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Tag: cancer

Chronic Inflammation Behind Most Diseases

When the Wall St. Journal asked the question, “What do heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, stroke and cancer have in common?” would you have guessed the answer would be “chronic inflammation?”

To this list of inflammatory diseases, I would add multiple sclerosis and other autoimmune disorders, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and so many more.

As the WSJ suggests, science is realizing that chronic inflammation is found at the core of most, if not all, chronic conditions and auto-immune disorders.

Inflammation is the culprit.

The secret to healing from these disorders? Get rid of the inflammation and the physical manifestations of the inflammation will disappear.

How do you get rid of inflammation? Well, you can use drugs like steroids and NSAIDs designed to decrease inflammation and bring relief, but they come with their own risks and side effects, particularly with long-term, chronic usage.

Customized anti-inflammatory dietary therapies can be incredibly effective at reducing and avoiding inflammation, and may be used alongside any other medications – i.e., you don’t have to stop taking your meds just because you are changing your diet, too.

Therapeutic dietary strategies are empowering: choosing what you put in your mouth is one thing you can do to control the disease that is controlling your life.

Cancer Survival Rates Increase With A Healthy Diet

The L.A. Times reported that “a new study has found that a diet high in fruits, vegetables and healthful grains may be associated with higher ovarian cancer survival rates.”

Huh. Ya’ think?

And do you think that the finding that “eating more fruits and vegetables and healthful grains was associated with a longer survival time,” could cross over and be a truthful statement for just about any cancer patient?

I say: YES!

I’ll even go out on a limb here and take it one step further: I’ll bet you’ll find longer survival rates in general – and better quality of life –among the population that practices a healthy diet, whether or not they already have found a cancer or not.

Yes, Yes, Yes!

I love it when clinical studies prove what we know to be universal truths: People who eat a healthier, whole foods-based diet fall ill less frequently, heal and recover faster when they do, and generally feel better on a daily basis than those who live off of processed “foodstuffs.”

It’s even more important for cancer survivors and others with compromised bodies – like those of us with MS– to focus mostly on a plant-based, high antioxident diet to encourage healing and healthy cell growth and function

So, thanks, University of Illinois at Chicago, for proving what mom always said!

Fighting Cancer With Food

While I feel like I’ve dodged a bullet now that the biopsy from my breast came back benign, surviving cancer is still on my mind and in my circle of relationships.

I wrote recently of oxygenating your cells as a way to make the body environment inhospitable to cancer growth, and today I want to peek at how you can manage illness through diet and lifestyle changes.

In particular, were I battling cancer, I would switch to a Perfectly Whole Foods Diet, such as the one outlined by Dr. Walt Stoll and Jan DeCourtney in Recapture Your Health.

Together with cellular-level skilled relaxation (deep breathing) and the right exercise, a Perfectly Whole Foods diet can help the body reclaim the rogue cells and make the body’s environment inhospitable to cancerous growths.

Dr. Stoll himself told of how he eliminated a tumor from his own body with intensive relaxation techniques.

Truth told, when facing my own potential bout with cancer last month the last thing I believed was that I could “relax” it away, but I do strongly believe in Dr. Stoll’s “3-legged stool” of health. Besides, choosing to improve your health through self-care and a healthy lifestyle can be done congruently with modern medical treatments, if you so choose. It’s not one or the other, and they won’t cancel each other out. I believe in using all the resources at our disposal when you’re in a health crisis, until you find the ones that work for you.

I’ll be speaking in Boulder for the Stoll Foundation for Natural Health on October 7th, and talking about how my Glorious One-Pot Meals cooking method can be adapted for use with a Perfectly Whole Foods Diet. This is a free event and anyone interested in healthy living and cooking is invited to come!

Gluten-free Coconut Flour Muffins

After all the anxiety I’ve endured since getting my first mammogram in July, seeing the spots, getting a second opinion, and then having them removed with a stereotactic biopsy last Thursday, hearing the news that all were benign (!!) has put me in a happy place. 🙂  Not only were all the spots benign, but they’re all gone now anyway, and the recovery has been smooth and easy, thanks to my homeopathic remedies and pharmaceuticals.

A celebration like this calls for cupcakes!

We’ve been doing a food elimination experiment this summer and have been going almost completely wheat-free, so when I saw this recipe for gluten-free chocolate cupcakes made with coconut flour from food blogger Elana’s Pantry, I was inspired.

Gluten-free Chocolate Cupcakes

You may recall some of my baking triumphs, like my potluck-fave chocolate zucchini bread, and some of my more notable failures, like these savory morning muffins that were best used as hockey pucks.

My problem isn’t necessarily that I live a mile high (though I should probably give that more credence when baking than I do), but it’s that I have a hard time following directions to the T. It’s my rebellious nature: don’t tell me what I can or can’t do!

I like to substitute, enhance, embellish, create, and while that works fabulously in Glorious One-Pot Meals, straying from the recipe doesn’t always work out well when baking.

Of course, that doesn’t stop me from doing it.

Amazingly, I had everything called for in the gluten-free cupcake recipe already in the house, except for the eggs. Yep, we’ve been an egg-free house this summer, too. Instead of the 3 eggs I substituted a smashed banana, 2 Tablespoons of ground flax seeds, and 6 Tablespoons of water.

I also didn’t have Dagoba chocolate powder – wish I did, LOVE Dagoba! – so I ground up some Nestle’s baking chocolate bars in a food processor instead.

I followed the rest of the instructions (doubled, of course, because if I’m going to go through the effort of baking I want to end up with a good haul!), except they needed to bake maybe ten more minutes than expected. And we were already late, so they got pulled out a wee bit early. No harm, I figured, since there aren’t any raw animal products in there that could make us sick, did it really matter?

I brought them with us to a dinner party and whipped up Elana’s vegan chocolate frosting there. They were a big hit, though a little gooey. Not that there’s anything bad about a gooey chocolate dessert in my book! Don’t for a minute think I would turn my back on anything chocolate, even if it calls for a spoon. In fact, better if it calls for a spoon, sometimes. Though maybe not so much when you’re calling them cupcakes. Theses ones reminded more of these amazing “lava” cakes that my friend’s chocolatier husband once made for us…  Spoonfuls of heaven.

But next time I make these cupcakes – and I will certainly make them again! – I think I’ll skip the banana and stick to the ratio of one egg equals 1 Tablespoon flax seed and 3 Tablespoons of water. I think that would make them more cake-like. My friend Alyson assures me that if I go all flax seed and no banana I’ll actually get light and fluffy egg-free pastries. It feels counter-intuitive, but I’m going to give it a try.

It might also be helpful if there weren’t kids running through the kitchen like a herd of elephants during the entire duration of baking. Sigh. Details.

Here are the recipes right off of Elana’s blog, not including my egg-free substitutions.  🙂

Gluten Free Chocolate Cupcakes
¼ cup coconut flour
¼ cup dagoba cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon celtic sea salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
3 eggs
¼ cup grapeseed oil
½ cup agave nectar

1. In a medium bowl, combine coconut flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking soda
2. In a large bowl, blend together eggs, oil and agave
3. Blend dry ingredients into wet thoroughly
4. Line a cupcake tin with paper liners and scoop a scant 1/4 cup into each
5. Bake at 375° for 20-22 minutes
6. Cool and cover with vegan “buttercream” chocolate frosting
7. Serve

Vegan Chocolate Frosting
1 cup dark chocolate 73%
½ cup grapeseed oil
2 tablespoons agave nectar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
pinch celtic sea salt

1. In a small saucepan over very low heat, melt chocolate and grapeseed oil
2. Stir in agave, vanilla and salt
3. Place frosting in freezer for 15 minutes to chill and thicken
4. Remove from freezer and whip frosting with a hand blender until it is thick and fluffy
5. Frost over cake, cupcakes or between cookies

Gardening with Vermiculite

I was taught to mix potting soil with vermiculite when preparing pots for planting for better drainage and I’m sure I inhaled some of the vermiculite dust along the way. Once I was even enveloped in a cloud of dust when I dropped the bag accidently.

These days my husband supplies me with dust masks to wear when performing nasty airborne chores like cleaning the litter box or mixing rocks with soil, but I’ve often wondered if my early stupidity would lead to lung problems decades later, the way asbestos exposure leads to mesothelioma cancer down the road.

Laura Hasha of Mesothelioma Info sheds some light on this subject in today’s guest post on vermiculite and mesothelioma:

Vermiculite is a versatile mineral commonly used in agriculture and home gardening as a soil aeration product. It is popular among gardeners, especially those who grow their own fruit or vegetables because it has a very low density and is extremely lightweight. Those two properties make it an ideal additive for soils that are very dense or highly compacted.

The addition of vermiculite to aerate such soils increases moisture and nutrient retention. In fact the material is one of the main components of the popular square foot gardening technique.


Vermiculite mines are typically large, open pit excavations from which rocks containing vermiculite are collected through the use of heavy machinery. These rocks are transported to a processing plant where they are then crushed and screened repeatedly until reaching a desired size. These flakes are then graded for size and type before being shipped to exfoliation plants where the material is heated in furnaces that reach temperatures of 1600-2,000 degrees F.

Similar materials

The most similar material to vermiculite is perlite which is produced by hydrating obsidian. When heated it expands and many companies that produce vermiculite produce perlite as well.

Vermiculite Controversy

In Libby, Montana a commercial vermiculite mine exposed people because the material was contaminated with a form of asbestos known as tremolite. The mine later sickened the town resulting in deaths from asbestos related diseases such as mesothelioma.

In 2000, the Environmental Protection Agency purchased 16 different vermiculite containing products from the Seattle area and found 5 of the products contained asbestos fibers.

Asbestos formations can occur within close proximity of vermiculite and four of the major formations in the United States have been confirmed to contain asbestos. But it is important to note that vermiculite is not a form of asbestos and exposure to vermiculite from a non-contaminated source poses no known health risks.

*** Thanks for the info, Laura! I wish it made me feel more confident that my previous vermiculite inhalation will not lead to cancer, but I guess it would depend on if that particular vermiculite product that I was using contained asbestos.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my journey into natural health and safe products it’s that there are so many things in our daily lives that can harm us that I should focus my attention on the things I can change in my life and not the things I can’t.