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There is an abundance of research demonstrating the importance of a strong immune system in the fight against mesothelioma and other types of cancer. Including a variety of immune-boosting foods can help you fight off the disease or prevent it from taking root in the first place. In general, a diet based mostly around plants, which includes many different colors of fruits and vegetables, will provide you with a good balance of nutrients and antioxidants. But if you’re looking for an extra boost, here are seven immune-boosting foods you can make sure to have in your diet.
Broccoli contains a potent mix of antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and detoxifying compounds that make it a powerful immune booster and cancer-fighting agent. It helps prevent chronic inflammation and rid the body of dangerous toxins before they can reach potentially carcinogenic levels. This cruciferous vegetable has been shown to be especially effective at reducing the risk of prostate cancer, colon cancer, breast cancer, bladder cancer, and ovarian cancer. Its unique blend of nutrients provides many other benefits (such as eye and cardiovascular health), making it an essential part of any healthy diet.
Tea contains an amino acid, L-theanine, that helps boost the immune system (as well as having a helpful effect on cognition and relaxation). Research has shown that drinking tea can boost production of T cells, an important antigen, leaving you more capable of fighting off infection. Green tea and black tea are equally effective.
Mushrooms have been valued for thousands of years for their healing properties. They’re packed with nutrients and many varieties are thought to help macrophages more effectively target bacteria, viruses and cancer cells. Shiitake mushrooms, in particular, have well-documented anti-cancer qualities. In addition to helping the immune system function more effectively, they are thought to spur apoptosis (cell death) in tumors in some instances. There is also some evidence that certain types of mushrooms may make cancer medications more effective, though more research is needed. Even crimini mushrooms, the most commonly eaten mushroom in the world, have a wealth of immune-boosting, cancer-fighting properties, perhaps even more than other mushrooms, like shiitakes, that are more commonly thought of as “medicinal.”
Oats contain a type of soluble fiber called beta glucan, which has numerous documented health benefits. It helps lower cholesterol levels and improves cardiovascular health. It also has been shown to help the immune system respond to bacterial infections, and may lower the risk of Type 2 diabetes and breast cancer.
Carrots come in a wide variety of colors in addition to the typical orange, and each type has a different balance of antioxidants. The blend of nutrients in carrots can help improve cardiovascular health, and a limited body of research suggests that, yes, carrots may be good for your ocular health, too. They also lower the risk of colon cancer and seem to inhibit its spread.
A cruciferous vegetable related to broccoli, we’ve written about kale before, and its well-deserved reputation as a “superfood” has rocketed it to popularity in recent years. Kale is packed with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds and helps the body rid itself of toxins. Its cancer-preventive properties have been the subject of extensive research, but there’s some evidence that kale may help the body actively fight cancer as well, rather than merely lowering the risk.
Like mushrooms, this pungent, spicy root is a part of medical traditions around the world. It has a well-documented anti-nausea and anti-vomiting effect that may be useful in mitigating the side effects of chemotherapy, and it effectively boosts the immune system by causing sweating. Research strongly indicates that ginger is a powerful tumor suppressant and anticancer agent. One study used gingerols, the active phytonutrients in ginger and the main contributor to its flavor, to kill ovarian cancer cells.
Perhaps just as important as a cancer-fighting boost to your immune system, eating healthy can help keep you feeling better. In the struggle with cancer, diet is something that you have complete control over, and you can make it work to your benefit.
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Resources for Mesothelioma Patients and Their Families
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- Locate the Nearest Comprehensive Cancer Center