A study published in 2015 in the journal Cancer revealed that eating a plant-based diet and avoiding meat and dairy can reduce a person’s risk of cancer or cancer recurrence. Nutrients in leafy green vegetables and whole grains are thought to be especially protective. In addition, increasing low sugar fruits, vegetables and fiber while reducing fat, sodium and added sugar is particularly important for cancer survivors, according to the study’s author, Fang Fang Zhang, M.D., Ph.D.
Dr. Neal Barnard and colleagues at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine created a list of principles to follow for optimal cancer prevention. This was published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition and includes the following:
1. Avoid dairy products to reduce risk of prostate cancer.
2. Limit or avoid alcohol to reduce the risk of cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, colon, rectum, and breast.
3. Avoid red and processed meat to reduce the risk of cancers of the colon and rectum.
4. Avoid grilled, fried, and broiled meats to reduce the risk of cancers of the colon, rectum, breast, prostate, kidney, and pancreas.
5. Eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables to reduce risk of several forms of cancer.
Some foods that have shown to be great for fighting cancer include cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts, cabbage) and berries. Eating plenty of these foods, as part of a whole-food plant-based diet, is a great strategy for cancer prevention.
Eating plenty of leafy greens also helps oxygenate the blood, thus keeping potential pathogens for the body that thrive in an anaerobic environment at bay.
Leafy green vegetables have a compound called chlorophyll which has been shown to prevent uptake of toxic substances that can lead to cancer. Chlorophyll in the diet has also been shown to prevent cancer cells from multiplying, increase our body’s ability to fight off foreign substances and stimulate cancer cell death.
All vegetables and fruits have various anti-oxidant qualities as well as qualities that help the body detoxify potential toxins and neutralize free radicals.
For example, vitamin C and carotenoids in carrots, citrus and leafy greens may be associated with decreased risk in breast cancer. Women who ate the highest amounts of these foods were found to have a lower risk for breast cancer than women who ate lower amounts.
A particularly powerful form of a plant-based diet is a raw foods diet, meaning fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds are consumed in their whole form, at or below 115°F, so all the vital enzymes, minerals and vitamins remain intact.
All processed foods on a raw food diet are also eliminated thus reducing potential inflammation in the body and one focuses on alive, vibrant and fresh natural produce. This way of eating meets all the guidelines stated above and includes plenty of fiber to help keep up regular waste elimination.
Advocates of a raw food diet, such as myself, claim that eating foods in their most natural raw state ensures a multitude of vitamins, minerals, digestive enzymes, antioxidants and phytochemicals are available to the body for optimal functioning.