Dissecting the XY Wellness Diet - Part 4: How to Fight Cancer with Food

This week marks our fourth installment of posts that explore the XY Wellness Diet, which we have formulated with care to optimize your health. In short, the XY Wellness diet consists of foods that are nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory, low-glycemic, and, in some cases, cancer-fighting. This week we will discuss this final item: food’s ability to beat back cancer growth.

The kinds of fat that you consume, for instance, have a strong impact on your cancer risk. One of the most recent articles on the subject identified walnut-derived fats as potential cancer-fighters. Researchers found that this fat not only decreased rats’ cholesterol, but also slowed the growth of their prostate cancer (Kim, Yokohama, & Davis, 2014). Animal fat, by contrast, was recently found to speed up the growth of cancer (Chang et al., 2014).  

Fat is not the only factor. Recent research has pinpointed countless foods that actively work against cancer. Such foods counter the activity of free radicals and induce cell death in tumors (Pan, Lai, Wang, Lo, Ho, & Li, 2013). Several other compounds also have substantial effects. Phenolic compounds such as those found in curcumin and green tea actively combat developing cancer cells. In addition, cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts contain high levels of sulphuric compounds, which induce special enzymes that detoxify the body (Kou, Kirberger, Yang, & Chen, 2013). 

We could go on and on about the evidence, but we think we could serve you better by directing you to the champions of cancer-fighting foods. Conveniently, there’s one way to fight cancer for each letter of the alphabet. (Most are foods or are found in food.)

A. Anti-oxidants. Look for these crucial chemicals in berries and green or black tea.
B. Beta-carotene. This helpful compound can be found in carrots, sweet potatoes, and citrus fruits. 
C. Cruciferous vegetables. Your best bets are broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts.
D. D, the Vitamin. Enjoy a small glass of milk, and spend some time in the sunshine to make it count. 
E. Epicatechins. These cancer-fighting compounds can be found in several kinds of tea, and they also appear in chocolate, in small amounts. 
F. Friendly fats. The friendliest fats are monounsaturated and are found in fruits, vegetables, and nuts. Avocados, flaxseed, sunflower seeds, and walnuts are our go-to fatty friends. (And don’t forget your Omega-3s, listed below.)
G. Grapes and Garlic. Grapes contain resveratrol, which has been shown to aid in the fight for health, and alliums like garlic and onions have been shown to be incredibly hostile to cancer growth.
H. Horseradish. Spice up sliced tomatoes or fresh fish with this cancer-fighting crucifer. 
I. Indoles and isothiocyanates, which can be found in kale.
J. Jalapeños, which contain capsaicin, a well-known cancer-fighter.
K. K2, the vitamin. This one has been shown to support healthy heart function and fight prostate cancer.
L. Lycopene, which is found in fresh tomatoes.
M. Mushrooms. We recommend Reishi, Maitake, Agaricus blazei Murill, and Coriolus Veriscolor, which contain lectin and polysaccharides such as lentinan.
N. Nuts, depending on the variety, can contain quercitin, campferol, or selenium. 
O. Omega-3 fatty acids. Look for these in wild-caught salmon and other kinds of fish.
P. Polyphenols, a specific kind of antioxidant, which can be found in grapes, grape products such as wine, and many other fruits.
Q. Quercetin, mentioned briefly above. This is a helpful flavanol found in fruits and vegetables which has been shown to increase immunity.
R. Resveratrol, found in small amounts in red wine. We recommend taking resveratrol in supplement form. 
S. Sulphuric compounds, which are the crucial compound in cruciferous vegetables.
T. Turmeric, a delicious, cancer-fighting spice.
U. Unwind. Chronic stress is strongly associated with an increased risk of cancer. 
V. A Variety of Vegetables. You can’t go wrong chomping on a different vegetable every day.  
W. Water. Make plain old water your go-to beverage. It will rehydrate you without any added sugars or other artificial ingredients.
X. X-ercise! With every good food there is a good workout to metabolize it. Keep your body fueled for movement.
Y. Yams, which, some evidence suggests, can inhibit the activity of free radicals (Park et al., 2013).
Z. Vitamin Z, i.e. a good night’s sleep. Catch your daily recommended value of Zs every night to reduce your risk of cancer, as well as reduce your stress. 

We hope that this list is helpful to you in your daily thriving. For more information about foods that fight cancer, visit this previous post. Until next week, be well.


Chang, S. N., Han, J., Abdelkader, T. S., Kim, T. H., Lee, J. M., Song, J., . . . Park, J. H. (2014). High animal fat intake enhances prostate cancer progression and reduces glutathione peroxidase 3 expression in early stages of TRAMP mice. Prostate, 74(13), 1266-1277. doi: 10.1002/pros.22843

Kim, H., Yokoyama, W., & Davis, P. A. (2014). TRAMP Prostate Tumor Growth Is Slowed by Walnut Diets Through Altered IGF-1 Levels, Energy Pathways, and Cholesterol Metabolism. Journal of Medicinal Food, 17(12), 1281–1286. doi:10.1089/jmf.2014.0061

Kou, X., Kirberger, M., Yang, Y., & Chen, N. (2013). Natural products for cancer prevention associated with Nrf2–ARE pathway. Food Science and Human Wellness, 2(1), 22-28. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.fshw.2013.01.001

Pan, M.-H., Lai, C.-S., Wang, H., Lo, C.-Y., Ho, C.-T., & Li, S. (2013). Black tea in chemo-prevention of cancer and other human diseases. Food Science and Human Wellness, 2(1), 12-21. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.fshw.2013.03.004

Park, J.-M., Kim, Y.-J., Kim, J.-S., Han, Y.-M., Kangwan, N., Hahm, K. B., . . . Kim, E.-H. (2013). Anti-inflammatory and carbonic anhydrase restoring actions of yam powder (Dioscorea spp) contribute to the prevention of cysteamine-induced duodenal ulcer in a rat model. Nutrition Research, 33(8), 677-685. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.nutres.2013.05.019