Markian Babij, ND, FABNO
Cancer - the word itself has become something to be feared! The extreme variability of cancer has led to a highly evolved system of medicine that we know as oncology. Oncologists utilize a complex system of medicine to treat cancers. In naturopathic oncology, we strive to improve immunity, reduce side effects associated with treatment and incorporate dietary and lifestyle changes.
If there is one aspect in cancer treatment that remains simple, it is our diet. With the advent of industry has come the industrialization of our food. A single glucose molecule is much easier to come by these days and our biology is relatively static compared to the social environment in which we live. Does it make sense that poor food choices are often cheaper, easier, and more accessible? Revenue has become more important than providing well-rounded nourishment for consumers. Human evolution and adaptation processes are not likely following this rule. As a result, chronic diseases that are associated with cancer development have increased.
Stress, poor diet, and chemical exposures are just a few "carcinogens" that can promote potential cancer growth. Total control of all environmental exposures is difficult; however, intelligent dietary intake is within our reach. Keep it simple - if it has chemicals and it's not beneficial nutritionally then don't eat it for the majority of the time. Start by reading the labels! With so many "food products" available, we must start learning more about what is actually in our food and how it can affect our health.
The difficulty lies within making the right choices at the grocery store. The best food choices are simple: vegetables at least 4-6 servings
daily (one serving is ½ cup), fruits 1-2 servings daily, whole grains, legumes, and plenty of water. Consider a reduction of animal fats and
include varied food choices that resemble a rainbow.
Why is animal protein a poor choice? This type of protein often contributes to inflammation, and potential cancer growth. Remember the old saying, "there's always a bigger fish?" Well there is, and it's likely had more time to accumulate toxins. Plant based diets are less likely to have as many chemicals that negatively impact our cell division due to the mere fact that they are lower on the food chain. Nuts and seeds simply develop faster than a cow or a chicken and, therefore, have less contaminant exposure.
People are different, shouldn't their diets be? Specific to cancer prevention, most will benefit by reducing meat, dairy, processed/refined foods and utilizing these foods in a rotational dietary style. Individualizing your diet is best accomplished with diagnostic inquiry. Allergy testing can be a great tool in monitoring specific foods that place additional burden on the immune system. Cancer prevention is about building an immune system that seeks to destroy foreign invaders, and keep cancer development in check rather than spare any additional energy reacting to allergic foods. Consider checking into potential allergenic foods prior to making large dietary changes. Metabolic typing and routine cholesterol checks can also help in understanding how specific foods affect your metabolism and longevity.
Not long ago we humans ate what we could find, and, today, we tend to eat what we like. Implementing a cancer fighting diet is largely about filtering through the various food choices offered. Here are some helpful tips:
Try adding a healthy new food each week and eliminate an unhealthy food.
Sleep is a time for recovery, and immune efforts are optimized when less attention is required elsewhere, such as in the case of digestion processes. * Eat proteins before and after exercise! * Increase the variety of food. This is a great way to discover how new foods impact your specific physiology. Add spices such as peppermint, clove, and cinnamon as these are high in naturally occurring antioxidants. * Watch documentary films such as "Food Matters", "Food Inc", and "Forks over Knives" to inspire a change in how you view your current diet. * See a health care provider who will address individual aspects of diet and lifestyle in creating your long-term strategy.
Finally, give your self a break! Understand that poor dietary habits often take years to change. Begin with the realization that change is