3 foods to avoid for cancer warriors
Updated: May 1, 2019
Have you ever felt confused about what to eat and what NOT to eat as you’re fighting cancer? Most cancer survivors are shooting in the dark when it comes to meal planning after cancer. Check out my video and blog with gut health expert Dr Heather Way.
How do you feel in your body right now?
Most cancer survivors are shooting in the dark when it comes to meal planning after cancer… they spend too much energy & money in preparing "supposedly healthy foods" or give up thinking it won’t make a difference.
Sounds familiar? Trust me, I‘ve been there (arghhh). If you've ever struggled to understand why you got cancer in the first place and what you can eat to boost your immunity, then you know EXACTLY what I mean. ⠀⠀⠀
How do you know what foods to eat?
That was my question and that’s when I met Dr Heather Way from The Australian Centre for Genomic Analysis – a world known nutrigenomist and gut health expert who helped me understand why I got sick from cervical cancer and what I could do about it.
Today, I’ve been cancer-free for six years and I bring my secrets to you in this video and article. Obviously, you should always check with your doctor to ensure your diet is tailored to your specific type of cancer or treatment. Enjoy. X
What are the 3 foods to avoid with cancer?
In this video, we're giving you 3 foods that you should avoid if you have cancer. My name is Melanie Roussin and I'm a cervical cancer survivor. I'm also a lecturer at university in health promotion and the creator of Girls Rocking Cancer.
Today, I'm here with Dr Heather Way who has been amazing in helping me recover from cancer; she is a gut health expert.
Hi Dr Heather, thank you for having me in your kitchen today. It's really exciting. So, tell us what are the 3 foods that are big no-nos if you've been diagnosed with cancer.
It might surprise you. We really want to avoid dairy, grains, particularly gluten, and the third one... sugar.
Sugar I know! That was the heartbreaking part for me. I have a French heritage so when I heard no pasta and no cheese that was hard enough... no sugar.
I'm afraid so.
Why are grains bad for cancer survivors?
The grains are particularly bad now because we use a lot of sprays. They’re coated in glyphosate, which is a pesticide. It’s very nasty. There is a lot of information coming out on glyphosate now and how it's carcinogenic. The grains are coated in it just before harvest so they get a better yield. We’re finding glyphosate everywhere... even in hummus dip at the supermarket.
Wow! So, it’s everywhere.
It’s everywhere and it's very nasty.
Why are these chemicals bad for people who are recovering from cancer?
Well, they're really bad because they're carcinogenic, so they cause cancer. They are one of the biggest causes of cancer.
Do we solve the problem if we go organic?
That at least get rid of the glyphosate problem but grains are still inflammatory. Also, as we’re digesting them down, they convert to sugar.
How is inflammation related to cancer?
That's a very good question. But it's true: everything comes down to the gut. There’s a saying that all diseases begin in the gut and that’s absolutely true.
When we have inflammation in the gut that can lead to all sorts of diseases. Cancer is no exception.
We find that grains are particularly hard to digest these days. Grains used to be fermented for days, particularly in the French heritage with the beautiful sourdough breads. The fermentation process was breaking down the grains, so they were easier to digest.
You can get an organic sourdough bread and have it once a week for fun. I'm not saying never. But, the way we tend to eat grains these days – breakfast, morning tea, lunch and dinner, with cereals, cakes and some sort of biscuits in the afternoon – it's way too many grains. It’s way too inflammatory.
Why is dairy not that good for us?
Dairy is a big one. I grew up with those milk cartons at school. In my head, dairy was a good thing.
Yes, that's a controversial statement I know but dairy is really not that great for us. When you think about it: cow’s milk is for baby cows, goat’s milk is for baby goats, yak’s milk is for baby yaks. We can play this game all day. Human milk is for baby humans. Once we get teeth we don't need it anymore. We start to ween onto solid foods.
Isn't dairy our biggest source of calcium?
Because we’re busting myths today: the fact that our calcium just comes from dairy is not true, right?
It's not true at all. Pasteurised milk actually binds up the calcium. People are having pasteurised milk from the shop thinking they're getting calcium. However, Australia has really high rates of osteoporosis and we have an enormous dairy consumption. So, we are NOT getting our calcium from our milk.
Where do I get my calcium from?
In terms of dairy consumption, 66% of the world has NO dairy in their diet.
66%! That's 2 out 3 people who have no dairy in their diet. Imagine a Japanese menu, there's no dairy in it. For thousands and thousands of years, the Japanese people have managed without dairy and they don't have problems with their bones.
Traditionally, the Asian population has a lot of soup and broth. In boiling up the bones, the calcium leashes out. That’s where they get their soluble calcium.
How to I make a bone broth?
For those of you who are new to this, this is what I do: I go to my farmer market or my butcher and then I ask for the bones (e.g. beef but could be anything). Then, I boil those bones with filtered water in my slow cooker at home. I put some organic onions, garlic, carrots and celery and that makes a nice bone broth. I let that marinate overnight... usually a good 12 hours.
That's the best way to get our calcium and it's delicious.
What if I want a cheeky coffee? What milk is best for me?
If people are determined to have some white wet stuff – if they must – coconut milk has been around for thousands of years. As much as I don't particularly like processed foods, try finding a tin that's BPA free and has no preservatives or fillers - just coconut milk. (We like Ayam.)
Should I spend money on organic coconut milk?
I was thinking that it had to be organic coconut milk. So, I spent all that money for nothing until you pointed out some brands that are just as good if not better.
I spoke to a lot of growers and suppliers over time. One asked me: have you ever seen someone spraying at the top of a coconut tree? I thought no. I can't say that I have.
The vast majority of coconut on the market is not sprayed, so there's a very good chance that it's clean. Sometimes, in some countries, they spray around the base of the tree but for the most part they’re not sprayed.
We are now on our way to get our calcium with our bone broth and we've got some coconut milk to replace our milk. What's next?
What are the alternatives to grains and gluten?
Again, I'm not terribly into processed foods but if we really must there are so many things on the market now. For example, you can try the mung bean fettuccine or the black bean spaghetti – they are quite nice.
There are many ways to have pasta for children and the family without grains. Another example is pastas made with chickpeas and borlotti beans that you can find at your supermarket.
If you want a healthy low-carb pasta, try those made with a vegetable called cognac (not the drink cognac). You can find different forms. For example, the noddles can be a little chewy but they're fine in stir-fries. They have only 10 calories so that's great if you’re going low carbs. Yet it's still a vegetable, so it's a lot better than highly processed foods.
I still prefer and advocate eating meat and vegetables but if you do feel like having a little bit of pasta once a week or something they are alternatives.
I keep on learning things with you. So, once a week is ok?
Well, you know you have to live haven't you?
Yes, especially if you're going to cancer, you might feel quite tired at times. These are easy options for you. One thing I do for my pasta is I just peel carrots or make zucchini noddles. That's how I get around it. Cauliflower rice is very easy, just chop it fine or put it in the blender for 10 seconds.
What if I want to bake?
In Australia, we have cooking banana flour from North Queensland. The supermarkets only take bananas of a certain size. There was so much wastage so the farmers got together and decided to dehydrate their green bananas and create a whole new industry. Banana flour is a beautiful resistant starch and it's probiotic for your gut. It’s also easy to cook with and you're supporting farmers in Queensland. Coconut flour is really good too. Depending on where you live, there are a lot of flours around if you still want to bake treats, biscuits, cakes or whatever
Is buckwheat good for cancer survivors?
There is some controversy on whether buckwheat flour is good for you or not – what's your take on that?
Look it's not a grain (technically). I'm ok if you're enjoying a piece of sourdough bread as a treat but not as an everyday food. Please don't have grains every day!
The typical diet has grains four to five times a day. The idea is just to give yourself a break while you're recovering... really nurture your tummy so you get a chance to heal.
Do I really have to give up sugar?
That was the hard part for me.
Yes, we really have to give up sugar. We have more sugar in a day now than people a 100 years ago used to have in a year. That's pretty scary. Inflammatory conditions are on the rise. When I was little, none of my 5 years old friends at school had cancer.
That's very scary. Now we have hospital wards full of children with cancer. It happened in one generation. It’s a big worry.
What's the cause? A lot of environmental toxins for a start and more sugar, preservatives, and artificial colours in our foods. We want to try and eat as naturally as possible: ideally meat and vegetables.
What's your take on honey?
I'm not suggesting we have it by the cup full but if we must sweeten something - honey has been around for thousands of years. I'm only saying a little bit – not cups full. Vanilla essence is a nice way to sweeten things up or you can make coconut yoghurt and stir through some bananas.
Another tip I learnt from you was cinnamon (or other spices). You can use cinnamon in a tea for example. I do hot water with lemon in the morning. If I want to cut down a little bit on the honey (wish I don't particularly want to do) I can use cinnamon.
What's your take on the artificial sweeteners?
It’s a disaster. Stevia is not artificial – at least that’s an alternative. It doesn’t taste that great and I would still use it judiciously.
So, it's ok in moderation?
I don't personally use it, I don't have any in the house, but it's ok. That's been amazing Dr Heather - very informative. Thank you.
To recap, here are the 3 foods that you should avoid. Basically, we said gluten / grains (the best you can), dairy and sugar. There are other alternatives out there.
We hope you enjoyed this video and we wish you health and happiness.