Q. I was wondering about what someone should eat if they have cancer. Is there a certain diet they can follow, especially if they are going through chemo and radiation? – B
By Dr. Monique Hallee, BScHK ND. Thankfully naturopathic medicine offers a wide variety of treatments that have been shown to be useful as complementary treatments for those fighting cancer. Without knowing the type of cancer or health status and history of the individual, it is difficult to discuss any one particular treatment protocol. Even diet recommendations can change in certain circumstances.
Diet, as a general rule, should be focused around having a wide variety of vegetables and fruits, which are rich in vitamins and minerals to support your system. Processed or “man-made” foods should be avoided. There is one stipulation, however, to a predominate veg and fruit diet: your produce should ideally be organic. The chemicals from pesticides and fertilizers on non-organic produce have to be processed by your liver, which is already working hard if you’re taking chemo drugs and other toxins.
Pharmaceutical cancer treatments are expensive, with patients easily paying hundreds of dollars each month, if they don’t have coverage. Because so many natural products can help in cancer treatment, it is also easy to spend a lot of money and overwhelm the person, the body and the pocketbook. This is why I like to recommend that, if you are an individual with cancer, trying to improve your recovery by natural means, use your money to purchase organic produce, wild fish and grass-fed meats. Wild or grass fed meats are quite expensive and usually patients complain when I suggest that change to the diet, but my rule is that you should only eat meat as often as you can afford to eat the grass-fed kind. As for fruits and vegetables, organic is definitely top priority. That too can be expensive so, if not all produce can be purchased organic, at least aim for organic produce that is part of the “dirty dozen” (which I referred to in my “Food Labels” article from August 19/14).
When it comes to picking which produce to buy, I can tell you that I absolutely love broccoli! This beautiful vegetable contains a number of useful molecules for fighting cancer. For example, broccoli contains phenethyl isothiocyanate which helps to counter the malignant transfer of DNA genes in our bodies. Broccoli also contains indole-3-carbinol to deactivate hormonal influences to cancer, sulphoraphanes which activate “tumor-suppressor” genes, and antioxidants particularly useful during radiation. I also recommend eating the vegetable raw or only lightly steamed, if possible.
Diet is particularly important for maintaining a basis for health when dealing with serious illness and disease like cancer. While maintaining a diet rich in organic vegetables, people should also strictly avoid other foods such as barbequed items or products containing refined sugars. Refined foods are generally not a good idea for anyone, but particularly with cancer. Sugar is a quick fuel source for cancer cells.
Beyond diet, there is a lot that natural medicine can do to help, but unless you have a trained naturopathic doctor who is knowledgeable in cancer care, your money is best spent on a healthy diet.
If you have questions about your own health that you would like answered contact Dr Hallee. If you have questions on this or other topics, please feel free to write in and offer a question which may be featured as an article topic.
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