What Foods Fight Cancer Naturally? 6 Types

Medically Reviewed on 4/29/2022
What Foods Fight Cancer Naturally
Whether you are trying to fight cancer or prevent it, eating healthy is crucial. Adding these cancer-fighting foods to your diet may help prevent or slow cancer growth

Whether you are trying to fight cancer or prevent it, eating healthy is crucial. Studies have shown that adopting a healthy diet and lifestyle can reduce your cancer risk by nearly 30%-40%. 

Of course, there is no food that can protect you against cancer completely. But adding cancer-fighting foods to your diet may help prevent or slow cancer growth. Here are 6 types of foods that can help you fight cancer naturally.

6 types of cancer-fighting foods

1. Fiber-rich foods

Fiber adds bulk to your stool and helps them pass smoothly, preventing waste from building up in your body. Fiber also encourages the growth of healthy gut bacteria, which is associated with a reduced risk of cancer, especially colorectal cancer. Foods rich in fiber include:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Whole grains and seeds
    • Barley
    • Oats
    • Kamut
    • Spelt
    • Bulgur
    • Corn
    • Psyllium
    • Rye
  • Legumes and pulses
    • Beans
    • Lentils
    • Split peas

2. Colorful fruits and vegetables

When you eat fruits and vegetables of various colors such as dark green, red, and orange, you are making sure that you are getting a wide variety of nutrients in your diet. These nutrients can help fight cancer naturally as well as reduce the risk of obesity, which has been linked to certain cancers.

3. Cruciferous vegetables

Cruciferous vegetables are associated with lower cancer risk, especially cancers of the stomach, esophagus, and head and neck.

Studies have shown that cruciferous vegetables may help regulate enzymes that fight cancer and slow cancer cell growth. Examples of cruciferous vegetables include:

  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Cabbage
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Bok choy
  • Kale

4. Folate-rich foods

According to some studies, foods containing folate (folic acid) may have anticancer properties. While you can get folate from supplements, it is best to obtain folate from foods. Examples of foods high in folate include:

  • Asparagus
  • Eggs
  • Beans
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Spinach
  • Folate-enriched grains

5. Lycopene-rich foods

Eating lycopene-rich foods may have a protective effect against certain cancers. Lycopene is a carotenoid, vitamin A derivative. They are found abundantly in foods such as: 

  • Tomato and tomato products (juice, sauce, paste)
  • Pink grapefruit
  • Watermelon
  • Apricots

6. Soy products

Soy contains unique phytonutrients, which can help protect you against some types of cancer. Examples of soy products include:

  • Soy milk
  • Edamame
  • Tofu
  • Miso

Although some have suggested a link between soy consumption and an increased risk of breast cancer, there is no concrete scientific data to support this claim. Current studies have recommended that eating up to 3 servings of soy a day is safe and may help to reduce breast cancer risk.

What other ways can you fight cancer naturally?

In addition to including cancer-fighting foods in your diet, you can also fight cancer naturally with a few lifestyle habits:

  • Avoid unhealthy foods: Avoid red and processed meats, refined grains and sugars, and high-calorie foods with low nutritional value.
  • Manage stress: Reduce stress by engaging in relaxing activities for at least 20 minutes a day. Examples include walking, gardening, listening to music, or practicing deep breathing, yoga, or meditation.
  • Get enough sleep: Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Follow good sleep hygiene, including avoiding caffeine close to bedtime and staying away from electronic devices at least an hour before bedtime.
  • Exercise regularly: Exercise can help reduce fatigue, weight gain, and loss of strength during cancer treatment. Avoid sitting or lying down for long periods of time.
  • Avoid smoking and alcohol: Tobacco use greatly increases the risk of cancer. Try to quit smoking. Consume alcohol in moderation. 
  • Seek emotional support: Studies have shown that people who receive social support are more likely to live a good quality of life with cancer.

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Medically Reviewed on 4/29/2022
References
Image Source: iStock Image

American Society of Clinical Oncology. Food and Cancer Risk. https://www.cancer.net/navigating-cancer-care/prevention-and-healthy-living/food-and-cancer-risk

American Institute for Cancer Research. Setting Your Table to Prevent Cancer. https://www.aicr.org/cancer-prevention/healthy-eating/new-american-plate/