Our body is our temple, so the saying goes, but for many, it is only until something goes wrong with our body that we really begin to appreciate what part food has to play in our overall health and fitness. If you have been bought up on a diet of junk food, with chips, cakes, pasties and pizzas forming the mainstay of your food intake, it would not be altogether surprising to imagine that later on in life, you might be at risk from certain diseases, such as cancer, heart attacks, type 2 diabetes and strokes. There is enough evidence to show that what we eat has an important effect on our bodies, and if we keep putting in foods that are deemed to be unhealthy, then it stands to reason that our bodies are going to suffer in the long run.
This is not to say however, that a person who eats a healthy diet will never be at risk from certain ailments, as environment and genes also come into play. But our diet is the one thing that we have utmost control over. No one forces us to eat what we do not want to. It is upto us to ensure that what we give our bodies is the best, the healthiest and the most nutritional food we can find. So what is classed as good food and why? How do some foods help to prevent cancer and how do they go about it? Here we find out the best foods to eat if you want to maintain a healthy lifestyle and increase your chances of remaining cancer free.
Broccoli, and most other cruciferous vegetables, contain phytochemicals called glucosinolates that our bodies convert into bio-active substances called isothiocyanates or ‘ITC’s’. These ITCs’ work in three ways to combat cancer; they stop certain cancer-promoting enzymes, help eliminate some potential carcinogens from the body and induce the death of damaged cells that could otherwise turn cancerous, especially in the digestive tract. Cook them very briefly in boiling water to ensure you are getting the most nutrients out.
There is quite a lot of conflicting information in the media about soy beans. It was first thought that the phytoestrogens in soy could help to prevent prevent breast cancer – and then other studies found that they could actually contribute to cancer risk. Researchers are still not too clear but say that moderation is the key. However, in small amounts this powerful little bean can lower bad cholesterol, reduce risk of heart disease, stabilize blood sugars, heal stomach ulcers and help you gain muscle. This is due to the saponins, phytic acids, phytosterols, trypsin inhibitors, and peptides it contains which can be a big boon to your health when eaten in small quantities as part of a balanced, diverse, healthy diet.
Remember your parents telling you that if you wanted to see in the dark you should eat up your carrots? Well that’s not strictly true but scientists have discovered a natural fungicide in them that helps to prevent the growth of tumors. Called falcarinol, carrots have also been found to improve eyesight, strengthen the immune system, promote digestive health, increase good cholesterol and protect against heart disease. was finally singled out. Researcher Dr. Kirsten Brandt recommends that we all eat at least one small carrot every day.
There are bio-active compounds in walnuts that may reduce the risk of developing breast cancer. “Among the many bioactive compounds found in nuts are phytosterols and flavonoids,” says Anna Denny, a nutrition scientist at the British Nutrition Foundation. “More research is needed before it will be possible to attribute specific health benefits of nuts to specific bioactive compounds because nuts contain a complex mixture of different bioactive compounds.”
Live good bacteria in yogurt, known as pro-biotics, inhabit our digestive systems and work to fight off harmful bacteria. It keeps your gut healthy and working at full capacity. There is a recent study however, that found certain bacteria in yogurt could someday be used as a natural alternative to chemotherapy. Bifidobacteria can actually hunt down tumors in the body and grow inside them, destroying malignant cells. Researchers at the Cork Cancer Research Center in Ireland say that it could be as simple as handing a patient a cup of yogurt with a high concentration of specific bacteria.