My sister was diagnosed with breast cancer on January 2nd and it wasn't a happy new year and over all this definitely isn't the way you want to start out any year, especially the one that is unfolding before you. 2013? So far I'm not impressed with you! My sister will spend this year fighting mutant cells at the age of 37. She did everything right, yet it just goes to show that sometimes doing the right things doesn't seem to matter, or in layman's terms cancer is a bitch. Our environment, our processed foods, it's all contaminated and a big change is needed, even if it means corporate food comes tumbling down.
Since Katherine's diagnosis I've been doing a lot of research on the healing powers of food. I'm a food blogger; I love food; food is what I am good at; so why not see what food can do for us? It gives me something to obsess about and keep the negative ideas that want to pop into my head at bay. All of us at some point have most likely heard the term "superfood" and I wondered if there was anything to these ideas. If you think about it, it makes sense, the more colorful, less processed, more whole the food is, the better that food is for you. It isn't difficult to comprehend; in fact it's really a part of our primal intuition and intuition is rarely wrong.
While looking in to the healing properties of food you come across all sorts of interesting things. For instance there are various foods that can help in homeopathic ways; artichokes can help calm your aching stomach, dandelion greens help both mood and liver function, components of eggplants actually consume free radicals, sweet potatoes have anti-inflammatory properties, chard helps vision, watermelon helps with weight loss and pumpkin seeds can help lower cholesterol, just to name a few. I'd much rather go natural instead of chemical, it just makes better sense.
But what about the foods that help with cancer?
Broccoli and broccoli rabe have compounds that have been shown to neutralize carcinogens. The sometimes hated Brussels sprouts can too. Cabbage in particular, both red and green, helps in terms of breast cancer, the one that is particularly of interest to us at the moment. Carrots also have some anti-cancer properties, as do all the leafy greens, the darker the green the better, horseradish has components that actually have been shown to slow the growth of cancer, mushrooms, particularly the Shitake variety in particular, are powerful in the fight against cancer and this is just the tip of the iceberg and doesn't even begin to touch on herbs, roots and spices.
As time passes we've replaced whole, real foods, with crappy processed foods that are more chemical, than actual food. You can even find organic processed foods, which completely defeats the purpose. There is this erroneous idea that eating real, whole foods is more expensive than eating the crap that lines our store shelves and it isn't; it's actually cheaper, but big agriculture doesn't want you to know that because their crops (mostly corn and soy, and increasingly GMO varieties at that) are what is taken and made into those processed products that kill us from the inside out. Is it easier to eat processed food? In some cases yes, but easy doesn't make it the proper path, plus there is also a preconceived notion that cooking is hard. It's not.
But what to do?
First buy the least processed things you can. If you just have to buy a processed food look for ones that have ingredients you can pronounce and recognize at first site. If there are chemicals in the food, you know you want to avoid that. Fruit and vegetables are your friends, especially if they're fresh and local, and organic, fresh and local is even better. Fresh and local are your friends. Organic is too. Some people say there is no difference, but take a look in to biomagnification and you'll see that is anything but true...in short if you put pesticide on your food, it stays there. If you put it on food that is given to animals, it ends up in their products. It's that little word known as science that sadly so many people these days seem to shun. Also the fresher the food, the more nutritious it is. Avoid farm raised fish, find a local source for as much of your food as possible, kick those chemicals to the curb, sodas need to go, green tea is a miracle and apples really can help keep the doctor away!
Cancer sucks. You know that, I know that. But you take the hits as they come and you come out swinging. As my sister takes this horrid journey, and we her loved ones come along by proxy, I hope to learn more about the healing power of food and going backward in food history and eating real food instead of crap is but a stone on the path, a path we'll come to the end of and move on to a happier, brigther tomorrow...together.
Cross posted at Dianne's Dishes.