DIET TO FIGHT CANCER 

October 2018

 

Since diagnosis I have read countless books on nutrition for cancer given my underlying interest in food, and during this time,

my diet has rarely been static. On day 1 I cut out sugar, although still have yet to read any watertight research on how it fuels cancer, before turning vegan a week later. Six months in, I learnt more about cancer as a metabolic disease and tried a ketogenic diet, but would be surprised if I ever reached ketosis, never having measured it. These days I follow what can be best described as a low carb, whole foods, plant based diet with some occasional high quality meat & fish. Below I share some of my ideas and the research that drove me to make each decision.

 

DISCLAIMER. I am not a qualified physician and none of the below should be read as medical advice. I am merely sharing what I do.


Water

 

Drink plenty, using a Berkey Water filter, which removes a large number of contaminants, fluoride and arsenic in an economic fashion, plus it's portable. We have the three gallon metal one, perfect for a family of five and there is also a portable water bottle which claims to be able to filter pond water to make it drinkable. 

 

Otherwise, drink water from glass bottles (e.g. Highland Spring) rather than plastic bottles.

 

Hot Drinks

 

Having read a report that drinking lots of very hot drinks may contribute to oesophageal cancer, I am trying to let them cool down a little first! 

 

Hot water and lemon first thing in the morning. 1-2 cups to flush the system. Lemon juice may also good for the liver in case your enzymes are elevated here. 

 

Bulletproof coffee - 1-2 cups using a good organic coffee and adding 1 tbls MCT oil, 1 tbls grass-fed unsalted butter and 1 tbls cacao butter for a mocha twist! Even if you don't have all these oils/butters, just adding one is good. There is actually "bulletproof coffee" on sale on iherb, which is simply ground coffee, but I tend to use CafeCeps organic instant coffee because it has the added bonus of containing cordyceps and reishi mushrooms which are also good for fighting cancer. Starting the day with these bulletproof coffees will flood and nourish the body with great fats, while waking you up! I had avoided coffee for a while but research I have recently actually is in favour of coffee for many cancers.


Green tea has shown evidence in preventing malignancy, inhibiting metastasis and inducing apoptosis (cancer cell death) as per this research: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/28288025/ 

while sencha green tea may specifically be  most relevant to bile duct cancer: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4724819/


Chaga and turkey tail mushroom extract – lots of evidence supporting medicinal mushrooms' anti-tumour  in the fight against cancer. PSK is even regularly recommended in Japan when treating cancer:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK424937/

 

Fresh ginger – if nauseous from chemo. Ginger also has anti-cancer properties.

 

Fresh turmeric tea - I find this more pleasant if you add some fresh lemon. If you have to, add 1/2 teaspoon Manuka honey, but I try to avoid all sugar forms including this.

 

NB. Essiac Tea – I own it but can’t bare the taste. No scientific data supporting it’s beneficial despite some anecdotal. Available on Amazon from Starwest Botanicals.

 

Alcohol

 

Limited. Despite my oncologist saying it's fine to have the odd drink and my liver currently functioning perfectly, I believe it's prudent to maintain its operation at maximum capacity and not compromise it in any way for now. That said I have started having one glass a week at the odd party to make myself feel more human! 

 

Diet

 

Since diagnosis, I have stuck to whole, real foods as much as possible and while turning vegan on diagnosis, I later shifted this to a relaxed ketogenic diet based on the following research on ketogenic diets.

 

Below are the guidelines for a ketogenic diet, but I am far more relaxed these days as I focus on other therapies:

  • limited protein (1g per 1kg of body weight e.g. I weigh 54kg so should eat 54g of protein. This doesn't mean 54g of steak as the 54g portion is not pure protein). I eat only very good quality grass-fed red meat in limited quantities, organ meat (grass-fed liver) organic chicken, & wild salmon. These I buy from mmfreshfood.com in Hong Kong.

  • very limited complex carbs and no refined carbs or refined sugars. 20g of digestable carbohydrate per day, so if the label includes dietary fibre, subtract this from the carbohydrate number.

  • high fat (avocados, nuts, coconut oil, goat's butter or raw cultured butter available in City 'Super) - this is actually quite hard to do but I am learning. The more fat you eat, the fuller you will fill and less you will crave carbs. Think bulletproof coffees, nuts to snack on, berries with cream, cheese...

  • lots of veggies but limiting the starchy ones e.g. potatoes and pumpkins

  • berries as the only fruit (tough but I try to limit the other fruits at least )

 

Meat

  • Avoid all processed meats which are one of the few foods actually listed by the WHO to be carcinogenic: https://www.who.int/features/qa/cancer-red-meat/en/

  • I eat organic chicken (once per week) and I like to buy this from Gonzalo in Hong Kong. They supply kosher organic chicken and it's some of the most delicious I have tasted. I always make a bone broth with the carcass afterwards.

  • I occasionally eat grass-fed calves’ liver (organ meat is the most nutritious) available at meatmarket.com.hk and grass-fed beef and lamb from mmfreshfood.com.

  • Bone broth unlimited! Make chicken stock and beef/lamb stock from bones. Bone broth is packed full of minerals, amino acids (so supportive if on a mainly vegan diet), and good for bones, joints, inflammation and digestion. I make a large pot once a week then freeze it in individual mugs, defrosting one each day to drink. When I warm up the broth, I sometimes add a slice of ginger or fresh chilli. 

 

Fish

  • I eat more fish than meat, targeting salmon (mackerel and sardines also good) due to the high level of omega 3 fatty acids and tuna (anti-angiogenic, as per a TED talk on how to eat to starve cancer). This talk includes a helpful table on which foods are anti-angiogenic e.g. vitamin E, tuna, green tea etc.

 

Soy

  • My  cancer is ER negative so not hormonally driven from what I understand so perhaps soy & its derivatives are passable. I don’t eat too much however and try to ensure the soy I eat is organic and non-GM. The TED talk “can we eat to starve cancer” also points out that soy is anti-angiogenic…. It also contains genistein which according to recent research "inhibited the growth of human cholangiocarcinoma cell lines by reducing the activation of EGFR and AKT, and by attenuating the production of IL6". Full report here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/29693152/

  • I sometimes substitute soy sauce with coconut aminos which is soy-free or tamari which is a gluten-free soy sauce

 

Vegetables

  • Buy organic where possible, especially in the case of the “dirty dozen”. The latter is a term coined by the Environmental Working Group who test the pesticide residues in all produce to determine which are the best & worst. The dirty dozen includes the worst offenders which are usually leafy vegetables as well as strawberries and apples. The "lean fifteen" however are often thick skinned e.g. avocados, pineapples. 

  • Juice once a day with mainly greens avoiding too much sugar from the fruits, and ensure veg is the main part of every meal e.g. salads, stir-fried, roasted veg.

  • Target:  broccoli and other cruciferous veg e.g. cabbage, cauliflower and brussel sprouts. Cooking them kills the enzymes that fight cancer. Sprinkling mustard seed on cooked cruciferous veg brings them back to life apparently (read this in “How Not to Die” by Michael Greger. Tomatoes, onions, garlic, leeks, sweet potato, leafy greens (kale, spinach), parsley, turmeric, ginger, peppers, artichoke, mushrooms (shiitake, maaitake). Mushrooms and asparagus are more nutritious when cooked.

 

Fruit

  • Buy organic where possible, especially in the case of the “dirty dozen”as per above.

  • One small banana per day IF potassium is low (mine was low during chemo), no more as it’s high in sugar. Bananas useful to sweeten chia puddings.

  • Avoid most fruits due to the high sugar content, except berries which are lowest in sugar and high in ellagic acid, which is anti-carcinogenic. Also use berry powders (acai, sea buckthorn,  blackcurrant) in smoothies and breakfast bowls.

  • Use apples & pears sparingly, sometimes to sweeten green juices. I had read very little nutritional benefits to apples until a recent study showed that apple peel may have it benefits in fighting prostate cancer

  • Target berries, pineapple, custard apple, mango, mangosteen, red grapes for their anti-cancer properties, although be wary of their high sugar content! https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5187535/

                                                                                                               

Nuts and seeds

  • Buy raw nuts and seeds and soak overnight to reduce phytic acid and improve digestability while increasing protein and nutrient content. That said, if you are supplementing with IP6, be aware that this contains phytic acid, so is it really worth soaking all your nuts?!

  • Of all the nuts, walnuts have the highest level of antioxidants and anti-profilerative properties,  closely followed by pecans, as per this research. Brazil nuts are an excellent source of selenium with just 1-2 providing your RDA, although I take 4 for good measure!

  • Of the seeds, target sunflower and pumpkin seeds.

  • Eat apricot kernels (high in B12 plus laetrile – meant to kill off cancer, but nothing proven) but don’t exceed 5 in one mouthful as tough on liver I heard…

  • Snack nuts/seeds these, sprinkle on cereals, blend and make nut milks. I also like to fry a handful of almonds or pumpkin seeds in a tbls of tamari for a snack. 

  • Ensure there is always an nut or seed milk on hand in the fridge. Infuse it with a vanilla pod but otherwise do not add sweetener (not even a date).

  • Chia pudding made with almond milk is a breakfast staple! Sweeten with a banana and top with interesting seeds, powders and frozen berries.

 

Fats

 

Powders

Add these whenever possible to breakfast bowls of cereal, chia pudding, smoothies and juices.

  • Flaxseed (ground is easier to absorb and best to be freshly ground...)

  • Sea buckthorn – great food source of Vit C

  • Red rice bran extract

  • Moringa (tumour suppressive)

  • Spirulina (chelates heavy metals)

  • Chlorella

  • Blueberry

 

Dairy

  • Avoid cow’s milk unless from Jersey or Guernsey cows (tricky to find in HK!). Check out this blog alunglife.com written by the husband of a lady with stage 4 NSCLC and his reasons for avoiding cow's milk and red meat: http://alunglife.com/week-67-68-hello-sun-goodbye-milk/

  • Sheep’s and goat’s milk in very limited limited quantities e.g. Roquefort, goat’s cheese, feta, halloumi plus yoghurts from these milks.

  • Substitute dairy milks with homemade nut milks – mainly almond, hemp and macadamia. Make these from scratch by soaking nuts overnight then blending with water but you can cheat by blending nut butter with water, as per this recipe for easy nut milks from One Green Planet.

 

Salt

  • Celtic salt in limited quantities only which is mineral rich and unprocessed. 

 

Sugar

  • Avoid all refined sugar.

  • Use inulin powder to sweeten oatmeal/chia pudding. It never leaves the gut/is not absorbed which is why it does not cause any elevation of blood sugar. It's also a prebiotic supporting 'the right gut flora' by creating an 'atmosphere' that attracts the good bacterias such as Akkermansia Muciniphila. Those responding best to immunotherapy seem to be most colonised with this particular gut bacteria. If added to food it actually decreases the elevation of blood sugar that the other foods would have caused - quite significantly:

  • Very limited quantity of dates, raw honey (at least it has probiotic purposes) and other sugar substitutes e.g. maple syrup, brown rice syrup, agave.

  • Stevia (must be the leaf) unlimited but I don’t like the taste so I don’t use it.

 

Fermented foods – with every meal, and/or take a probiotic

  • Kefir

  • Kombucha

  • Sauerkraut

  • Kimchi

  • Miso – buy white miso from City Super. Also Foodcraft has interesting quinoa and chickpea misos.