Cancer’s Link to Your Diet
C cancer is a systemic disease with various causes. One extremely important way to prevent and/or treat cancer is nutritionally.
The Anti-Cancer Diet
A cancer (or anti-cancer) diet consists of:
- Lowering toxin intake
- Supporting the body’s cleansing and detoxifying processes
- Eating healthy and nutrient-rich foods to support all of your body’s functions
Lowering Toxin Load
At the simplest level, a toxin is something capable of causing disease or damaging tissue when it enters the body. When most people hear the word “toxin”, they think of chemicals like pesticides, heavy metals or other industrial pollutants. But even beneficial nutrients like water, which are necessary to sustain life, are toxic at high doses.
In their book The Perfect Health Diet, Paul & Shou-Ching Jaminet apply the economic principle of declining marginal benefits to toxins:
It implies that the first bit eaten of any toxin has low toxicity. Each additional bit is slightly more toxic than the bit before. At higher doses, the toxicity of each bit continues to increase, so that the toxin is increasingly poisonous.
This is important to understand as we discuss the role of dietary toxins in contributing to modern disease. Most of us won’t get sick from eating a small amount of sugar, cereal grain, soy and industrial seed oil. But if we eat those nutrients (or rather anti-nutrients) in excessive quantities, our risk of developing modern diseases rises significantly.
That’s exactly what’s happening today. These four food toxins – refined cereal grains, industrial seed oils, sugar and processed soy – comprise the bulk of the modern diet. Bread, pastries, muffins, crackers, cookies(biscuits), soda, fruit juice, fast food and other convenience foods are all loaded with these toxins. And when the majority of what most people eat on a daily basis is toxic, it’s not hard to understand why our health is failing.
In order to avoid the chances of a Cancer diagnosis reduce or eliminate the following to halt toxin accumulation and cellular damage in the body, here are some points for you to consider;
Animal Products with Hormones and Antibiotics: Don’t be fooled by “natural” or “free-range” labels: buy pasture-fed, locally raised animal products that are hormone and antibiotic-free, however avoid meats such as Pork and for fish source those which are wild as opposed to farmed.
Artificial Sweeteners: Artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, saccharine and sucralose generate damaging free radicals in the body. High fructose corn syrup, although manufacturers refer to it as a “natural” sweetener, is so highly processed that it can be said to be artificial and contributes to yeast growth in the body among other negative health effects.
Cereal Grains: Most animals, including our closest relative (the chimpanzee) aren’t adapted to eating cereal grains and don’t eat them in large quantities. And humans have only been eating them for the past 10,000 years (a tiny blip of time on the scale of evolution). Why? Because plants like cereal grains are always competing against predators (like us) for survival. Unlike animals, plants can’t run away from us when we decide to eat them. They had to evolve other mechanisms for protecting themselves. These include:
producing toxins that damage the lining of the gut;
producing toxins that bind essential minerals, making them unavailable to the body; and,
producing toxins that inhibit digestion and absorption of other essential nutrients, including protein.
One of these toxic compounds is the protein gluten, which is present in wheat and many of the other most commonly eaten cereal grains. In short, gluten damages the intestine and makes it leaky. And researchers now believe that a leaky gut is one of the major predisposing factors for conditions like obesity, diabetes, celiac and autoimmune diseases. Alternatives to gluten are Amaranth, Buckwheat, Coconut Flour, Cornmeal, Flax, Millet, Quinoa, Sorghum, Spelt and Kanut. Watch the ‘Wheatlessness‘ documentary.
Electromagnetic Waves: Cell phones, TV’s, computer screens, microwaves—even the wiring in our homes and basic appliances emit constant electromagnetic frequencies or EMF’s that disturb the bioelectrical functioning of our bodies. Cell phone use has been linked to a host of cancer-promoting processes. Limit your exposure by getting rid of your microwave, as it is your largest source for EMF’s, and making use of headphones with your cell phone.
Food Additives: Nitrates, sulfites, food dyes and coloring and MSG have all been linked to free radical damage in the body. Avoid consuming products that contain unknown and unpronounceable ingredients.
GMO Foods: Genetically modified organisms have now been proven to cause cancer in a 2012 study by French Professor Gilles-Eric Séralini. A court has ruled that Professor Séralini was correct when he concluded that Monsanto’s NK603 corn and Roundup weedkiller, when fed to rats, caused serious health problems when they developed liver and kidney disease and mammary tumours.
Health and Beauty Products: The things we put in our mouths and use on our skin are often loaded with potent carcinogens. Visit the Environmental Working Group’s SkinDeep product look-up to determine the toxins in your favorite products. A 2002 study found that parabens stimulate the growth of estrogen sensitive breast cancer cells and in a 2012 study, they found parabens in breast cancer tumors from 158 of 160 women studied. (see below)
Household Cleaners: Indoor environments are often concentrated sources of pollution. Lower your toxin load by switching to natural cleaners or making your own.
Industrial seed oils: unnatural and unfit for human consumption: Industrial seed oils (corn, cottonseed, soybean, safflower, sunflower, etc.) have not been a part of the human diet up until relatively recently, when misguided groups like the AHA and the ADA started promoting them as “heart-healthy” alternatives to saturated fat. Throughout 4-5 million years of hominid evolution, diets were abundant in seafood and other sources of omega-3 long chain fatty acids (EPA & DHA), but relatively low in omega-6 seed oils.
Anthropological research suggests that our hunter-gatherer ancestors consumed omega-6 and omega-3 fats in a ratio of roughly 1:1. Intakes are associated with an increase in all inflammatory diseases – which is to say virtually all diseases. The list includes (but isn’t limited to):
- cardiovascular disease
- type 2 diabetesc
- metabolic syndrome
- irritable bowel syndrome & inflammatory bowel disease
- macular degeneration
- rheumatoid arthritis
- psychiatric disorders
- cardiovascular disease
- autoimmune diseases
Pharmaceutical Drugs/Medicines: All medications pass through and burden the liver and are known to damage the lining of the intestine causing leaky gut. Acetaminophen is rapidly overtaking alcohol as the number one cause of liver disease. Work with your physician to lessen the amount of medications you are taking and look for herbal alternatives.
Pasteurised Products: It’s not just milk. Yogurts, fruit juices, and many of the foods in our grocery stores have been treated with a high heat process that destroys nutrients and generates free radicals in the body. Pasteurisation is used as a substitute for proper sanitation and to unnaturally prolong the shelf life of foods. Buy local Raw Milk from grass-fed cows and make your own yogurt.
Pesticides and Herbicides: Industrial farming practices have loaded our produce, air, water, soil and animals at the bottom of the food chain with noxious chemicals. Buy organic and locally to reduce your intake of these poisons.
Plastics: Compounds in plastic containers, the lining of metal cans and paperboard containers and plastic wrap all leach compounds that disrupt the neuroendocrine system and estrogen dominance, another possible cause of cancer.
Processed and Refined Foods: Our bodies make best use of food in its natural state. The more processes and alterations that a food goes through, the more unnatural and harmful it becomes. Refined sugar and flour, boxed pastas and frozen dinners, powdered cheese and heat-treated oils—these are at the heart of a whole host of diseases and disorders.
Soy: another toxin promoted as a health food
Like cereal grains, soy is another toxin often promoted as a health food. It’s now ubiquitous in the modern diet, present in just about every packaged and processed food in the form of soy protein isolate, soy flour, soy lecithin and soybean oil.
For this reason, most people are unaware of how much soy they consume. You don’t have to be a tofu-loving hippie to eat a lot of soy. In fact, the average American – who is most definitely not a tofu-loving hippie – gets up to 9% of total calories from soybean oil alone.
How does soy impact our health? The following is just a partial list:
- Soy contains trypsin inhibitors that inhibit protein digestion and affect pancreatic function;
- Soy contains phytic acid, which reduces absorption of minerals like calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and zinc;
- Soy increases our requirement for vitamin D, which 50% of American are already deficient in;
- Soy phytoestrogens disrupt endocrine function and have the potential to cause infertility and to promote breast cancer in adult women.
- Vitamin B12 analogs in soy are not absorbed and actually increase the body’s requirement for B12;
- Processing of soy protein results in the formation of toxic lysinoalanine and highly carcinogenic nitrosamines;
- Free glutamic acid or MSG, a potent neurotoxin, is formed during soy food processing and additional amounts are added to many soy foods to mask soy’s unpleasant taste; and,
- Soy can stimulate the growth of estrogen-dependent tumors and cause thyroid problems, especially in women.
Subsidised agricultural products: Wheat, soy and corn products are highly subsidised by the US government and highly processed and refined. Food allergies to these substances are subsequently on the rise and can contribute to leaky gut syndrome and improper nutrient absorption. These foods are often loaded with pesticides, herbicides and heavy metals. More and more, the seeds from which they are grown are genetically engineered. It is best to avoid grains and processed soy products.
Sugar: the sweetest way to wreck your health
About 20 years ago, Nancy Appleton, PhD, began researching all of the ways in which sugar destroys our health. Over the years the list has continuously expanded, and now includes 141 points. Here’s just a small sampling (the entire list can be found on her blog).
- Sugar feeds cancer cells and has been connected with the development of cancer of the breast, ovaries, prostate, rectum, pancreas, lung, gallbladder and stomach.
- Sugar can increase fasting levels of glucose and can cause reactive hypoglycemia.
- Sugar can cause many problems with the gastrointestinal tract, including an acidic digestive tract, indigestion, malabsorption in patients with functional bowel disease, increased risk of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
- Sugar can interfere with your absorption of protein.
- Sugar can cause food allergies.
- Sugar contributes to obesity.
But not all sugar is created alike. White table sugar (sucrose) is composed of two sugars: glucose and fructose. Glucose is an important nutrient in our bodies and is healthy, as long as it’s consumed in moderation. Fructose is a different story.
Fructose is found primarily in fruits and vegetables, and sweeteners like sugar and high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). A recent USDA report found that the average American eats 152 pounds of sugar each year, including almost 64 pounds of HFCS.
Unlike glucose, which is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream and taken up by the cells, fructose is shunted directly to the liver where it is converted to fat. Excess fructose consumption causes a condition called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), which is directly linked to both diabetes and obesity.
A 2009 study showed that shifting 25% of dietary calories from glucose to fructose caused a 4-fold increase in abdominal fat. Abdominal fat is an independent predictor of insulin sensitivity, impaired glucose tolerance, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high triglycerides and several other metabolic diseases.
Water: Our water contains hundreds of unregulated substances from pesticides and heavy metals to hormones and other pollutants, some come from pesticides which run off fields and into our rivers. Bottled water is even less regulated. At least Buy a quality Jug filter to remove chlorine, fluoride and other pollutants from the water you drink and cook with. Even better would be a counter-top water distiller which removes everything.
Cleansing and Detoxification
Even if you eat healthy foods regularly, environmental toxins bombard you at all turns. The organs of detoxification and elimination–the skin, respiratory system, kidney, liver and digestive tract–often get overburdened and re-circulate toxins in the bloodstream.
Practicing a cleanse or detox every few months can help these organs “catch up” and dispose of toxins stored in cells and tissue.
Healthy Food Choices
Many cancer diets advise the use of supplements and these can be useful especially should you be suffering from a cancer overgrowth. Although supplements can be very helpful, in general, the best source of nutrients and antioxidants is through whole foods. When ingredients are isolated from their natural complexes, we lose many mysterious benefits and concentrate ingredients in unnatural ways.
Two popular cancer diets are those of Dr. Robert Young and Dr. Johanna Budwig.
Dr. Young’s research concerns our pH: the acid/alkaline balance in our bodies. Our Western diet and lifestyle, along with the many pollutants and toxins that we encounter every day disturb our pH levels, contributing to acidosis and the development of disease.
Dr. Young recommends drinking alkaline water which you can create by adding lemon or lime juice and/or a few drops of hydrogen peroxide.
Young also promotes a diet consisting of 80% raw foods, especially green vegetables. Although fiber is an important part of digestion, elimination, detoxification and a source of probiotic support—too much fiber can stress a weakened or hyper-reactive immune system. Juicing, steaming and lightly cooking raw foods, using green powders and cutting back on or eliminating grains can ease digestion and make many nutrients more readily available.
Johanna Budwig created her anticancer diet in 1951. A German biochemist, Budwig found that cancer patients were deficient in phosphatides and lipoproteins. She discovered that replenishing these compounds reduced tumor growth, anemia and many other symptoms of the disease.
The Budwig diet promotes the use of linoleic acid. The combination of cottage cheese and unrefined, cold-pressed oils such as flax seed oil, linseed, sunflower and walnut oils interact to release each other’s beneficial compounds.
Budwig’s diet also promotes the use of carbohydrates containing natural sugars such as dates, figs, apples, pears and grapes. The carotenoids in orange and red fruits and vegetables contain valuable antioxidants and support immune function. Johanna recommends the use of freshly-squeezed juices, teas and steamed whole grains. During this treatment, the doctor prohibits the use of other animal fats, meats, butter and margarine.
This Healing Diet makes use of concepts from each of these doctors’ diets. If you are recovering from cancer or any other disease be sure to print off a copy to hang on your refrigerator and/or take to the store with you.
Your best bet, to combat cancer and a host of other conditions, is to eat real food and eat low on the food chain.
Other foods and supplements that have proven useful in combating cancer include:
Alpha-linolenic acid (Omega-3 fatty acid): Omega-3 fatty acids are getting so much attention because the Western diet is so unbalanced with an overabundance of omega-6’s. Omega-3’s have a host of health benefits and research is still underway to validate their benefits in combating cancer.
Beta-carotene: The orange-red plant compounds found in fruits and vegetables are the precursors to Vitamin A, a potent antioxidant that is proving helpful to those with breast and ovarian cancer.
Beta Glucans: Beta 1, 3-D Glucan is an intensely purified, biologically active complex of beta glucans. Beta 1, 3-D Glucan is readily taken up and converted in the body into a form which is specific to a site on all immune cells that have a CR3 receptor, e.g. macrophages, neutrophils, eosinophils, monocytes, and NK cells. These immune cells make up a large part of the immune system’s main defense mechanism.
Cruciferous Vegetables: Broccoli sprouts, cabbage and kale are all members of the Brassica or Cruciferous family. Research has found that these vegetables are a potent source of antioxidants and studies find them to be powerful weapons against bladder, breast, colon, prostrate, stomach and rectal cancers.
Coriolus Mushrooms: These mushrooms have specific polysaccharides that boost the immune system, reduce tumor growth and combat cancer.
Folic Acid: Folic acid is crucial to DNA production and has been found to be effective against breast, colorectal and pancreatic cancers.
Fasting: Fasting at least once a week on a liquid intake of water and green juices or carrot and ginger, this allows the body to rest and to heal.
Garlic: Allium vegetables such as garlic, onions and chives have antibacterial properties, DNA-defense and cancer-halting processes that seem to work against breast, colon, esophageal, rectal and stomach cancers.
Green Tea: The polyphenols in green tea are powerful antioxidants that have been found to destroy leukemic cells in lab cultures. They seem to recognise and halt the proliferation of abnormal cells. It is best to avoid Green tea if you have an auto-immune condition.
Melatonin: Melatonin is a hormone that helps to regulate our sleep and waking cycles. This hormone’s levels are closely linked to immune system function. Getting at least 8 hours of sleep and reducing stress will boost your melatonin levels.
Magnesium: Magnesium is one of the most crucial nutrients in our diet, and many people are deficient. It protects against nearly every modern disease, and can be therapeutic for difficult to treat inflammatory conditions such as fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, arthritis, etc. Seaweed and various nuts and seeds are high in magnesium, but occasionally supplementation may be useful. We suggest using a highly-absorbable form such as magnesium malinate which is especially useful with pain, inflammation and energy.
Olive Oil: Olive oil contains phytonutrients that seem to reduce inflammation in the body. It may reduce the risk of breast and colorectal cancers.
Oolong Tea: Oolong contains theophyllines and theobromines (also in green tea) that reduce the risk of many cancers.
Pyridoxine (Vitamin B6): This vitamin has been found to reduce the incidence of lung cancer and boost immune system function.
Probiotics: Are essential to be consumed daily. They can be home-made yogurt, cultured vegetables, kefir, kombucha or high dose probiotic capsules with at least 8 strains and preferable a couple of soil based organisms too such as Bifido. We provide a 14 strain version called MAFBIO14
Vitamin A: Vitamin A is necessary for many bodily functions, especially the immune system. It has proven to be effective in battling breast cancer and head and neck tumors. Vitamin A may prove useful in battling cervical, colorectal, esophageal, ovarian, pancreatic and stomach cancers.
Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid): Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant the aids the immune system. It has proven effective (in whole food form—not supplements) against bladder, breast and mouth cancers.
Vitamin K2: has recently been revealed as an important nutrient in protecting against heart disease. It does this by telling the body to put calcium in the bones and teeth where it belongs, and not in the arteries and soft tissue. Vitamin K2 is found in the fat of grass-fed animals and certain fermented foods like natto and hard cheese. I recognize that not everyone eats these foods for various reasons, so if someone has heart disease or is at risk for it I may recommend either Cod Liver / Butter Oil, and/or an MK-4 supplement. For more on vitamin K, see Vitamin K2: The Missing Nutrient.
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