My mother always had a famous saying when we sat down for family meals. “If you don’t eat it for dinner, you eat it for breakfast.” And she meant it. I recall many evenings sitting at the dinner table pushing my food around on my plate and refusing to take a bite. As a result, I can also recall several mornings where I woke up to a breakfast of reheated hamburger stroganoff and half-eaten asparagus. One the rare occasion that my hunger strike lasted through breakfast, I learned another hard lesson. If you didn’t eat it for dinner or breakfast, you ate it for lunch. One way or another, my mother made sure we ate everything on our plates.
It’s a lesson I’ve grown to appreciate over the years. Not only did I develop a taste for a wide variety of dishes, but I learned to genuinely enjoy eating my vegetables. Today, there isn’t much you can put on my plate that I’ll refuse to eat, but there is one exception to the rule.
I’ve tried tuna, tilapia, halibut, snapper, trout, and sea bass. It doesn’t matter what it’s called or how it’s prepared. I hate it all.
While you won’t find me shopping for fresh seafood selections at my grocery store any time soon, you will find me in the pharmacy buying a bottle of fish oil capsules. You see, while I don’t enjoy fish on my plate, I do enjoy the health benefits of a daily fish oil supplement.
I initially started taking fish oil capsules a few years ago to maintain a healthy heart. Studies show strong evidence that the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil can lower blood pressure and triglycerides, reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke, and lower the risk of death from heart disease (Source: WebMD). That alone seems like a list of good reasons to take a fish oil supplement, but just in case you’re not convinced, let me give you one more. Fish oil could protect you from developing colon cancer.
Fish oils contain the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), both of which have significant health benefits. But it’s the DHA that has significant protective properties against cancer. DHA regulates genes to reduce inflammation, inhibit cell division, and control blood vessel formation and immunity. Most importantly, DHA induces apoptotic cell death in human cancer cells. In other words, this omega-3 fatty acid gives cancer a one-two punch by deactivating cancer genes and activating cancer-fighting genes.
In terms of colon cancer, DHA is particularly beneficial. Our colons naturally produce butyrate, a fatty acid that plays a necessary role in digestive function. When butyrate combines with pro-inflammatory omega-6 oils (Corn, canola, sunflower, soybean and cottonseed), the cells produce a chemical called BCL-2 which protects cancer cells from destruction. In contrast, when butyrate combines with DHA, the fatty acid found in fish oil, the cells produce BAX, a protein that kills cancer cells.
Studies have shown that DHA prevents the formation of adenomas, the pre-cancerous polyps that can eventually develop into colon cancer. This is particularly meaningful evidence for individuals with a family history of colon polyps. People who have a first degree relative (parent, sibling or child) with a history of colon polyps or colon cancer are at increased risk for the disease and are therefore eligible for earlier screenings (Source: Newsmax).
It’s always great news when there’s a new way to protect yourself against cancer. In addition to maintaining an active lifestyle, achieving a healthy weight, limiting alcohol, not smoking, and adhering to a low-fat, high fiber diet, consider adding a fish oil supplement to your daily regimen. It’s an easy step you can take to stay healthy and cancer-free!