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Published on October 30, 2017

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Add Spice, Add Prevention to Your Meals

Just hoping won’t keep cancer away – but incorporating some herbs, spices and other naturally anti-inflammatory flavor-adding ingredients may offer some protection.

“Patients fighting cancer want more control and they can turn to small steps in the right direction. The American Institute of Cancer Research, along with other groups digging into this topic, has found some recommendations for how we eat, what we eat and how certain flavorful ingredients can help us,” said Julie Reiland, MD, FACS, breast surgeon.

Reiland mentioned that the stats are staggering: almost 70 percent of Americans are either overweight or obese; nearly 40 percent are obese. When you consider the fact that at least 13 cancers are directly connected to overweight issues – you can see how diet changes can be lifesaving changes.

Start Fresh and Add Flavor

No amount of good-for-you add-ins can overcome the negatives of overly processed foods. So you should start with fresh, whole foods, Reiland said. From there, you can bring on the power of flavorings, spices and ingredients that offer protection.

Turmeric is among the most-researched spices. A member of the ginger family, it can provide your body with anti-inflammatory nutrients. That quality – reducing inflammation – is important when fighting cancer, Reiland said.

“The process of cancer starts with out-of-balance, cellular-level activity, and inflammation can cause a new cell that forms to be genetically different. Inflammation is at that cellular root, and in time, those cells make more cells which continue to multiply,” she said. “Ginger and turmeric both are good examples of natural spices that reduce that cellular-level inflammation and could help prevent that process from getting underway.”

Try this ginger-infused dessert option recipe

Stay Away From Sugar

Reducing sugar is another great way to eat toward lower cancer risk, according to research, Reiland said.

“Too much sugar can create insulin pathways that are inflammatory pathways, and that’s one of the factors in the typical American diet that we need to address,” said Reiland. “With all the sugars in food, we create this cascade of these pathways which may make inflammation more common which in turn gives cancer more opportunities to develop.”

Reiland points to the shocking history of Americans and sugar: in 1900, the average annual consumption was about five pounds per person. Today, the typical American consumes a whopping 120 pounds of sugar in one year.

Reducing sugar isn’t easy – but at the same time, Reiland argues, eating better need not be some drudgery that ends in failure.

The heart of healthy eating comes back to a single idea.

“It’s all about taste – and about developing an appreciation of the tastes that do well for our health,” she said. “You cannot go to the grocery store and get a bag of chips one day and then have a turmeric broth the next day and expect to be protected. It’s a process and a lifestyle, but one that can be achieved by anyone.”

Spices Protect – Here’s a Snapshot Look at a Few of Them

Turmeric: This yellow spice is often found in Indian and Thai curries and gives them that distinct hue. It’s a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Many folks start their day with a turmeric broth to gain its helpful properties.

This smoothie with turmeric and ginger is a great way to start the day!

Garlic: This flavorful root vegetable is known for its strong cell-protecting antioxidant properties as well as its aroma. This recipe includes walnuts and garlic and is good with most meats and fish!

Ginger: Another powerful anti-inflammatory spice, ginger is common in many dishes, and can be consumed on its own. It’ll help reduce inflammation and once was used as a stand-alone home remedy. This enjoyable main-dish recipe uses fresh ginger - give it a try.

Black pepper: Salt and pepper are the most common spices in all our foods, and a growing list of research studies show that it can multiply the anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric, when the two are combined in a dish or as a supplement.

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