What Diet is Right for Me?
The problem with following a diet is knowing IF it is right for YOU. There are hundreds of different opinions about diet and cancer and, quite honestly, it is very confusing. Personally, I don’t like standard protocols because of this reason. In our office, each patient is tested for individual foods and the diet recommendations are specific and often less rigid. When we speak to the masses, we are forced into a more general approach to diet which, by nature, pigeon-holes people into a protocol that may not be right for them. Unfortunately, there is little we can do to solve this dilemma short of seeing every person in our office, which defeats the purpose of writing a book with a purpose to reach those we can never see.
Recently, we hear a lot about the ketogenic diet. There are even books written that say that ALL cancer patients should be on a ketogenic diet. This is not true! Ketogenic diets are typically high in dairy, an absolute no-no for cancer patients. Dairy makes babies grow and grow quickly, doubling their weight in a matter of months because it contains many healthy growth factors. While this is great for babies, it is NOT good for cancer! Ketogenic diets, while eliminating carbohydrates, tend to be higher in protein. Many cancers are fed by protein!
While ketogenic diets may be good for cancers that are completely glycolytically driven, they are horrible for those cancers that are driven by amino acids. While everyone should eliminate simple carbohydrates, not all cancer patients should even consider a ketogenic approach; it can even fuel some cancers!
Others have touted a raw-food, vegan diet for ALL cancer patients. This too could prove disastrous for many patients. A raw-food, high vegetable juice diet tends to be much higher in carbohydrates, feeding a glycolytically driven cancer. Ugh! How do we know which is right for who? At the office, we test. For those who could never come to our office, you may either use a trial and error approach (example – try a ketogenic-like diet and see if the cancer slows or continues) and make appropriate changes, or do a metabolic diet quiz (do an internet search for this). The metabolic diet quiz is an older way to get an idea of what diet may be best for you.
We suggest you start with a balanced approach – eating far fewer animal proteins and far, far, few simple carbohydrates. Alldiets should BEGIN with a thorough understanding of an identical BASE STEP: Understanding Whole Foods
The Basic Principles of eating Whole Foods
Making the switch to a whole foods diet is not an overly expensive or difficult change but will help you to avoid chemicals, hormones, and pesticides that are in our food supply. Whole Foods come from natural sources. If you hunted and gathered your foods or owned a homestead one hundred years ago or so, you would have the following items, all organic, in your diet: fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, honey, water, grass-fed and free-range meats and unprocessed fish, unprocessed unrefined grains (or sprouted grains), and naturally occurring, unpasteurized dairy products.
Think of it: 100 years ago, EVERYTHING was organic!
On this whole food diet, you will be eating primarily whole foods; so that means it is time to clean out your pantry, refrigerator and freezer from any processed foods. Now, you do not need to eliminate all processed foods, like natural cheeses or whole grain pasta, but if you can’t pronounce an ingredient on the label, avoid purchasing the item.
Part of the challenge is to re-think how you eat and make healthier choices. Some easy changes could be:
- Breakfast: Less boxed cereal, instant oatmeal or commercially prepared muffins, rather start with an omelet made with free-range eggs, spinach, cherry tomatoes and sautéed onions and peppers.
- Lunch or Dinner: A chicken breast cooked with natural ingredients served with steamed vegetables or a fresh salad instead of chicken nuggets processed with added fats, preservatives and flavorings.
- Snacks: A baked sweet potato with fresh chopped onions instead of a bag of potato chips. Or, a freshly made smoothie made from strawberries and blueberries instead of a blue-colored frozen ice drink.
We have created a list of acceptable foods and foods to avoid which are good to have handy while grocery shopping.
- Whole foods are those that are as close to their natural form and have not been processed.
- Lots of fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Whole-grains that are NON-GMO and organic (see information about grains below).
- Seafood (wild caught, NOT farm-raised).
- Only locally raised, grass-fed meats such as beef, and chicken and start eating half of the amount you are used to.
- Beverages limited to pure water, and naturally sweetened coffee & tea, or freshly made vegetable juices.
- Snacks likeseeds, nuts, NON-GMO popcorn, and organic bars.
- All-natural sweeteners including honey, 100% maple syrup, and stevia.
- There are now so many great options as compared to a few years ago when the first edition of this book was published. If you can just think about eating things as God created them, it can help understand a whole food diet.
Foods to Avoid:
- No refined grains such as white flour or white rice – labels must state whole grain.
- You are better off staying away from gluten as it is so highly inflammatory.
- Stay away from dairy products of all kinds as they stimulate growth pathways. I realize that typical whole-food diets allow raw dairy and tout its health benefits but with cancer, things are different. Dairy makes babies grow; it also can make cancer grow!
- Avoid pork of all types. Avoid all farmed fish; make sure your fish it is wild-caught and your meat is grass-fed.
- Avoid refined sweeteners such as sugar, any form of corn syrup, cane juice, or any artificial sweeteners such as Splenda.
- Avoid foods that come out of a box, can, bag, bottle or package that has more than 5 ingredients listed on the label (this is an easy rule to follow).
- Avoid all deep-fried foods unless you are doing the frying in a healthy oil.
- Avoid all fast foods.
More Hints to Help Avoid Processed Foods and Refined Sugars:
- Read the ingredients label before buying anything. The best indicator of how highly processed a food is found in the list of ingredients. If what you are buying contains more than 5 ingredients and includes a lot of unfamiliar, unpronounceable items you want to reconsider buying that item. Of course, modern labeling laws often require manufacturers to list added nutrients and vitamins in the ingredient list. Become familiar with what these are and occlude these from your “5”.
- Shop around the edges of the grocery store where the fresh, whole-foods are located. Avoid the center isles where most of the boxed, bagged and canned foods are located. Granted, not all canned (jarred) foods are highly processed and many, many more organic sources are easily found since recent demand has skyrocketed. Just start reading labels!
- Increase your consumption of whole-foods especially vegetables and fruits since this will help to displace the processed foods in your diet, and will actually make your food selections, in general, very simple. Your only concern is selecting whole-foods that are a product of nature instead of a product of industry.
- When selecting foods like pastas, cereals, rice, and crackers always choose the whole-grain option. Since gluten-free is often best, there are limited sources of organic, gluten-free options, so you will be limiting this category altogether.
- Avoid store-bought products containing high-fructose corn syrup or any other forms of sugar that are listed in the top three ingredients. This is a good indication that the product has been highly processed.
- When eating out as a family, do not order off the kids’ menu for your children. Most of the selections on a kids’ menu are pre-made items that have been highly processed. An easy option is to assemble your own meal from the side options or try sharing a meal.
- Visit your local farmers’ market where you will find a selection of pesticide-free produce and better-quality, grass-fed meat.
- Lower the number of sweet treats and fried foods that you eat. Taking the time to peel, chop and deep fry potatoes every time you wanted French fries would impact the amount of times you would eat them. Eating “junk food” such as cakes, sweets, and fried foods as often as you are willing to make them yourself will automatically ensure the frequency is appropriate.
Sugar from the sugar cane is highly processed as is high fructose corn syrup. Locally grown honey and 100% maple syrup are more acceptable choices because they are made in nature and less often found in highly processed foods. Sweeteners such as Splenda, Equal, agave syrup, corn syrup, and Sweet-n-Low should never be used. No matter what kind of sugar you decide to use follow these guidelines:
- Consume any and all types of sugar in moderation and try to reserve them for special occasions.
- When purchasing store-bought foods avoid those that have any form of sugar or sweetener listed among the top three ingredients.
- Always choose the natural sweetener over the artificial items like aspartame.
Spicing Up Your Meals When Eating Clean
Healthy food has an undeserved reputation for being boring or bland. Whole, fresh foods are actually delicious on their own, with no added seasoning. Unfortunately, many of us have been jaded by too much sodium, sugar, and additives in our food. But there are healthy ways to add flavor to clean foods. Here are some herbs and spices you can use in your daily cooking:
Basil: This bright-green delicate leaf contains flavonoids that act as powerful antioxidants. It’s also high in vitamins A and K as well as potassium and manganese. Basil grows very well indoors in a sunny windowsill. Basil can be preserved by freezing or drying it. Use basil in tomato sauces, salad dressings, pesto, sandwich spreads, soups, and chicken, beef, and fish dishes.
Marjoram: This herb contains many phytochemicals — including terpenes, which are anti-inflammatory — lutein, and beta carotene. Plus, it has lots of vitamin C and vitamin D. Marjoram is delicious in any dish made using beef and is perfect with vegetables like tomatoes, peas, carrots, and spinach. Together with bay leaf, parsley, thyme, and tarragon, it makes a mix to use in stews and soups.
Mint: Mint can be used to help upset stomachs because it soothes an irritated GI tract. It is also used to ward off cancer cells due to a phytochemical called perillyl alcohol, which can stop the formation of some cancer cells. Mint is a good source of beta carotene, folate, and riboflavin. Use it in teas, in desserts, as part of a fruit salad or lettuce salad, or as a garnish for puddings.
Oregano: Used in Italian dishes, this strong herb is a potent antioxidant with the phytochemicals lutein and beta carotene. It’s a good source of iron, fiber, calcium, vitamin C, vitamin A, and omega-3 fatty acids. Add oregano to salad dressings, soups, sauces, gravies, meat dishes, and pork recipes.
Parsley: This mild herb is an excellent source of vitamin C, iron, calcium, and potassium. It’s also packed with flavonoids, which are strong antioxidants, and folate, which can help reduce the risk of heart disease. It can be used in salads as a leafy green to rice pilafs, grilled fish, and sauces and gravies.
Rosemary: Rosemary contains terpenes, which slow down free radical development and stop inflammation. Use this strong and piney herb in soups, stews, meat, and chicken dishes. Chop some fresh rosemary to roast a chicken, cook with lamb or beef, or mix with olive oil for a dip for baked sweet potato slices. Rosemary also contains ursolic acid which is a great anti-viral, anti-cancer nutrient.
Sage: Sage contains the flavonoid phytochemicals apigenin and luteolin and some phenolic acids that act as anti-inflammatory agents and antioxidants. Its earthy aroma and flavor are delicious in classic turkey stuffing (as well as the turkey itself), spaghetti sauces, soups and stews, and frittatas and omelets.
Tarragon: Tarragon isa great source of phytosterols and can reduce the stickiness of platelets in your blood. Tarragon is rich in beta carotene and potassium, too. This herb tastes like licorice. Use it as a salad green or as part of a salad dressing or mix it with Greek yogurt to use as an appetizer dip. It is also wonderful with chicken or fish.
Thyme: This herb is a good source of vitamin K, manganese, and the monoterpene thymol, which has antibacterial properties. It’s fresh, slightly minty, and lemony tasting. It is a good addition to egg dishes to pear desserts to recipes featuring chicken and fish.
Cinnamon: Cinnamon can help reduce blood sugar levels, LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and overall cholesterol levels. Cinnamaldehyde, an organic compound in cinnamon prevents clumping of blood platelets, and other compounds in this spice are anti-inflammatory. Cinnamon can be added to coffee and tea, used it in desserts and curries, and sprinkled on oatmeal for a great breakfast.
Cloves: Cloves are flower buds that are a good source of manganese and omega-3 fatty acids. They contain eugenol, which helps reduce toxicity from pollutants and prevent joint inflammation, and the flavonoids kaempferol and rhamnetin, which act as antioxidants. Cloves are a great addition to hot tea and coffee as well as many dessert recipes, including fruit compote and apple desserts.
Cumin: This spice is rich in antioxidants, which may help reduce the risk of cancer. It also has iron and manganese, which help keep your immune system strong and healthy. Cumin can be added to Middle Eastern recipes, rice pilafs, stir-fried vegetables, and Tex-Mex dishes.
Nutmeg: Nutmeg is rich in calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, and vitamins A and C. It can help reduce blood pressure, acts as an antioxidant, and has antifungal properties. Sprinkle it into dishes with spinach, add it to hot tea, use it in curry powder, and add it to rice pudding and other desserts.
Turmeric: This spice is one of the healthiest foods on the planet. Curcumin, a phytochemical in turmeric, can stop cancer cells from reproducing and spreading, slow Alzheimer’s disease progression, and help control weight. In fact, researchers are currently studying Curcumin as a cancer fighter, painkiller, and antiseptic. Use it in Indian foods, egg salads, sauces, tea, and fish and chicken recipes.
Purchase Stop Fighting Cancer & Start Treating the Cause to learn more about how to treat cancer with alternative medicine.
Dr. Conners graduated with his doctorate from Northwestern Health Sciences University in 1986 and has been studying alternative cancer care for over 20 years. He holds AMA Fellowships in Regenerative & Functional Medicine and Integrative Cancer Therapy.
He is the author of numerous books including, Stop Fighting Cancer and Start Treating the Cause, Cancer Can’t Kill You if You’re Already Dead, Help, My Body is Killing Me, Chronic Lyme, 3 Phases of Lyme, 23 Steps to Freedom, and many more you can download for FREE on our books page.