Health experts believe that cancer risk is related to many things that are within our control , such as diet, exercise, body weight, and tobacco use. And among the different cancer types, colon cancer appears to be most strongly influenced by health, lifestyle, and food choices.
New research suggests that a particular Asian diet staple contains nutrients that may be particularly good for keeping colon cancer at bay. Soy foods, eaten for thousands of years in Asia, and more recently added to the diet in the United States and Europe, contain nutrients called sphingadienes (sfing-ah-die-eens), or SDs.
It turns out that SDs can encourage damaged cells - the type of cells that can develop into cancer - to die, rather reproduce. The latest study suggests that SDs are particularly useful in colon cancer prevention. As well, these nutrients may help researchers develop medications for cancer treatment.
Is soy for you? Unless you have a medical reason to avoid soy, such as a food allergy, soy can be a healthful addition to your diet. The best way to incorporate soy into your diet is to stick to whole soy foods. You want to get most of your soy from what is found in traditional, healthful, Asian diets, such as tofu, tempeh, and miso. Soy milk also can be used to add soy into your eating routine.
Whole soy foods are best because these are the foods that have been eaten for thousands of years in many places throughout the world. We know they are healthy and safe to eat. And these are the same foods that research suggests have the best cancer prevention activity. They are natural, they are minimally processed, and they are a good source of SDs and other beneficial nutrients.
You should not load up on soy supplements, powders, or pills. Also steer clear of a lot of soy-fortified or soy-infused processed foods, such as chips and crackers made with soy and high-sodium soy "meat". Enjoying small amounts of these processed soy foods in moderation is fine, but like all processed food, they contain a lot of salt (sodium) and preservatives, neither of which are good in large amounts.