In her one-hour presentation, “Designing an Optimal Plant-based Diet,” Brenda Davis (a registered dietitian who works in nutrition research) puts it all together — the BIG picture — the many things we need to consider in order to eat for optimal health. While she does not talk about diet and cancer prevention per se, she talks about the key features of an optimal plant-based diet. And, bottom line, a healthy anti-cancer diet is a plant-based (or mostly plant-based) diet that’s provides all the nutrients we need, and within that context, specifically incorporates foods known to have anticancer properties and avoids foods and cooking methods that promote carcinogenesis.
While those of you who visited this blog earlier know that I planned to post the key points of her talk here, I see now that there is no need for me to do so. It is far ar better for you to get the key points from Brenda herself!
I just listened to a MOST INTERESTING 20-minute TED Talks presentation by William Li, MD, CEO and Scientific Director of the Angiogenesis Foundation. In this talk, “Can we Eat to Starve Cancer?”, Dr. Li highlights the compelling new frontier of research about food and angiogenesis — the process by which the body grows new blood vessels.
He explains that our dietary choices can tamp down angiogenesis around cancer cells (good: starve cancer cells because they don’t have a good blood supply by which to get the nutrients and other substances they need to grow) or rev up angiogenisis (bad: promote the growth of cancer cells because they have a good blood supply). In addition, a diet that tamps down angiogenisis (an anti-angiogenic diet) not only helps to prevent cancer or a recurrence of cancer, but also helps to prevent Alzheimer’s, heart disease, and obesity! The thinking is that the same mechanism contributes to all of these disease processes.
On this blog page are two slides from Dr. Li’s presentation. The first slide gives a list of foods (not complete list) that appear to have anti-angiogenic properties. If you have read the book, Anti-Cancer – A New Way of Life, by David Servan-Schreiber, M.D., PhD, you will note that Dr. Li’s list of foods in this slide and Dr. Servan-Screiber’s lists of foods in his book and on his website are not exactly the same. I think that this is at least in part because Dr. Servan-Schreiber does not focus ONLY on the cancer-inhibiting mechanism of anti-angiogenisis. Dr. Servan-Schreiber concludes his chapter, “Cancer’s Weaknesses”, (about how to fight cancer by attacking cancer’s vulnerabilities), by stating: “All the facts bear out this conclusion; everything that strengthens our precious immune cells also impedes the growth of cancers. All in all, by stimulating our immune cells, fighting inflammation (with nutrition, physical exercise, and emotional balance), and fighting angiogenisis, we undercut cancer’s spread.” (Anti Cancer, 2nd edition, page 53).
It is currently understood that inflammation in the body promotes angiogenesis. So foods that promote inflammation AND foods that promote angiogenesis itself are BOTH thought to promote the development and progression of cancer. And, angiogenesis is not the only mechanism that affects the development of cancer in the body. The point is that to prevent help cancer you need to provide your body with a wide VARIETY of anti-cancer foods that go after cancer cells in many different ways. So choosing a diet that contains many DIFFERENT anti-cancer foods — and very few cancer promoting-foods — is the best way to tip the balance in YOUR body toward good health!
In addition, as both Drs. Li and Servan-Screiber point out: The COMBINATION of healthful foods (at a meal or eaten closely in time) appear to produce a SYNERGY that’s more anti-angiogenic (or more broadly, anti-cancer) than the individual foods alone!
So…here’s how I decided to apply this information about synergy to my diet: At breakfast, I just started adding canned pumpkin (not canned pumpkin pie filling) to my oatmeal (and I have added that suggestion to the my earlier post about oatmeal). I also realized that for more variety, I could add frozen organic strawberries to my green tea, not just the frozen organic blueberries and raspberries I usually use. And…like I used to do, I could add a squirt of lemon juice to my tea, too. So now at breakfast when I have a bowl of oatmeal and a cup of tea, I’m getting LOTS of DIFFERENT anti-cancer foods and the assumption is that the synergy of all these foods working together helps makes my diet even more anti-cancer than the individual foods alone. I hope so! And…besides, it all tastes GREAT!
OK….now back to Dr. Li…. I was so impressed by Dr. Li’s talk that I listened to it three times (while exercising : – )), I joined the Angiogenisis Foundation (free to join), and I plan to go back to the Foundation’s website to learn more!
And…by the way…whenever my enthusiasm for the anti-cancer way of eating wanes, I re-listen to the talks/videos I have posted on this blog under the heading, “Check it out!”. It helps a lot!
NEW in 2012!EatToDefeat – See more videos that will convince you that the anti-angiogenic properties of food have POWERFUL anti-cancer effects! Also, at the eattodeat.org site, you can access a growing database of foods that fight cancer and recipes using these foods – and more!
To find all of the “Check it out!” posts (and the great video and audio programs that these posts point to), just go to the search box on this blog and enter the words “Check it out!”
You can now listen to Dr. David Servan-Schreiber’s talk, Natural Defenses in Preventing and Treating Cancer, through a link to the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine site (which offers a number of other worthwhile talks, too) or through the You Tube site (which gives you more control if you need to stop and re-start or back up and re-listen).
Even if you have heard some of Dr. Servan-Schreiber’s other talks, as mentioned in previous Monamifood “Check It Out” blog entries, it’s worth listening to this one because it has new information and also presents some of the familiar information in a new way. I think listening to Dr. Servan-Schreiber’s presentation may help you, as it did me, stay motivated to eat healthier and exercise more.
In fact, while listening to this program, I heard Dr. Servan-Schreiber talk about how scientists have documented that a couple drops of extracts from anti-cancer veggies helped the rats’ bodies defend themselves a lot better against cancer! Amazing! Convincing! And since I had some left-over baby Brussels sprouts in the refrigerator, I grabbed a few to munch on — right then and there! Yum!
The baby Brussels sprouts I had on hand were the 365 Brand Petite Baby Brussels Sprouts from the freezer section in Whole Foods. Now I plan to stock up on these little gems; heat them up in the microwave and store them in the refrigerator for quick and healthy and delicious snacking!