This comes up as an important question when people are trying to heal a tumor. Cancer is an illness that seems to magnify the importance of many of the questions and concerns that people have all of the time. It occasions extra consciousness, for we want to really be aware of what we are doing and the possible consequences. We are forced to reconsider many of the things we have previously done out of habit or convenience, and whether we should continue them or make a change. In terms of diet and cancer it is very clear that we need to choose things that support good vitality and that nourish us, and that we need to avoid things that are burdensome and depleting.
Here is a brief list of several of the common themes that emerge in discussions about diet and cancer, with some introductory insights:
- First, a general rule is that you should really only take in what you can fully work through and transform. A big part of digestion depends upon breaking things down, being able to really meet the substance of what you are taking in, and getting it to a point where you can properly decide what you want to take up into your own physiology (to actually make part of your being) and what needs to be released and cast off. That decision point, which is fairly far into the digestion process, is essential! So, digestively, it is good to be selective about what we take in. Diet does matter!
- Second, a tumor is really a part of our body that has become too dense, too earthy, too separate—it has “fallen out” of our own healthy immune system and physiologic consciousness, so that it is a part of us that is no longer part of us. Things that work to make us more earthly, more dense, make it harder to enter into those parts of our body that have been lost and reclaim them. In terms of diet, we are made more earthly when we eat animal protein—it has a very grounding quality (which can be good in the right situations). But we currently live in a society in which there is an unhealthy wealth of available meat, much more than most people actually need to eat on a daily basis. Moving to a vegetarian (or for select individuals mostly vegetarian) diet helps boost vitality in cancer therapy in important ways.
- Third, it is a good idea to avoid nightshade plants. What are the nightshades? Tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, green pepper, are the main ones. Why? Well these are all plants that are able to accomplish a ripening process without outside light and sun. They carry a certain “independent” quality. If you take such a capacity for creating that kind of isolated independence and exaggerate it, you come to the mistletoe plant, which fruits in winter, grows as a parasite on other plants, does not grow up towards the sun, and is poisonous. A cancer has many of those same qualities. Nightshade plants can reinforce that kind of “independent” gesture. Asking the body to continuously overcome that gesture is an extra burden (though specially prepared mistletoe extracts dosed in the right way are an important part of anthroposophic cancer therapies—more about that in future). Many people with cancer find they do not digest nightshade vegetables well in any case, probably because they are harder to full break down and assimilate.
- Fourth, sugar and white flour should be avoided. You will read in many places that sugar will “feed” a cancer. That may well be true, but let’s think of this aspect of nutrition more from the side of how much better we are able to digest things when we need to really do some work to meet them and break them down. When things come to us, already in a highly processed state, then they slip past our thresholds more easily—blood glucose levels can rise without an appropriate response. We can be overwhelmed or made toxic without really mounting a proper digestive response. So much better to eat whole foods!
- Fifth, detox is good. This is especially important if you are doing chemotherapy or radiation. We need to not just kill what is bad, but to then take the additional step and release it, send it away. We need to be releasing just as much as we take in—too much backlog creates toxicity and burdens the body. There are lots of good ways to naturally support digestion, especially liver function, and you should explore different methods for strengthening your pathways for excretion.
- Sixth, and last (at least for this list). Warmth is good. If we look at many different traditional healing methods cancer is recognized as being a cold illness. Cold brings separation, warmth fosters connection and integration. So, eating foods that have been warmed is helpful—this means foods that have really been warmed through (there is a very different warmth given to food by a microwave than from a stove-top, stove is so much better!), also, use warming spices (the helpful aspects of Turmeric are well known). Warmth can also mean taking the time to really meet your food with appreciation, as you would a conversation with a good friend (how much warmth do you experience in your food if you are watching TV while eating?)
We will explore each of these six aspects in more detail over the coming months in these newsletters, one newsletter for each of the bullet-point items.
But now do one more thing—go back and re-read this from the beginning, but let’s make a small change. Adjust the title, make it: “What is the best diet (for fear)?” and now go back through the points, and wherever you find the word “cancer” or “tumor” put in the word “fear” or “shock.” Focus on the sentences in italics. See what equivalents you yourself can find for “protein” or for “white sugar.” What tends to make you too earthy? What tends to slip past your thresholds? Can these same principles also help you improve your own sensory and soul nutrition? Yes. Working with fear in a healthy way is also an important part of healing a tumor.
Digesting the world is a challenge that every one of us faces every day.
May we all find means for transformation, and healing, and courage in this new year.