Sunday, July 21, 2019

Prevent cancer one plate at a time

Some of you may not be aware that our bodies make cancer cells all the time. Every day. Don't go into a spiral about it - your immune system is designed to kill the cancer cells and keep you healthy.

But in this crazy world we are exposed to lots of chemical toxins which are poisons and the poisons keep our immune systems VERY busy so it is more and more likely that the cancer cells will escape notice and be able to grow.

So one way to help reduce the chances of cancer growth is to eat clean food - organic food, pasture raised meats (beef, chicken, turkey and pork that haven't been fed pesticide laden grains or genetically modified grains)and wild caught or sustainably raised fish - and to avoid inflammatory foods.

I went to the Farmer's Market yesterday and got hydroponic lettuce, organic tomatoes and cucumbers, figs (not shown here because I ate them before dinner!) and various other vegetables (like asparagus and okra).

When I got home there was a Williams-Sonoma catalog in the mailbox with all kinds of cool cooking utensils and grilling paraphernalia and I got the idea for this post because HOW you cook your food and WHAT pans you use can also impact how healthy the food will be for you.

The bad news is that the char you love from grilling food is carcinogenic.There are dangerous chemicals in the smoke from smoking and grilling and it gets into the food and can cause cancer (has been shown to cause cancer in lab animals!). One study out of China has shown that when you are exposed to barbecue fumes you actually absorb more of the harmful chemicals through your skin than through inhalation.

BUMMER, right?

So you can do a few things to reduce your exposure to the harmful chemicals - use leaner cuts of meat (fat dripping onto the grill and releasing smoke increases the production of the carcinogens) - and marinate the meat to break down some of the proteins (the amino acids and creatine when heated to high temperatures can produce harmful chemicals). Take the skin off of poultry to prevent fat drippings from creating carcinogens. Trim the char off of the meat and don't eat it!

Also you can wrap meats, fish, fruits and vegetables in aluminum foil (not as exciting, I know!) to put on the grill and prevent some flame/smoke exposure. You can cook at a lower temperature for a longer period of time to reduce production of harmful chemicals.

So my plate above doesn't have any grilled items but I did caramelize the onions which increases the amount of Advanced Glycation End-products (called AGEs) which increase oxidative stress and accelerate aging and can contain harmful chemicals.

What will protect me from these AGEs?

Well the rest of the plate - hydroponic Bibb lettuce, organic cukes and tomatoes, the roasted okra that you can't see because I ate it all while preparing the liver - Grass-fed beef liver - natch.

Yep - that's pan fried liver with caramelized onions in the middle of the salad. I used a cast iron skillet and coconut oil. I soaked the liver in hemp milk (lots of omega 3s which are anti-inflammatory) and dredged it in sprouted gluten free baking mix with a little bit of coconut flour added for flavor and a lot of seasoning (paprika, ground chipotle pepper, garlic granules, and onion powder).

The dressing was olive oil and white balsamic vinegar with Himalayan salt and ground pepper.

When cooking inside, be aware that not all pans are created equal. Pans with Teflon or other non-stick coatings contain chemicals (PFOAs and PTFEs) that have been shown to cause cancer (which is why Teflon removed PFOAs from their pans in 2013). These chemicals have been shown to increase infertility, cause hormonal changes, decrease immune system function, increase cancer risk, increase cholesterol and cause growth and learning delays in young children.

Safer choices are stainless steel and cast iron and enamel coated cast iron. Read more about cookware safety here.

So eat more fresh, organic food this summer while it is available. Colorful foods contain antioxidants which protect you from cancer. And please (please please please) avoid processed and 'fast food'.


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