Everything Causes Cancer
This phrase pains me. Not only is it just plain fiction, but it is a mindset, a worldview, a framework of thinking that I have grown annoyed with. Since studying nutrition and holistic living, my mindset has been transformed from the pessimistic “why bother” attitude of “everything causes cancer” to believing that God created us whole, and said “this is good.” If this is good, like God says it is, then I am to believe that sickness and disease are not God’s desire for his children. Because of this, anything I can do to keep my temple well, is a response of obedience to God. Shifting my mindset to taking responsibility in both the knowledge and the practice of nutrition and holistic health has changed my question from “why bother” to “what actions can I take to steward my health while I am on this side of eternity?”
“Let Food be thy Medicine...”
Joel Fuhrman, author of Eat to Live & Super Immunity says this when talking about the steady rising rates of cancer:
“The point here is that when our body is deficient in plant-derived micronutrients, we weaken our immune system and leave ourselves exposed to infections and cancer.”@sprigslife
For years, we have looked at nutrition and glorified macronutrients like fat, protein, and carbohydrates. Although macronutrients are vital to human function and survival, I want to do more with my life than simply function, I want to thrive. I desire optimal health for my family. If this is the case we need to realize the importance of micronutrients. Honestly we already do, just not in food form! Most people already take a multivitamin or other supplements. But your food (or food-based supplements) can be full of vitamins and minerals that your body needs, and they are packaged perfectly and are optimally bioavailable.
When Disease Meets an Unhealthy Host
Common illnesses and disease, including cancer, can cause people’s body react differently. I recently came face-to-face with this reality. In most cases, a healthy and nourished body renders many virus, and infection harmless. But when the same infection or virus meets an unnourished host, the results can be life threatening. A close relative of mine found herself with a high-fever, and very ill in the hospital a few weeks ago. After running many tests the doctors diagnosed her with streptococcal toxic shock syndrome (STSS). Streptococcus bacterium are a very common bacteria that can go unnoticed in a host and cause throat irritation or in some cases cause life threatening illness. “Invasive group A streptococcal infections occur when the bacteria get past the defenses of the person who is infected.” 1 In other words, people who have a compromised immune system – whether that be an autoimmune disease, heart disease, or unhealthy lifestyle choices.
Disclaimer on Genetics
I am not claiming that the new trendy geneticist should give up their hunt for how to cure cancer through genetics, but I am claiming that all of the hunting in the world can only tell you what may happen. What I am saying is that “every point in this process (we are talking about how genetic material replicates) may be influenced by body biochemistry, diet, physical activity, medication, mood, and just about every other variable you can think of.” ( Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition, 111) To put it simply, disease genes do not have to equal disease! Our bodies are quite good at repairing genes and killing off bad genes if they are supported by the right environment.
Eating to Prevent Cancer
But I get it, you want me to get to the point, what do the best nutritional scientist say about eating to prevent cancer? Looking at epidemiological studies, we can see that in some cultures diseases like obesity and cancer almost don’t exists. These nutrition experts study these people and ask, “what are they doing that we don’t do.” They then take these lifestyles and treat many patients by changing their lifestyle to mimic these cultures more.
“Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother
wouldn’t recognize as food.”
“We should all be eating fruits and vegetables as if our lives
depended on it – because they do.”
Prevent and Reverse Disease @sprigslife
"The body has a remarkable capacity to begin healing itself, much more quickly than we had once thought possible.”–John Robbins The Food Revolution: How Your Diet Can Help Save Your Life and Our World @sprigslife
“There is no magic… no miracle weight-loss pill. There is only the natural world of law and order, of cause and effect. If you want optional health and longevity, you must engage the cause. And if you want to lose fat weight safely, you must eat a diet of predominantly unrefined foods that are nutrient and fiber rich.”–Joel Fuhrman, MD Eat to Live @sprigslife
“I personally have had good friends pass away from things that diet could have cured. Only a few of my colleagues have agreed to take a critical look at the data on diet. After they do, they always move toward plant-based nutrition.”–Dean Ornish, MD The Spectrum: A Scientifically Proven Program to Feel
Better, Live Longer, Lose Weight, and Gain Health @sprigslife
“A diet rich in fruits and vegetables plays a role in reducing the risk of all major causes of illness and death.”–Walter C. Willett, MD Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy: The Harvard Medical
School Guide to Eating Healthy @sprigslife
“The longest-lived people eat a plant-based diet. They eat meat but only as a condiment or a celebration. Nothing they eat has a plastic wrapper.”–Dan Buettner The Blue Zones Solution: Eating and Living Like the
World’s Healthiest People @sprigslife
These experts agree, “a whole food, mostly plant-based diet is the optimum diet for health, vitality, and longevity.” 2 Put simply, this is a way of eating that prioritizes eating whole or unprocessed plant foods; minimizes meat, fish, dairy products, and eggs; and eliminates highly processed foods. The consumption of vegetables, specifically cruciferous vegetables, reduces the risk of developing cancers. 5 In his book Super Immunity, Dr. Fuhrman gives an acronym to remember specific foods that can help with fighting and preventing cancer. “G-BOMBS” stands for Greens, Beans, Onions, Mushrooms, Berries, and Seeds.
Greens: Cruciferous vegetables, like brussel sprouts, broccoli, watercress, cauliflower, and kale contain powerful phytonutrients called isothiocyanates, that have proven to inhibit the proliferation of cancer cells.
Beans: Recent studies have linked an increase intake in dietary fiber with a reduction in breast cancer, alluding to the fiber heros beans as a great anticancer food.
Onions, shallots, chives, scallions, and garlic are all notorious for their organosulfur compounds, the compound that makes you cry when slicing and cutting. Organosulfur compounds have shown to slow tumor growth and kill cancer cells.
Mushrooms, specifically shiitake, cremini, white, and portobello, all have an angiogenesis inhibiting properties that help cut the blood supply off to tumors.
Berries (blackberries, strawberries, blueberries, and goji berries) are great for mopping up free radicals that cause cellular damage and mutation.
Seeds, sesame, chia, and flax in particular, are full of healthy fats, and rich in lignans, plant estrogens that protect against breast cancer.
In addition, to changing the diet as a whole, there are some herbs that are commonly used in food that actually have anticancer properties. Turmeric is an example of this. Curcumin (a component of Turmeric) modulates the growth of cancer cells and stops proliferation of tumors. 3 A compound known as Capsaicin, found in red peppers, has also been found to have an antiproliferative effect on cancer cells.4 Likewise, Black Cohosh, was used in a study on human breast cancer cells, and showed inhibitory activity. 6
Jehovah-jireh, the Lord provides. This truth is revealed as science further demonstrates what we have known for centuries past: that the Lord desires for our bodies to be healthy and whole, and provides us with a means for sustaining health and treating ailments, like cancer.
Tatiana Schmidt - Holistic Nutritionist
Tatiana Schmidt is a certified Holistic Nutritionist and mama to AJ, a 3 year old boy and Baylin, a 1 year old girl. She has a passion for health, nutrition, and delicious food. You can find her work in the Sprigs Magazine, on the Sprigs Blog, and at tatianaschmidt.com.
- 2The Whole Foods Diet by John Mackey, Alona Pulde, MD, and Matthew Lederman, MD