Cervical cancer affects the cervical area in women and is caused by a virus known as Human Papillomavirus or HPV. It is believed that in some women, HPV infection leads to cervical cancer although not all women who get HPV go on to develop cervical cancer. When cells in the cervix grow abnormally due to HPV infection and then move on to other regions, we describe the general condition as cancer of the cervix. Usually, those abnormal cells will spread to the bladder, lungs, vagina and liver.
The good news is that cervical cancer need not be fatal. For starters, its spreads very slowly, meaning that there is an excellent chance that it can be detected and the abnormal cells destroyed long before it develops into full blown cervical cancer. To illustrate the slow development of this disease, most people diagnosed with pre-cancerous changes (these are the cellular changes that lead to abnormal cell growth and later cancer) are usually in their mid-twenties. However, most women diagnosed with cervical cancer are usually in their fifties. The slow progression of the disease provides ample opportunity for detection and treatment.
Another factor in preventing and curing cervical cancer is diet. Following the right diet can help the body fight against these cancerous cells and promote the overall well-being of the body. Here is what you should know about how you can improve your diet to fight cervical cancer
Eat Lots Of Vegetables And Fruit
Cervical cancer is caused by HPV and there is a growing school of thought that fortifying your body’s immune system by eating right could help it fight HPV. In this sense then, a diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables will shore up the body’s defenses by adding vitamin C which is particularly good at building the body’s immune system. Fruits and vegetables can easily be included in the diet through fresh juices as well as adding vegetables like zucchinis and spinach into one’s meals.
Eat Foods Rich In Folate
Folate is a type of Vitamin B that is soluble in water and it is thought to also help the body build immunity and shore up its defenses against HPV. Foods that are rich in folate include avocadoes, chickpeas, orange juice, strawberries and romaine lettuce. A clever way to add these foods to your regular meals is to substitute other common foods for these folate rich items. For example, you can swap the usual morning coffee with orange juice or have strawberries for desert instead of the usual sweets and pastries.
Carotenoids are sources of vitamin A and there are studies that indicate that these could also help the body fight off HPV infection and thus keep the body free of cervical cancer. Sources of carotenoids include pumpkin, sweet potatoes, carrots and winter squash. Fruits, vegetables and beans are also great sources of carotenoids in the body and must also be included in one’s diet in order to derive maximum nutritional benefits.
These are compounds that are found in fruits and vegetables that are thought to help strengthen the body’s immune system and thus fortify it against HPV infection. Flavonoids are found in diverse foods and thus are easy to add to one’s diet as one has a wider variety of food items to choose from. Sources of flavonoids include soy, onions, garlic, broccoli, black beans, asparagus and spinach. As you can see, this wide range of food items means one can have at least one source of flavonoids in any meal of the day.
Turmeric contains a chemical known as curcumin which is particularly effective at keeping HPV at bay. Curcumin is the chemical responsible for giving turmeric its bright color and taking more turmeric decreases the chances of HPV infection.
Indole 3 carbinol or I3C is a compound that is found in vegetables that has been known to keep cancers at bay. I3C is found in vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower, kales and broccoli and is released when those vegetables are chewed or chopped up. In addition to shoring up our natural defenses against cancers, I3C is also great at detoxifying the body and thus helping promote overall health.
Foods With Low Glycemic Index
Foods with low glycemic index are those whose digestion takes place slowly and thus help the body keep stable sugar levels. This is in contrast to foods with high glycemic index which cause spikes in the body sugar levels, a factor that is believed to be linked to the incidence of cervical cancer. Food items with a low glycemic index include whole wheat products and other unrefined food items.
Control Protein Intake
While protein is vital to the body, too much of it is thought to raise the risk of contracting cervical cancer. This is because the main defense that the body uses to ward off abnormal cell growth in the body is a type of protein called pancreatin. This protein is also used by the body to digest proteins in the body. Excessive intake of proteins means that the body diverts most of these vital cancer-fighting cells to digesting protein, leaving the body without any of natural defenses against abnormal cell growth.
Avoid Foods With Nitrates
Nitrates often find their way into our diet through additives that are added to processed meat to give it its bright red color. When consumed, the body converts nitrates into substances known as nitrosamines which are thought to cause cancer. Recently, the World Health Organization identified processed meat as a possible cause of cancer and there is widespread thinking that nitrates are part of the reason why excessive intake of processed meat is not good for us.
As you can see, the pattern that emerges when it comes to using a balanced diet to prevent cervical cancer leans heavily on fruits and vegetables while cutting out processed foods. Adding other healthy foods such as cereals and grains also has health benefits. Apart from a good diet, vaccination, quitting habits like smoking and taking regular tests (pap smears) can help protect one from cervical cancer.