Does it sometimes feel like “everything” causes cancer?
It doesn’t seem like it’s enough to buy organic… because if you eat at restaurants or with friends – your body is exposed all over again to all the chemicals you’re trying to avoid!
Plus, it’s really hard to find that balance between avoiding chemicals and being afraid to eat.
I’m not the most diligent gluten-free, vegan, sugar-free eater on the planet. In fact, I drown myself in delicious fattening granola almost every morning. (After a workout, of course.)
But I do have my limits when it comes to food that I’ll feed my family.
Hippocrates said, “Let Food By Thy Medicine”… but most of our foods are more like lab experiments than medicine.
That’s why instead of giving you 10 scary foods to avoid in the fight against cancer… I’m going to also provide you with 10 amazing alternatives for each one of these cancer-causing foods.
Genetically modified organisms, also known as GMO’s, are foods that have been modified with chemicals.
One of the biggest offenders of genetic modification is grains including wheat, but coming close are corn, sugar, and soy.
In fact, some say that the reason for Celiac Disease (and a plethora of other digestive issues that stem from gluten) are due to the genetic modification of wheat – not the wheat itself!
What’s the purpose of genetic modification? One main reason is crop yield. But foods are also genetically modified in order to create a product that is ‘sturdy’ enough to ship nationwide.
GMO’s are linked to birth defects, rapid tumor growth, and various diseases. Sadly, almost all grain products have been genetically modified. This includes soybeans, wheat and corn.
What’s more, foods are not required to have anything listed indicating that they DO use GMO’s, but you can look for foods that have the “GMO-free” label.
Replace With… GMO-Free & Non-Processed Foods…
The most common “GMO” riddled crops bear corn, soy, canola, and sugar beets.
Here are a few practical replacements you can make:
- Go Grass-Fed. Cattle that is fed corn and grain most likely consumes GMO.
- Replace canola oil with Organic Coconut Oil or Organic Olive Oil.
- Find GMO-Free Corn Starch, Hominy, and Corn Tortilla Chips
- GMO-Free is a hot marketing tool. If you don’t see “100% Organic” or “GMO-Free” listed on the food, it’s best to steer clear.
2. Microwave Popcorn
The lining of microwave popcorn bags is linked to infertility, pancreatic cancer, and tumors.
Even with my rigorous travel schedule (and busy life with baby), I refuse to succumb to the microwave popcorn often sold at hotel concierge desks (even though popcorn is my all-time favorite food). It’s just not worth it when you learn about how detrimental this lining is.
The EPA even identifies the chemicals that line microwave popcorn bags as carcinogens.
Microwave popcorn usually ranks #1 in cancer-causing foods when rated by health professionals, so it’s really important to replace this one right away.
Replace With: Stove or Air-Popped Popcorn…
Anybody who knows me understands that popcorn is pretty much my favorite food on the planet.
But when I learned that microwave popcorn is one of the worst things you can consume, I promptly switched to stovetop or air-popped popcorn.
It’s really easy; I buy these awesome GMO-free kernels online or at whole foods. Thankfully, most corn used for popping is from non-GMO crops anyway.
The GMO certification is right on the front of the bag – plus they’re some of the most delicious little kernels ever.
I add coconut oil to a pan, add a cup of kernels, cover it with a lid, and I have delicious fresh popcorn in minutes!
Plus the coconut oil gives it a delicious kettle-corn flavor!
3. Refined Sugar…
Refined sugar is everywhere.
It causes weight gain by spiking insulin levels in your body. Plus, it is addictive.
But the worst thing about refined sugar: it feeds cancer cells.
That’s right. Cancer cells feed on sweeteners like High-Fructose-Corn Syrup in order to spread quickly.
Most processed foods are loaded with HFCS, including packaged cereals, granola bars, sodas, flavored beverages, and especially baked goods.
Replace With: Raw Honey
Honey is an all-natural sweetener, produced when bees gather nectar from flowers, and store it in honeycombs where it is transformed into honey.
Out of the 279 g of carbohydrates in a cup of honey, 278 g are from sugars, and these the sugars are primarily in the form of fructose and glucose.
Honey is a great source of vitamin C, and contains vitamin B6, niacin, and folate.
And on a different note, honey can be great for people with seasonal allergies.
Like a vaccine, which exposes your body to a small amount of the pathogen, honey exposes your immune to small amounts of pollen, and allows your immune system to build up antibodies in defense. (This trick worked great for me!)
Honey is good for you, but did you know that raw honey is even better?
Honey in it’s raw state is loaded with nutrients that are nearly impossible to find anywhere else in nature. These include:
- Bee pollen: A superfood linked to anti-allergenic and anti-cancer properties
- Amylase: An enzyme that helps your digestive system break down starches.
- Propolis: Bees use this to protect their hives from undesired organisms. It has anti-microbial, anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial properties.
- Antioxidants: The high antioxidants in honey work to cleanse your body and your skin.
OR Replace With: Grade B Maple Syrup
Many people looking to lose weight choose Maple Syrup over Honey.
To many people’s surprise, maple syrup is actually considered a man-made product, and is produced by heating the sap of the maple tree into the substance that we all know and love.
Unlike honey, in a cup of maple syrup, 192 of the 216 grams of carbs are from sugars, and the sugars are primarily in the form of sucrose.
This means that that a cup of maple syrup has 62 less grams of carbs per cup than honey, and less of those carbs are from sugar.
Maple syrup also contains considerably more calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc and copper per serving than honey, as well.
Reasons to choose Grade B Maple Syrup include:
- It’s the most minimally processed
- It’s the most nutrient-dense form of maple syrup
- It contains trace minerals from the maple tree’s roots
- High in manganese, which helps aids enzyme and antioxidant absorption
- Helps boost your energy levels
- Contains immune-boosting zinc
- Contains calcium
- Safe to store at room temperature
- It contains NO corn syrup like store-bought ‘pancake’ syrup
4. Farmed Salmon
roasted salmon fillet with fresh green leaves salad and quinoa
Although fish is touted as one of the healthiest foods in the world, farmed salmon is one you should avoid.
Farm-raised salmon are fed unnatural diets that contain chemicals, antibiotics, pesticides, and other known carcinogens.
That’s why it’s important clear of farm-raised salmon if you’re trying to avoid cancer-causing foods!
It may look fresh in that sushi case… but unless it’s wild-caught – you don’t know what the fish have been eating, which transfers to your own body when you consume them!
Replace With: Wild-Caught Salmon
While farmed salmon is high on the list of cancer-causing foods, wild salmon is equally high on the list of cancer-preventing foods!
Vitamin D is linked to prevention of several cancers, especially of the breast and colon.
This may be because Vitamin D helps to block the growth of blood vessels that feed cancerous tumors.
But wild-salmon is rich in Vitamin D naturally, helping your body fight cancerous and precancerous cells.
It’s actually really difficult to find foods that are naturally high in Vitamin D.
That’s why lots of Wild-Caught Salmon… and 20-30 minutes a day of natural sunlight! – are two of the best cancer-preventing practices you can employ.
5. Processed Meats
If you’ve been pregnant recently, or know somebody who is, you know that pregnant women are told not to eat processed meats.
Such meats include bacon, lunch meats, sausages, baloney and hot dogs.
The reason these hit high on the list of cancer-causing foods is because processed meats are riddled with chemicals and preservatives meant to make them ‘look’ fresh (i.e. resembling the color of the animal they came from.)
One of the worst cancer-causing ingredients in processed meats are sodium nitrates.
These are preservatives that make the meat appear fresh, but is a known carcinogen.
Replace With: Nitrate-Free Meat…
Your local Whole Foods or Organic Market will generally stock their meat cases with nitrate-free meats.
You should also look at your bacon and jerky’s for a nitrate-free label.
Just so you know: nitrate-free meat will definitely turn colors relatively soon after the “Sell By:” date… so eat them in a reasonable time period!
6. Non-Organic Produce…
You can’t really wash the chemicals off of fruits and vegetables that are contaminated with pesticides or fertilizers.
Apples have even been rumored to have over a 98% positive rate of environmental chemical contamination. But oranges, strawberries, grapes, and cucumbers are also big offenders.
One way to detect genetic modification in fruit is to visit a farmers market or pay attention to the size of, say, the zucchini you get conventionally and that from an organic crop.
When you go organic, you will generally have a lower yield, smaller produce, and *better taste*.
You may not find tomatoes the size of your head, but the organic crops are generally much sweeter, too!
Replace With: “Peelable” Fruit
Grapefruit is very powerful in the fight against cancer.
First of all, it’s loaded with Vitamin C, which helps prevent cancer-causing nitrogen compounds from forming in your body.
Plus, Vitamin C is linked to a reduced risk of stomach, colon, esophagus, bladder, breast, and cervical cancer.
Another amazing trick to getting produce that isn’t tainted with cancer-causing chemicals is to get fruits and vegetables with ‘thick skin’.
There was a time period that I couldn’t afford organic produce and lived in a town where it wasn’t popular and very hard to find.
During that period, I stuck to avocados, grapefruit, bananas, oranges, and other fruits and vegetables that must be ‘peeled’ before eating.
That’s because foods like berries, apples, cucumbers, zucchini, and leafy vegetables are especially riddled with chemicals… and it’s hard (or impossible) to remove their outer layer.
For example, I replaced a lot of my leafy greens with cabbage when organic leafy greens weren’t available.
That’s because with cabbage, I could remove the first couple layers and have a generally clean inside-portion to keep me from consuming cancer-causing chemicals.
With enough creative practice, navigating away from cancer-causing foods will become easier… AND cheaper to do!
7. Bagged Chips
Besides being super-fatty, fried, full of too-much salt and trans fats… bagged chips are riddled with chemicals.
I go nuts for a bag of pretzels or Stacy’s Pita Chips, don’t get me wrong. But Frito’s, Dorito’s, and Lay’s… no way.
Bagged chips use artificial preservatives, colors, and flavors… even Monosodium Glutamate (MSG).
MSG is referred to as a ‘silent killer’ found in canned foods, crackers, and even infant formula! MSG is an excitotoxin; it literally ‘excites’ your cells to the point of damage, or death. This can cause brain damage, learning disabilities, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease… and worse.
The FDA admits:
“Studies have shown that the body uses glutamate, an amino acid, as a nerve impulse transmitter in the brain and that there are glutamate-responsive tissues in other parts of the body, as well.
Abnormal function of glutamate receptors has been linked with certain neurological diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease and Huntington’s chorea. Injections of glutamate in laboratory animals have resulted in damage to nerve cells in the brain.”
Potato chips are also high on the list of cancer-causing foods because they’re fried at a high temperature, causing them to produce a carcinogen called acrylamide. Acrylamide is the same carcinogen found in cigarettes.
Replace With… Homemade Chips
It’s hard to imagine a time when people didn’t crave the crunchy, salty, oily goodness of a bag of chips.
Thankfully, there are ways to satisfy your salty craving without the trans fats, excessive sodium, and chemicals.
At home you can slice kale, sweet potato, taro root, and even plantains to make a whole rainbow of delicious healthy chips.
8. Canned Tomatoes…
Young sad woman looking at one tin in her empty fridge.
Canned foods are usually lined with a chemical called bisphenol-A, or “BPA”. BPA is linked to heart disease, infertility, and other diseases.
Because acidic foods like tomatoes tend to absorb BPA into the food procuct, they’re more dangerous than, say, black beans or tuna. In fact, it is recommended my some to AVOID feeding children food that has canned tomatoes in it.
Moreover, tomatoes are a highly acidic food… and acidity in the body actually helps feed cancer!
Replace With: Sweet Potatoes
It’s almost impossible to find tasty fresh tomatoes save a couple short months out of the year.
What’s more, even when tomatoes are in season, they’re usually genetically modified to have a thick enough skin to travel all throughout the country. Plus, they’re expensive. Replacing a 28-ounce can of tomatoes would equal 1 dozen whole tomatoes.
Because finding tasty fresh tomatoes is difficult, try REPLACING tomatoes in your diet with Sweet Potatoes. Sweet potatoes are loaded with beta-carotene, which is a powerful antioxidant also found in carrots and dark, leafy vegetables as well.
Beta-carotene is linked to a reduce risk of cancer, and foods high in beta-carotene have even been linked to reducing the risk of breast cancer by HALF in post-menopausal women.
Pumpkin is another amazing vegetable that you can puree and use in the place of tomatoes, as well as parsnip, roasted red peppers, and even butternut squash.
If you’re sensitive to acidity, red peppers are not the way to go. But if you’re looking to avoid cancer-causing BPA, finding a fresh alternative to canned tomatoes will be both a challenging and exciting journey.
Next Level Mom Move: Can Your Own Tomatoes…
A few years ago I became aware of the danger of BPA.
It was the end of the summer, and during that time I put an add on Craigslist requesting that people save their green or red tomatoes for me to can. I ended up with two full recycling bins FULL of tomatoes!
Then I purchased mason jars with BPA-Free lids and began the process of peeling, boiling, and canning my own tomatoes. This is the BEST canned tomato alternative because you can enjoy the freshness of a summer-ripe tomato all year long, PLUS you will avoid cancer-causing BPA.
9. Fake Sugar
Fake sugars, diet sodas, and even sugarless chewing gum are all plagued with the chemical aspartame, an artificial sweetener.
You’ll also see it snuck into yogurts, ‘vitamin drinks’, and sugarless energy drinks. It is because of aspartame that diet food has such a bad wrap. And for good reason… Aspartame is linked to cancers, birth defects, and heart problems.
Plus, people who consume these fake sugars actually gain MORE weight. They make you psychologically and physically dependent on a sweet flavor, they’re addictive, and they impair your body’s ability to gauge whether or not you’ve had enough to eat.
Replace With: Pomegranates…
In order to truly kick your sugar addiction, it is recommended to spend a period of time going raw (a week or two), or fasting sugars and fake sugars in order to detoxify your body and restore your palate.
If you must use sweeteners, try Stevia or Truvia. Although these still feel like a bandaid… as they’re nevertheless a result of ‘lab experiments’. That’s why a growing number of people have started infusing water with real fruits. The result is beautiful – and it keeps you away from cancer-causing chemicals!
My favorite sugar-alternative is Pomegranate. Pomegranates are full of ellagic acid, which is a phytonutrient found in many berries and nuts. Ellagic acid can stop the growth of cancer cells in the body. Plus, instead of fake sugars, you can easily add pomegranates to water, yogurt, flaxseed or other natural cereal, and even pureed for desserts! (Pomegranate over frozen banana ‘ice cream, anyone?)
In order to avoid sulfite-ridden dried fruits, I even add pomegranate to salads!
Loaded with sugar, artificial colorings and food chemicals like derivative 4-methylimidazole (4-MI), no wonder soda pop has been shown to cause cancer.
Soda pop succeeds in acidifying our bodies thus feeding cancer cells.
That caramel coloring in your soda may be the very thing causing cancer to form inside your body!
So what is more refreshing? Iced cold cancer-causing soda, or good old-fashioned H2O?
Replace With: Homemade Soda
I’m a glutton for my soda stream sodas. Over ice you can enjoy with with natural fruit juices or make a lemonade with lemon juice and stevia.
I keep 3-4 bottles of sparkling soda in my refrigerator so I don’t reach for something unhealthy (or no water at all) because I’m lazy or in a rush.
What’s more, your friends will be happy that you always have fresh “mixers” in the refrigerator.