Eating for Cancer Prevention: Beans (Part 2 of 5)

NCI_Digestive_torso_largeSeeing as how beans are known as the “musical fruit”, it should come as no surprise that beans have a strong link to the colon, and specifically to colorectal cancer. For those of you in the decades between middle school biology and the all-too-real anatomy lesson of a required colonoscopy, your colon is another name for your large intestine.

Your small intestine absorbs nutrients from the food you eat. The large intestine sucks the water out of what’s left, leaving behind stool or poop. It’s a good system, but when things go wrong, they go very wrong: colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States. There is hope, however: research suggests that roughly 30% of colon cancers could be prevented by a change in diet and lifestyle.

beansBack to the beans.

I’m not talking about fresh green beans, although they are delicious and I encourage you to eat them whenever possible. I’m talking about the Legume Family: lentils, kidney beans, black beans, navy beans, split peas, and so on.

The Legume Family are police officers; it’s a proud tradition dating back to Creation. These Bean Cops enforce the law, direct traffic, and even manufacture Kevlar bulletproof vests.

bean cop dnaLaw enforcement: The first Bean Cop tool of the trade is folate. Cells need folate (ie folic acid) to make and repair DNA when they divide. Folate helps the cells to follow DNA laws and divide perfectly. When folate is lacking, mistakes are made. This is why pregnant women are asked to take extra folic acid; their baby begins life as a dividing cell and the fewer mistakes, the better.

bean cop trafficTraffic: Bean Cops have access to large amounts of fiber and that fiber keeps traffic flowing in the gut. Researchers aren’t sure why increased fiber lowers the risk of colon cancer, but they suspect is has something to do with fiber’s ability to move waste and carcinogens out of the body quickly. Think back to the last time you left a concert, a festival, or a sporting event: traffic crawls and bottlenecks until that blessed whistle blowing, hand waving man in uniform arrives. How could moving waste along not be a good thing, right?

bean cop kevlarKevlar: Resistant starch is starch that resists being digested and Bean Cops are full of it. Resistant starch makes it all the way through the digestive track to the colon untouched. Once in the colon, resistant starch becomes food for the friendly bacteria that turn it into food for colon cells. This resistant-starch-fueled-bacteria-byproduct makes the colon cells stronger; it acts like a Kevlar vest to protect the colon and prevent leakage. Imagine what’s in your colon. Now imagine that leaking out of your colon and into your body cavity, even on a microscopic level. That’s why resistant starch Kevlar is so important.

In countries where the Legume Family is consumed several times each week, the morbidity rate for colon cancer is lower than in, say, the U.S. of A., where legume consumption is low. That means that if you do get colon cancer, Bean Cops can help you not die from it. (Protect and Serve is their motto, after all.) In one study, lab rats with chemical-induced colon cancer were fed beans. These rats developed 50% fewer tumors than the rats who didn’t eat beans!

I’m not suggesting that you trade in your Thanksgiving turkey for a bunch of beans, but if you’re supposed to bring a side dish to a gathering this week and you’re not sure what to prepare, try Three Bean Cop Salad.

 “Take wheat and barley, beans and lentils, millet and spelt; put them in a storage jar and use them to make bread for yourself.” Ezekiel 4:9a

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4th of July Challenge

flags-clip-art-RTA6yAGTLHappy 4th of July! I challenge you to eat a red, a white, and a blue healthy food today!

If you attend a BBQ or party whose host uses Pinterest, this will be easy. There will undoubtedly be a tray of fruit with red strawberries, white bananas, and blue blueberries (duh). If your host is a die-hard Pinterest fan, said fruit will be arranged like a flag…until someone comes along (there’s one at every party) who eats all the strawberries.

So scour the fridge or the store for RED tomatoes, beets, raspberries, and radishes (two for one! red and white!), WHITE turnips, cabbage, cauliflower, and parsnips, and BLUE berries, blackberries, eggplant, and purple potatoes (purple is close enough to blue, right? If it bothers you, you can eat them in the dark) and have a wonderful Independence Day!

 

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1

 

Flag courtesy of Clipartpanda.com

Cancer Prevention Foods (Part 1)

This series on foods that help fight cancer is a repeat, but three women I know have been diagnosed with cancer in the past month, so now seems like a good time for a refresher. Do I think adding a little more garlic and beans to my diet will protect me from all harm? No, of course not. But these foods have been shown to improve health and that sounds good to me. I like my tatas; I want to keep them healthy.

My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 45. That felt like a distant milestone until I turned 35. Add to my family history the recent breast cancer diagnosis of a friend – who is my age and stage of life – and it’s a bit of a wake up call. If it can happen to them, it can happen to me. I wanted to know if there was anything I could do now to prevent cancer later (or kill it now, now is good too).

downloadFirst, I took stock of everything I knew about food and cancer prevention; it was summed up with the phrase “Eat berries”. Berries have lots of antioxidants that clean out the free radicals, right? Whatever those are and however that works.

I checked out four different health websites for recommended anti-cancer foods and when I compared the list, five foods stood out: garlic, dried beans, cruciferous vegetables, tea, and curcumin. Since this is a blog post, not a book, I’ll just tell you about my favorite one today. Anyone want to guess? Anyone want to smell my breath and then guess?

garlicGarlic!

Besides making everything it touches delicious, garlic has been used for medicinal purposes since ancient times. It was also used as a weapon of war; they’d just breathe on the enemy and the enemy would run. (It’s the taste of garlic we love, but not the aftertaste.)

So why is garlic a cancer fighting food?

Garlic contains sulfur. (Insert volcano reference here.) I know that sounds bad, but the sulfur combines with other stuff in the garlic to form compounds, and these sulfur compounds really clean house. Garlic’s biggest connection to cancer is its ability to slow or prevent the growth of tumors. For example, one compound makes all cells more vulnerable to the stresses of cell division; tumor cells divide more quickly than normal cells, so they have more stressors and die, whereas normal cells can handle it and live. (See why I called it a weapon?)

Garlic also has antibacterial and antifungal properties; while it fights infection, the rest of your immune system is free to work on other problems, like cancer. Garlic has anti-inflammatory properties as well and inflammation is like PMS on a cellular level; it makes every little problem in your body worse.

How does this apply to the kitchen? Two ways:

  1. garlic choppedWhen you peel, chop, mince, or crush garlic, let it sit for a few minutes before you cook it. Those beautiful sulfur compounds need time to form. If you squeeze your garlic press over a hot pan like I’ve done until now, you get the flavor, but not the compounds.
  2. Eat garlic raw whenever possible. I knew a woman once who sliced cloves into pill sized pieces and swallowed them whole. She said she hardly ever got colds. If you aren’t ready for that level of halitosic commitment, try raw garlic in pesto, guacamole, gazpacho, or mixed with butter and spread on toast.

Pesto has to be my favorite. You can find the recipe here: Fresh Pesto.

I also found a recipe for a raw garlic based tea. How did it taste? Not horrible. I know that’s not a rave review for flavor, but it’s raw garlic tea: “not horrible” is as good as it gets, and I’m a garlic lover. Garlic Tea. I’ve drunk it twice and will do so again: my body wanted more, so it must be doing something good.

I am very happy to say that my mom has been cancer free for 18 years now. She loves garlic too. No, I’m not saying that garlic cured her. I’m just saying that this happy ending smells like garlic!

 

“The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, ‘If only we had meat to eat!  We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!’” Numbers 11:4-6

 

Tatas courtesy of freeinterentpictures.com.

Father’s Day Fun

elias-birthday-098.jpgIf you have a healthy father in your life, go ahead and take a moment to appreciate that. Let the gratitude ooze out of you. If you’re going to see a father this weekend, try to compliment his healthy habits and participate with him in them.

“Dad, thanks for eating your vegetables. Watching you eat them let me know Mom wasn’t crazy and green plants on my plate won’t kill me.”

“Dad, want to go for a walk with me? It’s good for us and gives us something to do while we catch up.”

“Honey, Let’s play outside with our kids. It’s healthy for them, for us, and it makes them more tired and easier to corral indoors.”

Heavenly Father, thank you for the fathers in my life.

Happy Father’s Day!

 

The father of a righteous child has great joy; a man who fathers a wise son rejoices in him. Proverbs 23:24

A Diet Constant

We don’t always do what we know we should, especially when it comes to eating healthy and exercising regularly. Today’s post is a friendly reminder that God’s love for us doesn’t change with our willpower.

He loves me cartoon

He loves me cartoon_0001For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39 (NIV)

Antioxidant Rich (Green) Lemonade

Kids, this lemonade is green because it’s made from green lemons called limes. What’s that spinach doing on the counter? Um, nothing, I made a salad or something. See the lime? Green lime, green drink. Nothing funny going on here, that’s for sure. Drink up!

20171121_152020

Ingredients:

1/4 cup lemon juice OR lime juice

4 cups water

1 cup spinach or kale

2-4 packets Truvia or other natural sweetener

 

Supplies: Blender, measuring cups

Directions: Blend all ingredients until smooth. Strain to remove all evidence of leaves, unless you think you can get away with leaving them in. Top with a slice of lime for proof that the green color is not suspicious. Chill and enjoy!

 

They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green.  Jeremiah 17:8a

Sesame Skin Street

Hi, and welcome to Sesame Skin Street! Skin health is brought to you today by the letters A, C, and E and by the number 3.

sesame skinLet’s learn the ABCs of eating for skin health. Ready?

sesame aA is for Vitamin A which helps the skin cells grow. Making new cells is how your skin repairs itself. Beta carotene converts into Vitamin A, so you should eat orange foods. Carrots are orange. What other foods are orange? Oranges, cantaloupe, sweet potatoes, and winter squash. Good job, you get an A…a Vitamin A+, to be exact! Your parents are so proud.

sesame c

C is for Vitamin C which helps synthesize collagen. Collagen keeps your skin smooth and taught. Strawberries, oranges, tomatoes, and broccoli are high in vitamin C. C is for Collagen, kids! You get a sticker.

 

sesame eE is for Vitamin E.

3 is for Omega 3. E and 3 work together to boost your immune system, reduce inflammation, and protect your skin from skin damaging, wrinkle causing free radicals. They’re found in similar foods such as nuts, seeds, fish, and olive oil.

 

Sing a song with me!

sesame 3A C E, 3 letters spell ace

Keep skin pretty on your face

Repair skin cells at a fast pace

Eat these foods after saying grace

Healthy fats are a power base

Leafy greens like nature’s lace

For orange foods we’ll make a case

Keep skin healthy in its place

By eating foods with 3 and ACE

 

Sesame Skin Street has been brought to you by the letters A, C, and E and the number 3.

 

And his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy. Then Naaman and all his attendants went back to the man of God. He stood before him and said, “Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel.”

2 Kings 5:14b-15a

 

Images courtesy of sesamestreet.org