5 Simple Diet Changes that Fight Cancer

27 04 2009

“Life is short, eat desert first!” I love this advice, but I’d never recommend it to someone who is battling cancer such as myself.

“Sugar feeds cancer.” I also hear this way too often, and this is not the clearest advice either.

So how should you eat to fight cancer? My first suggestion is ask your doctor. He or she can refer you to a professional nutritionist to review your current meals with you. Make sure you keep a diary of your meals for a few days before you meet with your nutritionist. Your meal diary will help you and your nutritionist figure out what healthy changes you can make and what special requirements you’ll need to make depending on your type of cancer treatment.

Based on a number of sources, I have complied a quick list of changes you should consider in order of importance.  Consult with your nutritionist on integrating these changes into your meals:

Simple Diet Change #1 – Eating a low Omega 6:3 ratio

A diet high in Omega 6 oils creates inflammation in your body, and inflammation feeds cancer.  Turn off the inflammation in your body by eating a lower, more healthy Omega 6:3 ratio.

avoid fried foods – if you are eating out or you’re eating a significant proportion of fried food, then you’re getting huge doses of Omega 6 without any Omega 3 oils.  If you can’t live without fried food, or need to include fried food once a week, make sure you’re frying in Extra Virgin Olive Oil which is considered ‘anti-inflammatory’ and ‘heart healthy’.

cook only with Extra Virgin Olive Oil(EVOO) – throw out all your other cooking oils, except for extra virgin olive oil.  EVOO has a healthy Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratio of 13:1.

add flax seed oil -1 tbs in the morning and one in the evening should be enough to raise the amount of Omega 3 in your diet and push your Omega 6 to 3 ratio even lower.  I’ll add it to yogurt and several types of berries(blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, etc) for breakfast.  I’ll alternate breakfast with 1tbs flax seed oil to 1oz cottage cheese and berries.  In the evening, I’ll add flax seed oil to a salad or salmon.   Flax seed oil has an Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratio of 1:2 which keeps your daily Omega 6:3 ratio low.

Simple Diet Change #2 – Get your RDA of potassium from fresh fruits and raw vegetables

The RDA for potassium is 4700mg (about 5grams).  If you look at the potassium content of a banana, that’s about 420mg per banana — which means you need about 10 per day to satisfy your RDA(recommended daily allowance).  I’m not recommending you eat 10 per day, it just a handy way to think about how much per day your body requires.   The best thing you can do for yourself is eat your full RDA of potassium from the rainbow of fruits and vegetables available to you.  Also, whenever possible, eat your fruits and vegetables raw.  They contain powerful phytonutrients which cooking can destroy.  Phytonutrients from multiple whole food sources will assist your body in fighting cancer.  Some foods like brussel sprouts score very high in cancer fighting, but I couldn’t imagine eating them raw — I’ll gently steaming them.  If you have a good organic choice that’s not cost prohibitive, I’d recommend spending a little extra for organic.

Simple Diet Change #3 – Eat a low Glycemic Index(GI) diet

If you’re eating your 5g of potassium a day via fresh fruits and raw vegetables, then you’re already starting down the road of a low GI diet.  If you’re feeling sleepy after every meal, there’s a good chance you’re eating too much sugar per meal.  Too much sugar causes insulin levels to spike which makes you sleepy.  Spiking your insulin levels all day long creates it’s own inflammation, and cancer feeds off inflammation.  So eating low GI foods though out the day will help level out your blood sugar.  Simple exchanges, such as eating whole wheat pasta over regular white pasta follows the low GI way of eating.

Simple Diet Change #4 – Only eat one meat/milk centered meal per day

Give your body a break from eating meat at every meal.  There has been a major study that shows a link between eating meat and cancer.  Not many people can switch to a vegetarian diet right away, but you can give your body a break by eating only one meat/milk centered meal per day.

Simple Diet Change #5 – Exchange your coffee for organic green tea

If you are a big coffee drinker, then exchange your coffee for green tea.  Green tea has EGCG which is know to block angiogensis, starving cancer of its blood supply.


If you want to be successful at this, try making the simplest changes first.  Cook with extra virgin olive oil only.  Add flax seed oil to your salad at dinner.  Have a basket of fresh fruits to nibble on during the day.  Cut up carrots, broccoli, cauliflower and other fresh vegetables to dip in ranch dressing as a snack.

How can you integrate these five simple diet changes that fight cancer with little to no work at all?


Understanding a Cancer Diagnosis

20 04 2009

If you’ve ever received a cancer diagnosis, I’m sure your first reaction was like mine: you freak out.  You go through the five stages of the Kübler-Ross model.  First denial: “This can’t be happening, not to me.” Then anger: “Why me? It’s not fair!” Next bargaining: “I’ll do anything for a few more years.” Then, grieving*: “What’s the point of anything?” The grieving stage, in my humble opinion, is the most important stage and probably the most misunderstood.  No one wants to see a person suffering from grief.  Family, friends and significant others will want to comfort you — but this stage is about wallowing in your grief.  Feel free to wallow in it all you like, it’s your life that’s at stake here.  Involve a therapist if you need to.  Stay away from anti-depresents if possible.  I’ll wallow in my grief for however long it takes until I finally feel I have morned the loss enough.  Then, I take action; which is the last stage: acceptance.

Your doctor will suggest surgery, radiation or chemotherapy to treat your cancer.  Additionally, you need to take responsibility for your own health which is why it’s important to reach the acceptance stage as soon as you can so you can make those complex decisions.  You’ll need to seek out doctors you trust and understand, because you’ll be partnering with them to resolve your cancer.  Most importantly, you need to understand what cancer is and what changes you need to make to help your cancer treatment be as effective as possible.

I can’t speak more highly of a book than Anticancer: a New Way of Life.  Please purchase this book if you’ve been diagnosed with cancer.  You will learn about cancer’s weaknesses and how to exploit them with basic lifestyle changes.  This blog is dedicated to exploring just what an “anticancer lifestyle” is, starting from simple changes and building on those successes.

* Originally, this stage is called “depression” but I’ve renamed it grieving after experiencing it so many times