SUPER IMMUNITY – Dr. Joel Fuhrman

Below is another great article by Dr. Joel Fuhrman.  His new book, SUPER IMMUNITY, will be released September 20th…I can’t wait!  To order the book, click here (Amazon) or here (Barnes & Noble).

WHICH FOODS ARE MOST PROTECTIVE AGAINST COLON CANCER?

POSTED ON SEPTEMBER 8, 2011 BY JOEL FUHRMAN, M.D.

It is estimated that there are more than 100,000 new cases of colon cancer diagnosed each year in the U.S. alone, and colon and rectal cancers are the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths.1  The American Institute for Cancer Research estimates that forty-five percent of these new cases could be prevented by following a few simple lifestyle habits: avoiding processed and red meat, exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, and limiting alcohol consumption.2  But we can do better – imagine the level of protection if we not only avoided carcinogenic foods, but also focused on eating the foods that work on a cellular level to prevent  colon cancer.

So which foods offer us the best protection?

Anti-cancer compounds have been identified in many plant foods: for example cruciferous vegetablesmushrooms, and the onion and garlic family are known to contain substances that can prevent cellular processes involved in cancer development. Certainly, a diet high in fruits and vegetables in general is protective3-5, but many observational studies on diet have not investigated specific food groups, only broad categories like “fruits,” “vegetables,” etc.  But there is a wide range of anti-cancer activity in the wide range of plant foods – for example, kale is more protective than iceberg lettuce.  Identifying these protective plant foods helps us to construct an anti-colon cancer diet.

A recent study aimed to find some specific foods and food groups that protect against colon cancer. Twenty-six years after reporting information about their diets, subjects were asked whether they had undergone screening colonoscopy, and if so, whether they had physician-diagnosed polyps. The majority of colorectal cancers originate from polyps, so polyps are considered a precursor to the development of cancer. This study was part of the larger Adventist Health Study, which studies relationships between diet and chronic disease in members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, which emphasizes healthy living in its teachings.

The researchers examined about 25 different foods and food groups. Those that were associated with reduced risk of polyps were cooked green vegetablesdried fruit,legumes (beans, lentils, etc.), and brown rice. All of these displayed dose-dependent effects, meaning that the more of these foods the subjects ate, the more protection they had from colon cancer.6

Green vegetables are rich in folate and isothiocyanates, nutrients with potent anti-cancer properties. Folate is a B vitamin that is involved in turning genes on and off – this is important in preventing the early cellular events that lead to cancer.  Adequate folate levels are protective against several cancers, including colon cancer. It is important to note, however, that synthetic folic acid from supplements is not protective.7,8  Isothiocyanates are a group of nutrients found in cruciferous vegetables that have a wide variety of cancer preventive properties – they can detoxify or remove carcinogens from healthy cells, kill cancer cells, have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, and prevent tumors from acquiring a blood supply.9

The protection from beans and other legumes was likely due to their soluble fiber and resistant starch, carbohydrates that are not broken down by digestive enzymes.  Intestinal bacteria ferment these carbohydrates, forming short chain fatty acids such as butyrate.  Butyrate has a number of anti-cancer effects including disrupting cancer cell growth, increasing levels of detoxification enzymes, limiting DNA damage, and preventing tumors from acquiring a blood supply.10-13

High fiber foods, including dried fruit and brown rice (as well as vegetables and beans) help to reduce transit time of gastrointestinal contents through the colon – this reduces the potential contact between dietary toxins or carcinogens and the cells that line the colon.  Reduced transit time is believed to be an important contribution of fiber to the prevention of colon cancer. 14,15  Raisins, probably the most popular dried fruit, have been shown to increase short chain fatty acid production and decrease colon transit time.16,17 In addition to fiber content, dried fruit likely also contributed antioxidant protection of colon cells from DNA damage, which is an early event in the development of cancer.18

Previous studies found a protective effect of berries, citrus fruits, andyellow-orange vegetables, which was likely due to their high concentration of flavonoid and carotenoid antioxidants, respectively.10,19,20Additional studies on specific food groups have also found a reduced risk of colon polyps with high intake of green leafy vegetables (many of which are cruciferous), onions, and garlic.12,19

All of these foods contain known anti-cancer compounds, and of course there are thousands of anti-cancer compounds in plant foods that scientists have not yet discovered.  Each of these colorful plant foods contains a spectrum of micronutrients and phytochemicals that work in concert to protect the body against carcinogenic influences. Future studies will continue to reveal these phytochemicals and their anti-cancer properties.

My new book Super Immunity, which will be released September 20, 2011, discusses in depth the connections between diet and cancer.

For Dr. Fuhrman’s references from this article click here.

Book image courtesy of Barnes & Noble.

Image of kale courtesy of diseaseproof.com

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8 Comments

Filed under Books, Cancer, Education, Vegan, Vegetarian

8 responses to “SUPER IMMUNITY – Dr. Joel Fuhrman

  1. Sirica

    Can’t wait to read this…maybe he’ll have copies at the expo…so excited!!!

  2. Pingback: Dr. Joel Fuhrman: Improving Your Health Through a Plant Based Diet-1 | HEALTH TIPS FOR EVERYONE

  3. Mike Derr

    Do not buy this book. Research the internet for all the info on super foods and spend your money on super immunity foods. Everything with this guy is spend your money with him.

    • While I appreciate your taking the time to comment, I respectfully disagree. Dr. Fuhrman does have a lot of his own products and books, however there are a lot of people who want those products. I.e. Someone could research the internet for much of the information, whip-up their own oil-free dressings, or research which supplements they should be taking, but simply don’t have the time or the inclination to do so.

      I have spent years researching health and enjoy doing so and also love cooking and creating healthy recipes, yet I respect that not everyone likes to do that and wants a trustworthy source to go to for information about their health. Dr. Fuhrman has been a leader in nutrition based medicine for years and as such is a great resource for people. I am happy to throw my support behind a doctor who has been able to help a great deal of people reclaim their health.

  4. joseph de Dominicis

    I have read the book, and think it is amazing. I am a vegan and have been taking a daily vitamin and mineral tablet called Vegan, by a company named Diva. They said it was designed especially for vegans, to give you all you need. After reading, the book, I became aware of the problem with tablets that have vitamin A and folic acid. The vegan vitamin I have been taking has vitamin A and folic acid. I am wondering what vitamin and mineral tablet that Dr. Forhman would recommend for a vegan who needs the B12 but does not have the vitamin A and folic acid. Thank you,
    Joe D

  5. Molly Hoopes

    I’m trying to get vitamin information. I get everything else but…

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