elynjacobs

Food Synergy: Boosting the Anti-Cancer Diet

In Uncategorized on July 27, 2014 at 11:31 am

When does 2+2= more than 4? Food synergy is the art of combining individual foods that when eaten together, boost the nutritional value of each other. Eating certain foods together provides more health benefits than eating one food alone or even just at different times throughout the day. Studies have shown that the antioxidant effects of consuming a combination of foods are more than additive but synergistic.

Just as individual supplements often require a buddy vitamin to enhance bioavailability or effectiveness, so do foods. Eating superfoods such as kale, broccoli, blueberries and avocados is always a good idea, but combing the nutrients in these foods can supercharge the benefits. For example, if you eat blueberries with walnuts, that’s better than just either by itself. It’s not 1+1 = 2, its 1 +1 = 3.

While the list of synergistic combinations is growing daily, here are some excellent combinations:

Tomatoes, Broccoli and Healthy Fats Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, a pigment-rich antioxidant known as a carotenoid, which reduces cancer risk and cardiovascular disease. Pairing tomatoes with broccoli has the ability to reduce tumor growth, far more so than if the two are eaten separately. The carotenoids in tomatoes help to increase the bioactive component selenium in broccoli, and yield the most cancer-preventative benefits.  Now add some olive oil and avocado– fats make carotenoids more bioavailable, so the olive oil will help your body absorb these fat soluble antioxidants from the tomatoes. Many of the vitamins and micronutrients in food are fat-soluble, which means they cannot be absorbed without the presence of adequate fat. That means that if you eat fruits or vegetables without fat, you’ll absorb only a fraction of the nutrients you would absorb if you ate them with fat. Roasted carrots with thyme and grass-fed butter anyone? (Yes, butter is better and contains valuable CLA -conjugated linoleic acid, a potent cancer fighter- when made from the milk of grass-fed cows). And about those avocados—consider adding tomatoes to your guacamole.

kale tomatoes avocado sproutsKale Salad with Chopped Tomatoes and Broccoli Sprouts;Tomato Salad with Basil and Parsley; Sliced Avocado

Kale and Lemon (or other vitamin C-rich foods)

Plant-based iron is much more easily absorbed when it is combined with vitamin C.  Combine citrus fruits, strawberries, and vegetables such as broccoli, red peppers, and tomatoes with kale, leeks, beet greens, spinach, mustard greens or swiss chard. So whether you’re sautéing dark greens or making a salad, be sure to include a vitamin C-rich food or a splash of citrus. You’ll increase your immunity and muscle strength by eating this combo than by eating these foods separately (iron carries oxygen to red blood cells, staving off muscle fatigue and vitamin C boots immunity).  And don’t forget to add some healthy fats, which aid the absorption of another carotenoid called lutein, which is found in green leafy vegetables. Use oil olive based dressings or sprinkle walnuts, pistachios, or grated cheese over your greens.

Green tea and Curcumin

Curcumin has been shown to provide extensive anticancer and anti-inflammatory effects. But when it’s paired with the active ingredient in green tea, a catechin called EGCG (epigallocatechin-3-gallate), its cancer-fighting abilities increase significantly.

Vitamin D and Vitamin K2

Vitamin D is a hor­mone like thy­roid, estro­gen or testos­terone and it acts more like a hormone with receptor sites on healthy cells and even more on cancer cells.   A deficiency plays a crucial role in increased risk of cancer and a number of other illnesses. Fat soluble vitamins, such as vitamins K2, A and E, all work synergistically for optimal health and are necessary for optimal use of Vitamin D.  Sufficient vitamin K2 helps to ensure that calcium is bound and held in bones and at the same time is removed from our arteries, joints or other tissues where it doesn’t belong. Vitamin K2 also inhibits cancer cell lines, such as colon, breast, leukemia, brain and many more.

blueberries and walnuts

Blueberries and Walnuts boost brain health with this combination–there is synergy between blueberries and almost every other food (including other fruits and berries). If you eat blueberries with walnuts, that’s better than just either by itself. This pair will improve blood flow to your brain and heart to maximize each other’s benefits. Love dark chocolate? Add some to the mix. Chocolate and berries are both very high in antioxidants, but when eaten together your body absorbs the nutrients up to three times better. (More on chocolate below).

Is the scent of your neighbor’s grilled steak making your mouth water?  Join the fun, but you might want to serve your grilled steak smothered in garlic and rosemary, and alongside a kale or tomato salad.

Meat and Spices

Summertime beckons a juicy spice-rubbed grilled steak, but grilling produces nasty carcinogens. Meat forms a compound called malondialdehyde when cooked, and this compound has been shown to cause cancer and heart disease. Turns out that pairing your grilled steak with delicious herbs will maximize each other’s benefits. The antioxidants in herbs and spices will reduce this compound by 70%, so you can enjoy that steak with less worry. Why? It’s thought that the herb’s antioxidants literally soak up the meat’s dangerous free radicals.  The next time you grill, try rubbing oregano, rosemary, black pepper, paprika and/or garlic into it to get these benefits—just be sure your meat is grass fed.

Apples & Chocolate  

Apples, particularly Red Delicious, are known to be high in an anti-inflammatory flavonoid called quercetin, especially in their skins.  Quercetin, also found in red wine, onions, and green tea, has anti-estrogenic effects and may reduce the metastatic potential of cancer cells. (It’s important to buy organic because pesticides concentrate in the skins of conventionally grown apples.) By itself, quercetin has been shown to reduce the risk of allergies, heart attack, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and several cancers.  Chocolate (the darker the better), grapes, red wine, and tea contain the flavonoid catechin, an antioxidant that reduces the risks for atherosclerosis and cancer. Together, they pack an even more powerful punch.

The lesson here is to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables prepared in a variety of ways. Different compounds in each food work on different anti-cancer pathways. Aim for eating five to 10 servings of a variety of fruits and vegetables daily, and at least 20-25 different fruits and vegetables weekly.  Whole food and dietary supplements can be helpful, but you can’t supplement your way out of a bad diet, and individual supplements still need to be taken synergistically (for example, if you take vitamin D, you may want to consider vitamin K2—see above). We’ve only just begun to uncover all the powerful synergies, so add a different herb; try a new combo…variety truly is the spice of life!

Bruised Kale Salad:

Green leafy kale

Olive oil

Sea salt and pepper

Wash and dry kale.  Mix together oil, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Bunch the kale and slice thin or chop.  Massage the seasoned oil into the kale. Serve with poached or runny eggs, or as a side dish for fish, meats, chicken, tofu or bean dishes (plate kale and put your main course on top to infuse the flavors.)

Tomato Basil Salad:

Cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered depending on size

Fresh basil leaves, sliced and chopped (I find rolling them up in a log and slicing is easiest)

Fresh parsley, chopped, large stems removed

Organic extra virgin olive oil*

Toss all together with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. How much to use?  One pint of tomatoes will need about 1/3  to ½ half cup chopped parsley and depending on the size of your  basil leaves, about ¼ cup, but all is to taste.  Use enough oil to dress but not drown the tomatoes. *

MarioMeet Mario at the Farmers Market in Southampton NY

*Note:  I use herb infused oils such as basil, rosemary or lemon.  In this recipe I prefer rosemary and basil infused.  If you cannot find them locally, Arlotta makes the very best olive oils I have ever tasted and also the most incredible balsamic vinegars.

For more information and recipes:

http://elynjacobs.com/2012/07/27/an-herb-garden-to-fight-cancer/

http://elynjacobs.com/2013/01/17/salvestrols-does-nature-hold-the-answer-to-cancer/

http://elynjacobs.com/2012/03/28/cancer-fighting-farm-stand-recipes/

Buy Curcumin         Buy Vitamin D3

Buy Green Tea    Buy Vitamin K2

Elyn

~~If you don’t know your options, you don’t have any~~

Elyn Jacobs is a breast cancer survivor, professional cancer strategist, speaker, and the Executive Director for the Emerald Heart Cancer Foundation. Elyn empowers women to choose the path for treatment that best fits their own individual needs. She is passionate about helping others move forward into a life of health and well-being. Elyn has been featured on CNN Money, Talk About Health, and Breast Cancer Answers and has written for the Pink Paper, Breast Cancer Wellness, Integrative Oncology Essentials, Surviving Beautifully, Body Local and more, and writes the Options for Life column for the Natural Healing-Natural Wellness Magazine. Elyn hosts the Survive and Live Well Radio Show on the Cancer Support Network. She is on the Medical Advisory Board for BeatCancer.Org and is on the Advisory Board to the Radical Remission Project.  Elyn lives in New York with her husband and two young boys. http://elynjacobs.com/about/

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Hope: The Miracle Medicine

In Uncategorized on July 7, 2014 at 11:47 am

Hope, it gives us the opportunity to do what we must do to heal from our cancer. Hope is the miracle medicine of the mind.  It inspires the will to live.  Hope is the physician’s strongest ally. Hope is our strongest ally.  A physician is in a powerful position to influence the outcome of disease.  Even in the face of the most advanced of cancers, there is usually room for some words of encouragement and support, which can make all the difference in the patient’s attitude towards their disease and their treatment.  Yet, physicians don’t always offer hope.  Many patients are told to go home and get their affairs in order, there is nothing we can do, or deliver a grim prognosis. Many hear these words upon their initial diagnosis, as the cancer has already progressed.

Martin Seligman has a term he coined “learned helplessness.”  While the concept is strongly tied to animal psychology and behavior, it can also apply to the cancer patient. You have cancer–three of the most dreaded words you can hear from your doctor. Your world has changed and you feel a loss of control.  Many of us immediately imagine the worst-case scenario—death.   A moment ago you were a student, parent, wife, maybe even a doctor. Now, suddenly, you are a patient, facing mortality.  If we believe that there is no hope and that we have no control over our situation, we may begin to behave in a helpless manner; we may feel utterly helpless to think clearly and make informed choices. People start telling us what to do and this further relinquishes our much needed control.  However, those entering the world of cancer must take control of their treatment—they need to remain in charge of their health.  They need hope.

hydranges but redoHope, it brings life to survival.  Cancer develops for a reason; it doesn’t just happen.  To successfully treat cancer we need to change the environment in which it was permitted to develop and grow.  The lack of hope may dissolve our will to address our emotional stressors and make the lifestyle changes which may enhance our treatment and improve survival.

Putting hope in the proper context is important, and false hope is not always beneficial. However, there are countless stories of patients who were offered little chance of survival or a cure, yet who are here years later to tell their tale, so “false hopelessness” (coined by Dr Keith Block) is clearly not beneficial either.  We hear of “unexpected remissions”, a term doctors use when, by medical standards, the patient should have died, but instead, patients denied death its victim by seeking alternative treatments and healing from their cancer.

Early state or late stage— Hope, it gives us the opportunity to do what we must do to heal from our cancer. No matter what path we choose for our healing, hope shall be ever present, for even if we cannot hope for a cure, we can hope for peace, comfort and relief from pain as we live each day we are given. We can hope for a long life, living with our cancer. We can focus on living, not dying. While there is hope there is life.

“While there is life there is hope, has deeper meaning in reverse. While there is hope there is life. Hope comes first, life follows. Hope gives power to life. Hope rouses life to continue to expand, to grow, to reach out, to go on. Hope sees a light where there isn’t any. Hope lights candles in millions of despairing hearts. Where would I be without hope?” Wilfred A Peterson May 1933

This article was originally printed in my Options for Life column in the Spring 2013 edition of Natural Healing Natural Wellness. 

Elyn

~~If you don’t know your options, you don’t have any~~

Elyn Jacobs is a breast cancer survivor, professional cancer strategist, speaker, and the Executive Director for the Emerald Heart Cancer Foundation. Elyn empowers women to choose the path for treatment that best fits their own individual needs. She is passionate about helping others move forward into a life of health and well-being. Elyn has been featured on CNN Money, Talk About Health, and Breast Cancer Answers and has written for the Pink Paper, Breast Cancer Wellness, Integrative Oncology Essentials, Surviving Beautifully, Body Local and more, and writes the Options for Life column for the Natural Healing-Natural Wellness Magazine. Elyn hosts the Survive and Live Well Radio Show on the Cancer Support Network. She is on the Medical Advisory Board for BeatCancer.Org and is on the Advisory Board to the Radical Remission Project.  Elyn lives in New York with her husband and two young boys. http://elynjacobs.com/about/

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Demystifying Flaxseed and Estrogen

In Uncategorized on June 23, 2014 at 12:06 pm

Flaxseed, the tiny plant with powerful anticancer properties—why are people so afraid of it?  Breast cancer is thought to be a hormonal disease.  This means that a hormone may cause cancer to develop by encouraging cells to grow and divide; therefore the mere mention of the word estrogen strikes fear in many.  Although the conventional medical community identifies all estrogens, including phytoestrogens, as carcinogenic and surely to be feared, plant estrogens may actually reduce estrogen activity in the body. In fact, phytoestrogens are not really estrogens, they are anti-estrogens. Plant estrogens protect us from the stronger estrogens our bodies produce as well as the xenoestrogens found in environmental chemicals—they actually contains compounds that have been shown to reduce the growth and spread of cancer cells. Flax, being a phytoestrogen, is simply misunderstood.

flax on blue

What we know:

Phytoestrogens such as flax act more like estrogen blockers than like estrogen; flax help modulate the production, availability, and action of hormones. The lignans in flax lower the production of estrogen by blocking the aromatase enzyme (similar to aromatase inhibitors) and block the estrogen receptors (similar to Tamoxifen–and experts now believe that flaxseed may work even better than Tamoxifen, with side benefits not side effects). When lignans are consumed, intestinal bacteria convert them into enterolactone and enterodiol. They attach to estrogen receptors, stimulate them weakly and block estrogen binding. This prevents estradiol or estrone from attaching to the estrogen receptors and strongly stimulating them, and includes not just the estrogen we produce, but also environmental toxins, thus making breast tissue more resistant to these environmental toxins.

Think of it this way.  If you flood your system with phytoestrogens such as flax, they have the opportunity to block the receptors and only weakly stimulate cell proliferation.  While estrogen may cause 1000 cells to divide, phytoestrogens cause only one cell to divide.  Further, because compounds in flaxseed act as weak estrogen imitators, your body reacts by decreasing its production of estrogen. If you have too much estrogen, you may see your estrogen levels drop when you eat flaxseed. Additionally, the estrogens that your body naturally manufactures may be a less active form.

Flax also increases programmed cell death (apoptosis), prevents new blood vessels from growing into tumors, decreases hot flashes, decreases HER2 expression (HER2 leads to growth factor signaling pathways that play a role in cell proliferation, differentiation, apoptosis and metastasis), decreases breast cancer proliferation, reduces tumor growth and protects against radiation damage–flaxseed may play a role in mitigating and protecting other healthy tissues and organs before exposure to radiation from x-rays and CT scans, and significantly reduces damage even after exposure.

Women who consume 25 grams of ground flaxseed per day showed decreased tumor cell proliferation (up to 30%), decreased HER2 expression (up to 70%) and increased apoptosis.  Flaxseed can inhibit the growth of both estrogen receptor positive and negative breast cancer cells.  It also reduced metastasis of ER negative breast tumors.  Decreased cell proliferation rates, decreased angiogenesis and increased apoptosis seem to account for the decrease.

But there is more…..

Flaxseed is a rich source of omega 3 fatty acids.  Research has found that women who eat the highest amounts of omega-3’s have the lowest risk of breast cancer.  Omega-3’s have been found to help shrink breast tumors and prevent them from spreading to other parts of the body.  Omega’s also help calm inflammation and decrease the rate at which breast cells divide in response to estrogen.

What some others have to say about flax:

In Confirmed: Flaxseed Contains ‘Estrogens’ That Regress Cancer,  Sayer Ji reports on how dietary flaxseed has the potential to reduce tumor growth in patients with breast cancer.  As reported by Dr Michael Greger in Flax and Breast Cancer Survival , flaxseeds appear to have the potential to reduce tumor growth in just a matter of weeks and can help to increase survival.  In this article, Greger speaks of the first side by side study comparing Tamoxifen to flaxseed to effectively starve tumors of their blood supply. One of the ways the chemotherapy drug Tamoxifen works is by boosting the levels of angiogenesis inhibitors like endostatin, which is a protein the body makes to try to starve tumors of their blood supply. In the study they gave women tamoxifen for 6 weeks; the levels of endostatin within the breast tended to go up, but the same thing happened when they added three and a half tablespoons of ground flaxseeds to their daily diet. This is exciting news and further supports embracing nature in the management of cancer. Please read the article for more studies.

MSKCC agrees that Flaxseed inhibits the growth and metastasis of breast and other cancers and can lower tumor biomarkers, and can reduce radiation therapy-induced lung damage and increase survival. Of course, I would like them to rethink the contraindication warning that patients with estrogen receptor positive breast cancer should consume flax with caution as this makes no sense, but then perhaps they are cautious of conflict of interest.

You will also find an in-depth discussion on flax in Dr Christine Horner’s book, Waking the Warrior Goddess, Third Edition: Dr. Christine Horner’s Program to Protect Against & Fight Breast Cancer.

Embracing Flax:

Flaxseed is easy to eat. While flaxseed oil should not be heated because it can easily oxidize, heating flaxseeds does not measurably change the nutritional content.  Grind the seeds and bake them in muffins or add them to your cereal; add them to your smoothie. Aim for 2-4Tbs freshly ground daily.  Freshly ground is important to avoid oxidation and in order for your body to digest and utilize flaxseeds, they must first be ground. Need a new idea?  Make some oatmeal flax pancakes. Still don’t see yourself eating flaxseed daily or travel frequently?  Try a supplement: Brevail Proactive Breast Health Capsules, 30-Count Box.  While not a perfect solution, it is an option.

oatmeal flax pancakes with blueberries

Oatmeal Flax Pancakes

  • ¼ cup organic oats (whole or pulsed lightly)
  • ¼ cup flaxseeds (freshly ground)
  • 1 organic egg
  • 5 Tbs almond milk or milk of your choice
  • ¼ tsp baking powder (aluminum free)
  • Dash salt
  • ½ tsp cinnamon (cinnamon is known to inhibit the formation of new vessels within the body as well as reduce the growth of tumors, and helps to manage blood sugar levels)
  • Dash of cloves and nutmeg (heavy dash of the cloves as they have strong anticancer benefits and nutmeg is anti-inflammatory)
  • Splash of vanilla
  • Small handful of walnuts
  • Dash of stevia (optional)
  • 1 small ripe banana, sliced
  • Butter or coconut oil for cooking

Grind walnuts (if using) with Flaxseed.  Stir into oats.  Add remaining ingredients except butter,  slightly mashing banana (if using).

Note: If you eat whey powder, add one tablespoon vanilla whey and omit the vanilla and stevia (whey boosts glutathione levels; for more information, click here.)

Warm pan with butter.   Spoon batter into pan, making thick pancakes.  Yield, 2 large or 4 small.

Serve with fresh berries, honey (try buckwheat honey), or topping of your choice.

I never overlook an opportunity to allow nature to heal; flaxseed is proving to be one such powerful agent to embrace for breast cancer management and survival.  Never sacrifice health for the sake of a cure (old Ayurvedic principle). Treatments should not create imbalances or disease. As we learned during my show with Peter Gotsche (Deadly Medicines and Organized crime-what you need to know about prescription drugs and your health) prescriptions drugs are the third leading cause of death after heart disease and cancer, and most come with the risk of potentially toxic side effects and contribute to further disease, not wellness; drugs do not cure imbalances, they create them. Anytime you can find a natural substance that works as well or better than a pharmaceutical drug, go for it.

While a comprehensive anticancer plan is beyond the scope of this post, there is much we can do to support the body against cancer; flaxseed is just one very important part of the puzzle, and estrogen is not the main culprit.  Endnote…estrogen is our friend, not our enemy, it’s all about balance, metabolism and management.

Part of knowing your options is speaking with the experts who offer more than just the standard of care. How to find them?  Visit my guide to Integrative Oncologists and Naturopathic Doctors or schedule a consult to learn more. Click here for more information on Natural Alternatives to Tamoxifen.

Find whole flax seed at your local market or health food store or find it here: Bob’s Red Mill Golden Flaxseed, 24-Ounce Bags (Pack of 4).  If you cannot eat flax, consider this alternative: NuLignan 90t.

For more on the benefits of Flax:

Protect Yourself from Radiation with Flaxseeds

Flax and Breast Cancer Survival

Chia Seed: The New Superfood

Natural Alternatives to Tamoxifen: Interview with Elyn Jacobs

Flaxseed Can Prevent And Kill Breast Cancer, Meta-Analysis Reveals

Confirmed: Flaxseed Contains ‘Estrogens’ That Regress Cancer

http://preventcancer.aicr.org/new/docs/pdf/AICR-InDepth-Issue-01-Flaxseed-and-Breast-Cancer.pdf

http://www.naturalsolutionsmag.com/health/mens-health/toward-better-prostate-health

This article was also printed in my column, Options for Life in Natural Healing, Natural Wellness, Summer 2014

Elyn

~~If you don’t know your options, you don’t have any~~

Elyn Jacobs is a breast cancer survivor, professional cancer strategist, speaker, and the Executive Director for the Emerald Heart Cancer Foundation. Elyn empowers women to choose the path for treatment that best fits their own individual needs. She is passionate about helping others move forward into a life of health and well-being. Elyn has been featured on CNN Money, Talk About Health, and Breast Cancer Answers and has written for the Pink Paper, Breast Cancer Wellness, Integrative Oncology Essentials, Surviving Beautifully, Body Local and more, and writes the Options for Life column for the Natural Healing-Natural Wellness Magazine. Elyn hosts the Survive and Live Well Radio Show on the Cancer Support Network. Elyn lives in New York with her husband and two young boys. http://elynjacobs.wordpress.com/about/

Tune in to the Survive and Live Well Show

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