I am often asked – can you cure cancer with a healthy diet? While cure is a strong word, what one chooses to eat can have profound effects on health. Consulting a naturopathic doctor about a cancer-fighting diet is where you will receive the most knowledgeable information. Common topics addressed are:
- what types of protein are the best for cancer?
- does sugar feed cancer, and how much carbohydrate should I eat?
- what does the medical evidence suggest about meat and dairy consumption?
- why are whole grains and fats important for cancer risk reduction?
- what quantity of fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk of cancer recurrence?
- what is therapeutic fasting, and how can it reduce side effects of chemotherapy?
- how can I safely lose weight (lost fat, preserve muscle) to reduce my risk of recurrence?
- what is the ketogenic diet, and how can this diet help me fight cancer?
With respect to cancer, diet alters the process of carcinogenesis (cancer growth) through a variety of pathways, all the way down to our genes. Food influences our immune system, as well as growth factors, such as insulin, that can contribute to cancer growth and spread. Our food also influences our systems of anti-oxidation and anti-inflammation. Food can also influence genes that can signal apoptosis (cancer cell death).
Food as Medicine
Modern research has revealed hundreds of bioactive constituents in food that are involved in cancer prevention. For example:
Colorful foods: Beets, spinach, carrots, tomatoes and peppers contain bioflavonoids and carotenoids, that are powerful antioxidants.
Green leafy vegetables: Broccoli, cauliflower, kale, brussel sprouts and cabbage contain two powerful antioxidants, lutein and zeaxanthin. They also contain indole-3-carbinol that can help fight breast cancer by converting harmful estrogens to more protective ones.
Mushrooms: Some varietals that are available in the grocery store that you should definitely pick up are shiitake and maitake. These contain lentinan and beta-glucans, which help build immunity and help to inhibit cancer growth.
Berries: Raspberries, cherries, blueberries and blackberries contain ellagic acid and anthocyanidans that help protect against cancer.
Green tea: contains catechins that have anti-cancer properties.
Flax: contains lignans, which has anti-oxidant properties and suppresses cancerous changes.
A Healthy Diet Matters
What is important to understand is that implementing a healthy diet as a measure to reduce your risk of developing cancer, and to prevent recurrence, depends on consistent and sufficient exposure. This takes dedication, and more importantly, it takes knowledge. Knowledge about the biological content of food, medicinal cooking (a term used to describe a way of food preparation that does not destroy the biologically active ingredients in food), and optimal absorption of food.
Implementing a cancer-fighting diet does not have to be complicated. Many individuals with cancer want to know what they should eat, and receive very contradictory information. It is not uncommon to be very stressed out about it. “Should I eat meat?” “Should I drink coffee?” “Does sugar cause cancer?” These are all very common questions, and often can lead to people barely consuming enough calories for fear they will eat something they should not. I truly believe that the stress over eating is likely worse for a cancer patient than the actual food they eat!
Come talk to me today to get started on your individualized dietary prescription!