A common side effect of the western world becoming more and more health conscious, is that people are realizing that food is medicine. Certain foods can be used for their antibacterial and antimicrobial properties to treat certain infections, certain spices and herbs can be used to treat things like the common cold and eating more greens, well, just makes you feel better!
What people may not realize, however, is that this is nothing new. This is not new age or alternative medicine, it is the original! Ancient civilizations didn’t have Aspirin, Pepto-Bismol or chemotherapy drugs. And they certainly did not have our accurate and elaborate means of diagnosing ailments. They had whole foods, spices and herbs.
Nevertheless, I am happy that things often have a way of coming full-circle. Many studies are beginning to look at the anticancer properties of different herbs and spices, with very promising results! I believe that incorporating certain spices and foods that contain anticancer properties into your diet can be an effective and responsible supplemental treatment. Jump in and become a “spice girl” (or boy!) with me, and spice up your life! Here are my top five to thrive.
- At the top of my list is Turmeric. Turmeric is the bees-knees in the “cancer food medicine” world, thanks to the polyphenol, curcumin, that is contains. This powerful micronutrient has the ability to inhibit the growth of cancers at various stages of mutation and development. It can also trigger apoptosis, which is programmed cell death (yay!). Studies have also shown curcumin can boost the effectiveness of chemotherapy, if you have chosen this treatment route. As for cancer prevention, studies have shown that countries that consume higher amounts of turmeric have lower rates of certain types of cancer, and it has been suggested that turmeric (curcumin) can stop precancerous mutations from becoming cancer.During my cancer treatment, I learned to incorporate this spice into my diet in many different ways. And it is fun to use, because it adds vibrant colour to your food! Try my Turmeric Shake, or one of my favourite breakfast foods (or lunch or dinner…if you’re into that sort of thing), my Fabulous Flax-er Jacks, which both contain turmeric and other anticancer spices in a fun way.
- We love Oregano for the phytochemical, carnosol, it contains. Oregano extract has been shown to arrest cancer cell growth, as well as apoptosis (there’s that word again!).During my cancer treatment, I got in the routine of taking five drops of oregano oil a day as part of my supplements, to help support my immune system. I love my oregano oil, even though it may be strong enough to make you grow hair on your back (or head, which may not be a bad thing if you are undergoing chemotherapy!). Your daily oregano oil dose may not be your taste buds favour time of day, but they will get used to it. And it works – my six months of chemotherapy treatment spanned through the winter flu season, with many of my family members and friends coming down with nasty bugs, and I managed to steer clear of all colds and flus.
- Cinnamon for cancer. Cinnamon is a very comforting spice, often used in thanksgiving and christmas foods, which are times we usually spend with family and loved ones. So we are basically already programmed to love this spice! Cinnamon protects against free radical damage, and has antitumour properties that result in apoptosis (I know, we love this word, right!).I probably don’t need to offer too many tips for incorporating this one into your diet, although I will say that again, my Fabulous Flax-er Jacks and Turmeric Shake both contain a healthy dose of it!
- Cardamom, or should I say carda-yum! Cardamom contains IC3 and DIM, which are two powerful phytochemicals and anticancer compounds. Early research suggests that consumption of this spice may prevent certain types of cancer. Cardamom also contains antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties and is a powerful antioxidant.I have made a new kitchen rule where I add cardamom to pretty much any recipe that calls for cinnamon. I call the duo cinnamom and they love each other. My Fabulous Flax-er Jacks and Turmeric Shake are both great intro’s to cardamom if it is a new spice to you!
- Everyone loves a Ginger! Ginger root that is… This powerful spice has more than 100 bioactive compounds and contains anti-inflammatory properties. Early studies show that ginger has the ability to fight against cancer in two different ways; by apoptosis, and/or by a process where the cell essentially digests itself. Furthermore, is commonly used to settle stomach upset, which can be helpful if you are experiencing nausea during chemotherapy treatment.I love incorporating ginger root into asian and indian cuisine. Use fresh ginger rather than ginger powder if possible. I add ginger to my morning juice ritual, and it also adds a brilliant zing to my Turmeric Shake.