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Colorful Foods Can Kill Cancer
Colorful Foods Can Kill Cancer
More than 200 large population studies have shown that people who eat colorful fruits and vegetables are less likely to develop serious illnesses. Regular consumption of different colors and types of fruits and vegetables ensures a consistent supply of a variety of health-promoting nutrients that have been shown to protect cells. These powerful nutrients are called phytonutrients (“phyto” meaning plant), and researchers have identified more than 25,000 different phytonutrients in plant-based foods.
Phytonutrients represent a wide array of diverse compounds, including flavonoids and polyphenols. These natural plant pigments are responsible for the diverse natural colors found in fruits and vegetables—the bright blue of blueberries, dark green of spinach, and shiny red of tomatoes.
Phytonutrients also have potent antioxidant activity. Antioxidants neutralize reactive oxidative compounds called free radicals, generated in the body as a result of exposure to sunlight, radiation, infection, and chemicals, as well as from metabolic processes such as breathing, eating, and moving. If our bodies lack sufficient antioxidants, then these reactive compounds can cause extensive cell and organ damage and, ultimately, disease. Our bodies naturally produce some antioxidants; however, we can obtain an abundant amount of antioxidants from foods—particularly fruits and vegetables.
Perhaps you’ve heard the term polyphenols in association with grape juice or red wine. Polyphenols are phytonutrients found in the skins of most berries, including blueberries, strawberries, cherries, raspberries, blackberries, and grapes. Polyphenols exert potent antioxidant activity, binding to reactive oxidative molecules and preventing them from damaging cells.
Polyphenols are also important because they have powerful anti-inflammatory actions, protect DNA against damage, improve the health of insulin receptors—thereby reducing insulin resistance—and positively influence many of the key hormonal pathways in the body.
Get your greens
One of the key colors to focus on in your diet is green. We should all be eating at least three, preferably five, servings of vegetables daily, with a strong emphasis on leafy greens. Unfortunately, most Americans are coming up short of that goal.
One convenient, effective way to get more greens in your diet is by consuming a “green” drink every day. Did you know that just a teaspoon of most quality green drinks provides the nutritional equivalent to about a serving of spinach? In fact, in most cases, just one serving of a concentrated, high-quality green drink with wheat grass and other potent green ingredients is about the same as eating five servings of vegetables.
Exceptions to the color rule
Consistently you will find that colorful fruits and vegetables are some of the most healthful foods you can eat, but there are three "non" colorful foods that are also very healthy options:
1. White fish. While colorful trout, salmon, and ahi tuna are very healthy, many types of white fish are also healthy and contain essential fatty acids in the form of fish oils. Keep in mind that wild-caught fish are a better alternative because the risk of exposure to chemicals is smaller. While there continues to be concern over toxins found in fish (specifically larger species), eating fish is a healthy option when consumed in moderation.
2. Garlic. Don’t let the bland white color of garlic fool you—it’s packed with power. Garlic is one of the most health-promoting vegetables you can eat.
3. Mushrooms. When you think of mushrooms you may be thinking only of the humble white button, but there are several other kinds of mushrooms that—although they are not very colorful -- are incredibly healthful. Some key therapeutic mushrooms to add to your diet include shiitake, maitake, reishi, cremini, Portobello, and turkey tail. And yes, even that common white button mushroom is good for your health.
Color is key
When we consume a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables, we obtain many different nutritional compounds critical to vibrant health on all levels. If you only remember one thing about the Five to Thrive plan, remember this: The more color the better!
Research regarding the new study of epigenetics is showing us that we can actually influence how our genes behave. Eating colorful fruits and vegetables is one example of how we can positively influence our genes. Note: for more information on epigenetics, read Karolyn Gazella's PsychologyToday.com blog here.
Editor’s Note: Portions of this article were excerpted with permission from Five to Thrive: Your Cutting-Edge Cancer Prevention Plan (Active Interest Media, 2011). For more information, visit FivetoThrivePlan.com.
Dr. Lise Alschuler is a highly respected naturopathic oncologist and a sought-after speaker to both consumers and healthcare professionals on the topic of integrative cancer prevention and treatment. Karolyn A. Gazella is the publisher of Wellness Times and Natural Medicine Journal. Together Alschuler and Gazella have written Five to Thrive: Your Cutting-Edge Cancer Prevention Plan (Active Interest Media 2011) and The Definitive Guide to Cancer (Random House revised 3rd Edition 2010). For more information visit FivetoThrivePlan.com.
October 4th, 2012