The plant-based diet works to prevent cancer

The plant-based diet works to prevent cancer

To prevent tumors there is nothing as simple as eating plant foods, especially fresh and raw, which provide protective substances.

The plant-based diet works to prevent cancer

Every year about 200,000 new cases of cancer are diagnosed in Spain. Mortality has decreased in recent times thanks to early diagnosis and treatment, but it cannot yet be said that there are fully effective treatments.

Prevention is still the best asset available to the disease. We can all make decisions every day that will ward off cancer more effectively than sophisticated and expensive treatments.

The risk is reduced by avoiding contact with substances that have already been defined as carcinogenic or that are suspected of being carcinogenic. This includes not only tobacco smoke and numerous pollutants, but also emissions from cars, perfumes from cosmetics or certain agents that are part of the composition of plastics.

On the other hand, through food you can obtain compounds that, like the most advanced and promising treatments, fight cancer by strengthening the immune system.

Fruits and vegetables are proven effective in reducing the incidence of cancer and even in reducing the mortality of those who suffer from it. Vitamins, minerals, the plant chemical compounds that give them color or aroma and the vitality associated with their freshness protect the body’s cells against damage that ends up leading to cancer.


That diet is decisive in the prevention of cancer is well known. The incidence of different types of cancer has been shown to vary significantly between populations with different dietary habits.

Asian women suffer from four times fewer cancers than European women, but Asian women who live in the West and have changed their habits are at the same risk.

Studies indicate that Asian women, and especially Japanese women, consume much less meat, saturated fat, dairy products, and refined flours than European women. Instead, they eat more vegetables and soybeans.

The benefits of soy to prevent cancer in women seem to be due to the contribution of isoflavones –genistein, daidzein and glycetein– which act as weak female hormones, reducing the action of strong ones (secreted by the woman’s body), whose excess is related to cancers of the breast, ovary and uterus.

Some studies suggest that soy only protects if it is taken regularly in the form of milk, tofu, tempeh, miso or sprouts since adolescence.


To the clues offered by studies on populations are added the findings that are made in laboratories. Sometimes the effects of substances found in specific fruits and vegetables, which are consumed daily, are surprising.

Research carried out at the University of Jena (Germany) recently discovered that apple extract, rich in polyphenols, is capable of activating genes that order the secretion of protective enzymes, preventing vulnerable cells from becoming cancerous due to the action of toxins in the intestine.

Therefore, every time you eat an apple, or its fresh juice, it acts against many types of cancer.


Foods that increase the content of glutathione – the most powerful antioxidant substance among those produced by the body itself – in the mitochondria, the organelles responsible for generating the energy needed by the cells, are especially interesting.

Glutathione protects them against the threat of free radicals and peroxides. These are the product of the metabolic processes that take place in the body, but when they are excessive or not under control, they behave very aggressively and attack the membranes and even the genetic material of the cells.

The action of glutathione, capable of repairing damaged DNA, has led to research on the efficacy of taking oral supplements, but it has been shown that it is not absorbed through the digestive system and it fails to increase the concentration in cells.

To increase this endogenous antioxidant, it is first necessary to consume foods rich in the amino acids cysteine, glutamine and glycine, which are provided in sufficient quantity thanks to the regular and moderate consumption of legumes and cereals.

But research shows that for the amount of glutathione to increase significantly, it is necessary to increase the intake of fruits, vegetables and wild plants, preferably raw, up to 10-12 servings per day.


The plant foods rich in sulfur have antioxidant effect and stimulate glutathione synthesis, which also encourages other free radical scavengers obtained from foods, such as vitamins C and E, remain in their active forms, enhancing its beneficial effect.

Onion, garlic, leeks and cabbages are the foods most abundant in sulfur compounds that prevent a wide variety of cancers, especially those of the colon, breast, lung, kidney and prostate, as well as leukemia.

Sulforaphane and indo-3-carbinols which are in the broccoli and other cabbage (Brussels, cabbage, cauliflower …) favor the removal of carcinogens in the digestive system and prevent precancerous cells become malignant tumors .

According to studies by the University of Heidelberg and the German Cancer Research Center, cabbages are also capable of preventing pancreatic cancer, one of the most aggressive and deadly, since it is usually asymptomatic until it is too late.

To take advantage of the properties of cabbages, they must be eaten raw or briefly steamed, as part of their active agents are destroyed in boiling water.


In general, vegetable foods should be eaten raw, whenever possible, or undercooked. The advantages of uncooked foods were already defended by Dr. Max Garson (1881-1959) since the 1940s, when the properties of the thousands of beneficial chemical compounds present in vegetables were hardly known.

When Garson proposed an anticancer therapy based on fresh fruit and vegetable juices on a salt-free diet, he was severely attacked. Still today, in the virtual encyclopedia Wikipedia it can be read that it is a “treatment without scientific proof and potentially dangerous”. But today it is known that he was not so misguided.

Austrian surgeons Peter Lechner and Leo Kronberger have taken the trouble to conduct a study on the efficacy of the diet proposed by Gerson in cancer patients. They concluded that those who followed Gerson-like food therapy were generally better off, had a lower risk of complications, and were better able to withstand both radio and chemotherapy than those who did not.

Ralph Moss, physician and writer, recognized expert in cancer treatments, has also written that “clinical trials have shown that a diet low in protein and calories such as the one proposed by Gerson exerts a protective action against cancer and dramatically increases life expectancy. “.

Gerson thought that the beneficial effects of his diet were due to the contribution of potassium and the elimination of salt, but today it is known that plant foods contain thousands of beneficial active substances.


For example, the carotenoids – lutein, lycopene, phytoene and canthaxanthin – present in yellow, orange and red fruits and vegetables support the immune system and reduce the risk of lung, prostate and mouth cancer, while anthocyanins that give color to blackberries give them great ability to prevent the appearance of tumors in the esophagus and intestine, according to a study carried out at the Ohio State University (United States).

Other very effective foods against free radicals are pomegranate, which substantially reduces the development of prostate cancer, and black grape, rich in a polyphenol called resveratrol, which enhances the action of sirtuins, enzymes that prevent premature alteration of the cells. Although there is quite a bit of resveratrol in freshly squeezed grape juice, the concentration is even higher in red wine, especially that coming from humid lands. However, due to the alcohol content, it is not recommended to consume more than one glass daily.

Without belonging to the category of fruits and vegetables, mushrooms have also been identified as interesting foods in the fight against cancer. Many varieties contain lentinan and polysaccharides that stimulate the functioning of the immune system. This is believed to be one reason why Japanese farmers who regularly consume mushrooms such as shitake, maitake, kawaratake, and enokitake suffer half as many cases of stomach cancer as other populations.

In order of effectiveness, the most recommended mushrooms to prevent cancer are the thistle mushroom, the white ear, the enokitake, the cremini, the shitake, the portobello and the champignon.

In addition to those mentioned, there are other chemicals with anticancer properties in vegetables, such as ellagic acid from strawberries, cherries, hazelnuts, and pecans.


Another way that plant foods have to ward off cancer is through their power to reduce acidification in the body. An acidic environment not only encourages the growth of harmful cells, but also hinders the body’s repair mechanisms. For example, immune cells that “eat” bacteria, viruses, and precancerous cells are held back in an abnormally acidic environment.

To act against acidification, basic or alkaline foods – the opposite of acids – should be consumed, such as fruits and vegetables. The relationship between acidification and cancer was already exposed by Otto Warburg, Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1931 for his discoveries on the metabolism of cancer cells.

Warburg’s theses – that acidification and oxygen deficiency are the main causes of cancer – were as well received by naturopathic medicine as they were fought by conventional medicine for decades. Taken in his time by an eccentric, his ideas are now revived in the light of new findings, such as the relationship between acidification of the blood, due to lactic acid, and the development of tumors.

Warburg was also a great advocate for organic food, blaming pesticides and pollution for many diseases.

Again, the alkaline diet leads to plant foods. Among the most alkalizing are melon, watermelon, apple, nectarine, orange, pineapple, raisin, date, broccoli, carrot, pumpkin, cabbage, and eggplant.

In addition, it is convenient to keep glucose levels under control, so it is recommended to moderate the consumption of refined flours and opt for whole grains. It may be advisable for cancer patients to take this measure to extremes, since tumor cells consume more sugar than healthy cells.


The intestine is an ecosystem that is becoming known. The state of its flora determines both the assimilation of nutrients and the elimination of toxins. Currently, research is on which bacteria are related to health and disease, and how their populations can be modified.

Some foods that contain live bacteria produce positive effects. Yogurt prevents colon cancer and promotes the elimination of toxins. Beneficial bacteria are also found in kefir, sauerkraut, miso, and soy tempeh. On the other hand, foods rich in fructooligosaccharides, such as garlic, onion, asparagus, artichoke or banana, favor the multiplication of beneficial bacteria in the intestine.


There is no one medicine that can prevent all types of cancer. Neither can any natural substance or miracle food get it.

However, studies indicate that nutrients and plant compounds combine their effects in such a way that they drastically reduce the risk of suffering from the disease.

Researcher Isaiah J. Fidler, who works at one of the most prestigious cancer institutions, the MD Aderson Center at the University of Texas (United States), has proven that if a protective nutritional agent – such as vitamin C – is administered to laboratory mice – the chances of getting sick when exposed to carcinogens are cut in half. If two agents – vitamin C and selenium – are given, they decrease by 70 percent and if they are 4, by 90 percent.

That is, there is a very powerful and beneficial synergistic effect that can be reproduced in the human diet by consuming a wide variety of foods with anticancer properties.


More and more experts agree on exceeding the recommendation of the five pieces of fruit and vegetables a day to reach 10 or 12, half of them raw.

Your hands are the only help you need to calculate the recommended amounts: pieces that are the size of a fist constitute a portion, while two full hands indicate the necessary portion of lettuce or broccoli. Therefore, it is not so difficult to reach 10 servings, which ensures a significant concentration of antioxidant agents in the blood and tissues throughout the day.

But diet is not the only way to prevent disease. It is important to follow a healthy lifestyle, staying away from toxic agents, close to nature and dedicating time to rest, without forgetting the care of personal relationships and mental balance.

All these factors influence the body’s resistance to cancer and diseases in general.


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