Why you should eat to fight free radicals….

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Have you seen the news today? The World Health Organisation has released it’s World Cancer Report 2014, and it found that Cancer has overtaken heart disease and is now the no. 1 cause of death in Australia, and globally. This is not good news peeps,  HOWEVER, the report also outlines that “3.7 million cancer deaths could have been avoided by lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, reducing alcohol intake and maintaining a healthy weight.” (Scott & Branley, 2014). We lost 40,000 Aussies in 2012 to cancer, and by making a few lifestyles changes this number could be significantly reduced.

So let’s take a look at some ‘cancer fighting’ foods, so against this nasty disease we can go a’fightin’ (By the way, I say fighting, but I really mean ‘preventing’ – prevention is the key to tackling this epic health issue.)

Cancer is basically damaged DNA, often caused by oxidative stress and the presence of ‘Reactive Oxygen Species’ or as you may know them….’free radicals’. Basically in combating these nasties, we are looking for foods that have anti-inflammatory properties and are rich in antioxidants.

Oxidation reactions cause free radicals to go floating around in our bods, wreaking havoc. Antioxidants inhibit the oxidation of other molecules, thus reducing the number of free radicals that can go about attacking our healthy cells. Antioxidants come in many forms, some that you may know are polyphenols (in wine, grapes and tea), flavonoids (in blueberries, acai, dark chocolate), carotenoids (in fresh fruit & veg) – did you know that Selenium, Zinc, Vitamin C and Vitamin E are also powerful antioxidants?

Research tells us that free radicals play a mediator role in inflammation in the body, meaning it is likely if you have one, you will have the other. So consuming antioxidants will help reduce inflammation, but there are also other foods that are known for their powerful anti-inflammatory properties.

Here is a short list of anti-inflammatory foods and foods containing antioxidants:

Antioxidants 

Think blue/purple, red and yellow foods – blueberries, acai, capsicums, carrots, strawberries, kidney beans, cranberries, plums, black beans, eggplants, grapes, sweet potato, tomato, pumpkin, apricots (Click on the  following link for a much more comprehensive list http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Antioxidants)

Anti-inflammatory

Omega 3 fatty acids – oily fish such as  salmon, mackerel & sardines, flaxseeds, walnuts, canola

Turmeric, cinnamon, kale, cabbage, broccoli, seaweed, papaya, green tea, cacao

+ all the antioxidant foods listed above

Remember though – eating the right food is only one lifestyle factor that can reduce your risk of cancer. Exercise, smoking (especially) and drinking all play a critical role in maintaining good health and reducing your risk of chronic disease.

‘Til next time superstars…

QQ x

References:

Scott, S & Branley, A, 2014. Australian Broadcasting Corporation, ‘Cancer Now Biggest Killer, Ahead of Heart Disease: WHO Report”. Accessed online http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-02-04/cancer-now-biggest-killer-in-australia/5236148

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