Friday, November 29, 2013

Foods Rich in Antioxidants That Can Prevent Cancer

Since my mission is to use this blog to share with everyone not only what I happen to know about cooking in general -- but also how our choices of food can help us to be healthier, and even live longer-- I have been spending a lot of time trying to find out more about the negative and positive consequences of eating certain foods. In one of my research, surprisingly, this is what I have discovered about the formation of cancers and the foods that can really help to prevent these most feared diseases from forming, or even taking over our bodies!

Although researchers believe consuming food rich in antioxidants, vitamins and mineral (selenium) can help to protect the body from oxygen free radicals. In this article, I will be focusing only on antioxidants and its mechanisms of action in cancer prevention.

We will first look at the “bad guys” known as Free Radicals ( the guys to be blamed for cancers). We will then look at “good guys” called Antioxidants (some of the main guys known for defeating these “bad guys”), and the usual strategies used to defeat them. Finally, you will be provided with some examples of foods rich in antioxidants.

What are Free Radicals?

During metabolism most of the oxygen in the human body in converted into stable forms of carbon dioxide and water.  However, a small percentage usually ends up in an unstable form known as oxygen free radicals, which are thought to attack and damage the cell membrane and DNA, leading to the formation of cancers.

What Are Antioxidants?

They are cancer fighting agents

How Do Antioxidants Work?
Antioxidants absorb free radicals before they can cause damage, and they also interrupt the sequence of reactions once damage has begun.

What are Some Good Sources of Antioxidants?

1. Polyphenols - potent cancer-fighting antioxidants found in fresh fruits and vegetables, many grains, and green tea. The antioxidant effect of one of the polyphenols in green tea, epigallocatechin  gallate, or EGCG, is believed to be at least 25 times more effective than vitamin E and 100 times more effective than vitamin C at protecting cells and the DNA from free radical damage that may result in diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and other. It has been said that EGCG is twice as strong as the red wine antioxidants resveratrol that helps prevent heart disease.

Polyphenols are known to do the following:

  • Block the formation nitrosamines and quell the activation of carcinogens(substance that helps to cause cancer) 
  • Turn off the formation of cancer cells 
  • Increase the body’s natural detoxification defenses and thereby retarding the progression of the disease.

2.  Green Tea
Research findings have led some scientists to believe that green tea might be especially helpful in preventing gastrointestinal cancers, including those of the stomach, small intestines, pancreas, and colon. Consumption of green tea also has been linked to a lower incidence of lung, esophageal, and estrogen-related cancers, including most breast cancers. Based on research, in Japan, for example, although people were found to smoke twice as much as people in the U.S, the incidence of lung cancer is surprisingly 50% less than that of the United States. Researchers believe this is due to the fact that the Japanese drink green tea more regular, compared to people in the U.S. For the prevention of cancer, it’s recommended that you drink two or more cups of green tea daily.

3. Phytochemicals
These chemicals are found in abundance in fruits and vegetables. It’s believed that they do exert a remarkably strong effect in cancer prevention by blocking the formation of cancerous tumors and disrupting the process at almost every step of the way.

Video Tags: Phytochemicals, Cancer, Destroy Cancer Cells, Foods, Fight Cancer

Phytochemicals are believed to exert their protective action by:-
  • Removing cancer-causing agents from cells before they cause damage
  • Activating enzymes that detoxify cancer-causing agents
  • Keeping carcinogens from binding onto cells
  • Preventing carcinogens from binding to DNA
  • Disassembling cancer-causing precursors to non-cancerous forms
  • Disrupting the chemical structure of cell molecules that can produce carcinogens
  • Depriving small tumors of oxygen and nutrients by preventing them from accessing small blood vessels

Table below provides a list of Phytochemicals, food you can obtain these from, and their effects.

Source:Werner W.K.Hoeger et al, Lifetime Physical Fitness and Wellness, 6th ed.

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