Four fermented foods and drinks that could protect against cancer
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Diet plays a huge role in our health and wellbeing, with certain foods raising or lowering our risk of some conditions and diseases.
According to one expert, this is also the case with cancer, which is one of the leading causes of death in the UK.
Wellness expert and nutritional advisor, Lauren Lepley, spoke exclusively with Express.co.uk about how certain fermented foods could lower your risk of cancer.
Lauren Lepley, who survived stage three melanoma (skin cancer) herself, said: “Fermented foods are high on the list of foods with cancer-preventing properties because they contain beneficial bacteria known as probiotics, which have been shown to have a number of health benefits, including potential cancer prevention.
“Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that live in the gut and help to maintain a healthy balance of microorganisms in the digestive system.
“They are important for digestion, immune function, and overall health.”
She said research has shown that beneficial bacteria in fermented foods can help prevent cancer by:
- Reducing inflammation
- Boosting the immune system
- Promoting the production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs)
- Helping to detoxify the body.
“Examples of fermented foods that are high in probiotics include yoghurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, tempeh, and kombucha,” she said. “Incorporating these foods into your diet can provide a number of health benefits, including potential cancer prevention.
“However, it’s important to note that not all fermented foods are created equal, and the probiotic content can vary greatly between different brands and types of foods.”
Lauren explained the benefits of four types of fermented foods.
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“Kefir is a fermented milk drink that originated in the Caucasus Mountains,” she said.
“It is made by fermenting milk with kefir grains, which are a combination of yeast and bacteria. Kefir is rich in probiotics, which can help improve digestion and boost the immune system.”
One study, published in the Medical Oncology journal in 2017, said that kefir had “anti-cancer properties”. “Many studies revealed that kefir acts on different cancers such as colorectal cancer, malignant T lymphocytes, breast cancer and lung carcinoma,” it said.
She said: “Miso is a fermented soybean paste that is commonly used in Japanese cuisine. It is made by fermenting soybeans with salt and koji, which is a type of fungus.
“Miso is a good source of protein, vitamins, and minerals, and it also contains beneficial bacteria that can aid digestion.”
Research, published in the Journal of Toxicologic Pathology in 2013, found that miso inhibited the development of colon cancer in rats.
It added: “Miso was also effective in suppression of lung tumours, breast tumours in rats and liver tumours in mice.”
Lauren explained: “Natto is a traditional Japanese food made from fermented soybeans.
“It is rich in vitamin K2, which is important for bone health and may also have anti-inflammatory properties.”
In 2020 a research team from the National Cancer Centre in Japan published a paper in the BMJ, which concluded that a “higher intake” of fermented soy products including natto and miso was associated with a “lower risk of mortality.”
She added: “Kombucha is a fermented tea drink that is made by fermenting sweetened tea with a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast.
“It is rich in probiotics and antioxidants, which can help improve digestion and boost the immune system.”
And a study, from the Journal of Education and Health Promotion in 2021, revealed that kombucha could aid bowel cancer treatment.
“This result indicated that kombucha caused boosted anticancer activity of doxorubicin agent,” it said.
“These findings suggest that kombucha may be an assistor and useful role in colorectal cancer treatment aligned with chemotherapy.”
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