Many anti-cancer diets promote a vegetarian approach for treating our #1 most feared modern disease-cancer. And, some people have had wild success in overcoming cancer by following a meat-free, animal fat-free diet. Last weeks article, How to starve cancer cells, touched upon a very helpful way to starve cancer cells which included removing glucose-metabolizing foods from the diet and replacing them with fat and ketone-fuel-burning foods.
A vegetarian diet does not facilitate the body to burn fat or ketones as fuel - it encourages the metabolism of glucose. So, what makes a vegetarian diet helpful for some with cancer and not so much for others? Let's take a look at some of the factors at play...
Keep calm and eat more grass-fed butter (while detoxing)
For starters, most people are carrying around A LOT of toxins in their body. And, most people have no idea the amount of toxins they have. But, let's just say us humans are carrying around enormous amounts of toxins and poisons simply as a result of living in the modern world. We're routinely exposed to car exhaust, bad food, heavy metals, pesticides, GMO's, vaccines, pathogenic germs and poor quality air, to name a few.
Don't run for the hills just yet...there's A LOT you can do to help remove these substances from your body! Keeping calm and eating more grass-fed butter is a great place to start.
Side note as to how we feel about eating...
How we feel about food & nutrition
Well...it looks like we're pretty damn stressed about this whole food thing. Let's see if I can help you with this...take 3 deep belly breaths and keep reading-it'll get easier, just try to have a lot of patience with yourself!
Should I eat a vegetarian diet if I have cancer?
Many people who are successful in treating cancer with a vegetarian diet tend to be successful for 3 reasons:
1. They've eaten a really poor diet for most of their lives and tend to have a lot of toxins built-up in their system (this applies to the majority of our population)
2. They tend to have a type of cancer that is less susceptible to metastasis from glucose-burning fuels (all cancers are susceptible to this long-term, but some have a slightly shorter leeway period-keep reading to learn more about which cancers should RARELY or, more like NEVER be approached with a vegetarian diet)
3. They tend to be in early stage cancer (stage 1 or 2)
Bottom line-people who are successful treating cancer with vegetarianism tend to be more toxic, tend to have a cancer not as significantly impacted by glucose-burning fuels and tend to be in the early stages of their cancer diagnosis.
How does cancer develop?
Cancer develops as a result of cells that reproduce themselves with error codes. Cells with errors develop in all of us, but, not all people develop cancer as a result. So, what's the difference?
When a cell carries error codes, it is designed to experience cellular death-also known as apoptosis.
The difference between someone with cancer and someone without is that an individual with cancer has cells with errors that continue to reproduce more and more cells with error codes one cell after another until a mass or tumor is produced. The cells of people with cancer have forgotten the perfect blueprint of what it looks like to be healthy.
To effectively eliminate and prevent cancer, we need to help our cells stay integral and intact and we need to incorporate modalities and dietary approaches that help cells with errors die off without reproducing.
Eating foods that burn fat and ketones as fuel is at the heart of this matter.
Sugar addicts are more prone to cancer
(as are grain, carb and fruit addicts)
One way our cells develop errors is due to significant damage from eating great gobs of sugar. What starts out as a mole hill (eating sugar as a kid, adolescent, then young adult and eventually adult) becomes a toxic mountain later in life.
The more sugar, carbs, fruit and other glucose-burning and fructose-burning foods we eat, the bigger our mountain becomes. These substances build upon each other like tetris blocks.
Most of us don't incorporate any tactics to dismantle and eliminate our body's "sugar mountains" and the end result is toxic cells with error codes that have forgotten how to be healthy.
These glucose-burning and fructose-burning fuels create a sticky glue-like substance in the body that accumulates and begins to form layers along our arteries, colon wall, brain, liver, anywhere really. This superglue phenomena is a new, actual thing - we even have a name for it called glycation(s).
Glycation(s) didn't exist before the introduction of sugar, processed foods and carb heavy eating. This hardened, glue-like substance builds overtime as a result of eating gluten, sugar, fruit, carbs and processed and packaged foods.
Carbs, fruit, sugar and grains are at the heart of vegetarianism. So, eating this way long-term is not something I would suggest to anyone with or without cancer.
A vegetarian diet may help support cancer remission simply because one is no longer feeding their body toxic food and they've replaced it with far less toxic nutrients. But, let's take a look at the long-term effects...
Long-term effects of a vegetarian diet
Let's take a peek at the long-term effects of a vegetarian diet for individuals with cancer or those in remission (or, for anyone really)...If a vegetarian diet is practiced for a prolonged period of time (often more than 1-2 months at most), the body begins to break itself down due to a fatty acid deficiency and due to the glucose-burning and fructose-burning fuels produced by starches, grains, carbs, fruit and sugar consumption.
A vegan or vegetarian diet IS NOT an ideal long-term cancer supportive dietary plan. It can be helpful for SOME types of cancers and for SOME individuals with cancer for a short period of time.
If and when a vegetarian diet is followed, there are several nutritional considerations to incorporate so one can effectively target cancer cell death, build energy levels while boosting immunity, maintain integral kidney and adrenal function, maintain hormone function, increase appetite and provide the body with the highest amount of nutrients one possibly can.
If a vegan or vegetarian diet is practiced, it should only be done so for a short period of time and is most successful in individuals who have consumed a very, very poor quality diet up until their cancer diagnosis. Fruit should never be part of this diet, particularly for one with cancer. In few cases, I have found a vegetarian diet, rich in animal fats and cholesterol, to be helpful as a short-term, full-body cleanse approach.
Once a vegetarian cleansing phase is completed (if you choose to go this route), it is crucial to start rebuilding the integrity of your body, including your immune system, cells, lymph and digestive organs to full strength by utilizing a high grass-fed fat diet, among many other Primal Food dietary implementations.
When a vegetarian diet may do more harm than good
There are certain cancers that respond much poorer to a vegetarian diet and that may even exacerbate the metastasis of the disease. These include cancer of the spleen, pancreas, brain, digestive tract, eyes and lungs. Although all areas of the body are largely concentrated with fatty acids and cholesterol (each one of our cell membranes contain over 50% saturated fats and cholesterol), these areas are hit heavy by a diet consisting of glucose metabolizing foods (grains, sugar, starchy foods).
When you're seeking a diet that may best fit your wellness needs and goals, it is super important to take all of these approaches into consideration and always do what feels best to you.
If you need a gentle nudge on how to sift and sort through which approach may be best for you, contact me for a free 30-minute consultation to see how my outside-the-box approach to food, nutrition and wellness may benefit you in a HUGE way!
And, if you're ready to get started with a scientifically proven anti-cancer approach to eating, I invite you to purchase my Primal Foods Recipe eBook to start incorporating these ancient, nourishing foods into your lifestyle.
Heathar is a primal foods enthusiast and expert. She has studied food and nutrition for over 15 years and continues to do so to this day. When Heathar isn't in the kitchen, she's either writing, hiking or doing her primal energetics thing. If you are interested in discovering how Heathar's nutrition work may benefit you, contact her to schedule a free 45-minute phone consultation. Until then, Eat, Live and Be Primal!