Food As Medicine

Have you ever looked into the role food plays when living with cancer?

Early on in my cancer journey, I struggled with eating. Of course, cancer will play havoc with your appetite but for me in these first weeks after my diagnosis, I knew it was psychological. Shocked, scared and stressed, I struggled to manage even the smallest of meals. After voicing my concerns with the nurse, I was advised to eat calorie dense foods such as ice cream, chocolate, meal replacement shakes, full fat milk and cake. To substitue double cream for milk in my tea and coffee. Sounds pretty tempting right?

But, noooooo…….wait a minute!!!!

A chance comment from a fellow cholangiocarcinoma warrior I had connected with on social media changed EVERYTHING about how I decided to tackle my cancer. This young lady was advising me of the changes she had made and one of these was cutting out all sugar as cancer cells use this as their main fuel source.

What followed was months of intensive research into the role food and nutrition play when dealing with a cancer diagnosis. This is a very complex subject with many conflicting information even from those advocating and promoting the benefits of good nutrition. I have waded through just about every book, YouTube video and relevant, popular websites imaginable as well as from several Facebook groups created for cancer patients that encourage a natural approach to healing by ditching processed foods, high sugar, red meat and dairy produce in favour of a vegan, plant based diet. Raw vegetables, fruits, some grains, green tea, herbs and spices feature heavily in most of what I have looked into and now I totally understand why so many cancer patients, myself included, turn to food as an additional weapon in their fight with the Big C.

Photo by Alexandr-Podvalny at Unsplash

By the way…..unless you are incredibly fortunate, don’t expect information or even encouragement from your oncologist in regards to nutrition. You are more likely to draw a blank expression or even discouragement as they focus solely on you getting enough calories and not losing weight. Not their fault or because they don’t care, they are just not trained in this area.

Like I said earlier, this is a huge subject and for me to whittle it down into a few paragraphs as an overview is near impossible……believe me, I have tried!

You will, though, find on my Useful Links page, some links (no surprise there) for amazing websites that have years worth of knowledge and information on this subject, including Chris Beat Cancer, How To Starve Cancer and Eat To Beat. I encourage you to delve into all these sites as they are incedibly informative. They are ALL excellent.

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” – Hippocrates

Probably my favourite book has been from world renowned doctor, scientist and angiogenesis expert, Dr William Li. He wrote the highly successful book, Eat To Beat Disease (click on link to find on Amazon)

The book is pretty heavy going but not difficult to understand. You may find it easier to hear him speak first before diving straight into this read. He can be found on countless YouTube videos and I promise you, you won’t be dissappointed. Just to get you started and to save you searching, I’ve popped two below. The first is actually from back in 2010 and gives an overview of his work/approach but I have also added one from an interview/talk he gave to The Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation. It’s an hour long but goes into much more detail and also features a Q&A section at the end.

I hope you find some useful information to ponder on.

I would like to take this opportunity to say that although I personally think making diet changes plays a huge role in tackling cancer, whether that is to boost immuntiy, target cancer stem cells, use alongside standard treatment to maximise it’s effectiveness or purely to increase energy levels and feel better, I do appreciate that not everyone wants to eat this way, especially if eating itself is a struggle. For myself, the last couple of months have been incredibly difficult and I was lucky to manage even a few grapes some days, which left me feeling incredibly weak. In an effort to regain some energy, I did eat certain foods that probably aren’t ideal but you have to do what’s best for you or the person/loved one you care for. Do whatever is best for you!!!

Much love and strength,

Megan x

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