Thursday, August 22, 2013

Make Our Food Work For Us

by guest blogger Jody Perrecone

Earlier this month, I attended Veggie Fest in Naperville, Illinois.  Not just for vegetarians, this festival drew over 25,000 people, had food demonstrations, dozens of speakers, and over 100 booths.

One of the speakers was Sara Sukumar, PhD, Professor of Oncology and Pathology and Director of the Breast Cancer Program at Johns Hopkins University. She spoke on anti-cancer properties in specific foods.  Here is her list:

  • Cruciferous Vegetables - This includes broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale, bok choy, cauliflower, collard greens, radishes, and watercress.  They contain the chemical, sulforaphane, that excites the good enzymes and suppresses the enzymes that are harmful to the body. Cruciferous vegetables boost our immunity system and prevents cancer-causing chemicals from entering the cells.  
  • Green Tea - Contains catechins which prevents cells from mutating. Mutated or damaged cells do not properly interpret the signals that tell it how to work, thus the cells can reproduce uncontrollably. 
  • Garlic - Allicin in garlic blocks the formation of cancer-causing substances and can reduce colorectal cancer risk by 50%.
  • Turmeric - This spice is protective against all types of cancers. Curcumin is the active ingredient in turmeric.  A study a MD Anderson Cancer Center discovered curcumin’s amazing ability to differentiate cancer cells from normal cells and create cell death in cancer cells only, while promoting better cell health in non-cancerous cells [1].
  • Exercise - Lean people lead healthier lives and live longer.  Exercise boosts the immune system.  Dr. Sukumar recommends 30 minutes of exercise a day. “No time for exercise now?  You better have time for illness later” says Dr. Sukumar.
  • Reduce Stress - Life and stress cannot be separated, but learn how to manage stress.  Stress releases bad hormones into the body and can give a sense of ill being.
Dr. Sukumar reported poor diets are responsible for 30% of all cancers and 80% of all heart disease.  Her recommendations listed are not difficult to incorporate into our lives. 

The point is this - the food we eat can work for us or against us.  Make sure what you are eating is working for you by making these foods a part of your diet.  Replace foods you may be eating now that are high in fat, sugar, and salt with natural foods including vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes that have the perfect balance of nutrients working for us.

Jody Perrecone is a corporate manager for the Complete Health Improvement Project (CHIP). CHIP is an international wellness program focusing on lifestyle interventions to create a healthier workforce and reduce overall healthcare costs. Jody works with hospitals, corporations, and communities to offer CHIP programs throughout the U.S.

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Cancer Lett. 2008 Aug 18; 267(1):133-64. doi:10.1016/jcanlet.2008.03.025.Epub 2008 May 6.

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