Role of Functional Foods in Integrative Oncology

Written by Nancy

Food and nutrition are directly linked with each other, but functional foods go beyond basic nutrition. Functional foods affect your health in a number of positive ways, to help with disease prevention, muscle formation and much else.

Broccoli is a functional food along with mushrooms, herbs and other vegetables. The  incorporation of functional foods in the diet can help increase health-promoting micro-nutrients, boost immunity and preserve health in the long-term.

Current Focus of Research

Functional foods have come to the forefront of scholarly and clinical research. In Taiwan, for instance, the functional food market mushroomed to $1.78 billion in 2005; and the U.S. Department of Health has also begun acknowledging its importance.

The Institute of Food Technologists classifies functional foods as those foods which serve purposes beyond meeting basic nutritional requirements. They may have provide higher amounts of nutrients, or they may contain substances that confer benefits beyond the basic support of growth, health, and survival. According to the IFT, functional foods can reduce the threat of developing chronic illnesses and promote greater health and wellness.

Nutritionists have become increasingly interesting in studying functional foods. The Journal of Functional Foods regularly publishes research in the field, whereas the role of these in battling cancer is being studied in detail.

Integrative Oncology and Functional Foods


Although you can’t cure cancer through functional foods, it may be possible to prevent cancer with the addition of functional foods to your dietary regimens. Research has identified many components of foods that can have significant effects on the development of cancer by affecting gene expression of cancer cells, improving immune function to fight cancer cells, reducing the generation of DNA-damaging free radicals, and more.

Elements such as beta carotene, lycopene, probiotics, Omega-3 fatty acids, and genistein, found in vegetables, fruit, fish, cultured foods, and beans, have anti –metastatic, anti-proliferative and other anti-cancer properties. Traditional herbs, used for cooking or as medicine, have many healthful properties including reducing inflammation and improving immune function. Together, these foods may help reduce the risk of fatal illnesses like cancer.

Get in Touch with an Integrative Doctor who treats oncology patients

To have a better understanding of what changes you need to make in your diet and lifestyle, get in touch with Dr. Jeremy Fischer. You can also visit him at Vitality Integrative Medicine, his clinic in Sherman Oaks, for a customized treatment plan.

About the author



I’m Nancy and no, I didn’t always look like I do in that picture on the right. My foray into health and fitness began as a brace-faced, 16 year-old who was too afraid to wear a two-piece at the beach because I felt my body paled in comparison to my much more toned friends.

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