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Food For Thought-Brain Tumors and Nutrition

Posted Mar 01 2013 12:00am

March is National Nutrition Month! Run by the American Dietetic Association, their message is:  

“Eat Right, Your Way, Everyday”

As a healthcare worker, I love to read and research how food treats illness and disease. Like the great philosopher Hippocrates said:

 Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food

When you think about it, it shouldn’t be surprising that food can treat illness and disease-the chemicals in many prescription drugs originate from plants!
So, for National Nutrition Month I did a little research into what foods and nutrients can help fight brain cancer-a disease that will kill around 14,080 Americans in 2013.

Equally, you must keep in mind; there is no diet/food group/miracle food, out there to cure and prevent cancer. Diet’s just one of the factors, that is believed to affect cancer development, along with genetics, environmental exposure and many others.

The following foods and nutrients are believed to affect brain tumor development and growth.

Folic Acid
Moms will know about this nutrient, women take it during pregnancy to prevent neural tube defects. Folic acid is the synthetic name for folate, a type of vitamin B. Studies have found that people with cancer, often have low folate levels. Folate is important for healthy cell division and replication of cells, a process that cancer manipulates. Folic acid can be found in fortified pastas, rice and breads-just check the food label to be sure! Folate can be found naturally in leafy vegetables (broccoli, spinach, and lettuce), asparagus, fruits (bananas, citric fruits, melons), legumes, organ meats (liver,kidneys), orange juice and tomato juice.

Fruits such as blueberries, strawberries, grapes, kiwi and cranberries, all have extremely strong antioxidant properties-which are believed to affect brain tumor growth. They are also extremely delicious! Make a fruit salad with all these fruits for maximum antioxidant effect! Or put some on your cereal in the morning. 

brain tumor diet
Omega 3
Omega 3 is fatty acid which is great for your heart and brain. It’s believed to help decelerate tumor growth, reduce the size of tumors, decrease inflammation and help your immune system recover after chemo treatment. Omega three fatty acid can be found in oily fish such as sardines and salmon, as well as in flax and walnuts.

Tomatoes contain a substance called lycopene, which is believed to slow the growth of cancer cells. Present in all red fruit and veg, it is more concentrated in tomatoes. To get the maximum out your tomatoes, cook them first-this releases more lycopene.

There has also been some buzz surrounding the ketogenic diet and brain cancer. The ketogenic diet was developed originally to treat epilepsy. It is a diet, low in carbohydrates, high in protein and high in fat. As the diet is low in carbohydrates, brains cells are forced to use ketones, instead of glucose (the sugar found in carbohydrates) for energy. Normal cells can use ketones, cancerous cells cannot. Effectively the brain cancer cells are starved of an energy source. Boston college researchers found, that a ketogenic diet greatly reduced the growth of brain tumors.

Sounds great? Remember, this research is only in the early days, and results must be taken with a pinch of salt. Many more years of study and research must take place before this diet can be considered a legitimate alternative treatment for brain cancer.
Now go make yourself a ketogenitic-folic-fortified-berry-infused-omega-3-tomatoey meal! Bon appetite!  
To learn more about National Nutrition Month Visit:
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