Edwards-Haines: Relationship of cancer and plant-based diet

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month; also Vegetarian Awareness Month.

Across North America and around the world, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

The Canadian breast cancer statistics are sobering.

According to the Breast Cancer Society of Canada, in 2014 every day 67 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and another 14 will die from it.

Interestingly, it’s not just a female condition.

This year, some 210 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and 60 will die from it.

But, did you know that October is also Vegetarian Awareness Month?

Pairing these two awareness themes together in one month is brilliant because eating more whole plant foods has been shown to be hugely beneficial in preventing cancer, arresting cancer growth and in some cases even reversing cancer.

Indeed, research shows that women who consume the most carotenoid-rich fruits and vegetables lessen their risk for breast cancer by a whopping 19 per cent.

It’s clear from these studies that eating more plants is the way to go.

Dr. Michael Greger, of Nutitionfacts.org, notes that “populations eating diets centered around whole plant foods have lower rates of cancer.

“Eating lots of fruits and vegetables—at least nine daily servings (despite flawed studies to the contrary) may boost detoxifying enzymes, lower inflammation, lower cholesterol, and make for healthier bowel movements, ridding oneself of excess estrogen and cholesterol.”

During October, along with wearing a pink ribbon for cancer awareness, how about eating a few more colours?

When you think “carotenoid,” think of the rich jewel tones of dark green, vibrant orange, and vivid red. A great resource is the website orangeisthenewpink.org  where you’ll find lots of great tips on how to make colourful, life-enhancing changes to your diet.

Empowered with all that info, skip on over to your local farmers’ market and stock up on fruits and veggies such as kale, spinach, carrots, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and red peppers.

The phytonutrients and antioxidants—big words that mean really great nutrition—in these brightly hued plant foods will add years to your life and life to your years.

It’s all about fueling your body with foods that will boost your body’s ability to fight disease. That’s what plant foods excel at.

But, you want to be sure you’re eating plant foods as close as possible to how they’re grown, and not just imitations thereof.

Supplements/pills aren’t going to do it, and neither are over-processed convenience foods.

It’s all of the nutrients in the whole plant food working synergistically together that are going to work wonders for you.

So, I’m talking about eating a sweet potato and not sweet potato chips.

In the coming months I’ll be holding Food for Life: Cancer and Food for Life: Diabetes classes in the Kelowna area.

The classes will help you to learn how to decrease your risk for these conditions by changing your lifestyle.

We are what we eat, literally, so changing your daily eating to include more plant foods will help to prevent disease, give you more energy, and overall give you a new lease on life.

Eat ‘em up!