Cancer Processes 4 – a Healing Diet

He should have died, but he didn’t. Graham Clouston about Ian Gawler in the mid 1970s

Eat well, be well

By Roger Childs

Ian and Graham are among thousands who have had cancer and been given a death sentence. However, they have come out the other side. They put their survival down to a number of factors related to life style change – diet, meditation, exercise, positivity, spirituality and the support of family and friends.

Ian Gawler did it.

This article looks at the crucial element of what we eat. As Ian Gawler bluntly puts it – If you want a junk body, eat junk food.

Principles of a healthy regime

A whole-food, plant-based diet is best.

  • Eat foods that are known to be healthy and enjoyable, like vegetables, fruit and nuts. And avoid those that are known to be unhelpful. Do the reading!
  • Avoid saturated fats and use unsaturated fats and oils.
  • Use omega 3 fatty acids eg flaxseed oil, and omega 9 – found in olive oil, avocado and most nuts. Avoid omega 6 fatty acids eg sunflower oils and canola.
  • Protect oils as much as possible from air, heat and light.
  • Consume modest amounts of protein eg 55-60 grams daily. Best to use vegetable sources and grains eg tofu, soya beans, brown rice, legumes (peas / beans)
  • Reduce or avoid meat, fish and dairy consumption.
Berries and pineapple – great for fighting cancer
  • Eat fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds regularly.
  • Avoid processed food where possible.
  • Eat plenty of whole grains and fresh fruit and consume the skins where possible.
  • Drink the equivalent of at least eight small glasses of fluid per day. Reduce or avoid alcohol.
  • Adopt a low salt diet and do not add salt to food. Similarly with sugar.
  • Reduce the use of plastics in wrapping food – if unavoidable, remove immediately in your kitchen.
  • Breads – opt for wholemeal and seeded varieties. For example Vogels have a vegan variety and many bakeries do too.
  • Cereals – go for unprocessed varieties, low in salt and sugar.

Eating for recovery

Ian Gawler emphasizes two types of diet  – healing and wellness. In the recovery from cancer, these are the basic principles to follow:

  • Think about what you eat and enjoy it.
  • Use fats wisely and avoid deep frying and cooking with oils. Water works well with a small amount of Tamari Soy Sauce.
  • Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, organic where you can eg out of your own garden.
  • Lower salt and sugar intake – don’t add them to food. Some honey is OK.
  • Eat nuts for snacks – unsalted, and dried fruit such as dates, prunes, figs, cranberries and dried apricots.
Great snack options
  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine. Drink herbal teas in preference to “gumboot” tea which has caffeine. 
  • Drink plenty of pure, clean water.
  • Keep food away from heat and light.
An autumn vegan salad

Basically the strong recommendation in the recovery diet is to go vegan – no dairy, fish or meat. After recovery, the emphasis should still be on a plant based, low salt and sugar regime in a wellness diet. Moderation in eating eggs, ice cream, cheese and fish, plus small amounts of alcohol is acceptable.

Going dairy free – find substitutes

If you do go vegan, there are plenty of tasty substitutes.

  • Other milks – soy, almond, coconut
  • Coconut yoghurt eg Raglan varieties
  • Non-dairy spreads – almond butter and Fix and Fogg Everything Butter
  • Whitakers dark chocolate eg Ghana
  • Decaffinated Coffee –Cafe L’Affare has a tasty alternative.
Vegan summer pasta – delicious!

Eat plenty of food with known anti-cancer properties

Regardless of what sort of diet you are on, be aware of foods know to be cancer fighters, such as

  • Raspberries
  • Pomegranate – the juice is excellent but expensive!
  • Beetroot
  • Brassicas – broccoli, cabbage, turmeric /ginger / garlic
  • Tomatoes
  • Beans
  • Green tea
  • Broccoli sprouts – you can grow your own in jars.

All nuts are good – however avoid the salted ones and consume the shells if they are edible.

Juices from fruit and vegetables are an ideal way to get your necessary fluid intake. Prepare you own if you can. Fruit juice(s) can be combined in smoothies with soy milk and coconut yoghurt.

Eat Well: Be Well by The Gawler Cancer Foundation 

 This is the ideal cook book with advice on cooking terms and techniques, foods for the pantry, storage and meal planning.

The scores of healthy recipes are set out in sections:

  • dips and nibbles
  • dressings and sauces
  • bread
  • soup
  • main course
  • vegetables and side dishes
  • salads
  • sweet treats.

(For the earlier articles, scroll down to October 26, October 30 and November 9. The next article, by Graham Clouston, will be on the crucial role of Meditation in recovery and keeping well.)

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