As a journalist, I am fortunate to interview a variety of people on CBS/10Connects News and also on my web page: Heather's Natural Health.
I personally know the healing power of eating fresh, simple foods and avoiding processed sugary foods -- I made the change 10 years ago and feel so much better -- I can't go back!
When my dad was recently diagnosed with inoperable mesothelioma, I searched all around the country for a realistic, comprehensive treatment plan that included an integrative approach to cancer care. While the major cancer centers we visited all recommended he try chemotherapy, they couldn't offer any nutrition advice. So I kept searching...
"Integrative oncologist" may seem like an oxymoron, but they really do exist!
I also needed to find someone who could be realistic. My dad would never juice 80 carrots a day, but he would be willing to improve his diet while undergoing chemotherapy, something he wanted to do.
I recently interviewed Rebecca Katz, author of The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen.
Rebecca, along with Dr. Andrew Weil and others, all recommended the same person, Dr. Keith Block at the Block Center for Integrative Cancer Care in Illinois and author of Life Over Cancer.
I had a chance to sit down with Dr. Block and ask him if eating fresh, whole foods really makes a difference in the fight against cancer. He says the simple answer is yes. Everything you eat or drink changes the chemistry of your blood.
For nearly three decades, Dr. Block and his research staff have studied how diet and lifestyle changes (two things patients can control) can slow cancers, ease chemotherapy side effects, improve quality of life and give survivors an edge.
Dr. Block has noticed that nutrition has a profound effect. Patients who take control of their daily choices are in better shape to fight cancer and respond better to treatment.
Dr. Block advises his patients eat more:
•Legumes (lentil beans, check peas)
•Good fats (olive oil, flaxseed oil, fish oil)
•Cold water fish (wild salmon)
•Cruciferious vegetables (broccoli, cabbage)
•Berries (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries)
Dr. Block advises his patients avoid:
•Dairy products (promotes inflammation and mucus production)
•Red meat (iron supports cancer cells and too high in bad fats)
•Processed sugary foods (promotes inflammation and fuels cancer)
•Bad fats (trans fats, saturated fats in processed baked goods)
Dr. Block says sugar can give cancer the upper hand.
He sites studies that suggest breast cancer patients who add exercise and cut out processed sugar are able to keep their insulin levels under control and cut their risk of recurrence in half and decrease cancer death by two-thirds.
He adds,"Cancer cells are glucose guzzlers. Think about this, the way a Petscan works is by introducing glucose into a patient to see the cancer cells that would divide more rapidly because of the glucose. There are many studies that show in various cancers that show as you increase blood sugar levels, you speed up growth of cancer. In fact the survival, response to treatment the outcomes are all clearly associated with the ability to maintain or lose control of sugar levels and its impact on insulin."
Dr. Block has also noticed patients who eat nutritious foods and take certain supplements during chemotherapy ease side effects.
Dr. Block advises his patients try these things before chemotherapy:
•Take two 500 mg capsules of ginger root 15 minutes beforehand
•Exercise for 15 minutes an hour before treatment (walk, ride bike)
•Check vitamin D levels in advance (simple blood test)
•Take fish oil (anti-inflammatory)
•Take curcumin (anti-inflammatory)
•Sit outside in morning sun for 15 minutes
Dr. Block has his patients mix powdered glutamine in water before, during and after chemotherapy to prevent mouth sores and neuropathy--tingling of the hands and feet.
Dr. Block says,"What we have our patients do is take 10-20 grams of glutamine in a bottle of water and have them sip it during chemotherapy. It will help prevent mouth sores. It will boost immune function and it will protect from some of the nerve damage that can occur from chemotherapy."