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Cancer and Anti-inflammatory Diets

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Anti-Inflammatory Foods

Processed sugars and other high-glycemic starches increase inflammation, just as they raise blood sugar and feed cancer cells, according to an article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

What we eat is either pro-inflammatory or anti-inflammatory inside your body. Here are 11 of the best anti-inflammatory foods (because I think that the best way to get your nutrition is through your food):

  1. Cold-water fish, including salmon, contain ‘whole food’ anti-inflammatory fats. Wild salmon have more of these super-healthy fats than does farmed salmon so never buy farm-raised fish of any kind s they are fed processed, fish-food. Shopping tip: All salmon from Alaska is wild, whereas Atlantic salmon is usually farmed. Eat fish – wild-caught, cold water fish but don’t buy the fish oils; getting PARENT omegas from cold-pressed seeds IS BEST!
  2. Grass-fed beef and other animal foods that are organically raised. As opposed to traditional, grain-fed livestock, meat that comes from animals fed grass contains anti-inflammatory omegas, but in lower concentrations than cold-pressed seed oils. Free-range livestock that graze in pastures build up higher levels of omega-3s. Meat from grain-fed animals has virtually no omega-3s and plenty of poor quality saturated fat.

Cooking tip: Unless it's ground, grass-fed beef may be tougher, so slow cook it.

  1. Olive oil and Coconut oil. Olive oil is a great source of oleic acid (omega 9), another anti-inflammatory oil. Researchers wrote in the October 2007 Journal of the American College of Nutrition that those who consume more oleic acid have better insulin function and lower blood sugar. Coconut oil is BEST!

Shopping tip: Opt for extra-virgin olive oil, which is the least processed, and use it instead of other cooking oils. Other "cold-pressed" or "expeller-pressed" oils can be good sources, too. Use Coconut oil whenever cooking at higher temperatures as it is more stable than olive oil.

  1. Salads. Dark-green lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, and other salad veggies are rich in vitamin C and other antioxidants, nutrients that dampen inflammation.

Suggestion: Opt for olive oil-and-vinegar salad dressing (vinegar helps moderate blood sugar), and skip the croutons – grains are VERY pro-inflammatory.


  1. Cruciferous vegetables. These veggies, which include broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and kale, are also loaded with antioxidants. But they also provide one other ingredient -- sulfur -- that the body needs to make its own high-powered antioxidants like glutathione.
  2. Cherries. A study in the April 2006 Journal of Nutrition showed that eating cherries daily can significantly reduce inflammation. Cherries are also packed with antioxidants and relatively low on the glycemic index. They are one of the ‘stone fruits’ (fruits with pits) that are great for diabetic and cancer patients.

Tip: Frozen cherries are available all year long and make a tasty treat when blended in a smoothie.

  1. Blueberries. These delectable fruits are chock-full of natural compounds that reduce inflammation. Blueberries may also protect the brain from many of the effects of aging. Frozen blueberries are usually less expensive than fresh -- and just as good for you.
  2. Turmeric or Curcumin. This spice contains a powerful, natural anti-inflammatory compound, according to a report in the August 2007 Biochemical Pharmacology. There are perhaps a thousand more studies out on the benefits of Turmeric in cancer and inflammatory disorders. Curcumin has long been part of curry spice blends, used in southern Asian cuisines and is best assimilated in the body when blended with a good fat. Therefore cooking with this spice greatly increases its absorption. When I recommend it for a supplement (almost every patient with cancer must be on this) I use a brand that is pre-emulsified in a fat (coconut oil) so it is more readily used by the body.

To use in food: Buy powdered curry spice (which contains high amounts of turmeric and other spices) and use it as a seasoning when pan-frying chicken breasts in coconut oil.

  1. Ginger. This relative of turmeric is also known for its anti-inflammatory benefits, and some research suggests that it might also help control blood sugar, heal the stomach and digestive tract, and help breakdown walls of inflammation that surround cancer.

Suggestion: Brew your own ginger tea to sip between juices (juicing vegetables is a must for cancer). Use a peeler to remove the skin off a piece of ginger, then add several thin slices to a cup of hot water and let steep for a few minutes.

  1. Garlic. The research isn't consistent, but garlic may have some anti-inflammatory and certainly helps increase Th1 responses that are necessary to kill cancer cells. At the very least, it won't hurt and makes for a tasty addition to food.
  2. Green tea. Like fruits and vegetables, green tea contains natural anti-inflammatory compounds. It may even reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. The EGCG compounds found in Green Tea extracts are absolutely essential for every cancer patient. Green Tea is typically a Th2 stimulant except that it also is one of the only compounds that reduce the only pro-inflammatory cytokine in the Th2 reaction – interleukin 6 (IL-6).

Suggestion: Drinking Green Tea is NOT going to give one enough EGCG to reduce IL-6 levels but it certainly helps. I suggest one take Green Tea Extract as a supplement.

Cancer and Anti-inflammatory Diets






Inflammatory Foods to Avoid

The following is a list of inflammatory foods that everyone could consider either avoiding completely or limiting to achieve maximum health. Though I list these as “no-no’s” in the cancer diet section, it may be wise to comment on them here:

  • DAIRY - (All pasteurized dairy products) - AVOID
  • REFINED SUGARS (white sugar, brown sugar, confectioners’ sugar, corn syrup, processed corn fructose, turbinado sugar, etc.) – AVOID
  • MSG (Monosodium Glutamate or Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein) – AVOID Note: MSGs can be ‘hidden’ in foods under labels like “natural and artificial flavorings” so watch out!
  • CAFFEINE – AVOID (except in your coffee enema!)
  • RED MEAT - Reduce or Avoid (only eat grass-fed meats)
  • PROCESSED FOODS - Reduce or Avoid
  • GRAINS – especially gluten-containing grains (wheat, rye, barley, malt and spelt)


Often in regards to Rheumatoid Arthritis and some other autoimmune disorders (including some cancers) I advise some patients to avoid the Night Shade Vegetables. This group of foods can be easily tested by avoiding the entire group for a week to a month while monitoring progress. After a period of avoidance, slowly allowing these foods back into the diet, monitoring the effect, will tell you if these are foods that your body can or cannot tolerate. The only problem with testing this food group is, for some reason you may not react immediately, the reaction could be 2-5 days later.

Keep in mind when avoiding this group of foods that if you are eating processed foods, you are not likely to be completely eliminating the night shade vegetables as they are found in most processed foods and sauces.

Nightshade vegetables include, eggplant, all white potatoes, all tomatoes, bell peppers (not black pepper) and tobacco.

Have Questions?

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