4 Foods That Will Help You Prevent Cancer & Stay Healthy For Life

Written by Mia Russo Stern
4 Foods That Will Help You Prevent Cancer & Stay Healthy For Life

Photo by Ina Peters

As the founder of Brooklyn Culinary Arts—and as a breast cancer survivor and wellness coach—it has become my life’s mission to understand how we can help ourselves prevent and stave off cancer. We all want to stay as healthy as possible over the long-term, and there are so many amazing foods and simple lifestyle changes that can help.

There are so many quick and easy ways to improve your wellness quotient, but one of the best is to have your vitamin D3 levels checked by your physician.This is a simple blood test that your doctor probably already does. Empower yourself; ask for copies of your blood work, keep them in a binder, and compare them from visit to visit. The name of the blood test that you want to get is 25-hydroxy vitamin D, also called 25(OH)D. The result that you are looking for is a number around 50 ng/mL. My functional medicine physician likes my number to be a little higher because I'm a cancer survivor. Personally, I shoot for 60 to 80 ng/mL and most physicians recommend taking about 2,000 IU/day. There has been sufficient evidence to support vitamin D's ability to help fight cancer; research has indicated that low vitamin D3 levels are associated with some cancers, depression, and diabetes.

In addition to understanding your vitamin D levels, you can add these cancer-fighting foods to your diet. Here's what to do:

1. Start including sea vegetables in your diet.

One of the best and healthiest ways to bring nutrient-rich iodine into our lives is through sea vegetables. Iodine has anti-cancer properties in the form of apoptotic abilities, which stop cancer cells from metastasizing. Iodine is concentrated not only in the thyroid but also in the breasts, and the World Health Organization (WHO) says that 74 percent of the population is deficient this nutrient. When iodine levels are low in the breast tissue, there is a higher incidence of free radical damage present and that can lead to breast cancer. When there are low levels of iodine, there is more estrogen floating around, which can contribute to estrogenic types of cancer.

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2. Eat more plants!

One great way to prevent disease is to increase your intake of plants and decrease your intake of animal-based foods. You can do this by including more vegetables at every meal. For example, if you have eggs for breakfast, add in spinach, mushrooms, and tomatoes. Try starting your day with a green smoothie filled with kale, pineapple, hemp seeds, and coconut water. Add a large green salad to lunch and dinner. Try keeping protein like lentils on hand in the refrigerator to enjoy with lunch and dinner in place of animal protein. Eating more plants and less meat has been studied and shows promising results when it comes to reducing the risk for cancer.

3. Start eating more cruciferous vegetables.

Cruciferous vegetables (or Brassicas) are a class of plants that have unique abilities to help fight cancer. They are powerhouse antioxidants rich in phytochemicals. These amazing plants contain a special indole called diindolylmethane (DIM). DIM has been shown to help metabolize estrogen in the body to the more favorable 2-hydroxy or 2-methoxy estrogen, also known as "good" estrogen. We know that a buildup of "bad estrogen" can lead to estrogen-related cancers. They included broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy, kale, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, collard greens, arugula, watercress—to name just a few.

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4. Start adding mushrooms to everything you eat.

Powdered medicinal mushroom formulations are great to add to smoothies, soups, and dressings. Reishi mushroom contains special polysaccharides called beta-glucans said to fight cancer cells by suppressing endothelial growth factor, support the immune system, and enhance cytotoxic receptors (NKG2D/NCR) killer cells. There are many more mushrooms in the forest that have amazing healing benefits. Even something as simple as adding shiitake or button mushrooms to your sautés and soups can elevate your cancer-fighting abilities.

Here's how a cancer diagnosis can teach you the true meaning of mindfulness.

And are you ready to learn how to fight inflammation and address autoimmune disease through the power of food? Join our 5-Day Inflammation Video Summit with mindbodygreen’s top doctors.

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