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…During food preparation, chewing, and digestion, the glucosinolates in cruciferous vegetables are broken down to form biologically active compounds such as indoles, nitriles, thiocyanates, and isothiocyanates (1). Indole-3-carbinol (an indole) and sulforaphane (an isothiocyanate) have been most frequently examined for their anticancer effects.
Indoles and isothiocyanates have been found to inhibit the development of cancer in several organs in rats and mice, including the bladder, breast, colon, liver, lung, and stomach (2, 3). Studies in animals and experiments with cells grown in the laboratory have identified several potential ways in which these compounds may help prevent cancer:
- They help protect cells from DNA damage.
- They help inactivate carcinogens.
- They have antiviral and antibacterial effects.
- They have anti-inflammatory effects.
- They induce cell death (apoptosis).
- They inhibit tumor blood vessel formation (angiogenesis) and tumor cell migration (needed for metastasis).
Studies in humans, however, have shown mixed results.
Phytonutrients aren’t essential for keeping you alive, unlike the vitamins and minerals that plant foods contain. But when you eat or drink phytonutrients, they may help prevent disease and keep your body working properly.
More than 25,000 phytonutrients are found in plant foods. WebMD takes a look at these six important phytonutrients — and their potential health effects:
- Ellagic acid
According to the review of 30 years worth of literature on the topic, the following 10 natural substances have been demonstrated to be the most effective chemopreventive dietary agents against CSCs:
Resveratrol: A phytochemical found in grapes, peanuts, Japanese knotweed
Lycopene: A red carotenoid found in watermelon, pink grapefruit, and tomatoes
Luteolin: A flavonoid found in peppers and various green vegetables
Genistein: A phytochemical found in soy, red clover, and coffee
Piperine: A phytochemicals found in black pepper
β-carotene: An orange carotenoid found in various vegetables
The researchers described the discovery that phytochemicals can selectively target CSCs as “a milestone in the improvement of cancer treatment because the synthetic anticancer drugs that are currently used are often highly toxic for healthy organs and weakens the patient’s immune system.”
“One thing I hear on a regular basis is, “Eating healthy is too expensive!” Unfortunately, eating a whole foods, plant-based diet is seen by many as a luxury they can’t afford, but it doesn’t have to be that way. As I heard Dr. Neal Barnard of Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine say last year, “It doesn’t get any cheaper than rice and beans!”” (Read more here.)
“Only about one in every 10 Americans eats enough fruits and vegetables, a new government report shows. Just 13 percent of U.S. residents consume one and a half to two cups of fruit every day as recommended by federal dietary guidelines, researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found.
The news on the vegetable front was even worse. Less than 9 percent of Americans eat two to three cups of vegetables every day as recommended, the report showed…” Read more here.
“Phytochemicals are a fascinating yet mysterious group of thousands of chemicals found in plant foods. Some protect against cancer when isolated, some are not associated with cancer at all, and many have yet to be discovered. It is known that many phytochemicals, when kept in their natural food forms, can protect us from cancer as they interact with other phytochemicals and the cells in our bodies…” The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
Dean Ornish talks about simple, low-tech and low-cost ways to take advantage of the body’s natural desire to heal itself.
“Whether altered glucose uptake and metabolism could by themselves modulate normal and malignant phenotype and signaling was not known, nor was the mechanism underlying these observations. Our present findings fill a fundamental gap in our current understanding of the mechanism by which glucose metabolism is involved in cancer. Using a physiologically relevant 3D assay and a breast cancer progression series as well as other breast cancer cell lines, we showed here that overexpression of a glucose transporter in a nonmalignant human breast epithelial cell disrupted polarity and formation of organized tissue-like acini in 3D cultures and upregulated canonical oncogenic signaling. Conversely, forced reduction of glucose uptake by breast cancer cells led to phenotypic reversion of the malignant cells and downregulation of the oncogenic pathways.”