Functional nutrition is a fundamental part of functional medicine that considers a holistic approach to diet based on lifestyle factors, food choices, environment, level of activity and consideration of chronic diseases or disorder. With all these factors in consideration, functional nutrition has the ability to not only curb inflammation within the body but also lower the risk of cancer.
A number of reactive oxygen species are produced as a result of regular aerobic metabolism. These species namely superoxide, hydrogen peroxide, and hydroxyl radicals can promote inflammation, aging, degenerative diseases, and cancer by oxidation of DNA, Lipids, and proteins. Functional nutrition often focuses on “functional” foods to ensure that the body receives enough nutrients, antioxidants, and vitamins to fight off infections, free radicals and harmful factors that lead to inflammation. These types of food assert a “chemopreventive” measure for long term health benefits.
Several studies have shown that functional foods are capable of reducing the risk of cancer and inflammation. Here are some functional foods, their sources and benefits:
Alpha-Carotene, Astaxanthin and Beta-Carotene: Alpha-carotene is an antioxidant found in yellow orange and dark green vegetables. In moderate doses Alpha-Carotene can enhance gap-junctional intercellular communication. This enables tissue homeostasis, improved electrical synapsing, and improved coordination of cellular responses to hormones.
Beta-Carotene is also an antioxidant found in orange, yellow or green leafy vegetables and has similar benefits on the body. Astaxanthin is found in green algae, salmon and trout with a range of anti-inflammatory effects.
Beta-Cyptoxanthin: This antioxidant is found in orange fruits and has anti-inflammatory effects on the body.
Canthaxanthin: Generally in Salmon and crustacea, this antioxidant inhibits free radical activities and prevents reactive oxygen species from damaging cells and tissues.
Lycopene: Lycopene is an antioxidant found in tomatoes, watermelon, apricot, and peaches. Numerous scientific evidence points to the fact that Lycopene inhibits cell growth of numerous human cancer cell lines.
Fucoxanthin: Antioxidant found in brown algae, helps to reduce inflammation.
Flavonoids: Antioxidants found in different kinds of plan related food products, for instance: herbal tea. In several studies, Flavonoids have shown great promise to prevent inflammation and cancer in humans.
Lutein: Another antioxidant found in dark green leafy vegetables. Lutein plays a major role in cell cycle progression and can halt the growth of numerous cancer cell lines.
Isothiocyanates: These are antibacterial compounds present in broccoli, cauliflower and kale. However, various studies show that they are capable of lowering the risk of inflammation and cancers of various organs like lung, breast, liver, esophagus, stomach, small intestine and colon.
Probiotics: Probiotics are commonly found in yoghurt and fermented foods. They have anti-allergic and anti-inflammatory roles while may also help prevent cancer.
Phyto-estrogens: Phyto-estrogens are found in Soya and may help prevent breast cancer. They are basically of three types: isoflavones (genistein, daidzein, glycitein or equol), lignans (enterolactone or enterodiol) and coumestans (coumestrol).
Fiber: Fiber is found in most foods (like vegetables and cereal). Fiber has been found to lower the risk of colon and prostate cancer.
Omega-3: Omega 3 is found in fish and fish oil. Omega-3 may help lower cholesterol, manage the immune system and reduce inflammation. However, research suggests that omega-3 may help prevent prostate cancer.
If you wish to receive the health benefits of functional foods and wish to receive expert health advice from professional Functional Nutritionist, please contact The Functional Medicine Center for Personalized Care, LLC (www.FxMedCenters.com) at 201-880-8247 or Specialized Therapy Associates at 201-488-6678 for our Integrative Mind-Body Health services. Our Integrative Mind-Body Health services also incorporate Acupuncture, Functional Nutrition, IV Nutrition, Health Coaching, Exercise, Yoga, and Mind-Body Psychotherapy to support holistic healing and recovery.
Aghajanpour M, Nazer MR, Obeidavi Z, Akbari M, Ezati P, Kor NM. Functional foods and their role in cancer prevention and health promotion: a comprehensive review. Am J Cancer Res. 2017 Apr 1;7(4):740-769. PMID: 28469951; PMCID: PMC5411786.
Ma EL, Choi YJ, Choi J, Pothoulakis C, Rhee SH, Im E. The anticancer effect of probiotic Bacillus polyfermenticus on human colon cancer cells is mediated through ErbB2 and ErbB3 inhibition. Int J Cancer. 2010;127:780–90.
Nowakowska Z. A review of anti-infective and anti-inflammatory chalcones. Eur J Med Chem. 2007;42:125–37.
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