Charlotte’s Blog

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Food Fight

When you hear the word cancer a lot can come to mind such as “cancer survivor,” “living with cancer,” and a host of “cancer treatments,” but eating our way to beating cancer may not be top of mind.  We see on our media platforms a huge array of cancer therapies that claim ever-greater success in extending the lives of patients who’ve received this dreaded diagnosis.  We don’t as often associate fighting cancer with what we’re planning for breakfast or lunch or dinner.

It’s no one food that can take on cancer, but a host of foods actually offer a body a great deal of support in helping rid a person of a number of cancers.  It starts with a simple formula: no more than one part animal-based food for every two parts plant-based nutrition.  Here are some examples of what to include in the plant-based category.

  1. Pick your plants based on their color, because the more colorful, the more nutrients in these fruits and vegetables. The best colors are deep green, red and orange fruits and vegetables. A great byproduct of these choices will be weight loss; too many of us are carrying around excess body weight that is unhealthy.
  2. Foods rich in the folate in a Vitamin B supplement are very effective in protecting the digestive tract and breasts. Strawberries, melons and oranges as well as multi-grain and fortified breakfast foods are great sources of folate.
  3. Folate is not just for breakfast. It is also abundant in beans and sunflower seeds as well as asparagus and leafy vegetables like spinach and romaine lettuce.  Pregnant women have always been encouraged to take folic acid supplements, so you will readily find these in the nutrition aisle of your drug store.
  4. It’s also important to avoid certain foods, especially those that are highly processed. But the deli counter is the big locus to avoid – cut out hot dogs, bologna, ham and other processed meats.  While you’re in the passing lane, take a pass on sugar as well.  Sugar is not so much a cause as a chemical that blocks other healthy foods.
  5. Water also is in a strong supporting role, in part by diluting a lot of what we consume as well as simply cleansing our bladders. If you want to add green tea leaves to your water, there is evidence that it is helpful in fighting cancer in the colon as well as the liver, prostate and breast.
  6. And as you shop for what you’ll take home to eat and live healthier look for food labels like antioxidants and phytochemicals. Antioxidants are abundant in foods like blueberries and phytochemicals are available in strawberries and raspberries and beans.

If you would like to peruse the entire list, visit this page on the WebMD site.

Charlotte Bishop is an Aging Life Care Advisor, Geriatric Care Manager and founder of, certified professionals who are geriatric advocates, resources, counselors and friends to older adults and their families in metropolitan Chicago.  She also is the co-author of How Do I Know You? A Caregiver’s Lifesaver for Dealing with Dementia.

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