinogens.
Certain foods, like apples, also promote fermentation benefits similar to what probiotics offer. You’re surely familiar with the saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” That’s because the skin of an apple has a lot of fiber, or pectin. Pectin is fermented in your intestines and produces short-chain fatty acids. These acids keep harmful bacteria at bay. They also nourish the cells that line your intestines, making them stronger and more cancer-resistant.
The forgotten movement of fighting cancer
It’s a fact that the typical U.S. diet encourages many inflammatory diseases — not only cancer but also heart disease, arthritis, and diabetes. That gives us more incentive to find ways to make sure we’re really giving our bodies what they need to heal and stay healthy.
At the very least, roughly three-quarters of Americans don’t eat enough daily servings of fruits or vegetables. But along with an emphasis on fruits and vegetables, cancer patients also need a healthy intake of protein and iron-rich foods — otherwise, the patient becomes prone to anemia (low number of red blood cells) and edema (swelling caused by fluid).
Worth paying attention to is the Eat to Beat Cancer™ campaign, found at www.eattobeat.org. The premise behind the movement is that you can stop tumor growth and halt diseases like cancer by simply consuming the right arsenal of foods and beverages.
It’s a promising movement, especially since the advice is based on peer-reviewed and published research. The main emphasis is on whole foods.
Cancer-fighting diet help
Changing your diet is the least expensive way to reduce your cancer risk. And for those who have cancer, it’s one of the most effective ways to treat the disease. But you shouldn’t view it as a temporary thing. A lifelong commitment to a healthy diet is worth every ounce of effort it takes to make the switch.
Maintaining a bad diet while you’re battling cancer is like putting water in the gas tank of your car. It fills you up but doesn’t give your body the fuel to do anything. Worse yet, many foods actually feed cancer and help it grow. Yet, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the recipes and cookbooks that promise to help you defeat cancer with food. Maybe technology can help. .
Thanks to technology there’s a number of smart phone apps that can help you follow an anti-cancer diet. While I don’t endorse any of these apps, I suspect many of them offer easy access to reliable knowledge about eating a cancer-fighting diet for those who need it most. After all, you can use these apps right in the store to help you make better food choices. Here are just a few of the apps available at the time of this writing, and I’m sure they’re many more:
- Cancer Diet Assist
- Eat AntiCancer
- Alkaline Diet Guide
- Macrobiotic Diet Guide
- My Mediterranean Diet Tracker
Whether you use a diet-tracking app or a good old-fashioned cancer-fighting diet book, remember that the most important thing is to choose a healthy, whole food diet that includes lots of vegetables, fruits, unprocessed grains, lean meats, and good fats. Stay away from processed foods, sugar and over consumption of alcohol.
And don’t forget that the best way to get probiotics is to either take them as a supplement or eat cultured yogurt. Just make sure the yogurt has lots of live cultures and (hopefully) no sugar. The best bet is to make your own yogurt to ensure it’s rich in live cultures.
Good luck, and good eating!
- “12 Dietary Changes that Will Lower Your Cancer Risk.” Ask Dr. Sears: A Trusted Resource for Parents.
- “Ask The Nutritionist: Recipes for Fighting Cancer iPhone App.” Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
- “Top Cancer-Fighting Foods.” By Elizabeth Heubeck. Cancer Health Center, WebMD.
- “Eat to Defeat Cancer.”