I got into the field of holistic nutrition and health because of cancer. Helping my mom with her fight taught me so much and cemented my interest in sharing this knowledge with others. Even though I spent 8 years closely living with a person fighting cancer, I learned something really interesting (and new to me) about the phases of cancer and how that relates to nutrition, in my Cornell course last week.
There are essentially three phases of cancer: initiation, promotion, and metastasis. “Stages” 1 and 2 of cancer fall within promotion (localized and can be removed via surgery), and stages 3 and 4 fall within metastasis (when surgery becomes insufficient to treat it and cells move into lymph). These are what we hear most about. Initiation, or “pre-cancer” is key, however, and this is where eating healthily, and Little Green, can help.
Let’s talk for a moment about this pre-cancerous initiation phase. We have two types of genes that affect growth: proto oncogenes, and oncogenes. Proto oncogenes can turn into oncogenes, which cause cancer cells. We also have tumor suppressor genes, which, when stimulated, can control cancerous cells. If we suppress the suppressor gene with a carcinogen, however, then it becomes oxidized and cannot control the cancer/oncogenes, and they become abnormal and are labeled “pre cancer.” This is the initiation phase.
In this phase, there is SO much we can do to reverse things: Don’t smoke, minimize your caloric intake, and MAXIMIZE your intake of fruits and vegetables, which can help fight cancerous cells and keep the tumor suppression genes healthy so they can do their jobs. Vegetarians have lower cancer rates than omnivores, and this is likely because of both the lower caloric intake, but also the high nutrient density and power of the vegetables. Fruits and vegetables act as anticarcinogens in our body!
Our goal: to prevent oxidization of cells by bolstering our antioxidants and the protective effect of plant-based nutrients and minimize our exposure to toxins.
What are the best vitamins and nutrients to do so? Foods with vitamin E, vitamin A, and vitamin C (and not necessarily these vitamin supplements.) Cruciferous veggies that are bitter. Citrus fruits. And coffee beans (in moderation!) Avoid deep fried foods, charcoal grilled foods, salt pickling, and sun exposure. Finally: increase your exercise and make sure your portion sizes (especially protein) are small.
Little Green’s recipes are all packed with these vitamins and nutrients, and we hope you can enjoy them and make them a big part of your life.