My husband’s uncle and other family members are visiting Houston while the uncle is tested at MD Anderson Cancer Center following a cancer diagnosis by his physician. Whenever I learn about a family member’s or friend’s cancer diagnosis, I think about all the other times I’ve heard this news. Because both of my parents come from large families, I have a very large extended family, and I have heard about their cancer diagnoses and those of friends too many times to count. Cancers of all kinds have touched people I care about, taken the lives of some, and contributed to the deaths of others due to complications following surgeries and therapies. I have always been interested in eating in a healthy way, but several years ago, I began researching this intently, hoping to find a way to prevent future cancer diagnoses for my children, since they seem to have inherited a susceptibility. Here is what I’ve learned.
- eat mostly plant foods, a large variety as close to their natural state as possible
- eat fermented foods (yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, etc.)
- avoid conventional produce and animal foods (choose organic & grass fed if you eat animal meats, dairy, or eggs)
- choose wild caught fish and seafood over farm raised (careful: some species are contaminated by pollutants)
- avoid most processed foods (stuff that comes in boxes, bottles, cans, and bags)
- sugar debilitates the immune system and encourages cancer growth
Little by little, I have been changing my family’s diet to incorporate these suggestions. It hasn’t been easy for a number of reasons. Obviously, a fresh plant based meal that includes raw and/or fermented foods and avoids processed items takes time to plan and prepare. Organic products often cost more than conventional ones. Sometimes, my family is reluctant to try a new dish, or asks me not to make it again. Yet, I have persevered. I’ll post my ongoing efforts from time to time. If you wish to suggest the topic of a future post based on the list above, please let me know in the comments section. Whichever topic gets the most requests will appear first. Or, maybe I’ll just have to share my plans to create more fermented foods right in my kitchen (yes, I already make my own yogurt)!
Perhaps you already know about the bullet points above, or maybe you are as surprised as my students are when I talk to them about this. Here is some good news: the diet described above can also keep you healthy in general and protect you from chronic and age related diseases. If you are interested in reading more, here is a list of some of the books I have learned from:
Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats by Sally Fallon with Mary G. Enig
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life (P.S.) by Barbara Kingsolver
The Unhealthy Truth: One Mother's Shocking Investigation into the Dangers of America's Food Supply-- and What Every Family Can Do to Protect Itself by Robyn O’Brien with Rachel Kranz
Disease-Proof Your Child: Feeding Kids Right by Joel Fuhrman, M.D.
SuperFoods Rx: Fourteen Foods That Will Change Your Life by Steven Pratt, M.D.
The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan