by Kim Murphy
We are just now learning how powerful food and particularly SUPERFOODS, are at preventing and reversing disease. “It has only been within the last ten years, more than thirty years after we landed the first man on the moon, that scientists have begun to identify certain compounds in plants that have powerful anticancer effects in humans.” – from Super Immunity by Dr. Fuhrman
Did you know that you have probably had cancer in your body already? Part of your immune systems’ job is to prevent damaged cells from becoming out of control cancerous tumors. Sadly, when we hear about friends or family who get cancer and have to surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy that means the cancer was able to get past their immune system defenses.
Superfoods are foods that improve your immune systems response to damaged and/or cancerous cells so that you never have to worry about getting cancer. Furthermore, 100 years ago, breast cancer was unheard of and even until just recently, it was unheard of in parts of rural China and Japan. Now that the Western Diet has infiltrated their countries as well, they have almost the same risk as Americans today.
It is much easier to prevent disease than to treat it.
The reason there has been such an explosion of cancers, is due largely to our Standard American Diet. It is almost devoid of fruits & vegetables and has a high emphasis on meat, dairy, and processed foods. Meat, dairy, and processed foods PROMOTE cancer. Fruits and vegetables REDUCE your risk of cancer. Studies have shown this over and over again. Finally, the science is starting to catch up with common sense, but there is still a lot of people out there who don’t want to listen to science or reason. However, the evidence is there. You MUST eat a diet focused on nutritional excellence – plant based.
But, are their fruits & vegetables that are even more protective than others? Eating any fruits and vegetables every day is good, but some have even stronger effects at reducing our risk of cancer and improving our overall immunity to even the common cold and flu.
Do you get colds, infections, or the flu often?
Do you get colds, infections or the flu every year like clockwork? Chances are your immune system is working overtime without the nutrients it needs to work effectively to fight off viruses & bacteria. All of the following 7 superfoods can GREATLY reduce your chance of getting colds, flu, or infections and impact the duration & severity. You can’t expect your immune system to do its job well without proper nutrients! And those all come from PHYTOCHEMICALS that are ONLY found in plants.
Superfood # 1 – Cruciferous Vegetables
Cruciferous Vegetables are vegetables named for their cross-like looking flowers. All vegetables contain phytochemicals & micronutrients, however cruciferous vegetables contain special sulfur-containing compounds. When the cell walls of cruciferous vegetables are broken by chopping or blending, ITCs (isothiocyanates) are created from these sulfur-containing compounds.
These ITCs work synergistically in different ways & on different cell locations to kill cancer cells and remove carcinogens. They also have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. They inhibit blood vessel growth which is an important step for your body to stop cancerous cells from turning into cancer. Cruciferous vegetables also increase our bodies defenses against bacterial & viral infections.
To get the maximum benefit from cruciferous vegetables they should be chopped or blended before cooking to get the most amount of ITCs to form. Cooking can limit the formation of ITCs, but it does not affect the ITCs after they have formed from chopping. Don’t overcook when steaming vegetables like cabbage or broccoli. You want to eat both raw & cooked cruciferous vegetables every day!
Cruciferous Vegetables include:
- Collard Greens
- Turnip Greens – check out this delicious Instant pot recipe for Turnip Greens!
- Mustard Greens
- Bok Choy
- Brussel sprouts
- Red cabbage
- Chinese cabbage
Cruciferous vegetables are superfoods because they have been shown to have a 2 to 1 impact on cancer & heart disease reduction. Meaning if you eat 20% more cruciferous vegetables you have a 40% reduction in cancer risk. Other fruits & vegetables have a 1 to 1 impact so a 20% increase in your diet would result in a 20% decrease in your cancer risk factors.
Kale is also high in Vitamin K which is a crucial factor for strong bones. K for Kale!
Superfood #2 – Mushrooms
While green vegetables are the super immunity Kings, the Queen would be the superfood mushrooms. Mushrooms improve the function and activity of your natural killer T cells. Natural killer T cells’ job is to detect damaged or infected cells, destroy and remove them. Anticancer effects has been shown in cremini, white, portobello maitake, oyster, and reishi mushrooms. From Dr. Fuhrman’s Super Immunity – “[Mushrooms] prevent DNA damage, slow cancer cell growth, cause programmed cancer cell damage, and/or prevent tumors from acquiring a blood supply. These effects have been shown in breast, prostate, and colon cancers and/or cancer cells.”
Only ONE small mushroom a day (the size of your thumb) can reduce the risk of breast cancer by 64%! Eating just 1 mushroom combined with green vegetables each day showed up to an 89% decrease in breast cancer, stomach cancer, and colorectal cancers. This should be leading the evening news! Cancer could almost be eradicated in our country if people would just eat greens & mushrooms every day!
Mushrooms also improve your overall immunity by increasing dendritic cell function. These dendritic cells are found in the nose, lungs, intestines, and stomach and can naturally decrease with aging. This can lead to lower immune function exposing us to higher risks of infection and cancer. However, eating mushrooms (and greens) can increase your dendritic cell function there by increasing immune function
Since some research has reported raw mushrooms can have toxic effects, it is best to cook your mushrooms just to be safe.
Superfood #3 – Onions & Garlic
Onions, garlic and all the other allium vegetables such as leeks, chives, shallots, and scallions are anti-inflammatory, anticancer, and antioxidant foods. Even hundreds of years ago, people knew that garlic and onions protected their immune system. They consumed them daily to get well faster from illness. We have lost touch with the knowledge that food is medicine!
Those who consume onions daily have a much lower incidence of cancers. In a multi-country, case controlled study people who consumed the most onions (1/2 cup chopped a day) had:
- 50% stomach cancer reduction
- 71% prostate cancer reduction
- 88% esophageal cancer reduction
- 73% ovarian cancer reduction
- 56% colon cancer reduction
Now imagine the risk of cancer in our country if everyone consumed cruciferous vegetables, mushrooms, and onions almost every day. Cancer would probably be non-existent!
Superfood #4 – Berries & Pomegranates
First of all, it has been known for a while that berries – including blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, goji berries, acai berries, strawberries, and elderberries – are superfoods that contain anticancer phytochemicals. During the late 1980’s scientists discovered ellagic acid, found in very high levels in berries, inhibited tumor formation.
Pomegranates also have anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties that can help with the prevention and reversal of cardiovascular disease, cancer, erectile dysfunction, diabetes, antibiotic resistance, bacterial infections and UV rays skin damage. Pomegranates contain antioxidants like anthocyanins, tannins, & polyphenols. Recent studies have show that pomegranates inhibit prostate cancer, breast cancers, leukemia, & colon cancer and can naturally lower your blood pressure.
Lastly, Compounds in pomegranates can also reverse atherosclerosis, improve depression, help build bone mass, and reduce & prevent frequency and severity of illnesses.
Check out this video to learn how to open a Pomegranate EASILY & QUICKLY to get out the yummy and nutritious seeds (arils).
You can buy a pomegranate and take out the seeds yourself – Cut the Pomegranate in half. Holding the cut side in your hand and over a bowl, hit the outside of the pomegranate half with a big wooden spoon. You should feel the seeds falling past your hand and into the bowl. Then invert softened skin and remove any leftover seeds with your fingers.
I eat berries and/or pomegranate seeds every single day – usually for breakfast! Try this fruit & green smoothie to get lots of berries AND cruciferous veggies in!
Superfood #5 – Seeds & Nuts
Raw seeds & nuts have a high level of nutrients – minerals, bioflavonoids, lignans, and other antioxidants. There have been several clinical studies that show seed & nut consumption can protect you again heart disease. Nuts & seeds raise good cholesterol (HDL) and lower bad cholesterol (LDL).
Even more important than just protection from heart disease, but “components of nuts and seeds also seem to have anti-arrhythmic and anti-seizure effects that dramatically reduce the occurrence of sudden death.” – from “Eat to Live” by Dr. Fuhrman. This is big because people with heart disease don’t always die from a heart attack. Many times, they die from an irregular heartbeat that causes the heart to not pump properly.
Some people may think that eating nuts will make you fat. However, studies have shown time and time again, that those who consume nuts actually tend to be slimmer. Nuts can act as an appetite suppressant and help people lose weight and reverse diabetes. Nuts also have fiber that make some of the fats pass through you. The calories listed for nuts is not actually what your body actually takes in.
Nuts & seeds high in Omega-3 Fats
Walnuts, pumpkin seeds & flax seeds are also high in omega-3 fatty acids. Low levels of omega-3s cause lower production of DHA, which is an important anti-inflammatory fat. When omega-3 levels are low, the risk of heart disease, autoimmune diseases, stroke, depression, and skin diseases increases. Ground flax seed is best so that you absorb more of the nutrients. Add it to smoothies, cereal, fruit, & desserts every day!
You should eat at least 1 ounce of nuts & seeds daily. If you have a lot of weight to lose, don’t overeat nuts and don’t snack on them. Eat them on a salad or in a dish, so that the fats help you absorb more fat-soluble vitamins from the vegetables.
Superfood # 6 – Legumes – (Beans, Lentils, Peas, & Tofu)
Legumes are high in protein, fiber, and resistant starch – a fiber like substance. Legumes are a dieters DREAM! They keep you full AND since it is so high in fiber and resistant starch, not all of the calories listed on the label are actually absorbed. They pass right on through. Beans help with regularity which reduces the risk of colon cancer – probably because of the reduced transit time in your bowel. They are also protective against breast cancer and prostate cancers.
Beans and tofu also have high levels of bioavailable calcium to keep your bones strong! Try our family’s favorite Tofu Marinara Finger Recipe! It’s delicious!
Legumes & beans are GOOD carbohydrates! They are absorbed into the blood stream slowly because of the fiber and resistant starch that takes time to be broken down. This makes beans the go-to food for diabetics and those wanting to prevent diabetes. Beans, lentils, and tofu, along with green vegetables & fruits, are superstars in weight loss – they help you feel full without as many calories.
Are you worried about eating a plant-based diet because you think it will be too low in protein? Well, first of all plants have protein – even green vegetables are high in protein. But beans are a VERY high source of protein so there is no way you would ever become protein deficient, especially if you are eating beans, lentils, or tofu daily. You should try to eat at LEAST 1/2 cup of beans a day.
Protein Example of legumes:
- Cooked lentils (1 cup) – 16 grams of protein
- Tofu (1 cup) – 18 grams of protein
- Peas (1 cup frozen) – 9 grams of protein
- Chickpeas (1 cup) – 15 grams of protein
- Black Beans (1 cup) – 15 grams of protein
- Edamame (green soybeans) (1 cup) – 17 grams of protein
Soybeans & Tofu also have high levels of omega-3 fats which we must have to convert to DHA fat for optimum health. Our modern diet is high in Omega-6 fats which are inflammatory and increase the risk for diabetes, heart disease, and other inflammatory diseases. Omega-6 fats are found in animal products and vegetable oils which also happen to be low in omega-3 fats.
Beans and legumes are also linked to longevity. The longest lived people are from cultures that had the highest legume intake. Mediterranean people ate chickpeas, lentils, and white beans. Japanese people ate soy, natto, and tofu. Swedish people ate peas & brown beans.
This list of legumes is long so you can have lots of variety to not get bored –
- black beans
- red kidney beans
- black-eyed peas
- split peas
- lima beans
- pinto beans
- cannellini beans
- lentils – red, brown, green
- white beans
- pigeon peas
- tempeh (fermented tofu)
Our family also love this Taco Bean Soup!
Superfood # 7 – Tomatoes
We can’t forget about tomatoes and the high levels of lycopene. Lycopene, as we have heard, reduces the risk of cancers, including prostate cancer. Researchers have also found that tomato paste consumption reduced UV radiation skin damage, cancer, and skin aging. Improve your skin from the inside-out!
Concentrated tomatoes like tomato sauce, ketchup, pizza sauce, tomato paste are the best sources of lycopene. But be careful of all the added salt & oil. Choose tomato products that are low or no-sodium added. Find pasta & pizza sauces that don’t have oil added. Cooking tomatoes increases the amount of absorbable lycopene so eat both cooked & raw tomatoes.
Lycopene is also great for your heart & blood vessels. There has been connections between higher blood lycopene levels and lower heart attack risk. Lycopene is also anti-inflammatory “and may prevent the excessive proliferation of vascular smooth muscle cells, a contributor to atherosclerotic plaque.” – from “The End of Dieting” by Dr. Fuhrman.
Tomatoes are acidic so it’s important to buy in glass jars or cans that are BPA free. The acid in tomatoes can cause more of the BPA to leach from the can and into your food. Most organic brands have BPA free cans – but always read the label!
Related Reading – Nutritarian Quickstart Guide
Eat GBOMBS (plus tomatoes) every day for Super Immunity
Dr. Fuhrman makes these superfoods into an easy to remember acronym: GBOMBS
- G – Greens
- B – Berries
- O – Onions
- M – Mushrooms
- B – Beans
- S – Seeds
Then just make sure you add tomatoes & tomato products every day as well!
GBOMBS superfoods form the basis of a super healthy plant based diet that can prevent and even reverse the diseases we hear about today – cancer, diabetes, heart disease, auto immune disorders, dementia, and more! You will lose weight naturally and easily without hunger by eating all of these foods every day. Plus, your immune system will be so strong that you will have less colds, flu, and allergies.
To learn more about the healthiest way to eat, check out any of Dr. Fuhrman’s Books, like Super Immunity or The End of Dieting.