Last night I had the opportunity to speak to a group of Cancer Survivors at the local YMCA. They were all at different places in their treatment: some were just beginning, some were well into the process with scarves and hats covering bald heads, and some were finished and enjoying renewed energy and appetite. All were focused on what I had to say.
It took me about 8 hours to get ready for this program between research and powerpoint, because I wanted to make sure that I could provide the most up-to-date information that I could find.
Two weeks ago a colleague showed me some information a surgical oncologist from our facility was distributing to patients in his office. While we all have the right of “freedom of speech”, we have a higher ethical responsibility to provide the most accurate information available. I was truly disappointed as I read the diet instructions coming from this physician.
He is essentially recommending what is currently promoted as a “Paleo” diet: No potatoes, grains or cereal; limit legumes to 1-2 servings per week; restrict carbohydrate to 30-50gm/day; only 1 serving of fruit per day because of the fructose content and no fruit juice at all; avoid vegetable and peanut oil and use coconut oil or butter instead. Meals are largely meat, fish, eggs or protein shakes.
He claims that this program will “add 15 years to your life”. My colleague has developed a habit of vetting nutrition information through me. I have a habit of letting this kind of nonsense affect my blood pressure.
According to Rob Dunn, a guest blogger for Scientific American in July 2012, our ancestors were nearly all vegetarians and only ate the occasional insect or lizard. In fact, our paleo ancestors sometimes starved to death. This certainly doesn’t sound life extending.
- General recommendations suggest a minimum of 100 gm complex carbohydrates, including whole grains, to fuel vital organs and nervous system as well to minimize risk of hypoglycemia .
- Legumes and dried beans are a great source of soluble fiber, folic acid and fat-free protein.
- Fruits, especially those with deep colors contain cancer preventing antioxidants and phytochemicals. Fructose is a naturally-occurring sugar in fruit and does not cause insulin spikes. In fact, it needs to be converted to glucose by the liver before the body can use it for energy.
April is Cancer Awareness Month. All Survivors deserve access to science-based nutrition information.