Today, we have our first guest blogger since 2011. While FARM focuses on the animal reasons to go vegan, Jillian McKee offers great tidbits to tell our health-conscious friends and family who still eat meat why they should adopt a plant-based diet.
In the United States, cancer is the second most common cause of death, right behind heart disease. While there are many schools of thought as to why that is, the vast majority of doctors and scientists agree that adopting a vegetarian or vegan diet is a great way for people to not only prevent cancer but also to increase their likelihood of survival once they are diagnosed.
Numerous studies have shown that people who eat a plant-based diet enjoy a reduction, ranging between 10 and 12 percent, in their overall risk of developing cancer compared to meat-eaters. As if that’s not impressive enough, people who are currently suffering from cancer and its treatments, can also benefit from a vegetarian diet. Here are some of the ways that it can help.
Many common plant foods contain various substances that discourage, inhibit and even directly fight the growth of cancerous cells and reduce free radical damage in the body. For example, broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables contain sulforaphane, which increases certain liver enzymes that destroy cancer-causing chemicals. Another chemical known as quercetin, found in plant foods such as apples, green tea, various herbs and leafy greens, has been found to inhibit the growth of tumors. Animal foods provide none of these benefits.
The intestines of healthy individuals are home to a large population of beneficial bacteria, primarily those of the Lactobacillus genus. A diet rich in animal products, particularly fat, fails to provide these bacteria with the conditions they need to thrive and it may actually reduce their numbers. A vegetarian diet, on the other hand, gives these good bacteria all of the things they like. They consume some of the fiber from the fruit and vegetables that you eat and break it down into usable vitamins. Beneficial bacteria are known for their immune-enhancing properties. Not only do they keep populations of harmful bacteria in check, but they also train the immune system to better recognize true threats, such as the development of cancerous cells.
Giving up all or most animal products doesn’t mean that cancer patients have to live a life devoid of fat. There are many plant-based fat sources that are actually far superior to animal-based ones in both nutrition and health benefits.
Coconut oil, in its unrefined form, will starve cancerous cells of glucose, which they need in order to proliferate. Coconut oil’s unique chemical makeup also provides the body with energy, which can be incredibly helpful for patients suffering from fatigue due to breast cancer, prostate cancer, or even mesothelioma treatments.
Sesame oil, which contains lignins like sesamin and sesamol, has been found to inhibit the growth of melanoma cells. It has also been shown to reduce tumor size in people with hormone receptor-positive breast cancer and is associated with a decreased risk in the incidence of stomach cancer.
Better Control of Side Effects
Cancer treatments are notorious for the number and severity of side effects they cause. Fatigue, loss of appetite, physical weakness, hair loss, depression and intractable nausea are just a few of them. A vegetarian diet has been shown to help reduce or eliminate many of these symptoms. Plant foods are easier to digest and therefore less likely to irritate the stomach. They also provide nearly all of the nutrients that the body needs to repair damage and provide energy.
Jillian McKee has worked as the Complementary Medicine Advocate at the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance since June of 2009. Jillian spends most her time on outreach efforts and spreading information about the integration of complementary and alternative medicine when used in conjunction with traditional cancer treatment.