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  • Writer's pictureAnita Hollerer-Squire

The healing power of food

Updated: Jun 14, 2021

Food plays a critical role in our life. What we eat can either contribute to disease or defend against it.

The importance of a healthy diet in combating disease is continuously underestimated by most health professionals. If you have ever been diagnosed with cancer for example - what was the nutritional advise you received? Most doctors are not educated enough in nutrition, nor do they have the time to take a holistic approach to well-being. Physicians are trained to treat symptoms with drugs - which no doubt is important, but leaves other key factors like diet, exercise and mindset untouched.

The main reason food doesn't get the recognition it deserves is that there is no big money to be made - unlike with pharmaceuticals. Drugs bring in billions of dollars every year. Broccoli on the other hand, doesn't. Therefore, pharma companies are not interested in funding studies on the benefits of food, which can't be patented.

The studies that have been done on the relationship between certain food and their healing powers have shown promising results that just cannot be ignored.

According to a number of studies by Dr. Richard Béliveau (Doctor in Biochemistry and Scientific Director of UQAM’s Chair in Cancer Prevention and Treatment), eating lots of plant-based foods decreases the risk of cancer because they contain high concentrations of phytochemicals such as polyphenols. These compounds interfere with processes involved in cancer progression, including tumor cell growth, survival, and metastasis.

Recent studies have shown that molecules present in many plants demonstrate strong anticancer activity. For example, garlic, onions, leeks, berries, cruciferous vegetables, curcumin (turmeric), herbs and green tea inhibit tumor growth.

How does cooking affect the healing properties of food?

The best way to retain all the healing properties is to eat fruit and vegetables raw.

If you cook vegetables, some of the nutrients will be destroyed - how much, depends on how they are cooked.

  • Steaming vegetables is the best way to retain nutrients.

  • Boiling and stir-frying broccoli, cauliflower and other cruciferous veggies destroys most of their beneficial ingredients.

  • Tomatoes need to be cooked in oil (ideally extra virgin olive oil) in order to release phytochemicals, such as lycopene.

  • Grilling, sauteing, or freezing fish and other seafood destroys about 30 % of its omega-3s. The most appropriate cooking method for seafood is steaming and slow oven baking on low heat. And it's always best to eat seafood fresh, rather than frozen.

Our traditional diet of eating lots of meat and dairy - which is sold to us as healthy by the meat & dairy industries - has a detrimental effect on our health (and our environment). We have been so brain washed by ads promoting meat as manly and dairy as essential for healthy bones - that most of us are blind sighted to the negative consequences.

If you want to avoid health problems in the future, stick to a mainly plant based diet, exercise regularly, avoid toxins and have a positive outlook on life.


UQAM’s Chair in Cancer Prevention and treatment:

Effects of different cooking methods on health-promoting compounds of broccoli:

Anti cancer

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