Lagos – A food technologist, Mr Ochuko Erinkainwe, says most cancer cases can be prevented by eating enough vegetables, noting that it remains the only natural food that helps to fight the disease.
Erinkainwe spoke on Monday in Lagos against the backdrop of the World Food Day celebrated on Oct. 16.
He said that Nigeria’s vegetable spread had what it takes in the fight against cancer.
Erinkainwe, the Public Relations Officer of Nutrition Society of Nigeria (NSN), said that emphasis on World Food Day should on eating right for healthy living as “food is healing’’.
“Researches have proved beyond doubt that people who eat more natural plant foods like vegetables, fruits, legumes are less likely to be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime.
“Our daily meals count a lot when it comes to cancer risk factors, what we eat determines how much immunity we have in our body and also building resistant fluids inside the systems.
“If we want to build or design an anti-cancer diet, then we should look at adding much vegetables to our meals, we should eat plenty of vegetables everyday.
“By this, we will be flooding our systems with protective substances, this will help a lot, most especially the cruciferous vegetables,’’ He said.
Erinkainwe said: “Cruciferous vegetables may have the most powerful anti-cancer properties. This family of vegetables includes green vegetables, cabbage, onions, broccoli and some others like cauliflower.
“The mere meaning of cruciferous suggests its importance. It was taken from the Latin word `crucifer’ meaning `cross-bearer’ for their flowers, having four equally spaced petals in the shape of a cross.
“All vegetables contain protective micronutrients and phytochemicals, but cruciferous vegetables have a unique chemical composition.
“They have sulfur-containing compounds which are responsible for their pungent or bitter flavours’’.
“Vegetables when broken down in the system provide sulfur-containing compounds — Isothiocyanates (ITCs) — a compound with proven anti-cancer activities.
“This compound can work in different molecules. They can have combined additive effects, working synergistically to remove carcinogens and kill cancer cells. It also produces antioxidants or even immunologic effects.
“Many are not aware of the anti-oxidant powers deposited in vegetables and the most interesting thing is that many whose lives would have been saved neglected this part.’’
He said that vegetables provided all kind of healing to the system not just the cancer cure only, they also detoxified the body and help to keep it in shape and increases immunity.
“Vegetables also help in inhibiting cancer cell growth or induce cancer cell death; cruciferous vegetable juice contains ingredient that has proved to induce fluid that can fight breast cancer too.
“Some vegetables too, apart from the fact that they detoxify the blood, they also establish blood supply and increases the excretion of certain dietary toxins not needed by our systems.
“Regular intake of vegetables, most especially in-between cruciferous vegetables has a potent antioxidant against breast, lung, prostate, and colorectal cancers.
“This has been reported, but cruciferous vegetables are far more potent.
“These observations in cell culture and animal studies have been confirmed by epidemiological studies drawing connections between cruciferous vegetable intake and cancer incidence,’’ Erinkainwe said.
On the potency of cruciferous vegetables, he said that studies had shown that they were twice as powerful as other plant foods.
“In population studies, a 20 per cent increase in plant food intake generally corresponds to a 20 per cent decrease in cancer rates, but a 20 per cent increase in cruciferous vegetable intake corresponds to a 40 per cent decrease in cancer.
“Twenty-eight servings of vegetables per week decreased prostate cancer risk by 33 per cent, but just three servings of cruciferous vegetables per week decreased prostate cancer risk by 41 per cent.
“Also, one or more servings of cabbage per week reduce risk of pancreatic cancer by 38 per cent.
“However, to maximize the potency of our cruciferous vegetables, methods of preparation must be taken into consideration to aid digestion and absorption into the blood stream.’’
Erikainwe said that chopping, chewing, blending or juicing allows for production benefits, whereas some benefits may be lost with boiling or steaming.
He added that the maximum benefit was eating cruciferous vegetables raw.
“Cruciferous vegetables are not only the most powerful anti-cancer foods in existence; they are also the most nutrient-dense of all vegetables.
“The National Cancer Institute in America recommended 5 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables per day for cancer prevention; they have not yet established specific recommendations for cruciferous vegetables.
“ Consuming a large variety of these rich cruciferous vegetables within an overall nutrient-dense diet can provide us with a profound level of protection against cancer,’’ he said.