We live in an age of convenience and a culture where people are busy and looking for ways to cut corners on homemaking chores. Yet, when it comes to food that strengthens your body and protects against diseases like cancer, the quick-fix doesn’t always work.
Taking the time to carefully choose, prepare, and eat your daily meals is critical to living a longer, cancer-free life.
Many people reach for supplements as a way to make up for a less-than-perfect diet. But how far can we push this? Let’s look at the tradeoffs between supplements and good eating habits.
Whole foods are more nutritionally complex than most supplements. What’s more, they contain a variety of the micronutrients and antioxidants not found in a bottle. So, whether you endeavor to prevent cancer or treat it, diet is the first step.
What supplements lack
Whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes give you a substantial dose of dietary fiber. And fiber, as we’ve discussed in past articles, not only prevents certain diseases like type 2 diabetes and heart disease, but also helps prevent cancer—especially colon cancer.
Then, there’s phytonutrients. Numerous cancer researchers investigating cancer-fighting foods have noted a synergy between the varied nutrients found in whole foods.
In other words, some researchers believe it’s the combination of phytonutrients—some of them still undiscovered — found in their natural state that make certain foods, such as cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, so powerful against many cancers.
Every plant contains hundreds of different compounds. A supplement typically contains one of these plant compounds, extracted and separated and served up in a large dose. There can be good reasons for this. In many cases, a medicinal dose of a compound – as shown in human studies – may be enormously larger than the amount you’re ever likely to eat in foods.
This means that eating a wide variety of healthy foods including whole grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, and lean meats and fish, may not be enough to keep your body cancer-free throughout your life. Supplements take your fight against cancer up a notch.
Nutrient deficiencies abound
The U.S. is dealing with widespread deficiencies of nutrients that are vital to a healthy immune system, healthy digestion, a healthy cardiovascular system and much more. According to the Harvard Women’s Health Watch, the average American doesn’t get enough calcium, potassium, magnesium, and vitamins A, C, and D in his or her daily diet.
Of course, many studies pointing to nutrient deficiency like these were performed on Americans eating a Western diet that’s filled with processed foods devoid of critical nutrients found in whole foods.
However, other studies have shown that even in people doing their best to eat a healthy diet, deficiencies remain. That’s because modern-day commercial farming has stripped our farm soils of nutrients.
The fruit and vegetables grown on these farms simply don’t have as many nutrients as they once did. That’s one reason I urge people to eat organic foods. Yes, they’re free of herbicides and pesticides, but equally important is that they’re grown in compost-enriched soil.
Another problem is the human body loses the ability to make and absorb certain nutrients, like vitamin D, with age.
If only the problem stopped there! Then you’ve got to think about toxins in animals, too.
Conventionally raised livestock is fed unhealthy diets of conventionally grown grain and injected with hormones and antibiotics which, in turn, can damage our bodies on a cellular level—damage which scientists are only beginning to figure out—and can result in cancer.
When you hear the words “corn-fed beef” it means these animals were fed an all-carb diet – effectively an all-sugar diet – and it’s about as healthy for animals as it is for humans.
What’s more, conventionally grown vegetables, and especially grains like corn, are often genetically modified these days. Whether or not the genetic change is safe – still a controversial subject – these plants are often sprayed with extra-massive doses of agricultural chemicals. Studies on pesticides and herbicides point to the damage they can do to your body’s cells that leads to cancer as well.
The reality is, at some point, everyone needs nutritional supplements to ward off nutritional deficiency, counteract chemicals and toxins from our modern-day food supply and keep the body in working order to fight cancer.
Clinical doses are hard to come by
Earlier I mentioned the clinical dosage of nutrients.
When it comes to cancer treatment in particular, the amount of a certain vegetable or fruit that you’d need to consume to reach the clinical dosage of a nutrient that’s been shown effective in treating cancer in research is beyond what you could consume in a day.
That’s one of the reasons for the popularity of the Gerson Protocol of juicing among some cancer patients. Because it relies heavily on juicing, the Gerson eating plan delivers large amounts of nutrients from fruits and vegetables into the body. When you subtract the fiber from fruits and vegetables, you’re able to consume a much bigger quantity of what remains.
A glass of carrot juice, for example, might contain the nutrients from six or eight carrots.
But supplements are another perfectly good way to get mega-doses of valuable nutrients, many of which act as medicines if you consume enough.
Many alternative cancer doctors — indeed I would say most — recommend nutritional supplements for their patients.
Here are just some of the vitamins, minerals and herbs that we’ve seen recommended;
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin C
- Omega-3 fatty acids
- Proteolytic enzymes
- Vitamin A (in small amounts)
- Vitamin E
- Green tea extracts
- Beta-Glucan 1-3-6
- Broccoli extracts
- Black cumin seed oil
- Mushroom extracts
This is not a complete list by any means, nor is it meant to be a cancer protocol. This a complicated subject, and CancerDefeated has published millions of words on this topic alone. If you search our newsletter archives, you’ll find numerous articles outlining the latest research into the supplements listed above.
At the end of the day, you need both the foods AND the supplements. Nothing replaces a diet of real, preferably organic, food grown from the earth when you want to prevent, and even treat, cancer.
The more colors you eat in a single day, in terms of the outer and inner hues of fruits and vegetables, the more variety you’ll have in your vitamin and nutrient intake to help your body get rid of any cancer.
- “Dietary supplements: Do they help or hurt?” From Harvard Women’s Health Watch, published January 2013. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/dietary-supplements-do-they-help-or-hurt
- “Is it better to get nutrients from food or supplements?” Written by Chiara Townley on April 12, 2019. From Medical News Today Newsletter. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324956
- “Should you get your nutrients from food or from supplements?” From Harvard Health Publishing, May 2015. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/should-you-get-your-nutrients-from-food-or-from-supplements
- “Supplements: Nutrition in a pill?” By Mayo Clinic Staff. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/supplements/art-20044894
- “Watermelon: Health Benefits, Risks & Nutrition Facts.” By Jessie Szalay – Live Science Contributor May 11, 2017. https://www.livescience.com/46019-watermelon-nutrition.html