Holistic Nutrition

Started by anonymous, January 26, 2015
9 replies for this topic
anonymous

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Posted on
January 26, 2015

The importance of a nourishing diet as a factor in maintaining health has been at the foundation of all medical treatment up until the beginning of the 20th century. It has been our evolutionary and cultural heritages. Ancestors would pass down the knowledge to identify foods that nourish and those that threaten a more insidious outcome. As our culture deviates further and further from our food system, so does our relationship to health.

Home gardens have been replaced by factories and the Standard American Diet has indeed become SAD. The question of what to eat in health and in sickness, plagues us all. Working with cancer patients, I try hard to be patient, sensitive and empathetic while giving advice on this dietary conundrum. When we are stuck in a medical paradigm that focuses only on medical treatments, the lack of commitment to nutrition is clear. In the face of such a formidable enemy that is cancer, I believe we must recommit to making nutrition and prevention a focus in our healthcare and scientific research. Indeed, the National Cancer Institute recognizes prevention as “the first line of defense against cancer”and this inevitably includes nutrition.

Eating fresh, whole foods is the best way to meet the intertwined goals of weight loss, health maintenance, treating cancer and then keeping it at bay. It is important to remember that food should not and cannot be judged one component at a time. Low saturated fat for heart health; high fiber for gut health; low sugar and refined carbohydrate for diabetes; low sodium for high blood pressure, etc. We cannot use one nutrient at a time to protect one attribute of health. Rather, it is overall wholesome diets that form overall defenses against a whole host of ills. Time and time again a healthy diet has been shown to be a pillar of health: to improve prevention, improve survivorship and improve quality of life. 2-6

We are unlikely to reach health if we continue to view nutrition one component at a time. In fact, it is often this reductionist approach that leads to confusing and contradictory headlines. Optimal nutrition must instead be viewed holistically, which is to say whole-istically. This integrative approach to health similarly considers the whole person instead of, say, focusing on a cluster of symptoms or diseases. Integrative medicine considers the promotion of health and wellness and the prevention of disease in addition to the treatment of disease. The integrative treatment of cancer must include nutrition as an adjunct to surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Nourishing food is one of the best medicines we have.

It is beyond time to bend the arch of medicine to include and prioritize better nutrition in our medical systems. As a healthcare professional, I feel a certain responsibility to provide a foundation of nutrition knowledge to a broad population. Thus, I am so happy to be contributing to CURE. I am eager to hear your thoughts and comments. We must each make a commitment to smart choices as individuals, families, communities and as a society. Change begins with this shared sense of responsibility. Share in my responsibility and together we’ll make strides toward better nutrition.

Everyone eats and everyone has theories or opinions on food and nutrition. My best advice is to listen to what resonates with you and take a small step today to commit to change. I’m confident that one small change will lead to another and then another.


1. Cuomo, Margaret. A World Without Cancer. New York: Rodale, 2012: p.128.
2. Second Expert Report: Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective. World Cancer Research Fund and American Institute of Cancer Research. 2007.
3. Izzo, C. “New Studies Show Importance of Diet for Lowering Breast Cancer Risk and Preventing Recurrence.” Curetoday. Published January 23, 2015. Accessed January 24, 2015. (Link: http://www.curetoday.com/articles/New-Studies-Show-Importance-of-Diet-for-Lowering-Breast-Cancer-Risk-and-Preventing-Recurrence-)
4. Rock, C.L. “Nutrition and Physical Activity Guidelines for Cancer Survivors.” CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. 62, 4 (2012): 242-74.
5. Knoops, K.T.B., et al., “Mediterranean Diet, Lifestyle Factors, and 10-Year Mortality in Elderly European Men and Women--The HALE Project,” JAMA 292 (2004):1433-39.
6. Khaw, K.T. et al., “Combined Impact of Health Behaviors and Mortality in Men and Women: The EPIC-Norfolk Prospective Population Study,” PLoS Medicine 5, no.1 (2008), e12.
 

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Anonymous

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Posted on
January 26, 2015

The importance of a nourishing diet as a factor in maintaining health has been at the foundation of all medical treatment up until the beginning of the 20th century. It has been our evolutionary and cultural heritages. Ancestors would pass down the knowledge to identify foods that nourish and those that threaten a more insidious outcome. As our culture deviates further and further from our food system, so does our relationship to health.

Home gardens have been replaced by factories and the Standard American Diet has indeed become SAD. The question of what to eat in health and in sickness, plagues us all. Working with cancer patients, I try hard to be patient, sensitive and empathetic while giving advice on this dietary conundrum. When we are stuck in a medical paradigm that focuses only on medical treatments, the lack of commitment to nutrition is clear. In the face of such a formidable enemy that is cancer, I believe we must recommit to making nutrition and prevention a focus in our healthcare and scientific research. Indeed, the National Cancer Institute recognizes prevention as “the first line of defense against cancer”and this inevitably includes nutrition.

Eating fresh, whole foods is the best way to meet the intertwined goals of weight loss, health maintenance, treating cancer and then keeping it at bay. It is important to remember that food should not and cannot be judged one component at a time. Low saturated fat for heart health; high fiber for gut health; low sugar and refined carbohydrate for diabetes; low sodium for high blood pressure, etc. We cannot use one nutrient at a time to protect one attribute of health. Rather, it is overall wholesome diets that form overall defenses against a whole host of ills. Time and time again a healthy diet has been shown to be a pillar of health: to improve prevention, improve survivorship and improve quality of life. 2-6

We are unlikely to reach health if we continue to view nutrition one component at a time. In fact, it is often this reductionist approach that leads to confusing and contradictory headlines. Optimal nutrition must instead be viewed holistically, which is to say whole-istically. This integrative approach to health similarly considers the whole person instead of, say, focusing on a cluster of symptoms or diseases. Integrative medicine considers the promotion of health and wellness and the prevention of disease in addition to the treatment of disease. The integrative treatment of cancer must include nutrition as an adjunct to surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Nourishing food is one of the best medicines we have.

It is beyond time to bend the arch of medicine to include and prioritize better nutrition in our medical systems. As a healthcare professional, I feel a certain responsibility to provide a foundation of nutrition knowledge to a broad population. Thus, I am so happy to be contributing to CURE. I am eager to hear your thoughts and comments. We must each make a commitment to smart choices as individuals, families, communities and as a society. Change begins with this shared sense of responsibility. Share in my responsibility and together we’ll make strides toward better nutrition.

Everyone eats and everyone has theories or opinions on food and nutrition. My best advice is to listen to what resonates with you and take a small step today to commit to change. I’m confident that one small change will lead to another and then another.


1. Cuomo, Margaret. A World Without Cancer. New York: Rodale, 2012: p.128.
2. Second Expert Report: Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective. World Cancer Research Fund and American Institute of Cancer Research. 2007.
3. Izzo, C. “New Studies Show Importance of Diet for Lowering Breast Cancer Risk and Preventing Recurrence.” Curetoday. Published January 23, 2015. Accessed January 24, 2015. (Link: http://www.curetoday.com/articles/New-Studies-Show-Importance-of-Diet-for-Lowering-Breast-Cancer-Risk-and-Preventing-Recurrence-)
4. Rock, C.L. “Nutrition and Physical Activity Guidelines for Cancer Survivors.” CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. 62, 4 (2012): 242-74.
5. Knoops, K.T.B., et al., “Mediterranean Diet, Lifestyle Factors, and 10-Year Mortality in Elderly European Men and Women--The HALE Project,” JAMA 292 (2004):1433-39.
6. Khaw, K.T. et al., “Combined Impact of Health Behaviors and Mortality in Men and Women: The EPIC-Norfolk Prospective Population Study,” PLoS Medicine 5, no.1 (2008), e12.
 

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Anonymous

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Posted on
January 28, 2015
I have been living with multiple myeloma since February 2007. I have always been proactive in NY care. Luckily, MD Anderson has an integrative Medicine department. There is a dedicated nutritionist in the department as well as medical doctors, nurses, physical therapy and massage, acupuncture and many classes. I couldn't agree more that a holistic approach is the best way to go. I eat a whole foods diet including green drink. I take some supplements. I went over everything with the integrative medical doctor. My hematologist put the referral in for me. She doesn't t time to keep up with the nutritional aspects of treating myeloma. I hope all cancer centers ad op t the integrative holistic approach. I enjoyed your blog.
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Anonymous

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Posted on
January 28, 2015
So happy to hear you have found the integrative care you find so supportive! I encourage you to continue with the plan your team has provided including a diet of natural and wholesome foods. I look forward to hearing from you more!
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Anonymous

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Posted on
January 28, 2015
Great article! You have summarized exactly what ails our nation. Unfortunately, in America medicine is big business as is commercial farming. I, too, was diagnosed with MM in 2/2007. After coming through tratment and an auto SCT, I started to look at food in a whole different light. Was it Hippocrates that wrote, "let medicine be your food and let food be your medicine"? If it comes in a box or a bag, I don't see it as "food" any more. I have begun to grow a small garden each year using only heirloom plants. As a result, I have begun to respect and value quality produce as I never did before.
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Anonymous

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Posted on
January 29, 2015
So what diet does the author recomend. I am aware of the need for it but would really like to hear actual recomendations of food and the article is really incomplete without that.
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Anonymous

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Posted on
January 29, 2015
Thank you tor helping nutrition become a larger dialogue in treatment and recovery. I am a Stage III Endometrial Cancer survivor (!) I wish I knew 'then' (2006) what I know 'now.' I am currently allergic to many foods I ate during treatment; dairy, wheat and eggs; and I have discovered that this is not uncommon among cancer treatment survivors. I met a woman whose oncologist recommended taking dairy digestive aides during treatment. so she WOULD NOT become dairy intolerant. Wish I had known about that! And then there is the kidney issue from drugs like Adriamycin. Apparently it can cause renal failure after about 5 years. Mine went off like an alarm clock that I did not know was 'set.' Maybe nutritionists and doctors should caution patients to 'protect' their kidneys from salt, protein, pain killers, cold medicine, alcohol, etc. Too little, too late! I survived the cancer (and I am grateful), but surviving the CURE has been more of a challenge. .
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Anonymous

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Posted on
January 29, 2015
I look forward to an opportunity to speak to you at some cancer event in the future. I founded Annie Appleseed Project to share information about complementary and alternative cancer therapies. I was astounded that 'nutrition' was considered as outside the norm for so long. I am with you in expecting it to be part of EVERY SINGLE opening conversation with people with cancer. What we eat is what we are. It also goes well with physical activity and the joy of life. Detox is needed in our opinion and some dietary supplements.
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Anonymous

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Posted on
January 31, 2015
I am elated to see someone willing to speak out about cancer and nutrition. Way too many medical professionals simply say, "All things in moderation." Most docs don't have the training or interest in nutrition - they seem to consider nutrition meeting the caloric needs so that the patient does not lose weight. When I was first diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer I lost 30 pounds and for some reason I was the only one concerned about this. Eventually after asking repeatedly about seeing a nutritionist I was referred to a woman who could say nothing other than Ensure and Boost. I tried to tell her that I was interested in getting the calories while eating whole foods and she said I could not do it. Well, I did. I regained 20 pounds by adding in coconut oil and avocado on a regular basis along with veggies, dark chocolate and whole grains. My issue was that nobody was truly willing to help with the whole foods concept. Again, thank you for speaking up.
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Anonymous

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Posted on
February 02, 2015
Thank you all for your thoughtful comments. It's heartening to see how we are all in this together despite having individual journeys. In future posts, I plan to get more specific and detailed about food/nutrition recommendations. To answer Mr. Lewis' question I brief, I recommend a variety of vegetables including brassica, fruits including berries, minimally processed whole grains (brain may or may not count), legumes, nuts/seeds, healthy fats including fish, all kinds of mushrooms, herbs, spices, teas and lean proteins. Variety is key. Try one new item a week! More to come.
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Anonymous

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Posted on
February 05, 2015
My husband was diagnosed with Stage IV Colon Cancer in 2012. As his Caregiver, I immediately went into researching what would complement his Chemo treatments to help his body fight this nasty disease better. We are very lucky in that his Doctor is open to alternative medicine and eating properly of course. When he lost 37 lbs. and could not eat, we had to resort to MM. This helped turn his situation around. We also used Rebecca Katz' FASS program to change the taste of food on the spot for his never-ending changing taste buds during mealtime. I learned that there are so many herbs and spices that can assist with the side effects during this battle. I make him the ugliest "green" drink that includes Matcha Green Tea, turmeric, ginger and too many other herbs, spices and supplements to list here but we both believe it helped save his life along with the chemo. He's not out-of-the-woods yet but he has made an amazing comeback since the start of his journey. He was told he had 6 months if he did nothing which for us was not an option. There was a period of time when he couldn't gain weight and he ended up consuming loads of junk food, ice cream, anything with tons of calories. I was appalled but now he is back to eating healthily with an occasional "bad" snack or dessert. I'm feeling better too because I hated seeing him eat so poorly. Our doctor told him to go ahead and eat whatever he could to get the weight on and then we could resort back to a better diet. Every body's makeup is different and you are so correct in that we need to be aware of what is best for each patient as one thing might work for you but not for the next person who has the same disease as you. This is certainly not a cut-and dry topic but we can all do our best and be mentors or advocates for those in need. We have already started mentoring other cancer patients. I haven't stopped studying either because if something new comes up that can aid my husband, I want to get it for him as soon as possible. I am anxious to hear what your future posts will be on foods, etc. as you may be able to assist me in this endeavor. Thank you for your posts!
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