Make it an Americano

Sunday, February 5

It has now been 5 weeks since my surgery and I have just completed my second week back at work.  My shoulder is no longer as painful and so I have been able to see more of my own Physio Patients again. The majority of the Cancer patients that I see are women who have had breast cancer and so a lot of my daily chatter with my patients is about breast cancer.  However, I have also seen patients this week who have completed treatment for ovarian and throat cancers.  Now that I am on my super food campaign-the discussion has naturally drifted towards diet and nutrition even more than usual!

All of the patients that I have seen this week have made a number of significant dietary changes since their diagnosis and cancer treatment.  The common thing that they have all said is that the changes that they have had to make have often been very overwhelming and they also regularly felt confused by the varying advice and literature available.  Along with these changes comes the guilt of knowing that one should be trying to make all these lifestyle changes and then not doing so. 

Let's be honest, we all know we should eat breakfast, even if we don't. We know that we really should order the fish and salad, but the burger/curry/fries are so much more tempting. We should exercise more, especially as we often have that pricey gym membership that we hardly use and that summer holiday is coming up.  We know that microwave meals and take aways aren't that healthy but they are cheap in the UK and its been such a long day and you have a headache and you really can't be bothered to cook.  But usually, the reason that most of us are concerned about these things that we know we should do but we don't because we are too tired/busy/poor or stressed, is because we wish we were thinner. Because if we weighed a little less then life would be a lot better and we would be nicer looking and happier. There are very few people that I know that are 100 percent happy with their bodies.  This for me is certainly the first time that I have worried about what I eat - not because of how it may affect my waistline, but because if I'm not careful about what I put into my body I may be further putting myself at risk of more cancer in the future.

And here's the thing - you should all be worried about what you eat for the same reason that I now am.  Cancer Research UK says that 1 in 3 people will get cancer in their lives.  That means that there is a very good chance that it could be you, and it is pretty much guaranteed that cancer will affect someone close to you, if it hasn't already.  The good news is that cancer is still primarily a disease of the elderly.  The bad news is that if you look at this table on the Cancer Research UK website, things aren't looking all that rosy for the under 65's either.  When looking at life time risks of cancers, Women have a 1 in 8 chance of developing breast cancer, a 1 in 19 chance for lung or colorectal cancer and 1 in 46 chance for uterine cancer.  Malignant Melanoma like I've had is in at 1 in 60.  For the guys, prostate cancer is at the top of the charts at 1 in 9, lung cancer is 1 in 14 and colorectum cancer for men comes in at 1 in 15.

Patrick Holford in his book Say No to Cancer says that at least 75% of cancers are associated with environment and lifestyle. There is more good news though- the World Cancer Research Fund says that eating the right diet can reduce your chances of getting cancer by up to 40%. 

So we can influence our own cancer odds by improving what we eat one bite at a time.  I'm trying to adopt one more healthy practice at a time.  I think it’s a good idea, every two to four weeks, to try to take up one of those things that you know you should do but you don't do.  Don't feel overwhelmed and try to change everything at once, as you will be likely to be setting yourself up to fail.  One of my first changes has been to stop drinking lattes.  We all know that lots of coffee is bad for you and that milk can be fattening.  What I didn't know though was that in the countries where milk consumption is the highest, they have highest rate of breast and prostate cancer.  I will go into this further another day, but one of my first changes has been to try and reduce my milk consumption and so the lattes have had to go.  I have started to have Americano coffees instead and I'm trying to not have more than 2 -3 per week.  Ideally I should be aiming to drink black coffee, but that is too much of a transition to deal with right now so I have to add some milk!  And I'm also helping my waistline at the same time as according to the Starbucks website, a whole milk latte comes in at 176 calories. A skinny (skimmed milk) latte is 126 calories, and an Americano with a dash of skinny milk is at a lovely low 11 for the coffee and 17 for the dash of milk which makes it only 28 calories!  And just in case you needed reminding- the general recommendation as can be seen on the NHS choices website is that females have 2000 calories a day and that men have 2500.

In continuing to look at foods that help to prevent you from getting cancer, this week the super food that I am going to focus on is the tomato.


·      Easy to grow at home.
·    Tinned tomatoes and tomatoe purees and pastes which are also really good for you are simple to incorporate into everyday meals. 
·      One of the only sources of Lycopene in foods.
·      Even better for you when prepared with some oil to aid absorption into the blood stream.
·     Taste better when kept out of the fridge.
Processed tomatoes are really good for you too!
·       Raw tomatoes are best for vitamin C.

·  Tomatoes contain Lycopene which is more readily available when tomatoes are processed as the processing breaks down the cell walls and fibres where the Lycopene is found and makes it easier for your body to absorb.
·       Choose processed tomatoes that are low in Sodium where possible.

What is Lycopene?
Lycopene is a member of the carotenoid family and a pigment that contributes to the red colour of tomatoes.  Lycopene fights free radicals (that cause cancer) and can also raise the skins SPF.  Lycopene is rare in foods and tomatoes are one of only a few foods rich in it.  Watermelon and pink grapefruit are also sources of Lycopene.

Lycopene in Food: (22mg a day is the recommended amount)
From SuperFoods, by Pratt and Matthews.
Tomato Puree (1/2 cup)                                                                    27,2
Tomato Juice (1 cup)                                                                        22
Tomato Sauce (1/2 cup)                                                                   18,5
Watermelon Wedge                                                                         13
Tomato Paste        (2 tbsp)                                                                9,2
Ketchup (2 tbsp)                                                                              5,8
Pizza (slice)                                                                                     4
Tomato (1 fresh medium size)                                                         3,2
5 Cherry tomatoes                                                                           2,2
½ Pink Grapefruit                                                                           1,8            

Tomatoes Health Benefits:
-High in Vitamins C, A and K and lycopene.
-Good source of vitamin B6, folate, fiber, potassium, manganese, chromium and anti oxidants.

What’s in 1 cup of  Raw Tomato:
Calories: 32 (135 kJ)
Protein: 1.6g
Total Fat: 0.4g
Saturated Fat: 0,1g
Carbohydrates: 7 g
Fibre: 2.2g

Add tinned tomatoes and tomato puree rather than Ready Made Cook in Sauces as a healthier alternative when making pastas or curries!
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