Karuna Precision Wellness Center and LifeOmic recently hosted an engaging and energizing Cancer Wellness Symposium, featuring presentations from integrative oncology experts, Dr. Nasha Winters, ND, and Dr. Donald l. Abrams, MD. There was also a powerful discussion with a panel of cancer survivors who generously shared their personal health journeys stories and presentations from Dr. Jamie Renbarger, founder of Karuna, and Dr. Donald Brown of LifeOmic.
The day was packed with pearls! Here are some of the highlights and common threads between Dr. Winters’ and Dr. Abrams’ presentations.
The importance of nutrition was the biggest theme of the day. 95% of cancers are due to diet, lifestyle, and environmental influences, while only 5% have genetic origins. Nutrition is foundational to health, wellness, and cancer outcomes. Integrative Oncology uses nutrition and lifestyle as tools to nurture an environment where cancer does not thrive.
The standard American diet (aptly abbreviated SAD) is the #1 leading cause of mortality and morbidity in the U.S. Americans are primarily eating foods that are high in energy but devoid of nutrients. We’re overfed and undernourished. The SAD promotes inflammation and reduces immunity — the antithesis of what we should eat to support our health to prevent and fight cancer.
So, what should you be eating to prevent and fight cancer? The exact details of a therapeutic diet differ from person to person. For example, Dr. Winters uses a variety of biomarkers, such as specific gene variations, inflammatory levels, and personal history to inform her dietary recommendations. However, there are certainly some basic principles that can get you started. Please discuss all dietary and lifestyle changes with your physician and other healthcare practitioners.
Eat your vegetables. Dr. Winters echoed the recommendations of Dr. Terry Wahls, who used diet to reverse her MS. The Wahls Protocol advises eating 9 cups of vegetables daily to supply all the micronutrients that your body needs to heal and thrive, including 3 cups of dark green leafies, 3 cups of brightly colored, and 3 cups of cruciferous vegetables.
Eat healthy fats. Healthy fats rich in anti-inflammatory omega-3s are essential for wellness. Enjoy extra-virgin olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, tallow, lard, and butter from grass-fed cows. Fish, nuts, and olives are also great sources of healthy fats. Avoid vegetable oils, such as corn, canola, sunflower, and safflower.
Avoid sugar. Sugar feeds cancer, increases inflammation, disrupts the microbiome, and reduces immunity. The American Institute for Cancer Research recommends reducing intake of sugar-sweetened beverages; this is a good first step. Full avoidance will support your health, wellness, and metabolic flexibility.
Avoid alcohol. Unfortunately, alcohol has been shown to increase the risk of many types of cancer and it is best avoided.
Choose high quality organic, whole foods. Modern farming practices use an abundance of pesticides and produce animals that are pro-inflammatory. Choose organic, pastured, and grass-fed and grass-finished meats, poultry and eggs. If you eat dairy products, opt for grass-fed; however, Dr. Abrams supports a dairy-free diet. Fish should be wild-caught, and fruits, vegetables, and other plant foods organic and GMO free.
Be metabolically flexible. Dr. Winters spoke in depth about the importance of metabolic flexibility, which means that your body can use either sugar or fat as a fuel source. There is mounting evidence that cancer is a metabolic disease. Clues that you have some metabolic instability include, feeling hangry, you need to eat before bed, you wake up feeling hungry, and you need to eat first thing in the morning.
Research shows that ketosis (the metabolic process of using fats for energy) restores normal apoptosis in cancer cells, lowers angiogenesis, destabilizes tumor tissue resulting in damage to cancer cells, reduces tumor size over time, lowers inflammation, reduces levels of insulin, and enhances the action of standard treatments while reducing common side effects.
You may be wondering: How do I become metabolically flexible? Fasting and ketogenic diets are tools for establishing metabolic flexibility. Intermittent fasting is a way to incorporate periods of fasting into your regular routine, such as fasting for a certain period each day, or for certain days each week. Fasting for just 13 hours daily has been shown to improve the prognosis and lower recurrence rates for breast cancer survivors.
See Dr. Winters’ book The Metabolic Approach to Healing for more information on metabolic flexibility.
Karuna Precision Wellness Center. (Producer). (2020). Cancer Wellness Symposium [Video].