Tag Archive | cancer prevention and diet

Bacon Causes Cancer. So What’s for Breakfast?

Here are 3 Super Healthy Breakfast Ideas!

We all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Yet, it is also the easiest meal to skip, usually for one of two reasons: 1. You don’t feel hungry when you wake up, or 2. You are in too much of a rush to prepare it. Well, I can give you two good reasons as to why you should not skip breakfast: 1. Studies have shown that those who eat breakfast consume higher levels of important micro-nutrients, such as calcium, protein and dietary fiber, than those who skip breakfast. 2. Eating breakfast aids in weight loss. Studies have shown that breakfast eaters are less likely to snack and over-eat later in the day than breakfast skippers.

Unfortunately, many of the foods that are considered “breakfast foods”, such as bacon, ham and sausage, have recently been declared by the World Health Organization as carcinogenic.   Eating less than two slices of bacon a day, for example, can increase your risk of developing colorectal cancer by a significant 18%. Read more here.    So then, what to eat?   For cancer prevention, weight management, and overall good health, there is no doubt that plant based breakfasts are the best choice. Here are three of my favorites.

The Breakfast Cookie

breakfast cookie

Breakfast cookies are my go to breakfast choice, and they actually taste as good as they sound. They are easy to make, packed full of nutrients, and they freeze well, making it easy to just grab and go in the morning. Also, you can mix and match the ingredients to suit your taste. Here’s how to make them:

In a bowl, combine dry ingredients:

1 cup rolled oats

1 cup flour of your choice (I like spelt flour which is much healthier choice than bleached white flour)

1 teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder (make sure your baking powder is aluminum free for a healthier choice)

Set aside and in another bowl mix the wet ingredients

2 over-ripe bananas, mashed

½ cup of almond butter OR peanut butter. (Hint: when buying nut butters, check the label to make sure that nuts are the only ingredient. Kraft brand peanut butter, for example, contains 7 ingredients, most of which you can’t even pronounce.)

¼ cup organic apple sauce (Apples are well known to be one of the most pesticide laden fruits on the market. When buying apples or apple sauce, always look for organic. For more information on which foods are heavily laden with pesticides, check out this link.

4 tablespoons of pure maple syrup (make sure it is pure and not sugary “pancake syrup”)

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons coconut oil (or canola oil)

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix well. Then add:

1/3 cup of nuts or seeds of your choice, such as walnuts, pecans, or pumpkin seeds

1/3 cup of dried fruit such as raisins, cranberries or blueberries (if you have a sweet tooth, you can use chocolate chips in the place of fruit. Dark vegan chips are my faves.)

Optional: For a chewier version of this cookie, you can also add 1/3 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut.   For a chocolatier version, add ¼ cup of pure cocoa powder.

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. Spoon 10-12 large spoonfuls of the mixture onto a baking sheet and bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the edges are brown.  Let cool.

Anything Goes Green Smoothie

green smoothie

BAM! In less than 5 minutes you can have 5 servings of fruits and veggies, plus calcium and healthy omega 3’s in one big delightful glass, which you can drink on the run. The actual color of this smoothie will vary, depending on the ingredients, but I call it “green” because it contains “greens”, such as spinach, lettuce or kale. Here’s how to prepare:

In a blender combine:

1 cup of mixed frozen fruits and/or berries of your choice (remember, the darker the berry, the more anti-oxidant power!)

½ cup greens of your choice, such as kale, spinach or green lettuce

½ banana OR ½ avacado for creaminess

1 tablespoon chia seeds (just one tablespoon of chia seeds gives you the omega 3 equivalent of 5 fish oil capsules!)

½ cup low sugar juice, such as cranberry juice or orange juice

1 cup almond milk (note: almond milk contains the same percentage of calcium as cow’s milk, with no unhealthy cholesterol. Why would you even think about getting your calcium from cow’s milk when there are healthier, plant based alternatives? Make sure when you are buying almond milk that it is unsweetened and does not contain an ingredient called carrageenan, which can be destructive to the digestive system and cause inflammation in the body. My favorite brand is So Nice Organic.)

Blend on high speed until smooth.

Nutty Cinnamon Quinoa

breakfast quinoa

“How do you get your protein?”, is a question that is often posed to people who choose a plant based way of eating.   Well, vegans get their protein in the same place that cows and horses get their protein…..from plants!   One of the most protein rich plant foods is quinoa (pronounced keen-wah). One cup of cooked quinoa contains 8 grams of protein, which is 16% of your recommended daily allowance. Not only is it rich in protein, but quinoa is one of the few plant based foods that is considered a “complete” protein, meaning that it contains all of the essential amino acids that our bodies need.   Try this nutrient rich and delicious quinoa breakfast cereal:

1 cup almond milk or coconut milk

1 cup water

1 cup quinoa (rinse quinoa before cooking)

2 cups fresh fruit or berries

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/3 cup chopped pecans, toasted

4 teaspoons of sweetener, such as agave, honey or pure maple syrup

Combine almond milk, water and quinoa in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer 15 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed. Turn off heat; let stand covered 5 minutes. Stir in fruit/berries and cinnamon; transfer to four bowls and top with pecans. Drizzle 1 teaspoon sweetener over each serving. Serves 4.

(While the quinoa cooks, roast the pecans in a 350F degree toaster oven for 5 to 6 minutes.)

So there you have it, folks, 3 delicious and healthy ways to start your day. For optimal health, don’t be a breakfast skipper!




Guest Blogger: Dr. Arjun Rayapudi

It was a beautiful day in April, 2011, when a handsome young man looked me in the eyes and said those three little words that would change my life forever: “You have cancer.”  That man was my surgeon, Dr. Arjun Rayapudi (or Doc. McDreamy as me and my sisters referred to him.) I remember crying out in anguish, “I’m going to die!”, for in my mind, stage 3 breast cancer brought with it a guaranteed death sentence.  Little did I know that two years later, a very healthy Flo would be standing side by side with this very same doctor, educating people about diet and cancer prevention.

Dr. Rayapudi is a board certified General Surgeon with an avid interest in Cancer Prevention/Treatment and Nutrition, currently working at Burin Peninsula Health Care Centre.  He was kind enough to guest blog for me this post on the link between diet and cancer.  I welcome Dr. Rayapudi to the blogosphere!


Dr. Rayapudi Says:

It is a great privilege for me to contribute to the Perks of Having Cancer forum. Flo’s positive attitude towards cancer diagnosis is inspirational. Her attitude to seek opportunity in the problem she faced, reminds me of sayings “Tough people last tough times don’t” and “What doesn’t kill you make your stronger”. Her blog has been helpful to patients and families to navigate through difficult phases of their lives when faced with cancer diagnosis.

In this post, my objective is to empower women by raising awareness about the connection between the diet/life style choices and breast cancer.

The incidence of Breast cancer and Colon cancer on BurinPeninsula is appalling. I had the opportunity to take care of several patients with breast cancer in last 2 and half years at Burin Peninsula Health Care Centre. Most patients with breast cancer that were when diagnosed in early stages did well. There were some patients who died in 40’s and 50’s due to advanced breast cancer despite conventional treatments including surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. The suffering of the patients and their families is enormous. It motivated me to explore the causes of breast cancer and increase my focus on breast cancer prevention. The causes of breast cancer are multifactorial. The important factors that increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer are positive family history of breast cancer, Diet, Obesity, smoking, amount of estrogen exposure throughout the life.

Genetic factors are important but genes by themselves do not determine who gets the disease. Genes load the gun with bullets whereas diet and lifestyle factors appear to pull the trigger.

Diet appears to play a significant role.  Cancer cells form and multiply because of alteration in the genes. Our bodies have immune system which helps to knock off the cancer cells. Numerous studies have shown that cancer is more common in populations consuming diets rich in fatty foods, particularly meat and much less common in populations with diets rich in grains, vegetables and fruits.

As you can see from below various colorful plant foods have anti-oxidants/phytochemicals and fiber which boost the ability of the immune system of the body to fight the cancer cells. Fiber in the plant foods also binds the toxic carcinogens in the gut before they try to enter the blood circulation.


(Source: Above chart is from PCRM website)

In contrast, animal foods lack fiber and several protective anti-oxidants which boost the immune system.  Attached graphs below show the relationships between animal fat intake, daily meat consumption and risk of acquiring breast and colon cancer in various countries. These charts display that as intake of animal fat and meat increases the risk of breast cancer and colon cancer increases almost in linear fashion. Studies show that animal products contain potentially carcinogenic compounds that may contribute to increased risk of cancer. Consuming high fat diets increases estrogen levels which can contribute to increased risk of breast cancer. Breast cancer has also been linked to consumption of cow’s milk products. Consumption of cow’s milk products increases the level of hormone called Insulin like growth factor (IGF-1). Studies show that circulating levels of this hormone is positively associated with breast cancer risk.


(Sources for above charts: Carroll, K.K. (1975), Cancer Res 35:3374-3383 and China Study by Dr. Campbell)

In summary, eating plant foods and less processed foods appears to decreases risk of breast cancer, and eating more animal based foods and processed foods appears to increases  risk of breast cancer. My suggestion to anyone who is serious about decreasing your risk of breast cancer is to minimize or eliminate animal based foods and embrace whole foods plant based lifestyle.

I encourage everyone to be proactive and learn more about this important health issue.

Click on the following links for articles for further education

http://www.pcrm.org/pdfs/health/cancer/women.pdf – Women and Cancer: Opportunities for Prevention

http://www.pcrm.org/pdfs/health/faq_dairy.pdf – Health Concerns about Dairy Products

Some resources I would recommend are

  1. Read book “China Study” by Dr. Colin Campbell
  2. Watch DVD – Forks Over Knives
  3. Browse website www.PCRM.org (Physicians committee for responsible medicine). This website is by Dr. Neal Barnard.
    1. There is extensive amount of  valuable information on this website about Nutrition and Cancer Prevention
    2. Look for low fat plant based recipes on the internet
    3. Read book “The No-Dairy Breast Cancer Prevention Program” by Dr. Jane A. Plant
    4. Some cookbooks to browse – Forks over Knives cook book, Cook books by Dr. McDougall, Cook Books by Dr. Neal Barnard.
    5. http://www.NutritionMD.org – this website has several recipes for plant based diet

I highly encourage everyone to educate their families and friends about the prevention of breast cancer.

Flo says:

Thank you Dr. Rayapudi for sharing this very educational post.  To my readers, I would like to say that even taking small steps towards a healthier diet  can have big benefits.  When I first started my “cancer-fighting diet”, I did not eliminate any foods. Rather I added foods that are proven to fight cancer, like berries, broccoli, and cauliflower.  Gradually, I decreased the amounts of meats and added more and more fruits and veggies.  After about a year, I had no desire for meat any longer and in its place, I had beans, legumes and nuts for protein.  As long as you are eating MAINLY a plant based diet, you are doing something good for your body!  Here is a good way to begin:  Meatless Monday.  Try eating plant-based for one day of the week.  And don’t forget, plant-based does not mean eating only salads…you can have soups, stews, burgers (black bean burgers), pasta dishes…..the possibilites are endless!