Joseph R. Anticaglia MD
Medical Advisory Board
Former Surgeon General, C. Everett Koop MD, in a report dealing with “Diet” said: “If you do not smoke or drink excessively, your choice of diet can influence your long-term health more than any other action you may take.”
Dr. Koop’s comment brought me back to the days in my elementary school when one of our teachers mentioned ‘Roy G. Biv’… She used it as a means of remembering the colors of the rainbow (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet).
Articles and books have been written about the rainbow diet and how it could keep us healthy. But are there changes in the diet that you can make to help prevent cancer?
According to Dr. Donald Abrams, integrative oncologist, people with healthy dietary habits can act to reduce the risk of cancer and to combat cancer once they have been diagnosed with this disease.
Organic, rainbow colored fruits and vegetables ought to be increased in your regular diet and that of cancer patients for a number of reasons. Organic plant based foods are grown outdoors and without pesticides. These plants produce phytonutrients, chemicals which make the plants stronger and more apt to ward off attacks from birds, insects and safeguard themselves from the sun and other plants. The qualities in these foods when they become part of our diet strengthen us as well.
Inflammation is thought to enhance the development and spread of tumors. To reduce the initiation, promotion, progression and growth of cancer, we need to cut down on the excessive intake of foods that boost inflammation. Dairy products and animal fats are examples of food categories that should be eaten in moderation.
There has been puzzling information and opinions about sugar and cancer. If sugar doesn’t cause cancer and eliminating it from the diet of people with cancer doesn’t help, as studies suggest — why worry about it?
Dr. Abrams maintains that carbohydrates and sugars do not help people living with cancer because it causes the body to produces insulin-like growth factors that lead to inflammation; and inflammation has been linked to cancer cell proliferation.
Others put forth the notion that there’s an indirect link between sugar and the risk of getting cancer. Eating too many sugary products over time will cause you to become overweight or obese.
The America Cancer Society estimates two out of three Americans are overweight or obese. Scientific studies show that such weight gain has been linked to diabetes and more than a dozen cancers. It’s worth noting, after smoking, obesity has been singled-out as the most preventable cause of cancer.
Broccoli (indole-3carbinol), cabbage and cauliflower are phytonutrients that produce powerful chemicals to fight cancer. Processed meats, charred — overcooked foods or those with many additives should rarely appear on our kitchen or dining room tables because they increase your cancer risk.
Green tea (polyphenol) is an anti-inflammatory agent and so too are certain spices and herbs. Below is a snapshot of rainbow foods that fight free radicals as well as being antiinflammatory.
|RED||TOMATOES, WATERMELON, RED BELL PEPPERS, PINK GRAPEFRUIT, STRAWBERRY||LYCOPENE, BOOSTS IMMUNE SYSTEM, FIGHTS CANCER AND HEART DISEASE, ANTIOXIDANT|
|0RANGE||CARROTS, YAMS, PUMPKINS||BETA-CAROTENE, ANTIOXIDANT, REMOVES FREE RADICALS|
|YELLOW||LEMONS, BUTTERNUT SQUASH||VITAMIN C, ASCORBIC ACID, ANTIOXIDANT, BETA-CAROTENE, FIBER, VIT.|
|GREEN||KALE, SPINACH, BROCCOLI||EYE HEALTH, RICH IN LUTEIN AND CAROTENOIDS, REMOVE FREE RADICALS, HAS FOLATE AND FIBER ANTI-CANCER PROPERTIES|
|BLUE||BLUEBERRIES||ANTHOCYANINS, COMBATS FREE RADICLALS|
|INDIGO VIOLET||GRAPES, RED WINE||RESVERATROL, ANTIOXIDANT|
HC Smart Rainbow Foods
Despite what has been discussed, a healthy, plant based diet is no guarantee that it will prevent cancer 100% of the time. But you can do a lot to lower your cancer risk.
Obesity is a significant risk factor for various types of cancer, such as; colon, pancreatic, esophageal and breast cancer. It makes sense to maintain a healthy body weight, eat nutritiously and exercise regularly to reduce your risk of developing cancer.
- Abrams Donald, Weil Andrew; Integrative Oncology; Oxford Press, 2009
- Am Cancer Society ACS Guidelines for Nutrition and Physical Activity for Cancer Prevention; April 13, 2017
- Grivvennikov S et al; Immunity, Inflammation and Cancer; Cell, March 19, 2010
This article is intended solely as a learning experience. Please consult your physician for diagnostic and treatment options.