What you eat can play a big role in preventing colorectal cancer, with research showing that fiber-filled foods lower risk; red and processed meats increase it. Now a study hones in on how diet can affect risk, showing that swapping a high-fiber healthy diet for a low-fiber western-style diet alters gut bacteria and signs of inflammation that may play a role in colon cancer.
The study is published in Nature Communicationsand it adds to a growing body of research on how our bacteria – our microbiota – play a role in cancer risk.
For the study, researchers flipped the diets of 20 African Americans and 20 South Africans for two weeks. All the participants had colonoscopy exams before and after the diet swap.
The Americans were served African-style foods, almost quadrupling their fiber intake to an amount equal to over 3.5 cups of beans. At the same time, they cut their calories from fat in half. Africans went the opposite direction, dramatically cutting their fiber and upping their fat intake.
After two weeks on the African diet, the Americans had less markers of inflammation in the colon while those same markers increased among the Africans eating the less healthy diet. There were also opposing increases and decreases of the compound butyrate, which forms from digesting fiber and is linked to lowering colon cancer risk. The American group was producing more butyrate; the Africans on the American diet less. Continue reading →
You’ll find curries in Indian restaurants and noodles in Chinese restaurants, but you may not find curried noodles unless there’s a Malaysian place in your neighborhood. If not, we offer AICR’s healthy version of Singapore Noodles, a dish that blends Chinese, Indian and Malay influences in a cancer-fighting dish using whole-grain brown rice noodles.
Like Singapore, an island nation that grew up as a multicultural trading post in the Southeast Asia next door to Indonesia, Singapore Noodles is a mixture of diverse ingredients. Vegetables, rice vermicelli, shrimp, egg and chicken are sautéed with curry powder. Curry itself is yet another mixture of spices ranging from ginger and turmeric to pepper and cardamom. In this recipe, we add a little more turmeric, a mild-tasting spice that is related to ginger. Both are anti-inflammatory spices that studies indicate may help to reduce cancer risk.
The health-protecting spicy red onion, bell peppers, scallions and cabbage are commonly used in Singapore Noodles. Adding egg to stir-fries is also a feature of Malaysian and Indonesian cooking. To include the egg’s bit of saturated fat, we’ve changed the traditional bits of pork (a red meat) in this dish to chicken or turkey breast and used a few small shrimp to produce an authentic flavor. A touch of sesame oil at the end makes it perfect and still lower in fat than you’d find this dish to be in most restaurants.
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At holiday meals we enjoy foods that may not typically be part of our healthy, cancer-preventive plate, like ham. And some holiday foods have religious significance taking a special place on our menu – like eggs or wine.
Both Easter and Passover combine family, religious and cultural traditions full of meaning and comfort, so we savor these special foods and menus. But you can also dress up your plate and menu with seasonal and other holiday foods that add color, nutrition and cancer-fighting substances.
Asparagus: This cheerful bearer of spring adds beauty to your table along with vitamins A, C and K, folate and cancer-fighting fiber to your diet.
Hot Cross Buns: If these are staples at your Easter morning breakfast, this year try substituting whole wheat flour for half of the white flour in your favorite recipe. Whole grains contain many cancer-fighting substances and as foods high in fiber, they help protect against colorectal cancer.
Spring Greens: Look for tender baby greens – spinach, kale, chard – these are packed with the antioxidant vitamins A and C. They’re great as salads, or added to egg dishes, like frittatas, omelets or casseroles. Try our Kale Frittata with Tomato and Basil.
Plate for the Seder
Dark Chocolate: A small amount of this phytochemical rich food can go a long way. Serve a beautiful dessert plate with small chunks of dark chocolate, fresh strawberries and toasted walnuts. Or make chocolate covered matzah for snacks and dessert.
Herbs: A part of the Seder plate, these symbols of spring can add flavor and powerful cancer-fighting substances at any meal. Learn more about herbs and try our Pomegranate Salsa for color and a little bite.
Matzah Ball Soup: So soothing and comforting, you can add a little more color and nutrition with carrots, parsnips, onions and other delicious veggies. You might even try making the matzah balls with whole wheat matzah for more cancer protection.