Increase your intake of antioxidants the easy way

This entry is part 14 in the series Juicing 101
 (Originally published April, 2012. Updated 20 June, 2017)
Antioxidants help to strengthen your immune system as well as boost your energy levels. They fight free radicals in your body, thus protecting your cells from damage. They are believed to be an important ally in your fight against cancer as well as heart disease and memory loss.

What are antioxidants?

The FDA in America has prohibited manufacturers from claiming that consuming their antioxidant products will reduce disease risk. Nevertheless there is no doubt that antioxidants help in the fight against disease. They are much better eaten fresh than bought in a bottle, where you may get a wrong balance when put together with your daily diet.

Antioxidants are nutrients, including vitamins, minerals and enzymes (proteins that assist in chemical reactions) that help to counter free radicals in our body.

What are free radicals?

A free radical is a normal byproduct of our metabolism which has become unstable due to the loss of one or more of its paired electrons. It therefore tries to steal the electron it needs from another atom, or deposits its extra electron into the stable atom. As a result, there is a domino-effect with free radicals. They need to be neutralized. This happens all over our bodies, many thousands of times every day.

Free radicals are normal byproducts and are not necessarily harmful. However, if we don’t have sufficient antioxidants and these free radicals go unchecked, they will cause damage to many cells, causing premature aging and degenerative diseases.

Can you turn a free radical into a healthy cell?

Yes, you can. How? By giving it what it’s looking for—in other words, by supplementing your supply of antioxidants.

Taking one particular antioxidant supplement is not sufficient as your body requires so many different sorts. The best way to supplement is to eat plenty antioxidant-rich foods, especially at the transitional times of the year, when viruses cause increased threats. 

How to increase your antioxidant level without popping expensive pills: 

  • blue berries, black berries, and other bright colored berries
  • other deeply colored fruits such as plums and red or black grapes
  • citrus fruit
  • dark vegetables such as spinach (Popeye had it right!), kale, spinach, zucchini, and brussel sprouts
  • eggplants, red, yellow and green bell peppers, and other colorful vegetables
  • carrots, butternut and other orange vegetables
  • sweet potatoes, the new fries in town. Sweet potatoes cooked in any fashion are rich in antioxidants
  • fish—best eaten three times a week. Adding a small amount of extra-virgin olive oil adds to the anti-oxidant value.  Fish also provides us with powerful omega-3 fatty acids, which may help prevent inflammatory diseases. All fish have some omega-3, but the best are include sardines, salmon, oysters, mackerel, tuna steak, wild rainbow trout, shark steak, albacore tuna, and herring.
  • walnuts, pecan nuts, and other types of nuts
  • all forms of tea contain antioxidants. Rooibos and green tea are particularly nutritious. Another drink high on the antioxidant scale is red wine taken in small quantities.
  • Grain. This alone can make a difference to your health. Eat whole grain bread instead of white bread, wild or brown rice instead of white rice, tortillas made of corn instead of flour. In addition to antioxidants, grain contains zinc, selenium and phytochemicals which are believed to fight heart disease, strokes and cancer.

Best news!

  • I’ve saved the best for last. Dark chocolate! Yes, that’s the good news! Taken in moderate quantities, dark chocolate will increase your antioxidant level.

“Cocoa is rich in antioxidant flavonoids called flavanols, which include procyanidins, epicatechins, and catechins,” explains Harold Schmitz, PhD, director of science at Mars, Inc. Studies have shown that people with high blood levels of flavonoids have lower risk of heart disease, lung cancer, prostate cancer, asthma, and type 2 diabetes.

But do accept the spoiler. A moderate quantity—not a slab a day.

So look for those bright colors, and enjoy eating, or drinking, your way to good health!

Create an excellent habit

When I was recovering from cancer treatment, my nutritionist ordered me to buy a food processor. She wanted me to drink at least five colorful fruits and raw veggies before breakfast every day. It’s nearly 20 years later, and both my husband and I start the day in this way. 

Follow this link!

5th January, 2018 – I received an email from Anna Kukircova inviting me to read and link to her post, How do Antioxidants Keep Us Healthy. I encourage you to follow this link and read it for yourself. It is an excellent post well illustrated with a video. Thank you Anna!




Thankful Thursday


Thankful Thursday

Be Positive – In the Face of Cancer?

How Can You Be Positive When You Have Cancer?

“A positive attitude will give you extra energy and vitality.” So people will tell you. That’s all very well, but how do you cultivate a positive attitude when you feel so absolutely rotten? People will often tell you to “stay positive” and they have no clue what they’re talking about.

What does “Be Positive” really mean?

  • It depends who you’re talking to.

  • Often people mean, ‘Don’t let this interfere with your life/ affect our relationship’. And of course that’s impossible. Cancer DOES interfere with your life, and if they really care, it WILL affect your relationship, hopefully in a good way.
  • It may mean ‘Fight to get well and overcome this disease’.

Does “Be Positive” make a difference to your health?

  • Many people and books will tell you that by being positive you increase your chances of a cure or remission. 
    • This indicates if you don’t get better, it’s because you weren’t positive enough. That’s cruel. And it’s just not true.
    • If you try to be positive and your heath doesn’t improve, you may feel you’ve failed. 
  • The positive thing about being positive is that you will feel better in yourself. So it’s a worthwhile attitude to try to cultivate. Just don’t get paranoid. You can’t be positive all the time.

So Why “Be Positive” Then?

  • It makes it easier for you to make good decisions, and to cope with your situation.
  • By choosing to ‘Be Positive’ you are making a choice, or taking control. That helps reduce your chances of depression.
  • If you’re looking after someone with cancer, being positive will help you be happy in your work, and encourage your patient.
  • Being positive will help to minimise your fear and help you be realistic over what you can or can’t do.
  • It will make you a nicer person to be around, which will give you more fellowship with others.

What Can Help You “Be Positive”?

  • Look for ways to laugh
  • Consider healthy meditation
  • Look for ways to be creative
  • Cultivate a healthy imagination
  • Learn to relax
  • Express your feelings, even if they’re not always positive

  • Don’t ignore negative feelings. If necessary get some professional help. This is not a sign of failure. It is, in itself, a positive step forward. 

  • Develop a fighting spirit
  • Look FOR the bright side (not ON the bright side because you may not be able to find it!)

Question: What Is the Most Difficult Thing for You about Being Positive?

Leave your answer in the Comment section below.


Cancer and Insomnia

Sleeping_while_studyingCancer and Insomnia

During my first visit to my oncologist following cancer surgery, I mentioned that I was an insomniac. He folded his hands on the table and looked me in the eye.

“Then you will take a sleeping pill for the entire year of treatment. I cannot fight cancer and insomnia. If you won’t take the sleeping pill, get another oncologist.”

Wow! I’d had sleeping problems for years. It ran in the family. How did he expect me to sleep well now, when I knew I was fighting cancer?

But a good night’s sleep is an important factor if your body is going to heal during the treatment period.

The trouble is, because of the side effects of the treatment, coupled with the stress of your cancer diagnosis, sleeping can be difficult – even if you’re not an insomniac.

Do all you can to help yourself to sleep well. 

    • Stick to a regular, relaxing bedtime routine
  • Keep your bedroom quiet and uncluttered
    • Make your bedroom dark–or wear an eye shield
    • Limit daytime naps (if they prevent you sleeping at night)
    • Limit your caffeine consumption. That’s right. Cut down on the coffee and coke!
    • If you have problems, please speak to your doctor – and if you need medication, accept it. 
    • Before resorting to sleeping pills, ask him if you can try Melatonin, the so-called jet-lag hormone. While there is no definite proof as yet, there are indications that this hormone may actually improve the survival rates in breast cancer. 
    • If this doesn’t work, you may find a mild tranquilizer is sufficient.
    • If sleeping pills are all that work, then accept them – for a period. See them as a temporary aid to a good night’s sleep, and resolve to get off them when your treatment comes to an end.

Remember the words of my oncologist. They’re true for us all.
You “cannot fight cancer and insomnia.”


Too Good to be True?

pink ribbonVirtually every magazine or newspaper you pick up will have an advertisement on how to get rid of your cancer.

Then why is there still so much of it around?

  • Do this and cure your cancer.
  • Pop this pill for three months and your cancer will be gone. 
  • Attend these meetings and we’ll show you how to cure your cancer.
  • Buy my book and you’ll end your cancer.
  • Come to this series of workshops and your cancer will be history.
  • Have needles put into various parts of your body and your cancer will go.
  • Allow me to adjust your spine and youre growth will shrivel and disappear.

Watch out for these terms:

  • Think positive! 
  • Time tested!
  • Backed by scientific studies!
  • You’ll never be sick again!
  • We treat the whole patient!
  • Buy natural!

Please be careful! Many people, especially after being newly diagnosed with cancer, feel so desperate they’ll try anything. Research any treatment or medication suggested. Speak to your doctor or medical team before signing up for anything – or before spending money.

There may be an element of truth in all these suggestions. There often is. But when anyone claims to “have the answer” to cancer, one has to ask, “Then why is it still around?” 

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  

There are many ways you can promote health in your body. This will strengthen your immune system, and help your body to fight cancer and other diseases. It will not in itself bring a cure, but it will help.

For example, nutrition is one area not to be neglected. See these suggestions for increasing your intake of vitamins and health-giving nutrients to your arsenal against cancer.

Juicing – which offers a number of healthy and tasty recipes to improve your health.

Veggies for Breakfast – a “recipe” to assist my immune system that I have personally followed for nearly fourteen years.

If you are considering any so-called “cures” for cancer, please first investigate it well. For helpful reading on the topic of “quack” cures, see articles relating to cancer at the Quackwatch website. 


Not All Coping Strategies are Healthy

When those with cancer suffer from anxiety, they often engage in practices that fuel their anxiety even more.
They may have a temporary cathartic effect, but when that wears off, the person is left worse than ever.


Some examples of this:

  • Substance abuse – smoking, drinking, drugs, over-eating . . . 
  • Disinvolvement – refusing to see friends or get involved in conversations 
  • Behavioural disengagement – avoiding things they used to enjoy
  • Denial – trying to ignore issues that need to be attended to

Also, anxiety can be stoked up by:

  • Watching a horror movie on television
  • Reading a nail-biting thriller 
  • Getting involved in dangerous activities, such as reckless driving
  • Playing songs with negative messages

Do any of these ring a bell with you? There’s more to Rising and Soaring over the cancer valley than surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. You have to play your bit. Take care of your body. Build up a positive mind-set. Do all you can to keep yourself calm at all times. These will help you cope with the battle of cancer.



The Only Ones Who Understand

SandalThe well-worn phrase, “You can’t understand someone until you’ve walked in their shoes” (paraphrase!) is true. People who have not had cancer cannot, with the best will in the world, understand what it’s like. They can sympathise, listen, try to understand, but they haven’t been there.

I had a great oncologist. He was brave, stepped out of the box, showed love, encouraged, he did it all. EXCEPT – he did me one great disservice. He discouraged me from joining a cancer support group.

It is important that you try to talk to othes who have “been there, done that” and know what it’s like. If you can, find a support group, where folk will share their various experiences and brainstorm ideas that may help issues you face. Look for additional insight into what your treatment will be like, and how others have handled the side-effects you face.

If someone is dug out of the rubble following an earthquake, people don’t say, “He’s hoping to be a survivor!” They rejoice that he IS a survivor. 

You are not hoping to be a survivor my friend. You ARE a survivor. Now get out there and share with other survivors. The more you learn, the better you’ll handle your situation. And the more you share, the more you’ll help others.

Try doing a search on the Internet or on FaceBook for a group of survivors that will come alongside you. Even an online group is of great benefit. I only wish I’d had that available to me during the time I was going through treatment.

Laughter . . .

Oh yes, the humourists have it right. Laughter IS good for you.


    • increases your intake of oxygen-rich air
    • speeds up your heart
    • causes you to take deep breaths, so stimulates your lungs
    • uses many muscles – ever laughed until your tummy hurt?
    • increases the endorphins that are released from your brain – and that are responsible for the “feel good” after effect of a good laugh.
    • soothes tension 
    • boosts your immune system
    • relieves pain

So how do you get more of it? Different people are amused by different things. What works for me might not work for you. Here are some suggestions:

    • Try reading amusing books
    • Paging through comic books
    • Listen to jokes on tapes or on the Internet (better set your PG ratings as high as you need)
    • Invite over friends that make you laugh
    • Play silly word games with your friends
    • Tell your friend something silly that you did, and laugh at yourself while you talk
    • Look for something funny in a serious situation or story
    • Tell a really bad joke to a friend and get her to tell you one back. Keep swapping jokes, making an effort not to smile
    • Play with kids and get caught up in their joyful spirit
    • Play with a puppy or kitten
    • Dress seriously, and put on crazy shoes, like funky sneakers or fluffy slippers, and go to town. Observe people’s expressions and try to keep a straight face
    • You get the picture. Make an effort. Some people are naturally giggly. I suspect they won’t read this article. If you need to work on your laughter skills . . . WORK ON YOUR LAUGHTER SKILLS. It really is an excellent medicine.
    • Need a bit of help? Click on this link and see if it cheers up up even a little bit!




Rest Can Be Fun

There will be times when you don’t feel up to being physically active, or when you need to spend a few days in bed. You still need to keep yourself active. The best way to do this is often to be creative.

  • Add notes to your journal. (You DO journal, don’t you?) 
  • Write a story. You don’t need to be a published author to make up a story about one of the characters you’ve seen that day.
  • Try your hand at poetry.
  • Make a card for someone.
  • Do a crossword, or a jigsaw.

Any productive exercise, even done in bed, will help to keep your spirits up, and keep your mind active.

Another way of passing time in a valuable way is to make use of your cellphone (mobile). Most of them have games that you can download. Get games like Sudoku or some of the many word games available. You can lie in comfort and challenge your mobile without having to entertain or get out of bed! But you’re still exercising your brain. It is surprisingly addictive, and one game will probably not be enough. See if you can beat your previous score! 

Want a Drink?

Glass of waterWater, water everywhere – so get on and drink plenty!

The treatment that you’re on is likely to be pretty toxic and your liver especially can be damaged in the process. So see to it that you drink plenty water to flush out the toxins. 

Discuss the amount with your oncologist or dietician. A general recommendation is eight glasses a day, but that depends on a number of things:

  • Your gender
  • Your activity level
  • Your medication
  • The weather
  • Your environment
  • Other drinks – include these in your quota except for coffee and other high-caffeine drinks.

Coffee acts as a diuretic. So for every cup of coffee you drink, you need to add another cup of water to your day’s quota. 

So go on, wash those poisons out of your system!


Strategize to Get Well

Friends 3Apart from surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, and all the other yucky ways of fighting cancer, you need to do your bit too. You need to take care of what health you still have.

Physical Health: 

  • Take care of your body.
  • Stay as active as possible.
  • If you’re up to it, take regular walks. Even short walks to the gate and back will help to build up your strength.

Mental Health:

  • Decide right now – today – that cancer
     is not going to win.
  • Do all you can to enjoy your life. When I first came home from hospital, with one arm in a sling and confined to bed, my son brought my desktop computer to my bedside and installed an adventure game. I had never played a game on a computer until that day, but it turned out to be fun — and most importantly, it kept my mind active.
  • Exercise your mind. Play Sudoka, do crosswords, challenge members of the family to Scrabble – or if you’re alone, play against yourself. (That’s right – two racks of letters. No cheating now!)