I’ve had my nose buried in cancer research over the last few weeks, specifically studying the effects of sugar on cancer cells. Like with everything holistic, the answers to good health are very simple, but the process of getting there isn’t always easy – like, eliminating sugar from your diet.
The studies are fascinating, and I’m not sure why hospitals aren’t making this simple switch in patients’ diets, but in a nutshell, cancer cells use sugar as their fuel, expending energy and producing lactic acid in the process – the same lactic acid you may have experienced after exercising, but in much greater quantities because it’s continuous. In a perfect world, the liver converts lactic acid into glucose, and the kidneys filter the excess. However in excess, beyond what the body can convert or filter, a build-up of lactic acid leads to metabolic acidosis, unbalanced blood pH, and double the energy expenditure trying to convert, filter, and maintain homeostasis, eventually weakening every system to the point of no return as the cancer cells continue to multiply.
But here’s the exciting OMG moment in all of this (and yes, it will eventually lead to chocolate, so keep reading) — When you cut off cancer’s food supply (sugar), you cut off its ability to multiply and rob you of energy, health, life. By simply cutting sugar out of your diet and switching to a clean or ketogenic diet, where your body burns its own fat as fuel instead of glucose, you essentially starve the cancer cells. Simultaneously this also reduces chronic inflammation and strengthens your own cells. Simple. But not easy.
So is this a cure for cancer?
Yes. No. Well, maybe. Yes. The studies I’ve been reading reveal a significant reduction, sometimes by 80%, in the growth of certain types of cancer cells when patients switched to a diet high in healthy fats, like Omega-3 fatty acids from fish and fish oil, coconut oil, flax and olive oil, while eliminating all processed forms of sugar from their diets. Of course, additional changes in diet, exercise, sleep, stress reduction, and other lifestyle changes go hand-in-hand to support the entire body, but sugar is a great place to start.
Here’s the hard part
Cutting sugar from your diet is not easy, and it’s not just plain white table sugar we’re talking about; it includes all processed carbohydrates (like breads, cakes, cookies, and grains to name a few) as well as honey and maple syrup, and high glycemic whole fruits. I know, eeep! Right?
So how do you get there, how do you do this exactly? Well, it’s a simple (but not easy) three-step process:
- Think differently about sugar. Think about sugar as a recreational drug, like alcohol. You already know the dangers of alcohol and the effects it has on your body. Sugar essentially works the same way, except most people don’t appear drunk on sugar, they appear energetic and hyper, which is why there are afternoon doughnuts in the break room instead of shots of tequila. Think about sugar as a parallel to alcohol, and use it that way. Think about sugar, when eaten every day, several times a day, as a source of chronic inflammation in your body, which could be preventing you from losing weight, or waking up with glowing skin, or getting a restful night’s sleep, or being in a good mood; think about how chronic inflammation leads to disease. Think about the cancer cells and how they use sugar as fuel.
- Think differently about fat. Fat doesn’t make you fat. In fact, the opposite is true. Your brain is 70% fat. Your brain needs fat. Your body needs fat. And when you eat more fat, you’ll feel full, happy, balanced, and your body will be able to function happily and without stress. Studies of people following a high fat versus low fat diet lost more weight on the high fat diet. But remember, it’s not just any fat. You have to cut out processed foods and industrial oils like vegetable oil, canola, soy, peanut, corn, which can contribute to inflammation, and replace with the healthy fats like the Omega-3s in fish and fish oil, coconut oil, olive oil, flax, avocado, sprouted seeds and nuts.
- Eat chocolate, with a conscience. And by that I mean find your balance, but be thoughtful about it. Valentine’s Day will be here soon, and after reading this, you’re probably rethinking the usual box of sugar-filled, GMO soy containing, mass-produced chocolates and candies you were about to purchase on your way home from work for someone you love. And you may be rethinking that chocolate lava cake as well… This recipe for raw hot fudge, which uses organic dates in place of sugar, is perfect for strawberry dipping, and is my balance on Valentine’s Day. I hope it helps you find balance too:
- 1 cup coconut oil
- 5 tablespoons raw cacao powder
- 8 whole dates
- Pinch sea salt
- 2 tablespoons brewed coffee
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 tablespoons unsalted grass-fed butter (optional)
- 1/2 vanilla bean, scraped
- In a mini food processor or smoothie blender combine coconut oil, cacao, dates, salt, coffee, and water until smooth.
- Transfer to a small saucepan. Heat mixture over low heat, stirring occasionally, until coconut oil is melted and smooth. Do not boil.
- Stir in butter and vanilla bean until butter has melted.
- Remove from heat. Transfer chocolate to a small bowl or Ramekin; serve warm with berries or other fruit for dipping.
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