Saturday, February 6, 2010

"Anticancer" Book Advice Boiled Down to 20 Pollan-Style "Food Rules," with My Comments

Thanks to Mike M. for alerting me to this. This week, the author of the book Anticancer: A New Way Of Life put a helpful post online. He starts off by saying "Michael Pollan's recent little gem of a book "Food Rules" inspired me to compile my own 'rules' about what I'd like every person to know about how they can help avoid cancer - or slow it down if they have it."

I think it's definitely worth reading, although I have some comments on specific points --

From his rule 2: "Get in the habit of adding onions, garlic or leeks to all your dishes as you cook."

That one made me laugh a little. Some dishes just aren't suited for that! (Good thing laughing is also good for your health.)
If you do plan to follow that advice, you (and whoever you live with) may find Beano to be really useful!

"3. Go organic: Choose organic foods whenever possible, but remember it's always better to eat broccoli that's been exposed to pesticide than to not eat broccoli at all (the same applies to any other anticancer vegetable)."

Worthwhile advice, although it seems to be easy to find organic apples, for example. I definitely try to stick to organic for anything on the "Dirty Dozen" list of fruits and vegetables that retain the most pesticide when NOT organically grown. (A longer version of the list is here.) If you can't afford organic everything, that list is a good way to make the best use of your food dollars while also protecting yourself from pesticides.

"4. Spice it up: Add turmeric (with black pepper) when cooking (delicious in salad dressings!). This yellow spice is the most powerful natural anti-inflammatory agent. Remember to add Mediterranean herbs to your food: thyme, oregano, basil, rosemary, marjoram, mint, etc. They don't just add flavor, they can also help reduce the growth of cancer cells."

Worth noting that curry powder usually contains some turmeric.

I've also read that turmeric may help prevent Alzheimer's disease / dementia in later life. So I've been trying to incorporate it more, but it isn't suitable in every dish either. The Anticancer book points out that there's some turmeric in mustard (in the liquid version of store-bought mustard -- I don't know if it's in dry mustard powder).

"5. Skip the potato: Potatoes raise blood sugar, which can feed inflammation and cancer growth. They also contain high levels of pesticide residue (to the point that most potato farmers I know don't eat their own grown potatoes)."

You CAN get organic potatoes. So maybe they're not the best food ever for your blood sugar, but you can at least avoid the pesticides. And there are nutrients in the potato skins. I like to cut up organic potatoes (after rinsing off any dirt, then drying them), leaving the skins ON, spray them with olive oil from my Misto (you can also drizzle the olive oil on instead), sprinkle on some rosemary and other herbs, and roast them in the oven or toaster oven at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes or until done.

"10. Keep sweets down to fruits: Cut down on sugar by avoiding sweetened sodas and fruit juices, and skipping dessert or replacing it with fruit (especially stone fruits and berries) after most meals. Read the labels carefully, and steer clear of products that list any type of sugar (including brown sugar, corn syrup, etc.) in the first three ingredients. If you have an incorrigible sweet tooth, try a few squares of dark chocolate containing more than 70% cocoa."

I just don't see myself going that far. I have cut back a little on sweets, and I usually have an apple a day. And I love some dark chocolate during the day, well before bedtime when the caffeine in it might help keep me awake. Personally, I think dark chocolate tastes so much better than milk chocolate. I usually get the dark chocolate that has about a 60% cacao level. I like the 72% cacao dark chocolate too, but Better Half doesn't. And sometimes you just want a cookie -- I think one good choice is Kashi TLC Oatmeal Dark Chocolate cookies. One of them has 130 calories, 4 grams of fiber out of the 30 grams (just over an ounce) entire weight of the cookie.

Avoiding sweetened pop (or soda if you insist on calling it that) is easier for me. But no more cookies ever? Not happening. :-) I do sometimes try eating a few Frosted Mini Wheats if I am craving cookies - the FMWs are more filling because they have more fiber. (Yes, the FMWs are processed - I don't care. :-)

I am trying to eat berries more often. I keep some frozen bags of organic berries in my freezer since I end up having to rush to use the fresh ones before they go bad -- I buy organic berries since strawberries, for example, are on the Dirty Dozen list. (Plus it's usually only a dollar more for the same size bag of frozen berries if they're organic, and I like to support pesticide-free farming when I can -- the less of those chemicals making their way into our water, the better, I think.)

"12. Make room for exceptions. What matters is what you do on a daily basis, not the occasional treat."

That I can definitely agree with. :-)

1 comment:

  1. Cutting out the sweets - nice idea but never gonna happen. :-)