Anti-Cancer Diet: Healing Properties of Foods and What to Avoid

By June Rousso
June Rousso
June Rousso
I am a New York State licensed psychologist and a nutritional consultant with an M.S. degree in holistic nutrition. My interests have expanded over the years to the field of nutrition, which I often integrate in my work as a psychologist. I love to write and educate people about nutrition so that they can make more informed choices about their health. I believe that dietary and lifestyle changes are so important in our lives to support a healthy lifestyle.
August 4, 2014 Updated: August 4, 2014

Consuming nutrient-rich food is vital to preventing and fighting cancer.  We want to support our immune system so that cancer does not take hold in our body.  An anti-cancer diet can help to boost our immunity and many foods have cancer-inhibiting properties.

Fresh fruits and vegetables are high in anti-oxidants and support the immune system.  Choose from a variety of colors to ensure a broad range of nutrients. Consume as many whole foods as possible, especially fresh fruits and vegetables, and non-glutinous grains, such as buckwheat, millet, quinoa, rice, and wild rice.  Starchy vegetables and grains should be eaten in moderation.

Cancer cells feed on glucose; therefore eliminating refined sugar from the diet is key.  Most refined sugar is found in processed foods.  There are natural sugars in fruit, which should be consumed in moderation.  Always choose low glycemic fruits, such as apples, pears, apricots, peaches, berries, cherries, and figs.

Legumes also should be part of an anti- cancer diet as they contain substances to inhibit the growth of tumors.  Fermented soy products such as tempeh and miso contain genistein, another substance that is cancer protective.

Tumor cells also thrive in an acidic environment.  Alkaline-forming foods, which include most fruits and vegetables, balance acid in the body.  Coffee, alcohol, sugar, cheese, meat, and many nuts and beans are acid-forming.  Sprouted beans are alkalizing to the body. Organic meat can be consumed in moderation.  Obtain a list of acid/alkaline foods online and keep it close at hand.

Plain yogurt and kefir are rich in probiotics, which are immune supportive.  They provide healthy bacteria to the gut, lessening space for colonies of bad bacteria. A high quality probiotic supplement also can be taken on a daily basis.  Eliminate all other dairy from the diet to reduce inflammatory risk.

Inflammation in the body has been associated with tumor growth.  Red meat, dairy, and high omega-6 oils are pro-inflammatory foods.  Avoid corn, safflower, cottonseed, and soybean oils.  Foods containing trans-fats, especially margarine, fried or battered foods, and many baked goods also are inflammatory.  If you stay away from processed foods, trans-fats are not an issue. Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory, including cold water fish, such as cod and salmon, extra virgin olive oil, flaxseed oil, and walnuts. 

Cancer cells also are toxic to the body along with radiation and chemotherapy.  Toxicity is taxing on the liver, but there are detoxifying foods and teas that will help the body flush out toxins.  Drinking at least eight glasses of water a day will help as well.  Onions, garlic, and cruciferous vegetables support the liver.  Cruciferous vegetables include arugula, bok choy broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, and watercress.  A complete list easily can be found online.  Herbal teas such as dandelion and milk thistle also are supportive of detoxification. Three to four cups daily will help to clear toxins from the body.

We cannot control our health destinies, but diet and lifestyle changes can increase the odds of living a long and healthy life.