Cancer has become a term just as mainstream as “allergies” or “iPhone”—we hear it everyday. So much so, that we’ve actually become jaded by it. BUT what if we REALLY knew what was causing it? Could we reverse it? It all starts with food…and sugar.
In 2016, there will be an estimated 1,685,210 new cancer cases diagnosed and 595,690 cancer deaths in the US. Additionally, approximately 40% of all total cancer patients will die from their disease.
We even hear these stats and think: “Wow. That’s a lot…big numbers…Now what’s the latest on my Instagram feed?”
After all, “everything” causes cancer nowadays:
- The sun…and sunscreen
- Microwaves and high-heat cooking
- Household cleaning supplies
- Plastic water-bottles and Tupperware
- Gas and exhaust fumes
- Smoking and second-hand smoke
- Cell phones
- Additives and artificial sweeteners (approximately 10,000 are ‘approved’ by the FDA—food colorings, aspartame, MSG, etc.)
- Soy milk
- Nitrates in deli meats
And with all this information we are bombarded with, it seems like, unless we were to live in a bubble, we may as well “just live life up”—cancer risks and all.
In fact, it’s not until we are personally affected or touched—perhaps by a loved one, a family member, a friend, a colleague—that it “hits” us: Cancer is REAL.
Recently, two people I know, within my wn sphere, have been diagnosed with cancer—and it sucks. It sucks to watch them hurt, and it sucks because they did not ask for it.
For one: a child, battling leukemia.
The other: A young 20-something, soon-to-be-married, life-loving young man struck with colorectal cancer.
They didn’t ask for this—no one does.
But what can they do about it?
And what can YOU do about it?
Getting to the Root:
Cancer is a disease that starts long before it presents itself on a routine medical screening or biopsy.
Since cancer cells double in rate as they grow and evolve…initially, those billions of cancer cells in the body started as…ONE….
For instance, Steve Jobs died of pancreatic cancer at age 56.
However, before his body eventually wore out from fighting the destructive disease, those cancer cells had a root—some time in his mid-20’s.
In other words: The food we consume, the toxins we come in contact with, and the unknown risk factors poising risk to our bodies today…greatly impact our health for tomorrow…(or 5-30+ years from now).
This is evidence holds truth particularly for our food.
It (cancer) starts with food.
Like most health conditions (from mental health, to autoimmune conditions, and cancer) food has the power to heal or kill—and the foods we eat (or don’t eat), in link to cancer, are gradually coming under scrutiny as more and more doctors and the population scratch their heads about the worldwide epidemic (“What is causing it?!”).
- Hydrogenated fats and vegetable oils (found in your packaged and processed foods)
- Nitrates and nitrites in your bacon or deli meat
- Diet sodas
- Fake diet foods
- Overly processed frozen and canned foods—these are ALL the food that’s killing our cells.
Sugar is cancer’s favorite food (sugar feeds cancer, and sugar is everywhere in our food supply!).
In fact (ironically), when cancer is often diagnosed, doctors use SUGAR (“18F-fluorodeoxyglucose”, or “18F-FDG”, a radiolabelled glucose molecule) in order to detect the cancer or mass on a PET/CT scan.
A PET/CT study requires the patient to fast before their scan and then receive an injection of this radioactive sugar. They are then asked to sit in the waiting room for about an hour, allowing time for the sugar to circulate in the body and be ‘eaten’ by hungry cancer cells. The patient is then brought back to the PET/CT scanner to be scanned, head to toe. Anywhere the sugar accumulates (i.e. cancerous tumors) lights up like a lightbulb on the scan.
This process alone points to the fact that sugar does, indeed, feed cancer, further supporting recent studies beginning to shed light on this little talked about phenomenon.
A new study from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center confirmed that diets high in sugar are a major risk factor for certain types of cancers.
In the study, researchers gave mice fructose (sugar found in fruit) and sucrose (sugar in table sugar) in amounts similar to what someone who follows a Western diet would consume.
They studied mice that were genetically modified for breast cancer research and then placed them into four different groups. Each group was fed a different diet with various amounts of sugar until the mice were about 6 months old.
After six months, results revealed that a diet consisting of sugar levels similar to the typical Western diet caused an increase in tumor growth as well as the spread of lung cancer. Among the mice on a sucrose-enriched diet, 50 to 58 percent had developed mammary tumors, while only 30 percent of the mice on a non-sugar starch-based diet had developed measurable tumors.
Several other research studies support the link between diet and cancer:
- A broad study conducted in 21 countries in Europe, North America and Asia concluded that sugar intake is a strong risk factor contributing to higher breast cancer rates, particularly in older women.
- Another, four-year study at the National Institute of Public Health and Environmental Protection in the Netherlands compared 111 biliary tract cancer patients with 480 healthy controls. Sugar intake was associated with more than double the cancer risk.
- Sugar ingestion seriously contributes to obesity, a known cause of cancer. Obesity also negatively affects survival. More than 100,000 cases of cancer each year are caused by excess body fat, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research.
Hidden sugar in food.
Understanding the role the foods you eat (and don’t) eat is a huge piece to the cancer puzzle—for both prevention (and treatment) of the disease.
Unfortunately, the patient often has to be their own advocate.
Most conventionally trained medical doctors receive very little (if any) nutritional education in med school or residency. Thus, it’s not shocking that the only refreshments available to patients in most oncology clinics are chips, crackers, surgery drinks and juices. To make matters worse, the ‘nutritional’ supplements recommended most often for cancer patients (Ensure, Boost) are loaded with sugar as well.
Of course, there are always exceptions and arguments to any rule or standard:
“But, I don’t eat sugar!”
“But, sure I used to eat processed foods and junk, but not anymore!”
“But how about cancers like skin cancer…or lung cancer…or even brain cancer—don’t other things like the sun, or smoke, or cell phones cause those things?!”
Yes, of course, there are a slew of ‘risk factors’, posing threat to the body and setting us all up to be pre-disposed to cancer.
HOWEVER…It still starts with food…moreover, it starts with your nutrition.
Are you getting the MOST out of your nutrition?!
I am talking about gut-health here people.
You see, if your gut is NOT healthy (i.e. leaky gut; constipation, bloating or abdominal discomfort; inflammation or irritation by ‘gut irritating foods’ like grains, artificial sweeteners, pesticides in our produce, hormones in our meats, processed dairy, fake ‘healthy’ foods’; etc.)…then your cells are NOT going to be healthy.
Because they aren’t getting the most of your nutrients from the foods you’ve been eating and you have poor absorption and digestion of those food.s
And, when your cells are not healthy and strong, due to poor uptake of nutrients from damaged or impaired gut health, then they become more susceptible to disease—like cancer.
Even if you (and I) eat healthier now…chances are (if you are an American) you grew up on mainstream grocery store man-made products:
- Hot Pockets,
- Frosted Flakes,
- Ritz peanut butter crackers,
- Chef Boy R Dee,
- Oscar Meyer hot dogs and bologna,
- Iron Kids bread,
- Stouffer’s lasagna,
- Chewy granola bars,
- Oreo cookies,
- Cheap 99-cent grocery store eggs,
- Bagels and cream cheese,
- Yoplait yogurt,
- Tropicana orange juice,
- Wheat thins and string cheese,
- Kashi Crunch cereal in skim milk
- Skippy peanut butter and Smucker’s grape jelly,
- Conventional GMO produce,
- Perdue Farms and Tyson chicken,
- McDonald’s Happy Meals,
- Baked Lays and Subway sandwiches,
- Velveeta cheese dips and Tostinos tortilla chips,
- Orville Popcorn,
- Luna Bars,
- …You name it!
And chances are, if the Standard American Diet was part of your diet at any time, your gut flora has been threatened at some point or another in your life—putting us ALL at risk for less-than-healthier cells.
Again, while we do NOT live in bubbles, if we continue to live with less-than-optimal gut health, then, yes, our cells and bodies are MORE at risk for all sorts of disease and lowered immunity (From cancer to allergies, and everything in between).
So What Can You Do About It?
A therapeutic nutritionally-dense diet, coupled with a targeted gut-healing approach, naturally reawakens your body’s magnificent ability to heal itself – with no damaging side effects.
Layman’s terms? A healthy diet serves as your steel armor for warding off disease!
You’ve probably heard a story a time or two from someone’s “miraculous” healing journey from eating real food, or juicing all their fruits and vegetables. These claims aren’t sensationalism or ‘all hype’—they are the real deal.
For instance, one of my nutrition therapy classmates, when I was going through school, was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer.
However, he refused to give in to the diagnosis, and instead of sitting by and settling with his diagnosis, he chose to live…through real food.
He began drinking tons and tons and tons of veggies, along with some fruit, in the form of homemade juices…and today, is a living breathing testimony to being cancer free.
“Cancer-free” REALLY IS possible.
As of late, much of my research in the role of the dietary protocols for “starving cancer” have continued to point and direct to a ketogenic diet approach (i.e. low, low sugar in the form of carbohydrates—particularly starchy carbohydrates and standard sugar).
What does a ketogenic approach even look like?!
- A higher (healthy) fat diet—often times 60%
- Moderate protein intake
- Low carbohydrate (all carbs come from fibrous, low-glycemic veggies—particularly leafy greens)
- And plenty of water
Several years ago, Time (2007) ran an article revealing the 80+ years of history in the ketogenic-diet theory as helping prevent, and stop, cancer, reporting:
The theory is simple: If most aggressive cancers rely on the fermentation of sugar for growing and dividing, then take away the sugar and they should stop spreading…
What sounds like yet another version of the Atkins craze is actually based on scientific evidence that dates back more than 80 years. In 1924, the German Nobel laureate Otto Warburg first published his observations of a common feature he saw in fast-growing tumors: unlike healthy cells, which generate energy by metabolizing sugar in their mitochondria, cancer cells appeared to fuel themselves exclusively through glycolysis, a less-efficient means of creating energy through the fermentation of sugar in the cytoplasm. Warburg believed that this metabolic switch was the primary cause of cancer, a theory that he strove, unsuccessfully, to establish until his death in 1970.
Other research includes:
- One study finding that a ketogenic diet is a positive ‘adjunct’ therapy to chemo and radiation treatment, enhancing cancer therapeutic responses
- After cancer victims experienced increased quality of life following a ketogenic diet for 6-weeks during cancer treatment, researchers concluded that a ketogenic diet is suitable for even advanced cancer patients. It has no severe side effects and might improve aspects of quality of life and blood parameters in some patients with advanced metastatic tumors.
- And Dr. Mercola has written up an extensive, insightful overview of ketogenic diets and cancer here.
On the flip side, there are also proponents of more juice-based and veggie/fruit based protocols—some of which ALSO seem to have lots of success and benefits.
The Gerson therapy protocol for instance prescribes unlimited veggies, fresh fruit and some starches, like potatoes, rice and rye and oats.
Each day adherents to the diet:
- Drink 20 pounds (about 9 kilos) of crushed fruit and vegetables (one glass of juice hourly, 13 times each day)
- Have 3 or 4 coffee enemas and perhaps also castor oil enemas
- Take potassium and other supplements, including vitamin B12, pancreatic enzymes and thyroid supplements
See the full food list here.
Proponents of the Gerson approach attest to the illness altering results, such as:
- In one study, patients with localized melanoma, 100 percent survived for five years with the Gerson therapy treatments, compared to only 79 percent of patients who received more traditional treatments.
- The Beautiful Truth is a documentary, highlighting the cancer-killing treatment via veggies and fruits
- And Cancer.gov highlights Gerson therapy as a positive adjunct therapy as well to cancer
These are not the ONLY approaches out there, claiming that diet CAN and does play a crucial role in cancer treatment.
More than likely, the MAIN reason both ketogenic diets and Gerson seem to benefit cancer patients is two-fold:
Patients are eating more real and QUALITY food
Patients’ gut health is improved through eating real, quality food and taking their health seriously
The even BIGGER bottom line?
Cancer healing starts in your gut.
Get your gut healthy.
Cut the sugar.
Eat real food from quality sources.
Stomp out cancer.
How do you heal your gut?!
Here are 6 steps you can take today to promoting a healthier gut flora:
- Take a probiotic (like this one) and/or eat probiotic-rich foods daily (sauerkraut, kombucha);
- Drink PLENTY of water each day (imperative for digestion)—at least half your bodyweight in ounces; Start each day off with a glass of lemon water (I like mine warm). In addition, Lemon Ginger/Ginger tea at nighttime, before bed can also do wonders for your digestive system!
- Chew your food—thoroughly. Don’t graze and swallow. Gulp. Or shove food in your face. Eat in a calm state.
- Eliminate trigger foods: Gluten, artificial sweeteners grains, dairy, sugar, and legumes for at least 30 days. At the end of 30 days, you can begin to experiment with reincorporating some properly prepared (pre-soaked) grains, full fat organic dairy and pre-soaked beans into your diet.
- Consume digestive enzymes with each meal. A few reliable brands include: Thorne and Transformation Enzymes.
- Know your body. Book a nutrition therapy evaluation to discover what parts of your digestive system and process may need some love or support (be it your stomach, small intestines, liver/gallbladder, large intestines and more) every BODY is different. Get to know yours.