I vote for fiber. In the world of anticancer nutrition, there are so many truly exciting foods that are also cancer fighters. For example, most spices are anti-inflammatory, while also being really enjoyable to cook with.
Fiber? Not so much. It doesn’t contribute to the taste of food, and, in fact, if you take it out of food (as in white bread) taste improves. But if anticancer nutrition was a football game, fiber would be the offensive line: you can’t win without it but nobody except the most intense fans ever notice it.
This last week on the blog for the American Institute for Cancer Research, fiber was highlighted as a major anticancer food for colorectal cancer. Now, this is definitely not an issue for childhood cancer, but if you look more closely at why fiber is so protective against colorectal cancer, you can see how fiber is a crucial element in maintaining an overall healthy metabolic system. And a healthy metabolic system is a necessary foundation for the body’s battle not just against cancer, but also against the toll on kids that cancer treatments take and the prevalent late effects that linger for a lifetime.
Here is what the AICR blog says about how fiber works:
Fiber is the part of the plant our body doesn’t digest, the part that passes through you, doing good, protective work as it goes. Plant foods contain both soluble fiber (which dissolves in water) and insoluble fiber (which doesn’t.) Both kinds are protective, because they:
- Slow digestion, so you feel full longer, which helps protect against overeating
- Help lower blood sugar levels, which aids insulin sensitivity
- Dilutes substances in food which could damage the colon, and ushers them out of the body more quickly
- Protects the lining of the colon
- Helps produce gut substances like butyrate, a fatty acid which may help defend against cancer
The biggest take away is #2, fiber’s ability to lower blood sugar levels. As we’ve talked aboutpreviously, spikes in blood sugar have been linked to higher cancer risks, and a major part of any anticancer diet has to be focused on limiting this.
So, what’s the best way to get more fiber into a kid’s diet? I’ll tell you that Max reaches for his Nerf sword if I even mention flaxseed. So, we’ve had to come up with some more creative, “fierce” ways of including fiber. In the next post, I’ll tell you about our Fierce Fiber Five.
– Justin (Max’s Dad)