As you know, I’m on the new alkaline diet; a diet quite unlike the old 80/20 alkaline diet. My diet includes good acids in the form of healthy fats and meat in moderation, but it’s still very much an ‘alkaline’ diet because I make sure I balance my ‘acid’ inputs with regular serves of cruciferous greens. (Cruciferous, by the way, means that it belongs to the mustard family).
I chose to leave the old 80/20 Alkaline diet for two basic reasons;
1. I couldn’t ignore the obvious impracticability of food choices of the 80/20 diet. Nor could I ignore the fact that almost none of the people I advised were able to maintain the diet as a longterm discipline.
2. I was already consuming large quantities of one acid that had become essential in my like (coconut oil) and this opened my eyes to the truth that many so-called acids are actually essential to health.
Transferring from one alkaline diet to another is an opportunity.
I took that opportunity to keep the good things I learned from the old alkaline diet and combine them with my new diet, which, for want of a label, is Paleo. Low carb, lo to medium concentrated protein, and healthy fats for the most efficient energy source. Cassie and I have decided to call it the Alkaline Paleo Diet.
My ‘opportunity’ I took with me was keeping up my daily intake of greens. Now that I was eating more concentrated protein and fats, I understood that a constant green source would keep my blood clean, constantly detoxify me, and keep up my protection against cancer. Nutrition studies have demonstrated repeatedly that people who eat more natural plant foods – vegetables, fruits, legumes – are less likely to be diagnosed with cancer. However it’s all about degree and consequence. If all fruit and vegetables have cancer protective qualities, wouldn’t it make the most sense to select the fruit or vegetable with the biggest anti-cancer bang for my buck, and reject the items that -although anti-carcinogenic – may be loaded with sugar in the form of fructose.
My anti cancer strategy then, removes all fruit, because I can get far better cancer protection from one group of vegetables, and reduce the sugar effect of fruit and fruit juices, thus accomplishing what I want – complete healing from my sugar/carb addiction.
…include green vegetables like kale, cabbage, collards, and broccoli, plus some others like cauliflower and turnips (full list at the bottom of this post). They are named for their flowers, having four equally spaced petals in the shape of a cross, from the Latin word “crucifer” meaning “cross-bearer” and as I mentioned, are all members of the mustard family.
Yes, I know that all vegetables contain protective micronutrients and phytochemicals. My Mother told me as she forced her steamed Brussels sprouts into my mouth. However cruciferous vegetables are unique among fruit and vegetables. Their sulphur-containing compounds are responsible for their pungent or bitter flavors. Break down their cell walls by blending or chopping, and a chemical reaction occurs that converts these sulphur-containing compounds to isothiocyanates (ITCs) – compounds with proven anti-cancer activities.
More than 120 ITCs have been identified, and the various ITCs have different mechanisms of action.
ITCs can work in different locations in the cell and on different molecules, and so they can have combined additive effects, working synergistically to remove carcinogens and kill cancer cells. Some ITCs have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, or even immunologic effects.
Other ITCs can inhibit angiogenesis, the process by which a tumour establishes a blood supply.
Other ITCs detoxify and even remove carcinogenic compounds. Eating broccoli and (my childhood (Ugh!) favourite Brussels sprouts (rich sources of the ITC sulforaphane) increases the excretion of certain dietary carcinogens.
Some ITCs not only inhibit cancer cell growth but actually induce cancer cell death: Cruciferous vegetable juice, containing a variety of ITCs, has been shown to induce apoptosis, or programmed cell death, in breast cancer cells.
ITCs can prevent carcinogens from binding to DNA and initiating cancerous changes in the cell. Sulforaphane activates enzymes that protect cells from DNA damage by carcinogens. If DNA does indeed become damaged, the growth of the damaged cell can be stopped to allow for DNA repair, or the cell can be programmed for cell death. These processes can control this damage. Several ITCs, including sulforaphane, indole-3-carbinol (I3C), and diindolmethane (DIM) stop growth or induce death in cultured cancer cells. Sulforaphane blocks tumor formation and induces programmed cell death in colon cancer cells. Allyl isothiocyanate (AITC), present in several cruciferous vegetables, inhibits proliferation and induces cell death in bladder cancer cells.
Indole-3-carbinol and its metabolite DIM may be especially protective against hormone-sensitive cancers; they help the body transform estrogen and other hormones into forms that are more easily excreted from the body.
These observations in cell culture and animal studies have been confirmed by epidemiological studies drawing connections between cruciferous vegetable intake and cancer incidence. Inverse associations between cruciferous vegetable intake and breast, lung, prostate, and colorectal cancers have been reported. Similar associations exist for total vegetable intake, but cruciferous vegetables are far more potent:
• Cruciferous vegetables are twice as powerful as other plant foods. In population studies, a 20% increase in plant food intake generally corresponds to a 20% decrease in cancer rates, but a 20% increase in cruciferous vegetable intake corresponds to a 40% decrease in cancer rates.
• 28 servings of vegetables per week decreased prostate cancer risk by 33%, but just 3 servings of cruciferous vegetables per week decreased prostate cancer risk by 41%.
• 1 or more servings of cabbage per week reduces risk of pancreatic cancer by 38%. My favourite right now is our home-made Sauerkraut.
How you prepare and cook can affect the availability of ITCs.
Chopping, chewing, blending, or juicing all allow for production of ITCs. Some ITC benefit may be lost with boiling or steaming, so we get the maximum benefit from eating cruciferous vegetables raw. However, some production of ITC in cooked cruciferous vegetables may occur in the gut once the vegetables have been ingested.
Cruciferous vegetables are not only the most powerful anti-cancer foods in existence, they are also the most nutrient-dense of all vegetables. Although the National Cancer Institute recommends 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables per day for cancer prevention, they have not yet established specific recommendations for cruciferous vegetables. I try for 8 total servings of vegetables per day, including 2-3 servings of cruciferous vegetables, one raw and one cooked. Consuming a large variety of these ITC-rich cruciferous vegetables within an overall nutrient-dense diet can provide us with a profound level of protection against cancer.
Here’s our Noble alkalizers.
Arugula, bok choy, broccoli, broccoli rabe, broccolini, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, horseradish, kale, kohlrabi, mache, mustard greens, radish, red cabbage, rutabaga, turnips, turnip greens, watercress.