I talk a lot about cancer fighting foods. Pretty much every day.
I talk to adults, kids, people facing cancer, survivors and everyone in between. There’s a lot to know, but it’s really not complicated. People are so confused by all the fad diets, news stories, sales pitches and contradicting information.
I’m here to ‘dumb it down’ for you today!
Your Phytochemical Meter
This is my favorite way to explain how YOU TOO can have a cancer fighting diet. Don’t eat like the typical American, because we know it’s not working!
I like to start by showing that each day you begin with an empty “Phytochemical Meter”.
What are Phytochemicals? I like to call them “Protectors”. Phytochemicals are plant chemicals that keep your cells healthy and strong, and help your immune system fight off disease and get rid of unhealthy cells. They are the basis to a cancer fighting diet and the more you get each day, the healthier you are.
No. You cannot get active phytochemicals in a pill. Get it from real food. And know that most processing of food removes the majority of phytochemicals. For example: white rice does not have nearly as many phytochemicals as brown rice. And don’t EVEN get me started on “fruit snacks” or “veggie puffs”! Please.
So the goal for someone who wants to live as cancer free as possible (reduce risk or live healthy after a diagnosis) is to fill the phytochemical meter as much as possible each day. That means fitting in plenty of cancer fighting plant foods into each meal, snack, beverage and dessert!
Typical American vs. Healthy Survivor
When speaking to a group of survivors today, we did a quick comparison of the difference between the phytochecmical meter of the ‘Typical American’ and the ‘Healthy Survivor’. Here’s what we came up with:
It’s a little busy, but we tried to be fair about what the typical person would eat. You’ll notice it’s mostly processed, refined, packaged, and full of artificial ingredients. The typical American found most of their phytochemicals from their dinner. We also gave them a few from the lettuce and tomato on their burger and a few from the morning coffee. That’s all we could find!
Compare that to the “Healthy Survivor”, who finds phytochemicals in just about every food item that they choose throughout the day. From green tea to nuts for a snack to apples in their dessert. Note that I would encourage EVERYONE to follow the same diet as I would encourage a healthy survivor to follow. All of us are better off with more phytochemicals in our diets!
You will also note that we compared what covers the plate of a Typical American vs. a Healthy Survivor. The typical American covers 1/2 their plate with meat (i.e. no phytochemicals), then most of the other half with a refined, starchy food and a teeny tiny corner for a vegetable covered in cheese sauce. Not many phytochemicals on that plate!
Compare with the Healthy Survivor plate. 1/2 covered in fruits and vegetables, 1/4 for protein (bonus points if it’s a plant source of protein) and 1/4 for a starch (whole grain or vegetable starch). That makes for cancer fighting cuisine!
And This Is What’s Wrong With America’s Diet
So back to the title of my rant! I believe that the gap between the phytochemical meter of a Typical American vs. a Healthy Survivor is what’s wrong with America’s Diet! Every day and every meal is a choice to get more phytochecmicals. Part of the problem with America’s diet is all the “bad stuff” we’re eating.
But I think the bigger issue is what a typical American is NOT getting in their diet. It’s all the good, cancer fighting phytochemicals that they are NOT giving to their body. Our bodies needs these in order to function at our best. Our body has no choice but to manage with whatever we give it. If each day we do not provide it with the phytochemicals it needs, then we have problems.
My challenge to you is to spend a day or two writing down everything that you eat. A simple list will suffice, you don’t have to weigh or measure things. Let it be a starting point to figure out how you can turn your diet into one that promotes health instead of one that gets you what the typical American is getting right now.
No More Excuses. Spread the word!