As a physician, I have spoken to many patients that currently have or at one time had cancer. Many have commented on the confusion that exists when it comes to which foods to eat and which to avoid. That is, many physicians and nutrition experts give conflicting advice when it comes to which foods are healthy and which aren’t. The purpose of this article is to help clear up some of this confusion.
But before we do that, lets agree that all healthcare professionals are mere humans that don’t know everything; and some will even give advice in areas where their knowledge isn’t up to par. This doesn’t make them evil people; they may even think they are helping. But when you are getting advice that your life may depend on, it is probably best to make sure science and common sense are involved in the equation.
Discerning your source of information can be difficult. After all, sometimes even those professionals in the cancer industry recommend the wrong foods for people with cancer. Consider the advice coming out of the outpatient setting at the Greenebaum Cancer Center that recommends “kid favorites” like peanut butter and jelly… and “ice cream with bananas, chocolate syrup, caramel and sprinkles” as well as other cancer feeding foods. Personally I’d rather attempt to put out a campfire by dousing it with gasoline. In fair defense of the dietician, the purpose of the diet prescribed wasn’t to help kill cancer, but rather, likely to help maintain weight. However, I suspect that most in the natural health industry would disagree with this approach.
Such advice given by a dietician really assumes that the medical doctors are going to effectively kill cancer with their anti-cancer arsenal of chemotherapy (which is really “chemotoxicity“) and radiation. It relieves the patient of responsibility in the fight against cancer, and for some, this may be the way they choose to go. But for those that want to actively participate in the fight against cancer – whether in conjunction with medicine or completely naturally, there is much more to learn.
Before listening to a healthcare professional’s dietary advice, find out what their level of training and experience is in the care of cancer patients and about the successes and failures of assisting those in the fight against cancer. Would you take an unproven chemotherapy route from an oncologist that hasn’t had success in treating cancer? If not, why should someone with cancer take diet advice from a nutritionist that doesn’t help people with cancer? They may be great at helping people lose weight or improve athletic performance… but aren’t really up on the differences in diet when it comes to helping someone overcome cancer.
Be especially wary of anyone claiming a magic bullet cure. Don’t rely solely on a rare berry fruit juice that comes in a wine bottle, the extract of a root, herb, or a potion that contains anti-cancer “energy”… or twirling your birth stone clockwise at the precise moment the planets align. There may be validity to many anti-cancer alternatives; and it is good to have faith in the choices you are making. But magic bullets aren’t health plans. Consuming a certain vegetable that has anti-cancer properties may be a wise thing to do. But if that is the only change you are willing to make, there is little difference between the vegetable and a drug, and little hope for long term results.
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF YOUR DIET?
One of the biggest areas of confusion that I have seen is when one healthcare professional recommends a healthy diet and another recommends an anti-cancer diet. The one receiving the advice is confused because the two diets can be quite different; let me explain:
If I was recommending a healthy diet for a professional football player, I would probably include animal foods. I might recommend beef from 100% grass fed cows. Grass fed beef is much higher in Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) which has anti-cancer benefits and contributes to lean body mass. But beef also supports growth and healing – which cancer cells might use to grow and strengthen. So it might be very beneficial to the healthy athlete that needs continuous healing and maximum performance; but to a stage IV cancer patient given a few weeks to live, probably contraindicated.
My recommendations to someone with cancer are going to avoid many healthy growth foods and instead focus on cleansing anti-cancer foods. Such a diet may not be the best diet for maximum physical strength and athletic performance, but at the time, exceeding your maximum lift in the gym really isn’t important; Maximizing the strength of your immune system, however, probably is.
It should be noted that the best diet will also vary based on how much cancer there is, where it is, what kind of cancer it is, and what medical treatments are being chosen. In some cases, nutritionally supporting the immune system may even be contrary to the medical doctor’s desires and the treatments being given.
People with cancer need a health plan that includes lifestyle changes. These include eliminating the potential causes of cancer as well as adding those things that are known to weaken cancer and further strengthen the body against it. Changes may include exercise, rest, meditation, and joyful thoughts as well as many dietary improvements.
To summarize, the reasons there is so much confusion when looking for the best anti-cancer diet are:
- There are different kinds of healthy diets for different purposes
- Some anti-cancer diets may actually be contrary to the cancer doctors desires
- Some healthcare professionals don’t know enough to support the advice they give
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