Food as Medicine

Photo Credit: Unsplash/Amber Engle

By Dr. Carol Wentz Randaci

How to prevent and treat diseases with vegan diet.

We officially have been in a “War on Cancer” since 1971. And it’s still an uphill battle. I like to think of it not as a war but, rather, as an awakening that needs to happen, a paradigm shift, a lifestyle change. It’s not a battle when you are fighting an invisible foe. After billions and billions of dollars have been spent on research to identify the enemy—the culprit—it has come down to some obvious knowns in a sea of unknowns. It turns out the number one culprit is the food in your refrigerator and cupboard. What if you found out that upward of 80 to 90 percent of all cancers are caused by dietary and environmental factors? If you were told the most likely way to avoid developing cancer was to change your diet, well, certainly you would change your diet right away wouldn’t you?

The top two cancer killers are lung cancer at number one and colorectal cancer at number two. These are considered as potentially “avoidable” cancers; they don’t just happen, something causes them to happen. For years it was thought that genetics were the main power source of turning cancer genes on, and there was hardly anything we can do to stop the development. In the case of lung cancer, the number one cause is smoking cigarettes. As a smokers’ lungs fill with carcinogens from the cigarettes, the carcinogens create the environment for cells to mutate. So if you do not want to contend with lung cancer, then not smoking is your best bet to prevent its development.

The same is true for colon cancer. After many research studies by leading research hospitals, labs and doctors around the world, it is ascertained that colons across the United States are being filled with carcinogenic food. Progress to control these extraordinary complex diseases is an uphill battle that will continue its march without a fundamental handle of the basic biochemistry of nutrition. Even as far back as 1981 there was a paper delivered by the Office of Technology Assessment of the U.S. Congress concluding up to 70 percent of all cancers are connected to nutrition or diet. And yet the misinformation or the skepticism still swirls around to undermine and diminish the significance of the evidence collected from institutes all over the world. And as stated by the former director of the UN Agency for Research on Cancer four decades ago, 80 to 90 percent of total cancer is caused by dietary and environmental factors. In countries with these types of diseases the average serum cholesterol is the dominant factor among cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

The Stages of Cancer

There are three slightly arbitrary stages of cancer development: initiation, promotion and progression. They are arbitrary because they are difficult to separate and delineate since one merges into the other. They mostly blend from one stage into the next. Serum cholesterol, substantially influenced by nutritional practices, is correlated with diets having more animal-based foods and less plant-based foods.

The first stage is initiation or the beginning of formation of mutation. It has been well researched over the years to identify the principle enzyme responsible for the initiation of cancer cells, such as the function of oxidase found in the liver. It was found that mutation mostly occurs in the genome that code for the creation of proteins like enzymes. Then the mutated cell clones itself into a multicellular mass that becomes cancer cells and continues by taking over the place of healthy cells. The mature enzyme plays a key role in modifying the extracellular matrix and, as a result, has been implicated in playing a role in the formation of cancer “niches” where tumors can develop and eventually metastasize. It is not fully possible to know what proportion of these avoidable cancers is due to improper nutrition and what proportion is due to environmental chemicals, but the evidence strongly suggests improper nutrition dominates.

The Changeable Factor: Food

So let’s look at what is now known as the changeable factor causing many of these cancer cases. Food. More specifically, animal flesh and the products of their life cycles. Animal protein is different from plant protein. Simply eating it carries risk because it is not digested in the same way plant protein is and many grams of animal protein often escape the whole digestion process in the small intestine and end up in the colon. In the colon it can be, and often is, turned into toxins such as ammonia through a process of putrefaction instead of digestion.

When considering what foods are best in restricting cancer development the amino acid methionine is one that has been studied most. Methionine is needed by cells to repair damaged DNA and reduce oxidative stress. So depleting methionine from cancer cells targeted by DNA-damaging therapies, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy, to restrict this amino acid may enhance the ability of these treatments to kill the cancer cells. Methionine is a sulfur-coating amino acid that turns into hydrogen sulfide, creating a perfect environment to increase both the initiation and promotion of cancer cells. Methionine restriction diets are used to deprive the cancer cells of food for initiation and promotion. The foods highest in methionine are chicken, fish, milk, red meat, and eggs. To lower methionine it is safest to eliminate or at the very least restrict the above mentioned foods and stick to fruits, nuts, veggies, grains and beans.

Promotion, the second stage of cancer cell development, starts with mutated cells. These cells go on to clone themselves into many-celled masses. The promotion phase can go on for many years undetected until the masses are so dominate they begin to take over functioning. During the elongated time of promotion, it appears the cells own environment is what continues to feed the cell growth. Consuming animal protein also increases a growth hormone called IGF-1. When animal meat, egg, and dairy proteins are removed from a diet, it has been demonstrated that the bloodstream can suppress cancer cell growth about eight times better than chemical interventions. There are many doctors finding success in reversing cancer deterioration, heart disease and other degenerative conditions. Dr. Dean Ornish is one of those doctors reversing the progression of prostate cancer (and heart disease) without chemo, surgery or radiation. He just puts his patients on a plant exclusive diet and recommends other healthy lifestyle changes in addition.

There was a study described by Dr. Michael Greger where “6,000 men and women over age 50, from across the U.S, were followed for 18 years, and those under age 65 with high protein intake had a 75 percent increase in overall mortality and a fourfold increase in the risk of dying from cancer.” The studies looked at diets high in protein, but as the studies indicated, not all proteins are the same. Specifically, animal proteins are the proteins showing the highest probability of initiating and or increasing the risk of cancer given the higher IGF-1 levels in those eating excess animal protein.

Eating animal protein increases IGF-1 levels, which increases cancer risk. It’s that plain and that simple. Dr. Greger goes on to say: “The sponsoring university sent out a press release with a memorable opening line: ‘That chicken wing you’re eating could be as deadly as a cigarette’,” explaining that eating a diet rich in animal protein, especially during middle age, makes you four times more likely to die of cancer than someone with a low-protein diet—a mortality risk factor comparable to smoking. And when they say low-protein diet, what they actually mean is just getting the recommended amount of protein.”

Most peoples’ bodies are going to initiate cancer cell growth from time to time. The fatality comes if the body is fed a carcinogenic diet that increases unregulated growth. So it’s important to become fully educated and aware of your personal responsibility to your mortality. Many studies have shown that diets rich with animal protein—dairy, eggs, animal flesh—make people from middle age on up more vulnerable to early death from preventable ill health. Not only does animal protein initiate cancer growth, heme iron from that animal protein is a culprit as well. Heme iron, or blood, found in muscles and bones, appears to initiate cancer by catalyzing the formation of carcinogenic compounds described as a ferrotoxic disease or iron toxicity. Although we need iron so as not to become anemic, which has many health risks itself, excessive iron may play a role in the increase of cancer growth by generating free radicals.

What are free radicals and how are they formed? Oxygen in the body splits into single atoms with unpaired electrons. Electrons like to be in pairs, so these atoms, called free radicals, scavenge the body seeking out other electrons so they can become a pair. This causes damage to cells, proteins and DNA. How do you get rid of free radicals in your body? Eating foods rich in lutein, beta-carotene, and lycopene, i.e. antioxidants, is a way to get rid of free radicals. Some foods to include in your diet are tomatoes, mangoes, brussel sprouts, corn, carrots, collard greens, and broccoli. Antioxidants help clear up free radicals, so the safest source of iron is non-heme. Whole grains, beans, split peas, chickpeas, lentils, dark green leafy vegetables, dried fruits, nuts and seeds are all great sources of non-heme iron.

Living a life free of animal protein—a vegan life—is not a fad or a crazy idea. Humans are anatomically herbivores. Not only does this choice support your health, it also diminishes the number one contributor to our climate crisis: animal industrial farming. Above all, most people choose to be vegan because they love animals and abhor the torture and slaughter of these beautiful creatures.

Dr. Carol Wentz Randaci is the director of the Vegan Culinary Institute in Sarasota, FL, a board certified Oriental Medicine Doctor and Acupuncture Physician, Energy Therapist, Naturopath and Hopeful Human. Dr. Carol has trained with alternative medicine’s finest physicians and has practiced Raja Yoga meditation under the guidance of Ram Chanrda, Babuji Maharaja for 36 years. You can reach Dr. Carol at AiZen Healing Center by emailing or calling 941.284.8894.

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