Today, my friend Dr. Karen is taking over Break Free. Be Fit. with a VERY important message on fighting cancer with food. Karen founded MapleTree Cancer Alliance devotes a big part of her life to helping cancer patients with nutrition, fitness, and fellowship efforts crucial to their treatment plans. I encourage you to share this post with someone you love (print it, even) who may be battling cancer or have a family history of cancer. You never know who may benefit from reading this. I am so glad to be able to call Karen a dear and personal friend, as she’s encouraged me on my journey to healthy living.
“Let food by thy medicine and medicine be thy food” – Hippocrates
About a year ago, I was involved with a seminar called “Cancer Fighting Eating Plan”. The idea behind this class was to teach people some practical nutrition tips on how they could shift towards a plant-based, anti-cancer diet. This class was very well attended. In fact, there wasn’t an empty seat in the room. Among all the faces in the crowd, my attention focused on an elderly couple seated in the first row. They listened very intently to every word that was said, and took several pages of notes during the one-hour lecture. They had come prepared with a list of questions, and asked every single one. I could tell that this was a subject that was very meaningful to them. So, after the seminar, I made a point to talk with them. I wanted to know their story.
In 2011, at the age of 72, the woman who had never smoked a day in her life, was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer. Her prognosis was not good. Her husband of more than 50 years held her hand as she told me that after her diagnosis, they decided to completely restructure their diet. She had never paid much attention to what she ate before her diagnosis, but now it was her mission to eat a diet that was as healthy as possible. They cut out all processed foods. Reduced their sugar consumption. Stopped eating meat. Switched to organic. Ate their colors.
And you know what?
Three years later, she was cancer free.
Of course, this woman obviously benefited from the work of the highly skilled oncologists and effective anti-cancer treatments she was given. Yet, we can’t negate the positive effect her dietary changes had on her health.
According to the most recent statistics put forth by the American Cancer Society, men in the US have a 1 in 2 lifetime risk of developing cancer. This means that 1 out of every 2 men living in America today are at risk of developing some type of cancer at some point in their life. For US women, the risk is 1 in 3. Some of the factors that put us at risk for developing cancer include genetics, hormones, environmental safety, and food.
You are what you eat.
Don’t believe me? Take a look at some other cultures around the world.
People living in Greece tend to follow a diet that is very high in vegetables and fruit, whole grains, legumes, and seafood, and low in milk and red meat. These people tend to have a much lower incidence of cardiovascular disease and cancer than people in other parts of the world.
In Japan, their diet focuses primarily on vegetables and seafood. Food is rarely processed, and plates are colorful. Japanese women have the lowest rates of obesity among modern cultures.
The French focus on portion control by using smaller plates. As a result, they tend to consume about 300 calories less each day than we do in America.
Your diet has a tremendous impact on your health.
In America, the standard diet tends to be heavy in saturated fats, partially-hydrogenated oils, refinedcarbohydrates, and highly processed foods. This type of diet is linked to obesity, cancer, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. Yet, a healthy diet; one that is centered on fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, lean meats, and fish, will give your body the nutrients it needs to perform physically, maintain wellness, and fight diseases such as cancer.
In other words, your food choices can either put you at risk for developing cancer or protect you from developing cancer. Check out the anti-cancer eating plan for helpful tips and suggestions.
Karen Wonders, Ph.D. is the Founder and Director of Maple Tree Cancer Alliance. She first became interested in Cancer Exercise Rehabilitation in 2003, while earning her doctoral degree in Exercise Physiology at the University of Northern Colorado. There, she became certified as a Cancer Exercise Specialist and worked at the Rocky Mountain Cancer Rehabilitation Institute as a cancer exercise trainer. It was through this work experience that she was able to witness first-hand the positive effect that supervised exercise and proper nutrition can have on the life of an individual being treated with cancer.