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My Evolving Cancer Diet

by Maggie Jones

My diet offense is still a work in progress but it’s made me feel great so far.  My ultimate philosophy is to treat food as medicine and only eat things that will make me healthier by reducing body inflammation, boosting my immune system, and actively fighting cancer.  At the same time, I’m still working to starve the cancer out by maintaining a GKI around 1.0 or less. This means keeping my average daily net carbs under 30g per day and protein around 40-45g per day (based on body weight).  This isn’t a hard limit and I won’t deny myself something that my body seems to want.  Since adopting this way of eating in October 2018, excluding fast days, I’ve been comfortably around these numbers.

What I do not eat

  • Processed food, at all. Refined sugar, grains, any of it.  90% of what I buy has 1 ingredient. Very few things such as sauerkraut will have up to 3 (organic cabbage, water, sea salt). Edit: I make my own sauerkraut now.
  • Sugar, at all. Even the natural stuff like maple syrup, agave syrup or fruit juice.
  • Mammals. I know I didn’t eat mammals before but it’s worth noting that I would remove them from my cancer diet even if I did.
  • Alcohol.  I hope someday to enjoy a glass of red wine on special occasions but for now I can tell alcohol does more harm than good.  I have just as much fun with Brad hanging at a bar drinking sparkling water.
  • Grains & Legumes. I’ve been avoiding all grains and don’t see them having a role in my diet in the future. Perhaps I’ll eat small amounts of sprouted legumes someday but for now lentils, beans, and peanuts are all off the menu.

What I eat in very limited amounts

  • Fatty Fish. I eat high-quality, wild-caught, raw salmon 2-3 times a month. I also supplement with fish oil almost daily to keep my omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids balanced.
  • Dairy and Eggs.  I eat to organic, pasture-raised eggs in limited amounts.
  • Sweet Fruit. I occasionally incorporate dark-skinned berries or kiwi when I can do so and still stay within my carb limits since they’re great for fighting cancer and reducing inflammation. “Technical fruits” like avocado, cucumber, tomato, and squash I eat frequently.
  • Unfermented soy. I limit myself to a serving of tofu or edamame once or twice a month. I do have fermented soy more frequently in the form of miso, tamari, and tempeh. I’m just not ready to dive into the whole soy debate yet.
  • Poultry. I don’t eat it intentionally anymore but I wouldn’t freak out if I ate homemade chicken stock once or twice a month (what the hipsters call “bone broth” even though that is literally the definition of “stock”) made from high-quality, pasture-raised chicken bones, some sea salt, and maybe an organic onion and/ or leek greens. 

What I (try to) eat daily

  • Green Tea. At least 2 cups a day – even on fast days. I never used to like the taste but it’s grown on me.
  • Raw garlic.  So good for immune health. I try to get 2-3 cloves a day in meaning it accounts for 10% of my daily carb intake. When there’s not a convenient way to mix it into my meals, I chop crushed cloves and swallow them like pills.
  • Dark, leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables. Spinach, kale, cabbage, broccoli, more cabbage, cauliflower, bok choy, arugula, dark lettuce, more kale and cabbage. Whatever is available organic in the market that day. 
  • Flaxseeds and Flaxseed Oil. So many good omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Turmeric. It’s just notorious for it’s cancer fighting powers.  I try to work in in a little nub of raw turmeric or some of the ground organic stuff when I can. Best mixed with black pepper and some kind of warm fat to increase bioavailability.
  • Apple cider vinegar. Anecdotally anti-inflammatory with the potential to reduce blood sugar levels. That’s all good but I honestly do this one as much for the taste.  A big glass of cold, distilled water with a tablespoon of Bragg’s is a treat for me.
  • Sauerkraut, water kefir, and other fermented food. Probiotics that are good for the gut and by extension, the immune system.  I’ve been fermenting organic sauerkraut at home as well as making water kefir and coconut yogurt.
  • Barley Grass, Wheat Grass, Alfalfa and Spirulina. I take a big scoop of these dried greens mixed with water most days. I don’t look forward to it but it’s not as gross as some of the other things I’ve tried.

What else I eat lots of

  • Vegetables. So many raw vegetables.  Organic as much as possible but I’ll settle for conventional of the “clean 15.”
  • Nuts. I try not to go too crazy on the nuts but aside from my 2 daily Brazil nuts I have about 4-5 servings of raw, organic almonds, macadamia nuts and walnuts a week.
  • Omega-3 rich seeds. Chia seeds, flax seeds, and hemp seeds.  These help balance the omega-6’s I get from nuts and provide protein, vitamin E, minerals, and more. I don’t depend on them, though, and continue to take fish oil supplements for a more usable form of omega-3.
  • Sea vegetables. Lots of minerals like iodine plus anti-inflammatory and possible anti-cancer benefits.
  • Avocados. So healthy and so delicious. I eat about 5 a week.
  • Medicinal mushrooms including reiki, turkey tail, maitake and shiitake.  Revered in alternative medicine for their anti-cancer properties, I take these in extract or powdered form and mix the whole form into my diet whenever I can. I’m so lucky to live where whole maitake is a supermarket staple.
  • Brazil nuts.  I have 2 Brazil nuts a day for the selenium which is important for immune health. They also help boost my caloric intake. There doesn’t seem to be a consensus on the need to soak them so for now I eat them raw and un-soaked.

What I supplement (almost daily)

Has grown into it’s own post.

Macro Breakdown

My current macro target is around 10% carbs / 15% protein / 75% good, vegetable-based fats. This seems low in protein but it’s necessary for my “starve the cancer” approach. Excess protein raises my blood glucose. It can also result in higher levels of blood glutamine although I can’t test for that.

The ability for my healthy cells to metabolize fat is my secret weapon.

A note about costs

Our grocery bill shot up when we started buying organic but it was offset on savings in alcohol and eating out. Over time I’ve found less expensive sources of organic produce (CSA-style delivery) and have started making my own staples (nut milks, sauerkraut, etc). Overall I think we may have captured some savings.

In summary

This may not sound like a wildly delicious way of eating but, with the exception of the the rare experimental recipe gone awry, I really enjoy all my meals and snacks.  In my reading and research on all this stuff I’ve come across people saying it’s too hard to give up sugar, meat and dairy.  I just can’t understand that thought process when it’s a matter of life and death.

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Owen Hemsath May 31, 2021 - 1:24 pm

What was your total caloric intake? I started at 1500 calories of vegan keto eating and then switched to Keto and now I’m back on Vegan Keto but I’ve increased calories to 2000 to maintain weight. I’m also closer to 65-70 grams of protein based on IDEAL body weight (which I’m about 8-12 lbs away from). Protein is all plant based. I think I’m bigger than you though – how did you come up with 45 grams of protein?

Maggie Jones June 1, 2021 - 3:49 am

Hi Owen! My caloric intake changes over time but, in the first month after diagnosis, I was fasting mimicking with an average 551 calories a day. Thanks Crizotinib! The following month I ate an average 1007 calories a day and the third month I ate a daily average of 1164. The following months I increased to 1206, 1108, 824, insufficient data, 1263, 750 (I discovered extended fasting), and 1533. Note that I currently fast 2-3 days a week and eat over 2000 calories the other days. I’m also on a ton of steroids and eat a lot.

I calculate my protein as .7g per kg of lean body mass. I use a bioimpedence scale to determine my lean body mass as it changes over time. This is inline with the WHO recommendation (.6-.8g protein) and Dr. Valter Longo’s research. However, people who are actively building lean body mass by breast feeding, weight lifting, enduring some chemos, etc. will need more. I go into this in a lot of depth with individual clients. There’s no one size fits all. I’ve seen MANY people who needs hundreds of grams of protein to stay healthy. I personally don’t need much despite a fairly high percent muscle mass. It’s all individual.

I hope that’s at least a little helpful!

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