>The 15 Anti-cancer food rules I follow
These are based on the recommendations of Dr David Servan Schrieber, Conner Middlemann-Whitney and Penny Brohn Cancer Care and added to by me with what I have learnt on my cancer journey.
Don’t be alarmed if your favourite foods aren’t on the list, you can apply rule 15 and also revel in ALL the things below that you can eat!
I love trying all the fresh seasonal stuff, seeing things grow on my windowsill and in the garden – I don’t calorie count and I’m never hungry (and therefore don’t crave sugary snacks or bread)
1. Veg it up: You should aim for your main course to comprise of 80 percent vegetables, 20 percent animal protein, like it was in the old days. Meat should be used sparingly for taste, as when it used to be scarce, and should not be the focus of the meal.
2. Mix and match your vegetables:Vary the vegetables you eat from one meal to the next, or mix them. No one vegetable on its own is anti-cancer so make sure you eat with the seasons and be colourful! I lightly steam or stir-fry mine.
3. Go organic: Choose organic foods whenever possible, but remember it’s always better to eat broccoli that’s been exposed to pesticide than to not eat broccoli at all (the same applies to any other anticancer vegetable). Remember to check out the guide on EWG’s website or download the App – its American but the guidelines are the same.
4. Spice it up: Add turmeric (with black pepper) when cooking (delicious in salad dressings!). This yellow spice is the most powerful natural anti-inflammatory agent. Remember to add Mediterranean herbs to your food: thyme, oregano, basil, rosemary, marjoram, mint, etc. They don’t just add flavor, they can also help reduce the growth of cancer cells.
5. Skip the potato: Potatoes raise blood sugar, which can feed inflammation and cancer growth. You can have new potatoes occasionally (but don’t cut them before cooking – leave them whole) and add a “little” organic goats butter, this means they are not such a high “GI” food. Also when using rice or pasta – which I do sparingly – then choose Organic, wholegrain or wholewheat.
6. Go fish:Eat fish two or three times a week – sardines, mackerel, and anchovies have less mercury and PCBs than bigger fish like tuna. The bigger the fish the further down in the ocean they go therefore the more mercury they are likely to have in their systems. Be sustainable in your fish choices!
7. Remember not all eggs are created equal: Choose only omega-3 eggs, and obviously free range. Hens are now fed on mostly corn and soybeans, and their eggs contain 20 times more pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids than cell-growth regulating omega-3s. Or get your own hens and free range them in your garden – you know exactly what they’ve been eating then – we do and there is NOTHING like the taste of fresh free range eggs. Alternatively seek out a local farmer/roadside stall.
8. Change your oil: Use only olive and coconut oil in cooking and salad dressings. Go through your kitchen cabinets and throw out your vegetable, corn and sunflower oils. (And no, you can’t give them to your neighbors or your relatives… They’re much too rich in omega-6 fatty acids!)
9. Say “Brown is beautiful”:Eat your grains whole and mixed (wheat with oats, barley, spelt, flax, etc.) and favor organic whole grains when possible since pesticides tend to accumulate on whole grains. Avoid refined, white flour (used in bagels, muffins, sandwich bread, buns, etc.) whenever possible, try organic Spelt, Wholemeal etc (Dove’s is good brand I’ve found)
10. Keep sweets down to fruits: Cut down on sugar by avoiding sweetened fizzy drinks and fruit juices, and skipping dessert or replacing it with fruit (especially stone fruits and berries) after most meals. If you have an incorrigible sweet tooth, try a few squares of dark chocolate containing more than 70% cocoa – we love Green & Blacks 85% and you will only need a couple of squares after a meal. It’s really interesting how your taste buds change and you realize that the body does not crave sugar. Definitely do not replace sugar with artificial sweeteners – just don’t go there!
11. Go green: Instead of coffee or black tea, I drink three cups of green tea per day. I have one cup of Japanese Matcha tea on an empty stomach first thing in the morning, later on I drink freshly made Japanese Sencha – I make this with fresh mint for the uninitiated .
12. Juice your Greens: Everyday I have a “green” juice , made up of approximately 1/3 fruit to 2/3 vegetables. It is the perfect way to get LOTS of great anti-cancer nutrients into your body – and give you some lovely energy too!
13. Get Sprouting: Harness all the life and energy from little sprouting seeds such as broccoli, alfalfa, sunflower, lentils, mung – most can be grown in a jam jar on the windowsill – check out the Sprouting Handbook on my Amazon shop page.
14. Go Nuts: Use Almonds, Walnuts, Hazelnuts, Brazils as handy snacks
15. Make room for exceptions. What matters is what you do on a daily basis, not the occasional treat.
My recipe this week is reproduced with kind permission from Conner Middlemann-Whitney, author of Zest for Life, The Mediterranean Anti-Cancer Diet (follow the Amazon link at the end of the recipe to buy the book) The photographs are ours!
We have made this quite a few times, always with different vegetables etc, last time we made the dish it was using our own home reared free range chickens (a great achievement from my husband David!) and was enjoyed by a good friend staying with us at the time.
Chicken & Prune Tagine
3 tbsp Olive Oil
2 Onions, halved and sliced lengthways
4 Chicken thigh portions or small chicken cut into pieces (ask the Butcher to do this for you!) (Take the skin off too)
1 heaped teaspoon Cinnamon
1 level teaspoon Ground Coriander
1 level teaspoon Ground Cumin
1 level teaspoon Ground Turmeric
1 level teaspoon Ground Cardamom
Pinch of saffron strands or powder
150ml chicken stock (I actually make a bit more like 250ml – personal preference!)
100g pitted Prunes
3 tbsp chopped walnuts (chop them yourself!)
3 tbsp chopped coriander or parsley (grow it yourself!)
Squeeze of lemon juice
Salt & freshly ground pepper (I leave the salt out)
Preheat oven to 180 C
Warm 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large saucepan on a medium heat and cook the chicken portions on both sides until golden; transfer to an ovenproof dish. In the remaining oil, cook the onions on a low heat until translucent (approx 4 – 5 minutes)
Add the spices and cook for another minute, stirring to avoid the spices burning.
Add the stock, stir and pour over the chicken pieces, turning so they are well coated. Cover with a lid (I put lay some greaseproof paper onto the mixture first) and transfer to the oven.
After 40 minutes, remove the lid and add the prunes ensuring they are covered by the liquid. Return to the oven for another 30 minutes.
When the chicken pieces are cooked through, remove from the oven and season with (salt) pepper and lemon juice.
Sprinkle with chopped walnuts and parsley/coriander and serve with plenty of fresh, lightly steamed vegetables.
This dish is even better the next day when the flavours have had time to infuse.
This blog post is dedicated to the memory of Dr David Servan Schrieber who passed away on Sunday 24th July 2011 after an amazing 19 years confronting his cancer.
He was, and always will be my inspiration, I thank him for giving me the strength and ability to regain control over my cancer at a time when I thought it might control me. My thoughts are with his Family and friends.
I also wish to paid tribute to my lovely friend Sally’s Mum who also passed away this week, although I never met her she was held in high esteem and fond love by my husband David.
May they both be at peace.