Updated: Dec 16, 2020
You are what you eat is not just a cliche. Everything we eat affects our body chemistry and our immune system.
Drink water with lemons/limes
When I was diagnosed with breast cancer in January 2009, I read every book written by cancer “survivors’ who had successfully overcome the disease. What I discovered was that there were many common elements in their diet and lifestyle changes.
This tip is simple and something we hear all the time. Drink lots and lots of filtered water. The twist is to add slices of organic lemons and limes to it. Water is the best internal cleanser and cancer hates the alkaline environment created by adding lemons and limes to your water.
From NaturalNews “A glass of warm lemon or lime water first thing in the morning is surprisingly helpful in several ways. This Yogic or Ayurvedic ritual is primarily for stimulating digestion and eliminating ama, the Ayurvedic term for toxic slime that builds up in the gastro-intestinal or GI tract. This ritual has even more health benefits.”
To learn more, visit:
Many sources recommend drinking it warm, but any way is better than not. I take a large BPA free water bottle and fill it with filtered water at night. I add several slices of organic lemons and limes and place it in the frig before I go to bed. Then during the day while I’m running errands or working, I can easily take it with me. I keep refilling it throughout the day using the same fruit slices. In the evening I discard the fruit, rinse the bottle and start all over.
Lemon/lime water has several benefits including purifying the liver, helping with digestion (restaurants offer lemon water for this reason), maintaining a high body pH (alkalizing effect), is high in magnesium and potassium and helps the body eliminate toxic waste. All these wonderful things can happen by drinking a simple glass of water. Drinking water before meals also helps your brain send signals to your stomach that you are satisfied with less food. Who knows…you may even lose a few pounds.
So…for today, it’s pretty simple. Drink at least 8 glasses of 8 ounces of water. While you’re at it, supercharge it with lemons and limes.
Vitamin D & Green Tea
Remember when we were children and our parents told us to go outside and play? It turns out they were again right of course. Sunshine is the main source of Vitamin D3. This form of Vitamin D helps create and enhance the proper functioning of all healthy cells in the body. Vitamin D is particularly helpful in preventing breast, ovarian, prostate and colorectal cancer, and people living in the Northeast have been found to be deficient in this important vitamin.
In fact, as a breast cancer survivor, I take Vitamin D3 as a supplement each day. Some people metabolize D better than others, and the only way to know if you do is to have a simple blood test. If you choose to take a supplement, be sure to take D3 which is the naturally occurring form of D called cholecalciferol. Of course you should always check with your doctor before taking any supplement. So back to my suggestion yesterday about walking…if the weather permits you to walk outside, consider it two points for prevention.
While you’re sunning yourself, sip a cup of tea. Although tea drinking has been associated with health benefits for centuries, only recently have its medicinal properties been investigated scientifically. Tea has a high content of flavonoids which are plant-derived compounds that are antioxidants.
Green tea is at the top of the list since it is the best food source of a group called catechins. This Superfood is more powerful than vitamins C and E in halting oxidative damage to cells and appears to have other disease-fighting properties. Studies have linked green tea with a reduced risk for several cancers, including, skin, breast, lung, colon, esophageal, and bladder.
Green tea has been used as a medicine for thousands of years, originating in China but widely used throughout Asia. Black tea is processed in a way that allows for fermentation whereas green tea’s processing avoids the fermentation process. As a result, green tea retains maximum amount of antioxidants and poly-phenols the substances that give green tea its many benefits. Green tea also adds another important benefit. It increases metabolism and can help with weight loss.
How much green tea has been found to help? Three cups seems to be the recommended amount per day. Green tea should steep for three to five minutes to bring out its catechins. Decaffeinated, bottled ready-to-drink tea preparations, and instant teas have less of these compounds. Often I hear the argument among tea drinkers that green tea is not as flavorful as black. A friend offered a solution…add a bag of green tea to your cup of black.
Additional benefits for regular consumers of green and black teas include a reduced risk of heart disease. The antioxidants in green, black, and oolong teas can help block the oxidation of LDL (bad) cholesterol, increase HDL (good) cholesterol and improve artery function. A Chinese study published recently in the Archives of Internal Medicine showed a 46%-65% reduction in hypertension (high blood pressure) risk in regular consumers of oolong or green tea, compared to non-consumers of tea.
So my British friends have the right idea. Save time for tea. It’s not only relaxing but good for your health!
Berries and Broccoli
We are told over and over that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I was guilty of skipping breakfast many mornings when I was teaching. I would take the easy road and pack a muffin. I thought I was eating healthy; I did pack a bran muffin, but knowing what I learned from my research, it was very little bran and lots of sugar. We’ll talk more about that later. I learned how important it is to eat my B’s and how powerful these allies are to my good health.
Now for the B’s…
The first B: Berries
There’s no better way to start the day than with fresh fruit. Some of the best are the berry family: strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries. These delicious Powerfood cousins are packed with lots of antioxidants and vitamins. These natural treats that almost everyone loves, provide potent anticancer compounds.
Clinical trials on berry consumption and cancer prevention at Ohio State University’s College of Medicine promote the concept of ‘fruitraceuticals’ as opposed to pharmaceuticals for cancer, and emphasize prevention vs. treatment. The magic elements of berries include calcium, folic and ellagic acids, fiber, and various phytochemicals. Phytochemicals are chemical compounds that occur naturally in plants (phyto means "plant" in Greek).
My breakfast now consists of fresh fruit (organic only – look for future posts on this), whole grain toast with almond butter and a cage-free omega 3 egg. If your mornings are hectic, make a smoothie with fresh fruit. Organic Greek-style yogurt and coconut water or juice can be added for added flavor.
The Second B: Broccolli
Again your mother was right – you should eat your broccoli. The cabbage family, including cabbage, cauliflower, kale and broccoli, contain phytochemicals that are considered some of the most powerful prevention tools we have. The uniqueness of cabbage in cancer prevention is due to the three different types of nutrient richness found in this widely enjoyed food. The three types are (1) antioxidant richness, (2) anti-inflammatory richness, and (3) richness in glucosinolates. Glucosinolates act "indirectly" to activate the body's detoxification systems.
When to buy organic?
The Clean 15 and the Dirty Dozen
How can you know which fruits and vegetables are OK to buy without the added cost of purchasing organic? Every year the Environmental Working Group publishes the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 Lists. These publications rate foods according to which have the highest and lowest pesticide residue to help shoppers determine which foods to buy organic and which are okay to buy conventional. Although ideally every shopper should be able to purchase organic fruits and vegetables, the reality is that organic often costs more.
By heeding the EWG’s Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 Lists, health-concerned shoppers can still get the most for their money and minimize their pesticide exposure. Lists change slightly from year to year, so it’s important to recheck each year, and more importantly, take a copy of it with you to the grocery store! Why are pesticides particularly harmful for hormone dependent cancers? Many pesticides cause estrogenic effects or effects that mimic estrogen in the body. The majority of breast cancers are fueled by estrogen so any added estrogen to our diets should be avoided.
Research has established a strong link between estrogen activity induced by organochlorine pesticides (containing chlorine), and the risk of developing breast cancer. The results are significant. Patients with very high estrogen levels due to pesticide residues run four times more risk of developing the disease than patients with undetectable or very low levels. So far, 568 chemical products have been identified that affect our hormones.
Here is the link to the 2018 Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen List:
So try to buy organic…if its not possible, buy the dirty dozen in organic and the clean fifteen from the conventional isle. When I buy conventional, I soak the fruits or vegetables in a sink full of water to which I add a cup of apple cider vinegar and
Daily Plan for Adding More Fruits and Veggies to Your Daily Diet
In 1991, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the Produce for Better Health Foundation launched a campaign to increase consumption of fruits and vegetables to 5 to 9 servings a day for every American. Adding 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables to your daily diet can be a bit overwhelming at first. Five servings are considered the minimum. For men, the recommendation is nine servings per day; for women, it is seven. Of course, the more fruits and veggies you eat, the better.
A serving size is defined as the amount of fruit or vegetable that can fit in the palm of your hand. The following portions are examples of single serving sizes:
A small (3/4 cup or 6 oz) glass of 100% fruit or vegetable juice
A medium-size piece of fruit (an orange, small banana, medium-size apple)
One cup of raw salad greens
1/2 cup of cooked vegetables
1/2 cup of cut-up fruit or vegetables
1/4 cup of dried fruit
1/2 cup of cooked beans or peas
So you’re probably asking…how do I accomplish this on a busy schedule?
Here are some tips that may help you easily incorporate our colorful friends into your life. Some tips from their website to get more fruits and veggies into your diet:
• Snack on fresh fruit throughout the day. Grab an apple or banana on your way out the door. I have a cup of mixed fresh fruit with breakfast, an apple with lunch and a banana in the afternoon.
• Try to eat a big salad at lunch, and always order lettuce and tomato on your sandwich. I often make a grilled veggie sandwich on whole wheat flat bread. I stir fry mushrooms, green and red peppers and onions – delicious. When I’m out, I go for a veggie on whole wheat or honey oat. Use mustard often, it has turmeric in it. I also make a huge salad with romaine, spinach, kale, cranberries, walnuts, avocado, beans and goat cheese. Instead of salad dressing, I drizzle organic olive oil and balsamic vinegar (reduction). The olive oil insures I will absorb the nutrients from the veggies and the balsamic adds flavor as well as alkalinity.
• Snack on raw veggies instead of chips or candy. I also snack on raw nuts and dried fruit. Make sure the dried fruit you are buying is not preserved with sulfur and is not processed with sugar.
• Keep trail mix made with dried fruit on hand for a quick snack.
• Eat at least two vegetables with dinner. I try to eat sweet potatoes whenever possible with dinner. They are a super food.
• Choose fruit or whole grain baked goods. I make my own banana bread, cranberry bread, and muffins.
• Eat a lot of raw tomatoes. For men, tomatoes help to reduce the risk of prostate cancer, and for women, tomatoes have lycopene in them and function much like Tamoxifen in blocking estrogen metabolism.
• Buy a juicer. I love my juicer. I use the pulp extracted to make soups, muffins and breads. I bought a Green Star juicer model 2000. My favorite juice recipe is carrots, kale, celery, cucumber and beet. I also make fruit smoothies in my Vitamix using the veggie juice from my juicer and frozen organic fruit. This makes a scrumptious snack or breakfast on the go.
All meat and dairy are not created equal - beware of growth hormones
The media constantly bombards us with messages about the necessity for our children to drink milk for good health. Milk is advertised to be an important source of calcium and vitamin D. I speak about the importance of vitamin D and its role in the prevention of breast cancer in an earlier blog.
I need to stress that the opinions expressed in this blog, although based on fact, is that…my opinion. I no longer eat meat that is not labelled “pasture raised” and frankly I no longer drink or consume dairy products. As a cancer survivor, I feel more vulnerable than others to the effects of hormones in my food so my decision may be a bit extreme for others.
When I was teaching 5th grade, it became a topic of discussion and a concern among teachers as to why young girls were reaching puberty so much earlier than past generations. There are theories that our food source is the culprit. Puberty starts when excess amounts of chemicals called hormones start to be produced in the body. What about the hormones being ingested from food?
A decision in 1991 by the FDA to approve the use of growth hormones in dairy cows and beef cattle was of monumental consequence to the human diet. Traditionally, all beef was pasture raised but in the United States today what is commercially available is almost all grain fed. The reason...it’s faster, and so much more profitable. In the past, steers were 4 or 5 years old at slaughter. Today, they are slaughtered at 14 or 16 months. You can’t take a beef calf from a birth weight of 80 pounds to 1,200 pounds in a little more than a year on grass. It takes enormous quantities of corn, protein supplements, soy, antibiotics and other drugs, including growth hormones to accomplish in a few months what used to require years.
These growth hormones are commonly known as rGHB & rBST
Somatotropin is a naturally-occurring protein hormone produced in the pituitary gland of animals; Bovine Somatotropin (BST or bST) triggers nutrients to increase growth in young cattle and lactation (milk production) in dairy cows. Artificial BST is produced using recombinant DNA technology (biotechnology), and called rBST for short. rBST is commonly known as Bovine Growth Hormone or rBGH.2 When injected into cows, rGHB increases milk production 10-15 percent and in some cases up to 40 percent.
Approximately 17% of all cows in the US are given this artificial growth hormone. Incidentally, these hormones are outlawed in England and Canada. Our generation and our children’s are the first to be raised on milk and beef from these “Supercows”.
Milk from rGHB-treated cows also contains higher levels of IGF-1 (Insulin Growth Factor-1). Humans naturally produce IGF-1, and increased levels in humans have been linked to colon and breast cancer. Even though no direct connection has been made between elevated IGF-1 levels in dairy and elevated IGF-1 levels or cancer in humans, some scientists have expressed concern over the possibility of this relationship.
What Can You Do?
I don’t eat meat grown with the use of antibiotics or growth hormones. Growth hormones act like estrogen in humans. Since the use of growth hormones has increased, so has the incidence of breast cancers. It makes perfect sense since estrogen fuels most breast cancers. My breast cancer was highly estrogen positive, so I am extremely cautious about introducing any type of synthetic estrogen into my diet.
Beware of marketing strategies that advertise meat as “vegetarian fed”. Even though these animals are not treated with growth hormones, they are fed a soy diet. Soy consumption is discouraged for estrogen positive cancers. Always look for certified “grass-fed and better still pasture raised” on the packaging. The nutritional difference between grain-fed and grass-fed animal products is dramatic.
Grass-fed products tend to be much lower in total fat than grain-fed products. For example, a sirloin steak from a grass-fed steer has about one half to one third the amount of fat as a similar cut from a grain-fed steer. In fact, grass-fed meat has about the same amount of fat as skinless chicken or wild deer or elk. When meat is this lean, it actually lowers your LDL cholesterol levels.
I don’t buy milk from hormone and antibiotic fed cows. If you really love milk, make sure you buy organic milk from grass-fed cows not fed hormones or antibiotics. Personally, I avoid cows’ milk altogether and switched to coconut milk. I love it. I even buy coconut cream for my coffee. Many people seem to like almond milk but although I like almonds, I do not like almond milk. I eat ice cream make with coconut milk…it’s really delicious and even the vanilla is not heavily coconut flavored. If you want to eat yogurt, buy the fat free organic Greek brand.
Consumers have been led to believe that all meat is created equal. . In other words, no matter what an animal is fed, its nutritional value remains the same. This is absolutely not true. An animal's diet can have a profound influence on the nutrient content of its products. So don’t be fooled…all beef and milk products are not created equal.
In addition to its hormone content, milk from rGHB-treated cows contains higher levels of IGF-1 (Insulin Growth Factor-1). Humans also naturally produce IGF-1, but increased levels in humans have been linked to colon and breast cancers. Even though no direct connection has been made between elevated IGF-1 levels in milk and elevated IGF-1 levels or cancer in humans, some scientists have expressed concern over the possibility of this relationship.
The bottom line…when purchasing any dairy or meat products, read the labels carefully. For milk, buy organic from cows that are not fed rGHB. For beef products, buy meat from only pasture raised, grass-fed animals.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a practice where plants and herbs play a large role in treating disease. TCM suggests that eating a few ounces of mushrooms every day could help prevent breast cancer. Dr. Shiuan Chen of the Beckman Research Institute of the City of Hope in Duarte, California, and colleagues tested seven vegetable extracts for their aromatase-blocking activity, and found that white button mushroom had the strongest effect. A substance found in mushrooms called linoleic acid inhibits aromatase--an enzyme that affects estrogen levels.
Aromatase is an enzyme that helps the body make estrogen. The ovaries are the major producers of estrogen in the female body and are needed for normal function in the child bearing years. When too much estrogen is produced or ingested from the food supply, problems occur.
High levels of estrogen are associated with hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer. These estrogen positive breast cancers account for approximately 70% of all breast cancers. Studies have shown that linoleic acid inhibits the proliferation of breast cancer cells in the lab along with reducing the occurrence of mammary cancers in rats.
Hormone therapies like Femara are called aromatase inhibitors. The researchers evaluated 10 other types of mushrooms, and found stuffing mushrooms, portobello, crimini, shiitake and baby button mushrooms also inhibited aromatase activity. This study and others like it suggest that mushrooms could be a form of natural therapy in lieu of aromatase inhibitors.
Although I try to incorporate mushrooms into my diet several times a week, I still take a mushroom supplement. Mushroom Supplements have been used for centuries throughout Asia but only recently has the extent of their benefits been recognized by Western countries. Not only do mushrooms inhibit aromatase activity, but they also strengthen the immune system.
The Miracle of Coconut Oil
Often when my sons were young, I would bring home a fresh coconut from the grocery store as a special treat. * The boys loved watching their Dad crack open the shell with a hammer, and enjoyed tasting the fresh coconut milk which they called “juice”. Since I worked as a travel agent and we sometimes took cruises, they thought it was going to taste like the virgin pina coladas they loved drinking on vacation. They soon discovered this “milk” was certainly not as sweet, and tasted more like water. We all enjoyed the experience nonetheless.
Drinking coconut water has now become “in vogue” and quite popular as a wonderful source of vitamins, minerals, and a great way to hydrate after a workout. Low in calories and sugar, its available plain or fruit flavored. Since I no longer consume dairy products, I use coconut water as a base for smoothies.
As a saturated fat, the use of coconut oil was once discouraged. What was overlooked was that it’s only mono-saturated and is actually extremely healthy. Coconut oil has a surprising number of health benefits ranging from relieving stress to bolstering the immune system. It’s rich in lauric, capric and caprylic acids, and these omega three fatty acids give it its antimicrobial, antioxidant, and anti- fungal properties. It is so versatile that it can be used to cook food, moisturize skin, and treat infections. Amazing!