When I was sick with cancer, there were days when I wanted to punch my doctor in the nose. I’m talking full fist to the face. I’m not normally a violent person, but sometimes the advice I heard made me crazy enough to do some damage.
Here’s what makes me nuts. Most doctors don’t believe that nutrition plays a part in our health care. [clickToTweet tweet=”Here’s the truth. When dealing with health issues – Food really, REALLY matters.” quote=”Here’s the truth. When dealing with health issues – Food really, REALLY matters.”]
When I was in my mid-twenties, I received my first cancer diagnoses. At the time, I had never had more than the flu, so I did what any frightened, naive person would when told terrifying information; I panicked.
And what is the first thing a girl (or this girl) does in peril? I went home and headed straight for the fridge.
Brownies always make things better. And cookies. And hot coco with the little marshmallows. I ate my feelings, I ate my fears, and my longing for a normal life. I ate until I wanted to throw up, then I ate a little more. Has this ever happen to you?
As I dragged my bloated, sluggish body back to the oncologist the next day, confessing the sins of the evening and swearing off sugar forever he said, “Relax! Nutrition has nothing to do with disease anyway. If it makes you feel better, knock yourself out and eat whatever you want.”
Talk about a free pass. I took his words and ran out the office door to the nearest In-and-Out for some Animal fries.
As the days progressed and I was about to start chemotherapy, I found myself feeling worse and worse. I didn’t normally eat this poorly, but felt cancer was a perfectly legitimate reason to binge. After doing some of my own research, I discovered that I was very wrong.
This is what I found out about the dangers of poor eating:
- Cancer cells feed off of sugar. Processed sugar, such as refined or white sugar, is one of the primary driving forces behind the growth and spread of cancer tumors.
- Synthetic trans fats, common in foods that contain partially hydrogenated vegetable oil such as crackers, chips, most store bought baked goods and fried foods, can interfere with enzymes your body uses to fight cancer, decrease the immune function/response and block insulin receptors.
- Artificial colors like Red #40 have accelerated the appearance of immune system tumors in mice and Blue #2 was linked to brain tumors.
4. Preserves such as Sodium nitrite, commonly used in hot dogs, deli meats and bacon, has been linked to higher rates of colorectal stomach and pancreatic cancers (as if my original diagnosis wasn’t bad enough).
But if eating my problems wasn’t the answer to solving them, what was? The answer was three pronged.
First, I needed to process what was happening to me, not through binging on food but by writing, crying, whining, then looking at the best way to support my body.
Second, light to moderate exercise may be a key component in successful cancer prevention and treatment. It can also reduce reoccurrence and speed up recovery. One study showed breast and colon cancer patients who exercise regularly have half the recurrence rate than non-exercisers as well as less treatment side effects like depression, anxiety, fatigue, range of movement, pain, appetite loss and bone density.
Third, I need to clean up my diet. And by clean up I mean clean eating.
Here are 5 steps to cleaner nutrition for anyone dealing with health issues and for everyone else who wants to live a healthier life.
- The closer the foods is to it’s original size, shape and color the better. Eating whole foods, not processed ones with labels on them will keep you away from preservatives, dyes, and artificial ingredients. All things cancer thrives on.
- Stay as organic as possible. This can get expensive so if you can’t go totally organic, buy organic for your thin skinned items like grapes, strawberries, and apples. Peel the rest of your fruits and vegetables to get most of the pesticides off.
- Keep meat to a minimum. Especially processed meat. The acid from meat actually burns holes in you stomach (leaky gut) causing the bacteria from your gut to spill out into your bloodstream. Leaky gut lowers the immune response needed, especially with immune suppressed patients, and limits the ability to fight infection. Getting your protein from non meat sources is safer.
- Repair your intestinal tract. Eating foods rich in probiotics like low sugar yogurt and fermented food repopulates the good flora in your system which can be stripped when using many medications. This allows you to better absorb your food and regulates elimination.
- If it doesn’t look natural in color, don’t eat it. Artificial food dyes have been linked to a multitude of cancers and many other diseases. Blue food dye #3 is the same dye used to color blue jeans and yellow dye #2 has an antifreeze in it that was outlawed in gasoline (but not in your food). If you see anything with a number after the color, move on, especially in children’s food where it is most common.
Armed with my not so sexy but informative research, I smugly handed it over to my doctor during my follow up visit. After a quick review he handed it back and said it was interesting but he still didn’t think it made a difference.
That was the day I realized that doctor’s call it a ‘practice’ for a reason. They don’t have all the answers and we shouldn’t expect them too. We need to take in all the information we get from them and our own research, and use what resonates. I knew how much better I felt when I ate healthy and exercised regularly when I was well, why would it not work when I wasn’t?
Violence wasn’t the answer (so there would be no punching during my visit) but a clean diet and a little exercise was. If our insides are happy, our overall wellbeing will follow, which just may save our life.
Is there a go-to comfort food that you can switch out for healthier version to make your insides happier? Let me know in the comments section. I would love to hear from you!
About the Author
Lisa Douthit is the author of Amazon’s #1 bestselling book, Wellness Warrior – Fighting for Life in Fabulous Shoes and an Integrative Health Consultant who is passionate about healing from all perspectives. After struggling with multiple bouts of cancer and autoimmune disease, no one understands the physical, spiritual, and emotional rollercoaster better than she does. As one of the 40 million American women currently suffering with an autoimmune disease, she made it her mission to have a voice for all those with an invisible illness, and prove you can be well without perfect health. She has a private Facebook Group called Wellness Warrior Tribe for all those with chronic illness looking for support and encouragement. For more out of the box thinking that is guaranteed to bring you joy, Like her FaceBook Page Here or join the tribe Here.