Eat a Rainbow
We really mean a rainbow of fruits and vegetables. Don’t limit yourself to the same old apples, oranges, and bananas. Most studies on diet and cancer have definitively linked higher fruit and vegetable consumption to lower risks of an array of cancers, including those of the breast, prostate, lung, mouth, esophagus, stomach, and colon. Johns Hopkins University researchers found that when they studied more than 6,000 adults, those who ate about five servings of produce a day lowered their risk of dying of cancer by 35 per cent compared to those who ate less than one serving a day.
Scientists are still working out the mystery of which compounds are most effective against various cancers. What’s clear is that these nutrients work best when they work together, so eating that rainbow we mentioned is far more effective than relying on supplements.
Aim for: At the very least, get 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, though 7 to 10 is highly recommended.
Have a Whole Lot of Whole Grains
There are more reasons than you can shake a stalk at to eat more whole grains. You may not think of them as a source of antioxidants, but they are. And they contain plant estrogens called lignans, which help lower estrogen levels and encourage cancer cells to self-destruct.
Aim for: Research suggests that eating at least four servings of whole grains a week lowers overall cancer risk by 34 per cent. However, to meet recommended daily fiber goals and get the protective compounds linked to overall health, it’s best to eat at least three servings every day.
Water Yourself Frequently
Drinking water and non-caffeinated beverages (skim milk, herbal tea) may help protect against bladder cancer because fluids dilute any potential carcinogens lurking in urine. Plus, the more trips you take to the loo, the less time carcinogens are in contact with the bladder lining.
Aim for: Drink enough fluids throughout the day so that your urine is very pale.
Feast on Fatty Fish
If you’re fishing for anticancer foods, you might try snaring a salmon (good luck with that, unless you’re a bear). This famously heart-healthy fish, as well as other fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as albacore tuna, sardines, mackerel, and rainbow trout, may also help keep cancer at bay. Some studies already show an association between fatty fish consumption and lower risk of breast, colon, prostate, and lung cancers.
Aim for: Canada’s Food Guide recommends at least two Food Guide Servings (one serving equals 75 grams of fish each week).
Grab a Green Tea
If you want to avoid cancer, it may be time you acquired a taste for green tea, a potent source of cancer-fighting antioxidants that can protect against the DNA damage that causes cells to turn cancerous. In cell studies, one of the most important of these antioxidants, called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), blocked an enzyme that cancer cells need to grow.
Aim for: To get significant anticancer benefits, you’ll probably need to drink four cups a day.
Go for Garlic
Whether or not garlic wards off vampires, it does seem to help ward off cancer, especially stomach and colorectal cancer. Chalk it up to garlic’s powerful sulfur compounds, which flush out carcinogens before they can damage cell DNA and force cancer cells that do develop to self-destruct.