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Vegetarian Diet and Cancer

It’s well-known that plant foods are the most nutritious foods we can eat. God did a fabulous job of providing us with healthy natural foods before we messed it all up. Now we can’t even get meat right without adding in dangerous ingredients that are killing people every day. I tried to think of a better way to say it but there’s no way to sugar coat it. Our food is literally killing people every day.

Plants that are eaten in their whole and natural states give us energy, good health and the ability to prevent and fight chronic disease. To get the biggest bang for your buck, you need to eat plants in their natural, unprocessed form, thank you. Now, if we could only stay away from the drive-thru and put down that Twinky, we might be able to live to be a hundred years old.

Vegetarians follow plant-based diets that eliminate meat, poultry, fish and sometimes dairy. Vegans follow stricter plans that only allow for eating plant foods and absolutely no animal products. Vegans don’t eat eggs, milk or butter; even leather coats are out for true Vegans.

Is it possible to reduce your cancer risk with a vegetarian diet?

Research has shown that cutting meat and particularly meat products out of your diet, can cut your risk of getting many kinds of diseases.

Vegetarian diets tend to be high in fiber, which is a reason they are helpful in preventing some types of cancer, particularly cancers of the digestive tract. Research done in the early 1970’s found that people in parts of the world where fiber intake is high have the lowest incidence of colon cancer and vice versa. Areas like the US, where meat consumption is high, and fiber intake low have a greater number of people affected by colon cancer.

New studies have found That A Diet High In Fiber May Help Protect Against Breast Cancer

“This is a really important study … [suggesting] that the more fiber you eat during your high school years, the lower your risk is in developing breast cancer,” says Kimberly Blackwell, a breast cancer specialist at the Duke Cancer Center. Source: A Diet High in Fiber May Protect Against Breast Cancer

 

What Is Fiber?

Fiber’s a form of carbohydrate found in all plants. Fiber can’t be digested by humans and it’s abundant in fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes. Fiber is often classified into 2 categories: soluble and insoluble.

  • Soluble fiber draws water into the bowel and can help slow digestion. Foods that are high in soluble fiber include oatmeal, oat bran, barley, legumes (beans and peas), apples, and strawberries.
  • Insoluble fiber speeds digestion and can add bulk to the stool. Foods that are high in insoluble fiber include whole-wheat products, wheat bran, cauliflower, green beans, and potatoes.

 

It is best to choose fiber-rich foods over fiber supplements in order to get the full range of cancer-fighting phytochemicals (“phyto” means plant so phytochemicals are simply plant-compounds) that fruits, vegetables, legumes, and grains contain. The following table shows the fiber content of some common foods. It is not a complete list; fiber is found in all vegetables, fruits, grains, and legumes.

Food Dietary Fiber Soluble Insoluble
Fruits

Apple, 1 medium

2.9 0.9 2.0
Banana, 1 medium 2.0 0.6 1.4
Orange, 1 medium 2.0 1.3 0.7
Vegetables

Broccoli, 1 stalk

2.7 1.3 1.4
Carrots, 1 large 2.9 1.3 1.6
Corn, 2/3 cup 1.6 0.2 1.4
Potato, 1 medium 1.8 1.0 0.8
Tomato, 1 small 0.8 0.1 0.7
Grains

All-Bran, 1/2 cup

9.0 1.4 7.6
Cornflakes, 1 cup 0.5 0 0.5
Macaroni, 1 cup cooked 0.8 0.5 0.3
Oat Bran, 1/2 cup 4.4 2.2 2.2
Rolled oats, 3/4 cup cooked 3.0 1.3 1.7
White bread, 1 slice 0.4 0.3 0.1
Whole-wheat bread, 1 slice 1.4 0.3 1.1
Legumes

Green peas, 2/3 cup cooked

3.9 0.6 3.3
Kidney beans, 1/2 cup cooked 6.5 1.6 4.9
Lentils, 2/3 cup cooked 4.5 0.6 3.9
Pinto beans, 1/2 cup cooked 5.9 1.2 4.7
Sources: Anderson JW, Bridges SR. Dietary fiber content of selected foods. Am J Clin Nutr 1988;47:440-7; Pennington JAT. Bowes and Church’s Food Values of Portions Commonly Used. 17th ed. New York: Harper & Row, 1998.

Tips for Increasing Fiber in Your Diet

  • Choose products that are minimally processed, like whole-wheat bread instead of white bread and brown rice instead of white rice.
  • Whenever possible, do not remove the fiber-rich peels and skins of fruits and vegetables. Just be sure to wash them thoroughly before eating.
  • Plan each of your meals to include whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes.
  • To avoid intestinal discomfort when increasing fiber intake, it is best to increase gradually and drink plenty of water.
  • Snack on baby carrots, apples, strawberries, oranges, and other fiber-rich fruits and vegetables.
  • Top your breakfast cereals with dried fruits like raisins or dates, or fresh fruits like strawberries or peaches.
  • Sprinkle garbanzo beans or peas on your salad.
  • Add a handful of grated carrots to spaghetti sauce.

Source: Physicians Committee

Why Fiber Works

No one can say for sure how fiber protects against colon cancer, but doctors have some ideas.

The Gastrointestinal (GI) tract can’t digest fiber, so fiber helps food move quickly through the small and large intestines, carrying dangerous carcinogens from the diet out of your body faster.

Fiber draws Water into the colon by so that the dilution of carcinogens is greater.

Fiber is also believed to bind to bile acids from the gall bladder. Bile acids are changed into carcinogens by bacteria in the gut, and if they are attached to fiber, they can’t become dangerous.

Fiber is also fermented in the colon, making the GI tract more acidic, rendering bile acids less dangerous. Even breast cancer and stomach cancer are believed to be prevented by fiber, partly because of its effect on reducing carcinogens. Besides, fiber lessens the amount of estrogens circulating in the body, and unopposed estrogen is a known risk factor in getting breast cancer.

Eating a vegetarian diet that contains whole fruits, vegetables, peas, lentils, beans, and whole grains will give your body maximum fiber. Try to take in at least 30-40 grams of fiber each day.

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Vegetarian Diets and Fat

Studies have also shown a connection between high-fat consumption and colon cancer and breast cancer. The best way to lower your intake of fat is to eat a vegetarian diet, which is naturally low in fat. It’s been documented that countries with the lowest fat intake have lower rates of both breast and colon cancer. Cutting down on dietary fat can help you survive breast cancer and regain your health.

While some plant foods contain fats, avocados and nuts come to mind; we also use vegetable oils in our home, the fat derived from animals is considered far more dangerous. A vegetarian diet eliminates animal fats, lowering your risk of cancer and other diseases.

Fat from animal fat promotes increased hormone content in the body, hormones such as estrogens. Earlier we found out that estrogen promotes breast cancer. Fat raises the amount of bile acids secreted by the gall bladder, and this can cause colon cancer. To be safe, keep your dietary fat content to less than 15% fat.

Following a Vegetarian Diet Can Help In Other Ways

• Vegetables contain many cancer-fighting molecules such as beta-carotene, found in yellow and dark green vegetables. Beta-carotene can prevent many types of cancer, including lung cancer, bladder cancer, oral and laryngeal cancer.
• Other chemicals in plants include flavones and indoles, which also fight cancer
• Fruits and vegetables contain many antioxidants. Antioxidants can a have a significant impact on preventing and treating cancer.
• Vegetarians have been found to have better immune systems than non-vegetarians. Natural killer cell activity is important in scavenging for cancerous and precancerous cells. Overall, vegetarians cancer-fighting ability is better for several reasons. Nothing can guarantee you good health, but you can stack the odds in your favor by eating a vegetarian diet.

Have a great weekend, see you soon.

About the author

David Robinson

Hi, I'm David Robinson. I grew up in Kansas City, Mo. and now live in Los Angeles. I enjoy writing and started this blog to share news and info I discover on the web. I also like cooking an occasional meal or two. Subscribe to my blog and come along for the ride. Curiosity makes us grow!


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