Chronic inflammation is the real problem. It almost always lurks beneath the surface of nearly every chronic disease including diabetes, cancer and every autoimmune disorder. Most of the time you can’t see or feel it, but this low-grade, constant type of inflammation increases the risk of every leading cause of death.
To understand and therefore control inflammation is a major key to conquering cancer. I have often said that cancer is a Th2 dominant disorder that imposes a Th1 immune suppression. Your Th1 system is the main ‘killer’ portion of your immune response that also helps ‘kill’ cells that are supposed to die and be cleaned out of the body. If the Th1 system is suppressed, cancer has a better chance to proliferate.
Both sides of the immune system fire inflammation. The Th1 system creates a more acute inflammation where the Th2 system enables a slower, more insidious inflammation that may largely go unnoticed by the patient. It is common for a person with a Th2 dominant autoimmune condition to be completely unaware of their problem and blame stiffness, arthritis, brain fog, and other chronic inflammatory symptoms on ‘old age’ or worse, allowing a doctor to give them a medication that suppresses the symptoms and the problem continues.
Let’s look at a common condition in America: high cholesterol. Millions are diagnosed with this every year and placed on some statin drug that readily lowers their numbers and gives the patient a false sense of victory. Was the reason why the liver was producing an excess amount of cholesterol addressed? What causes your body to make cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a necessary ingredient to life; it is the precursor to all your hormones including Vitamin D. Side note: Since Vitamin D is crucial in apoptosis (normal cell death that is NOT happening in cancer) and every cancer patient is arguably low in serum Vitamin D levels AND since cholesterol is the precursor to Vitamin D production, do you think there is a correlation between the 80 billion dollar per year Lipitor industry and our rise in cancer rates? It doesn’t really take a rocket scientist to figure some of this stuff out!
Excess cholesterol isn’t good either, but why is the body making too much? I think that THIS is the type of question that must be asked! Your body makes cholesterol for numerous reasons but one is in response to inflammation. See the connection? If a person has chronic inflammation they can have elevated cholesterol. Find the source of inflammation!
Vicious Cycles and Chronic Inflammation
Illness is an outcome of vicious cycles. Here’s just one possibility: A person is exposed to a high amount of toxins in their lifetime, some of which settle in their tissue. An immune response from a completely normal response, let’s say to an infection of some sort, causes a spike in the Th1 system to kill the infector. This Th1 immune response carries a slurry of different chemicals that are just looking for something to kill (because that is the only thing your immune system does). If the infection is easily quenched, excess Th1 cytokines may ‘find’ a toxin lodged in your tissue that the immune system was never supposed to ‘turn on’ against. If these chemicals initiate a response against such a toxin, we have a problem. Since the immune system only kills things, its attempt to ‘kill’ a toxin will simply result in a constant, ramped-up response that destroys local tissue and leaves inflammatory cytokines that choke-off detoxification pathways and clog extracellular spaces. This is really the definition of an autoimmune disease!
If the subsequent immune response is dominant in Th1 chemicals, it is called a Th1 dominant autoimmune condition and is marked by more acute destruction and often leads to a greater number of symptoms for the patient that may cause them to seek help and receive a diagnosis. A greater number of Th2 chemicals leads to a Th2 dominant autoimmune response that can be just as destructive but is often slower in process and more insidious, leaving the patient with diffuse, lower-grade symptoms that may go undiagnosed and undetected. The Th2 response still breeds chronic inflammation and chronic inflammation down-regulates cell receptors against things that aide in normal cell death (like Vitamin D receptors that are supposed to help old cells die and not become cancerous).
We are left with a breeding ground for cancer!
I could give a hundred different example of ‘vicious cycles’ but the important thing to understand is that EVERY disease is a product of one. Failure for you and your doctor to ‘dig back’ and figure out the vicious cycle that has lead you to your problem is just WRONG. To give the patient a label of cancer or any disease for that matter, without finding the reason it is there is malpractice in my book. I thought that this is what a doctor was supposed to do. Any educated individual can ‘google’ their symptoms and compare their lab results to patterns to reach a reasonable diagnosis; it’s WHY the problem exists that must be solved!
Balancing Hormones with DIM?
Many cancers, diseases, and just overall discomfort are driven by imbalances in hormones. The reasons are many but exposure to estrogens in our environment is by far the greatest cause of hormone dysregulation. A nutritional supplement called DIM, or diindolylmethane, is a natural compound found in cruciferous vegetables that promotes beneficial estrogen metabolism in both women and men. Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts are rich in diindolylmethane. DIM affects estrogen metabolism by promoting the excretion of xenoestrogens, which are “bad estrogens” we encounter through pesticides in our diet, food laced with hormones, and from pollution in the environment.
DIM is increasing in popularity as a natural therapy due to medical research showing its positive effects on aberrant cells and healthy estrogen metabolism. Scientists at UC Berkeley discovered that DIM is also a potent modulator of the immune system – meaning that it can help balance a Th1/Th2 dominance. DIM, combined with the medicinal mushrooms in some nutraceutical formulas we use act together to enhance and support the immune system.
Other nutrients including Quercetin, Turmeric (Curcumin), Astragalus, Scutellaria barbata, add to the effectiveness of DIM in both clearing xenoestrogens and balancing the immune system. Not all cancers are hormonally driven but use of DIM can benefit everyone since our exposure to environmental hormones is ubiquitous.
Ultimately, when dealing with hormone issues, autoimmune disease, or cancer, correcting the CAUSE is the first step. Be wise and consume only grass-fed organic meat when possible, stay away from dairy products, and stop using plastics in contact with food or drink. It may be impossible to totally eliminate xenoestrogens but we can certainly limit exposure.
Processed sugars and other high-glycemic starches increase inflammation, just as they raise blood sugar and feed cancer cells, according to an article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
What we eat is either pro-inflammatory or anti-inflammatory inside your body. Here are 11 of the best anti-inflammatory foods (because I think that the best way to get your nutrition is through your food):
- Cold-water fish, including salmon, contain ‘whole food’ anti-inflammatory fats. Wild salmon have more of these super-healthy fats than does farmed salmon so never buy farm-raised fish of any kind s they are fed processed, fish-food. Shopping tip: All salmon from Alaska is wild, whereas Atlantic salmon is usually farmed. Eat fish – wild-caught, cold water fish but don’t buy the fish oils; getting PARENT omegas from cold-pressed seeds IS BEST!
- Grass-fed beef and other animal foods that are organically raised. As opposed to traditional, grain-fed livestock, meat that comes from animals fed grass contains anti-inflammatory omegas, but in lower concentrations than cold-pressed seed oils. Free-range livestock that graze in pastures build up higher levels of omega-3s. Meat from grain-fed animals has virtually no omega-3s and plenty of poor quality saturated fat.
Cooking tip: Unless it’s ground, grass-fed beef may be tougher, so slow cook it.
- Olive oil and Coconut oil. Olive oil is a great source of oleic acid (omega 9), another anti-inflammatory oil. Researchers wrote in the October 2007 Journal of the American College of Nutrition that those who consume more oleic acid have better insulin function and lower blood sugar. Coconut oil is BEST!
Shopping tip: Opt for extra-virgin olive oil, which is the least processed, and use it instead of other cooking oils. Other “cold-pressed” or “expeller-pressed” oils can be good sources, too. Use Coconut oil whenever cooking at higher temperatures as it is more stable than olive oil.
- Salads. Dark-green lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, and other salad veggies are rich in vitamin C and other antioxidants, nutrients that dampen inflammation.
Suggestion: Opt for olive oil-and-vinegar salad dressing (vinegar helps moderate blood sugar), and skip the croutons – grains are VERY pro-inflammatory.
- Cruciferous vegetables. These veggies, which include broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and kale, are also loaded with antioxidants. But they also provide one other ingredient — sulfur — that the body needs to make its own high-powered antioxidants like glutathione.
- Cherries. A study in the April 2006 Journal of Nutrition showed that eating cherries daily can significantly reduce inflammation. Cherries are also packed with antioxidants and relatively low on the glycemic index. They are one of the ‘stone fruits’ (fruits with pits) that are great for diabetic and cancer patients.
Tip: Frozen cherries are available all year long and make a tasty treat when blended in a smoothie.
- Blueberries. These delectable fruits are chock-full of natural compounds that reduce inflammation. Blueberries may also protect the brain from many of the effects of aging. Frozen blueberries are usually less expensive than fresh — and just as good for you.
- Turmeric or Curcumin. This spice contains a powerful, natural anti-inflammatory compound, according to a report in the August 2007 Biochemical Pharmacology. There are perhaps a thousand more studies out on the benefits of Turmeric in cancer and inflammatory disorders. Curcumin has long been part of curry spice blends, used in southern Asian cuisines and is best assimilated in the body when blended with a good fat. Therefore cooking with this spice greatly increases its absorption. When I recommend it for a supplement (almost every patient with cancer must be on this) I use a brand that is pre-emulsified in a fat (coconut oil) so it is more readily used by the body.
To use in food: Buy powdered curry spice (which contains high amounts of turmeric and other spices) and use it as a seasoning when pan-frying chicken breasts in coconut oil.
- Ginger. This relative of turmeric is also known for its anti-inflammatory benefits, and some research suggests that it might also help control blood sugar, heal the stomach and digestive tract, and help breakdown walls of inflammation that surround cancer.
Suggestion: Brew your own ginger tea to sip between juices (juicing vegetables is a must for cancer). Use a peeler to remove the skin off a piece of ginger, then add several thin slices to a cup of hot water and let steep for a few minutes.
- Garlic. The research isn’t consistent, but garlic may have some anti-inflammatory and certainly helps increase Th1 responses that are necessary to kill cancer cells. At the very least, it won’t hurt and makes for a tasty addition to food.
- Green tea. Like fruits and vegetables, green tea contains natural anti-inflammatory compounds. It may even reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. The EGCG compounds found in Green Tea extracts are absolutely essential for every cancer patient. Green Tea is typically a Th2 stimulant except that it also is one of the only compounds that reduce the only pro-inflammatory cytokine in the Th2 reaction – interleukin 6 (IL-6).
Suggestion: Drinking Green Tea is NOT going to give one enough EGCG to reduce IL-6 levels but it certainly helps. I suggest one take Green Tea Extract as a supplement.
Inflammatory Foods to Avoid
The following is a list of inflammatory foods that everyone could consider either avoiding completely or limiting to achieve maximum health. Though I list these as “no-no’s” in the cancer diet section, it may be wise to comment on them here:
- DAIRY – (All pasteurized dairy products) – AVOID
- REFINED SUGARS (white sugar, brown sugar, confectioners’ sugar, corn syrup, processed corn fructose, turbinado sugar, etc.) – AVOID
- CHEMICAL SUGAR SWEETENERS and ARTIFICIAL SUGAR SUBSTITUTES – AVOID
- MSG (Monosodium Glutamate or Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein) – AVOID Note: MSGs can be ‘hidden’ in foods under labels like “natural and artificial flavorings” so watch out!
- ALCOHOL – AVOID
- CAFFEINE – AVOID (except in your coffee enema!)
- RED MEAT – Reduce or Avoid (only eat grass-fed meats)
- PROCESSED FOODS – Reduce or Avoid
- GRAINS – especially gluten-containing grains (wheat, rye, barley, malt and spelt)
OTHER FOODS TO BE CAUTIOUS OF:
Often in regards to Rheumatoid Arthritis and some other autoimmune disorders (including cancers) I advise some patients to avoid the Night Shade Vegetables. This group of foods can be easily tested by avoiding the entire group for a week to a month while monitoring progress. After a period of avoidance, slowly allowing these foods back into the diet, monitoring the effect, will tell you if these are foods that your body can or cannot tolerate. The only problem with testing this food group is, for some reason you may not react immediately, the reaction could be 2-5 days later.
Keep in mind when avoiding this group of foods that if you are eating processed foods, you are not likely to be completely eliminating the night shade vegetables as they are found in most processed foods and sauces.
Nightshade vegetables include, eggplant, all white potatoes, all tomatoes, bell peppers (not black pepper) and tobacco.
Honey-amino Broiled Salmon
This sweet, tangy and salty mixture does double-duty as marinade and sauce. Toasted sesame seeds provide a nutty and attractive accent. Make it a Meal: Serve with gently steamed broccoli and sautéed red peppers and zucchini slices.
1 scallion or green onion, minced
2 tablespoons Bragg’s brand Aminos
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 pound center-cut salmon fillet cut into 4 portions
1 teaspoon toasted or raw sesame seeds or pumpkin seeds
- Whisk scallion, Bragg’s Aminos, vinegar, honey and ginger in a medium bowl until the honey is dissolved. Place salmon in a sealable plastic bag, add 3 tablespoons of the sauce and refrigerate; let marinate for 15 minutes. Reserve the remaining sauce.
- Preheat broiler. Line a small baking pan with foil and coat with cooking spray. Transfer the salmon to the pan, skinned-side down. (Discard the marinade.) Broil the salmon 4 to 6 inches from the heat source until cooked through, 6 to 10 minutes. Drizzle with the reserved sauce and garnish with sesame seeds.
Curried Ginger Soup
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
- 3 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
- 1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
- 2 cups finely chopped red onions
- 1 1/2 pounds organic carrots, peeled, thinly sliced into rounds (about 4 cups)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lime peel
- 5 cups organic chicken broth
- 2 cups coconut milk
- 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
- Plain yogurt (for garnish)
Grind coriander and mustard seeds in spice mill to fine powder. Heat the coconut oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add ground seeds and curry powder; stir 1 minute. Add ginger; stir 1 minute. Add next 3 ingredients. Sprinkle with salt and pepper; sauté until onions begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Add all the chicken broth and coconut milk; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer uncovered until carrots are tender, about 30 minutes. Cool slightly.
Now you have a choice:
- Eat and enjoy as is by adding the lime juice and a bit of salt and pepper or…
- Working in batches, puree in blender until smooth. Return soup to pot. Add more broth by 1/4 cups if too thick. Stir in lime juice; season with salt and pepper. Ladle soup into bowls. Garnish with yogurt and serve.
Chick Pea, Cumin, and Coriander salad
You can also make this the day before serving to allow all of the aromatic flavors to marinate and blend together. (makes 8 servings so you can have it for lunch the next day)
- 3 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons white-wine vinegar
- 2 garlic cloves, minced and mashed with 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons peeled and grated fresh ginger root
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Four 19-ounce cans chick-peas, rinsed and drained well
- Finely chopped green, red or yellow bell peppers
- Thinly sliced green scallions
- Finely chopped red onion
- 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh coriander
- Lemon wedges
- Mixed organic green leafy lettuce (mixed spinach and spring greens)
In a bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, the vinegar, garlic, ginger root, cumin, cayenne, sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Add the oil in a stream, whisking, and whisk the dressing until it is emulsified.
In a large bowl stir together the chick-peas, the bell peppers, scallions, coriander, and the dressing and chill the salad, covered, overnight.
Serve on lettuce leaf and garnish with lemon wedges.
- 1 cup quinoa
- 2 cup water or organic chicken broth
- 1 cucumber, chopped up
- 2 avocados, pitted, skinned and chopped
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup slivered almonds
- 1 green onion, finely chopped
- Fresh coriander or parsley, finely chopped
- The juice of one lemon
- 1/4 cup extra virgin Olive oil
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- Sea salt
- Dash of Cayenne pepper to taste
- Rinse quinoa and cook in broth in a rice cooker or sauce pan and wait until it fluffs up, about 15-20 minutes (stirring occasionally).
- Whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, salt and cayenne pepper.
- When quinoa is finished cooking, allow to cool slightly.
- Add chopped cucumber, avocado, cranberries, green onion, herbs, and lemon juice, stirring to combine well.
- Add more salt and pepper to taste, and chill before serving.
Roasted Root Vegetables
- 1 – 2 -3 pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into small pieces
- Several large sweet potatoes, peeled, cut into small pieces
- 1 bunch beets, trimmed but not peeled, scrubbed, cut into small pieces
- 1 large red onion, cut into small pieces (about 2 cups)
- 1 large turnip, peeled, cut into small pieces (about 1 cup)
- Several large carrots, cut into small pieces
- 1 head of garlic, cloves separated, peeled
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
Preheat oven to 425°F. Oil 2 large rimmed baking sheets. Combine all ingredients in very large bowl; toss to coat with oil. Divide vegetables between prepared baking sheets; spread evenly. Sprinkle generously with sea salt and pepper. Roast vegetables until tender and golden brown, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour 15 minutes. (Can be prepared 2 hours ahead; let stand at room temperature. Rewarm in 350°F oven 15 minutes.)
This was an excerpt from Dr Conners’ book, Stop Fighting Cancer and Start Treating the Cause.
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.