For the past 5 years I have been reading about how foods can directly effect our health and our risk of certain illnesses including cancer.
A recent lecture given by John Farquhar, MD from Stanford University, reinforces all the things that I have been reading and blogging about.
There is continuing compelling evidence that the food we ingest has a direct relationship on your risk of certain cancers—more of a relationship than genetics.
Longterm studies that compared the rates of breast, colon, and prostate cancer showed a dramatically lower rate in countries that have traditionally lower meat consumption and high intake of fruits, veggies and grains. The USA has a 10 times higher rate of these cancers than in India and Peru, for example. But over the past 30 years, the rates of cancers have increased relative to the increase in the adoption of western diets.
“Cultures that traditionally include (a moderate amount of whole)soy intake in their diets appear to have a lower risk from breast, colon, and prostate cancer,” Farquhar said. “When the diet changes, so do the cancer rates……..it may be a mixture of increased meat in the diet or a loss of protective foods, but the rates shifted dramatically and rapidly. With no real answers, my suggestion is to copy the lifestyles of cultures with low cancer rates.”
I always see lists and lists of “things we should be doing for your health”. While we try for perfection, I find (speaking for myself) that it’s not easy and I don’t like feeling like a failure!
So here is the list from Dr Farquhar…try to “take 3” of these and see if you can fit them into your diet today.
- One serving (8-10 grams) of soy protein from tofu, soy milk, or edamame.
- One cruciferous vegetable. Cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, bok choy, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli. These have exceptional cancer fighting benefits.
- One serving of a vegetable from the onion family, such as onions, shallots, leeks, scallions, or garlic.
- Two fruits, especially berries, but stay away from juice which lacks fiber.
- Omega-3 fatty acids three times a week from fish or capsules containing 1 gram of fish-oil fatty acids. Flax, soy, and canola are also sources of omega-3 fatty acids, but the body does better if the fish oil sources are included.
- Vitamin D from time in the sun (10 min/day…3x/week) or in capsule form of 2000 IU/day.
- One teaspoon of turmeric.
- Three servings of tomato-preferably heated-each week.
“Eat red meat only once a month, and limit poultry, pork, and egg yolks to no more than twice a week. He also suggested avoiding convenience foods, products with fructose, frozen dinners, canned soups, and fast food because of their high salt, sugar, or saturated fat content. Avoid white bread and anything that comes in a crinkly bag”, he said.
crinkly bag….no……….that does not mean Fiddle Faddle is healthy!
If you view food as medicine, it will really take the joy out of eating. And eating should be a joy. But I think you can have it both ways. With each little step you take….even if it’s going for the fruit salad with your burger instead of the fries…you are accomplishing a “change in choice”. With enough of these changes, you will accomplish “health”.
Good life and smart eating to you!
John W. Farquhar, MD, is a professor emeritus of medicine and of health research and policy. He founded the Stanford Prevention Research Center in 1972 and served as director until 1998. He was named the first C.F. Rehnborg Professor of Preventive Medicine in 1989. For the past 40 years he has studied community-based methods of disease prevention and has made major contributions to basic, clinical, and public health knowledge about preventing heart disease and other chronic diseases.