Cancer isn’t an easy topic for many people.
The likelihood is that cancer will affect us or someone we know at some point in our lives–it is one of the most pervasive disharmonies. How cancer will impact a person, their life, health and those around them varies vastly–just like the many varieties of cancers. At one time, the word cancer was something that brought absolute fear. Now, with years of improved awareness, understanding, assessment, diagnosis and treatment the overall sense of impending fear is decreased. What we do with what we have is the question.
So how do I work with cancer? I see my role as a Asian (Chinese) Medicine practitioner and Amma Therapist as one of support. I present recommendations and guidance for nutrition and lifestyle habits like meditation and exercise that can help the client with their process whether that is getting a lumpectomy or dealing with stage 4 Liver cancer. Amma bodywork is very beneficial in moving the Qi, Blood and Fluids, easing pain and discomfort, even helping settle the side-effects of chemo and radiation. Treatment for cancer usually includes a team of practitioners from a variety of modalities including western treatment. It is not up to me to decide on the treatment path that a client should use, that is for the client (and sometimes their family) to choose.
Perhaps the most important skill I have for assisting clients with cancer is Amma therapy. Highly focused and specialized, Amma therapy bodywork can help stabilize and harmonize the body’s energetic, physical and mental being. Point usage and work can be focused on increasing the body’s ability to absorb nutrients, improving energy and immunity and curbing the nausea and malaise that often accompany chemo and radiation. Treatments can also help comfort and guide the client to a place of understanding and peace and help them come to terms with their illness, where they are at and how they can move forward, even if that means preparing to die.
Below is a very generalized list of recommendations that I give to those who are treating or managing cancer. More detailed and precise recommendations are made based on the client’s individual situation by taking into consideration the type and location of cancer and their, their age, gender, other current health issues and health history. It gets personal and it gets very real.
General recommendations for treating cancer
All food should be organic
Growth hormones, antibiotics, pesticides and other chemicals in non-organic foods challenge the immune system and will increase toxins in the body. Organic foods are also better for the planet in general.
Foods To Avoid
Don’t consider this the ‘dreaded don’t list’. Nothing is more imperative when fighting major disorders than nutrition. Our bodies need the best foods available to give us optimum opportunity to live with greater vitality and health.
These dietary recommendations can seem extreme especially in a culture where we are accustomed to eating anything we want when we want. Often this trend or habit magnifies the disharmonies in the bodies. Remember the body can only create or heal with what it has to work with, therefore giving the body the best possible advantage with excellent foods is a must.
Note: the top three listed here are the greatest offenders and will challenge the body’s digestion and immunity the most.
Get rid of the sugar
Cancer thrives on sugar, rich, damp forming, and refined foods. Simple carbohydrates (breads, pastries, etc.), sugars, greasy or fried foods, dairy and processed foods need to be removed from the diet.
Remove all animal protein
Animal proteins are powerful building blocks, increasing growth, including cancer cell growth. If the protein source is non-organic, raised with hormones and antibiotics, the growth rate is increased. Small amounts of organic meats, eggs and fish can be reintroduced if there is no sign of the cancer and blood cell counts are healthy. If you do continue to eat small amounts of meats, middle swimming, white fish are the best option. Again, it is recommended to cut out animal proteins for a period of time which is dependent on individual factors.
Remove refined, processed and packaged foods
Although ‘organic’ or ‘natural’ processed foods, such as cookies, may be better products they are still processed. Processed flours are highly oxidized or rancid, this can increase inflammatory processes in the body. Often these products also have fillers that we may not be aware of. Ideally, I ask client’s to move to foods that they can readily identify as this came out of the ground, or off a tree–whole foods. If the food has lots of packaging or ingredients that you can’t pronounce, please reconsider.
Wheat grass juice–nutrient dense, packed with antioxidants, phytonutrients, trace minerals, vitamins, beta carotene and chlorophyll, full amino acid profile. Wheat grass is best fresh—2-6 oz a day. This is my number one recommendation.
Spirulina–is an excellent choice for travel and to include in the diet. Nutrient dense, rich source of complete protein, contains all essential amino acids, excellently absorbed (has no cellulose in the cell wall), rich in beta carotene and other carotenoids, rich in B vitamins, richest non-animal source of B-12., contains, minerals (iron, potassium, phosphorus, chloride, magnesium, calcium, sodium, zinc and manganese. I have many clients take both wheat grass and spirulina. Dried barley grass or wheat grass are alright—but not the best option available.
Foods to Include
- Cruciferous vegetables: broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts & cauliflower—cancer protective, may support phase I and phase II detox. High in isothiocyanates, indoles, lutein and sulphorophane. However cruciferous vegetables should be avoided in thyroid issues.
- Dark Leafy greens: kale, collards, arugula, parsley. Antioxidants, high in carotenoids. The more greens the better.
- Grapes—(these must be organic! DDT is still produced—we ship it to Chile and they spray it on the grapes they ship back—because their skin is so thin, they hold the toxins well)
- Soybeans—isoflavonoids. However, soy should be avoided in thyroid issues or cancers that are estrogen dependent, like forms of breast cancer
- Grape seeds—antioxidants
- Sunflower seeds—antioxidant
- Garlic—antioxidant, protective
- Green tea—antioxidant, protective, polyphenols
- Sprouts—excellent source of non-animal energy and highly detoxifying.
- Miso soup—use a vegetable broth as base—not a meat broth.
- Root vegetables—beets, carrots, etc.
- Winter squash–Aids in digestion, high in antioxidants and protects the Spleen and Stomach
Again, this list is very generalized. Recommendations for clients are further personalized depending on their form of cancer, other health issues, gender, age, health history, and of course Asian assessment. Recommendations are also adjusted based on the client’s current western treatment, for example if they are currently in chemo or radiation therapy dietary and lifestyle recommendations may change.