These days, we are all hearing about more and more people succumbing to cancers of many types. As a cancer survivor myself, I have found renewed hope and inspiration in Michael Pollan’s book, ”Food Rules” and David Servan-Schreiber, MD’s book, ”Anti-Cancer: A New Way of Life.” In this week’s column I will share some simple rules to follow in your efforts to avoid cancer and other illnesses, and support your efforts towards optimum health:
• When planning your meals, make your main courses the vegetables, as Dr. Servan-Schreiber describes: Make your meal the opposite of the cheeseburger with a wimpy leaf of iceberg lettuce. Add your meat as a topping to your veggies in a 20/80 percent ratio, respectively. Include plentiful healthy fats such as organic butter, coconut oil and olive oil.
• Choose a wide variety of vegetables, eat different-colored veggies at each meal, and mix together a variety. One of my favorite anti-cancer vegetables is broccoli. Try it topped with tomato sauce with added garlic, onions and leeks. The tomato sauce enhances the anti-cancer effects of the broccoli. Adding healthy fats helps your body take advantage of the plant’s antioxidants.
• Choose organic food when possible, and support your local farmer that does not use toxic chemicals even if they haven’t gone through the expensive organic certification process. If neither is available, eat whatever broccoli is available!
• To spice up your meals add freshly ground pepper and turmeric. The yellow-colored turmeric is a great natural anti-inflammatory spice, with actions similar to Cox-2 inhibitors available at the pharmacy without the side effects. Studies show that constituents in the black pepper may assist our bodies to absorb the important nutrients in our food.
• Avoid adding potatoes to your meals; as nightshade vegetables they can contribute to inflammation and cancer growth, and are often laden with pesticide residues (unless organic).
• As I have written often in this column, eat fish! Smaller fish such as sardines, mackerel and anchovies have less mercury and PCBs than tuna. The FDA warns that pregnant women should avoid swordfish and shark due to their high levels of contaminants. Always choose wild-caught salmon instead of toxic farmed salmon.
• Eat only eggs from chickens that get to spend their days outdoors, pecking at the bugs and grubs in the ground. Chickens are not vegetarians! Find out what your local egg supplier is feeding their egg-laying chickens. If their diet is mostly corn and soybeans, choose a supplier that offers their chickens pasture instead. The eggs from mostly grain-fed chickens have a higher and potentially unhealthy level of inflammation-promoting Omega-6 fats.
• For salad dressings, use avocado or olive oil (but not for frying), which are a source of healthy fats, and avoid the (mostly rancid and GMO) corn, canola and soybean oils, as their levels of Omega-6 fats will disrupt your Omega 3/6/9 oil balance.
• If you eat grains, eat only whole grains, avoiding refined white flours and products made with them. Soak your grains before cooking to break down the digestion-inhibiting phytic acids.
• Instead of sweet treats, eat fruit – mostly berries, apples and stone fruits. If you intend to enjoy the many health benefits of chocolate, make sure it is dark chocolate with at least 70 percent cocoa, and is organic and ”fair-trade.”
• To get the healthy, cancer-fighting catechins, replace some of your coffee and black tea with green tea, making sure it is organic and fair trade as well. If you drink coffee, choose Swiss water processed organic decaf.
• Give yourself the gift of occasional exceptions to these rules, as long as you follow the rules on a daily basis. Enjoy the occasional treats – hopefully relatively healthy choices, like some organic cheesecake with healthy fats! Salud!
At Natural Grocers in Eugene, where I am the store’s Nutritional Health Coach, we offer free classes that include plenty of information about healthy eating choices, and free one-on-one health coaching sessions (call 541-345-3300). Please ”like” our Natural Grocers-Eugene Facebook page. Find our store’s schedule of free classes at: https://www.naturalgrocers.com/store-location/eugene/.