Saturday, June 29, 2013

Anti Cancer Diet

After ten years of research, personal experience, and interviews with cancer patients I have concluded that cancer cannot be prevented or cured through diet alone. I have read or “heard tell” of some cures but personally am aware of only two such cases.

Gail had done three rounds chemo—none of which succeeded—for non Hodgkin’s lymphoma. They were trying unsuccessfully to harvest her stem cells for a transplant when Gail decided she’d had enough of conventional treatment and sought alternatives. She settled on a Qi Gong, a probiotic diet, and other lifestyle changes. She rallied and has been cancer free for eight years.

Jess Ainscough, The Wellness Warrior, was diagnosed at twenty-two with epithelioid sarcoma, a rare cancer that attacked her arm and shoulder. The only cure offered by her doctors was amputation. Instead she chose the Gerson Therapy which she followed rigorously for two years. Today she is healthy.

You may disagree with the opinions in this blog entry.You may know of more success stories from people who chose alternative healing methods.I am not here to debate or argue or dissuade you from the path you have chosen. My only purpose is to share ideas which worked for us.

There is no doubt in my mind that changes in lifestyle help—both in prevention of cancer and survival. And better all round health makes your survival more enjoyable. As Mickey Mantle said, “If I knew I was going to live this long I’d have taken better care of myself.”

If you are taking care of a cancer patient now isn’t the time to try some radical diet like Paleo or Gluten free whose benefits are debatable. Instead modify your diet gradually in ways that may not “cure” cancer but will be a step in the right direction.

Of course, you will try to increase your consumption of fruits and vegetables, fish, whole grains. Everyone knows that. But here are some more specific, nearly painless changes you can make in your diet to start you on your way to better helath.

1. Switch to whole grain bread and cereals.
2. Buy organic milk.
3. Use real butter—no butter substitutes.
4. Switch to steel cut oatmeal. If, like Jim, you hate oatmeal, at least go with a less processed, low sugar cereal (Cheerios or Rice Krispies).
5. Use olive oil.
6. Cut back on sugar laden foods.
7. Make your own desserts, cookies, snacks and eat them with a meal—not alone.
8. Buy organic when possible especially for the Dirty Dozen.
9. Limit restaurant and fast food eating to once a week for each.
10. Avoid processed foods—which unfortunately for the time challenged caregiver are also the convenience foods.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Cancer Fighting Foods

One of the most difficult parts of caregiving is planning and preparing nutritional meals. After Jim’s first surgery in 2002 I was diligent about preparing fresh vegetable juice for him three times a day. He drank twenty-four ounces of organic carrot juice daily for three months to appease me but balked when I added greens or beets. I was hopeful that the nutrients would prepare him for the brutal chemotherapy he was to begin when he healed from the surgery. I don’t know whether the juicing helped but the chemo was successful and Jim tolerated it--the chemo not the juicing :)-- better than expected.

During chemotherapy we gave up juicing; I was happy for him to eat anything—nutritious or not—when he felt so miserable. When chemo and radiation were completed, we gave up juicing but did make other dietary changes I believed beneficial—reduced sugar, increased fruits and vegetables, and eliminated processed foods. I admit I did this in periodic bursts of good intentions interrupted by four recurrences of lung cancer and a bout with prostate cancer.

Maintaining changes in diet are difficult—especially when living with cancer. Food shopping and preparation takes a big chunk out of my already busy schedule.
Last week we got the news that Jim has a fifth cancer recurrence in the T3 rib area. We are not sure what or when the therapy will be but in the mean time, I am once again attempting to clean up our diet.

Changes to be made:
1. Less eating out
2. Less processed food
3. Fewer desserts (only made at home)
4. Smoothies (Jim has lost weight and has muscle wasting.)
5. More water

I’m not sure how long this effort will last. We’re at day three and I’m finding it taxing. I spent three hours yesterday planning menus, shopping at two grocery stores, and putting groceries away. A smoothie for breakfast today, a quinoa dish for dinner tonight, and sandwiches for lunch took a chunk out of my day. In between I did washing, some yard work, took care of my ailing cat, and went for a short walk with Jim to get him back into some form of exercise.

Going out for Mexican or a hamburger, as we usually do on a Saturday night, would have been much easier—and more fun. Hope I can stay motivated to see this through—at least until he starts treatment again.

I am posting one of the recipes I used today. Surprisingly, this dish appealed to Jim during chemo. The quinoa, a mild tasting grain-like seed, is high in protein as are the beans. We eat this as main dish with a whole wheat cheese quesadilla. Bon App├ętit.

Black Bean-Quinoa Salad

15 oz can black beans drained and rinsed
1 1/2 T. red wine vinegar
1/4 t. kosher salt
1/4 t. cracked pepper
3/4 C. quinoa
1 1/2 C. water
1 large red pepper, roasted, seeded, & diced
1 small red onion diced (2/3 C)
2 T. pickled jalapeno chilies, diced
1/2 C fresh cilantro, chopped

4 1/2 T. fresh lime juice
1/4 t. kosher salt
3/4 t. ground cumin
1/3 C. EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)

Toss drained beans w/ vinegar, salt & pepper. Let stand for 30 min.
In another bowl wash quinoa in cold water, drain into a coffee filter or fine sieve.
Bring 1 1/2 C water to boil. Add quinoa. Lower heat and cover; cook 15 min. Set pot off heat and let stand for 20 min to finish absorbing water.

Transfer to large plate or bowl and allow to cool. When the quinoa is room temperature, put in large bowl and add the drained beans, red bell pepper, red onions, jalapenos, and cilantro. Toss gently.
In small bowl whisk the lime juice, salt, and cumin. Add oil in a stream whisking continuously. Add dressing to bean mixture.

Makes 6 servings, 1 C each.
260 cal.