May 18, 2019
Melanie, a Nutritional Weight & Wellness dietitian shares the role food played during her personal journey through the discovery of her cancer to her recovery. Listen in as she shares what foods (and supplements) she’s careful to include now in cancer remission and which foods she’s sure to avoid. This episode is applicable for anyone who wants to prevent cancer in addition to anyone going through chemotherapy and radiation.
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KARA: Good morning everyone. Welcome to Dishing Up Nutrition. This is brought to you by Nutritional Weight and Wellness. My name is Kara Carper and I'm a Licensed Nutritionist. I have a master's degree in Holistic Health. And I'm in the studio this morning with Melanie Beasley. She's a Registered and Licensed Dietitian. She's got a lot of, many years of experience helping clients to regain their health. And today Melanie is not only going to be the co-host, she's also going to be a special guest. And Melanie is going to share her journey from the onset of her cancer through her recovery from cancer. So I want you all to turn up the volume. You don't want to miss even one word because Melanie is going to have a lot of different gems of information to share with us today. And I also just wanted to give a statistic to you listeners: You may know this, but if you did not know the statistics on cancer, currently one in three people in the United States will have cancer during their lifetime and one in eight will have breast cancer. So this is a very, very prevalent issue. I think we all are aware of that.
MELANIE: Yeah. Can you read that one more time? Those statistics are so important for people to really understand the, the occurrence.
KARA: Yeah. So one in three in the US will have cancer during their lifetime and for one and eight it will be breast cancer. So today I'm going to ask Melanie several questions throughout the show about her journey with cancer. So maybe we should just get started right away: dive right in. Melanie, you're obviously, you're a dietician. You're in the health and nutrition field. You're the picture of health. Were you shocked when you were told that you had cancer? And maybe you could just kind of tell us a little bit about the story about your diagnosis?
MELANIE: Sure. Of course I was shocked. I think anyone who gets the diagnosis thinks, “Oh, not me”. But when you’re a healthcare professional, you think you're doing all the right things. You're certainly shocked. And I had, I had several friends say, “Oh, I can't believe you got cancer”. So, they were shocked. I was diagnosed 2005, and it was about two weeks after I'd had major back surgery. So almost didn't go in for the mammogram; Went in and there it was. So it was very shocking. And you know, there's a lot that goes on when you get that initial diagnosis. You're thinking, “How do I tell my children”? And, I remember my youngest, who quite laid it on the table. I remember she asked me… first question, “So are you going to die”?
KARA: Oh wow.
MELANIE: So you got to, you, you've got a lot going on emotionally, not just about your own survival, but you know how to be support for children, family members and your friends begin to look at you as the girl with cancer. So some of your identity gets wrapped up at that time. It can be very, very, it can be very, very life disrupting to say the least.
KARA: So you're not only dealing with the physical aspect of cancer, it sounds like there's a real emotional aspect.
MELANIE: It's a lot going on.
KARA: …as well, which I can only imagine. You know, we're hearing more and more frequently that there is a genetic component to cancer as well as other diseases; and autoimmune diseases. So did cancer run in your family, Mel?
MELANIE: It really didn't. My sister and I were the first. My sister had been diagnosed a year prior to my diagnosis. She was just coming out of it and, we don't know about my other sister. She passed three years earlier, and complications from diabetes. So my one sister and I, we were the, we were sort of the groundbreakers in the family. It didn't really run in my family. It wasn't something we were looking over our shoulders with.
KARA: Sure. So it's nothing, you know, a lot of people say, “Oh, heart disease runs in my family”. And so if they have heart disease than they associate that with the genetic component or…
MELANIE: And they do. And we know that 15 to 20% of cancer risk is genetics, and the rest is environmental and what we eat.
KARA: 15 to 20%.
KARA: So there's a lot that people can do. What you're saying is 85% of cancer prevention is going to come from external factors.
MELANIE: We have control.
KARA: Nutrition, lifestyle, exercise, the environment that we're exposed to.
MELANIE: Yes. Yes.
KARA: I think that's really important because hopefully that gives people listening today a sense of power, you know. So we take back the power even if there is that genetic component. So Mel, thinking back the years prior to the diagnosis, prior to your cancer, knowing what you know today, would you have made any changes like to the way that you ate, how you lived, maybe any of your lifestyle habits?
MELANIE: Of course. You always look back and think “Woulda, shoulda”. I know, now I would have been on vitamin D. I would have been more purposeful about eating real organic foods. I would have avoided what I call “Frankenfoods” or factory foods that are convenient. I'm thinking things like Rice-a-Roni and Hamburger Helper.
KARA: So things in a box: processed foods.
MELANIE: I was living in the era of low-fat, so there's a lot of chemicals that are placed in low-fat foods. I was drinking a boatload of Diet Dr. Pepper. And I would have dramatically cut out sugar, knowing how it feeds cancer. Quite a few things I would've done differently.
KARA: So it sounds like that was a part of your life at the time was kind of this low-fat… Can we tell listeners a little bit more about low-fat? Like if a food is low-fat, what is it made up of? You had mentioned chemicals. But usually low-fat indicates something else, right?
MELANIE: I think we can all agree that when we eat foods that have the fat that they're supposed to have in them, they taste delicious.
KARA: Right. That's where we get our flavor: from fat.
MELANIE: Certainly. So when you remove fat, you've got to do something to sell a food and make it taste delicious and they put in sugar and chemicals.
MELANIE: So we know that chemicals are a burden on the body. And that just decreases your ability to fight cancer.
KARA: Would you also talk a little bit more about the sugar connection with cancer? You mentioned that's one thing that you would've done differently is not eaten as much sugar or even high carbohydrate foods. We can talk more about that later, but those are turning into a lot of sugar in the body. And how does that affect cancer? Sorry.
MELANIE: No, no, no, that's an excellent question. Sugar is really the enemy when it comes to cancer prevention. Sugar is the enemy for a lot of disease processes, but we know that sugar feeds cancer. Cancer will literally budge out your other cells and consume the sugar. It has six times more receptor sites: a cancer cell; six times more receptor sites for sugar than a regular cell. So the last thing that you want to be doing, and this is what we do, especially in our society and in the low-fat era, is we, we didn't think sugar was an issue. We thought fat was an issue. So I was eating a lot of sugar.
KARA: So the low fat-era, I mean, I always think back to when that started. It was probably somewhere around the 1950s and I feel like we've come a long way since then. But still, you know, there are a lot of clients going to Nutritional Weight and Wellness and just friends and family that we have that still are kind of on that bandwagon: the low-fat bandwagon. I think that's a hard message to break.
MELANIE: Because we have fear, fear of fat. We have fat fear.
KARA: Why are we, why are some people afraid to eat fat? Where does that come from?
MELANIE: It has been really demonized with the low-fat era that it causes disease and it causes heart problems. And we just know from solid research and when our company is a very research-based company that that just isn't true.
KARA: Yes. Okay. Well thank you so much for, for explaining all of that. And we're going to talk more about the food as well. But first I just have a question about, and you know, we know that our environment also can contribute to cancer. So do you feel, looking back in your life, were there contributing factors in your environment that may have been, you know, caused cancer or been one thing that led to the diagnosis?
MELANIE: It certainly increased my risk of getting cancer for both my sisters and I. And that would be: we lived next to a farm. We were in the suburbs, but next to us was a farm that was just treated; The cornfields and the wheat fields were treated with pesticides. My sisters and I ran through those fields, created forts in those fields; and were really exposed regularly to a lot of pesticides. I can also remember my mother always had this wonderful garden, but she would treat that garden with Roundup to keep the bugs out. And we didn't wash those foods. We just ate them: full of pesticides. So I think growing up in a household of two heavy smokers, you know, there's a lot of carcinogens in cigarette smoke. So yes, definitely think I ate a lot of canned foods with BPA lining.
KARA: Okay. So you just talked about a few different things and I'm noticing the time. We have to go to break. When we come back, I kind of want to touch a little bit more on the cigarette smoke; the Roundup. People might not know exactly the connections with all that, but you are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition and this is brought to you by Nutritional Weight and Wellness. And I had shared this statistic a few minutes ago, but I'm just going to share it again. It's so important. Nearly one out of three people in the United States will have cancer during their lifetime. One in eight women will get breast cancer. Research indicates that eating the right kind of foods before, during, and after cancer treatment, all of those times are critical. Today we're sharing information about food and nutrition that's going to be essential in cancer prevention. And we'll be right back.
MELANIE: I'd like to continue to share a little of what I've learned about cancer, both as a patient and as a dietitian. One thing we know for sure is that what you eat can influence cancer; because studies suggest that following a healthy diet could prevent 30 to 50% of all cancers. Think about that.
MELANIE: So eating real food, organic food, if possible, could have the potential to definitely reduce cancer by 50%. There's no drug or exercise program that has been shown to have that kind of result.
KARA: Mel, that, I mean, that statistic is phenomenal to me.
MELANIE: We have some control.
KARA: We do have some control: definitely in nutrition. I always think of that. I mean people say lifestyle, exercise, but what you put in your mouth every day really has the most influence.
MELANIE: It really does. I tell my clients, every bite you take is harming or healing.
KARA: Oh, I love that. I love that.
KARA: We have to get real serious about thinking about everything we're putting in our mouths. So before break, so we just, you know, I'd asked you the question about did you feel there were contributing factors in your environment that may have, you know, been a risk factor in your diagnosis of cancer? And you had, could you just kind of recap, please? Just a few different things? You had talked about some pesticides.
MELANIE: A lot of pesticide exposure. Of course, you know, being a young wife and mother, a lot of household chemicals that I was using that are hormone disruptors.
KARA: Like cleaning products?
MELANIE: Cleaning products.
MELANIE: The products I would put on my skin were full of parabens that… We didn't know what we know now. I worked in hospitals and clinics, so I used a ton of antibacterial soaps, washing my hands constantly.
KARA: So more chemicals.
MELANIE: More chemicals. Eating canned foods as a busy professional, mother: canned foods that had the BPA liners. So those weren't banned for quite a while. So that chemical load is all foreign substances you're piling on your body. Your body says, “What do I do with this”? So that's a burden for your body to get rid of those chemicals. And if your body is so busy trying to get rid of chemicals, what happens when a cancer cell comes along? It's busy.
KARA: So to me it sounds like a toxic overload.
MELANIE: I would agree. I certainly didn't feel toxic.
KARA: Yeah. So you didn't have… It's not like you woke up in the morning and “Oh, I'm being exposed to chemicals”. It's not like you felt that, but internally that's what was going on in your body.
MELANIE: I believe so.
KARA: Yeah. Well, and that's what their research shows too: It’s just the toxic overload from things like pesticides. And you had talked about some of the parabens, BPA, and I think we'll, you're going to talk a little bit more about that later. Those are hormone disruptors.
KARA: So as far as the pesticides though, I did just want to say one thing to our listeners today. You know, so our foods can be grown in different ways and unfortunately a lot of foods are… they have pesticides on them. And because the crops have pesticides, are sprayed with fertilizers or pesticides and chemicals. But we can avoid that by trying to purchase organic foods. So that is really important. You know, if you, if you can find organic foods, we really recommend that as a one tool for cancer prevention.
MELANIE: And they are becoming much more economical.
KARA: They really are. Yeah. Yeah. And I do realize that depending where you live, you may not even have access to a big selection of organics. There is a great resource that some of you may have heard of and it's called the dirty dozen/clean 15.
KARA: And so what that is: It's a list of the top, the foods that are sprayed the most with pesticides and the foods that are sprayed the least. So if you're unable to get organic fruits and vegetables, you can be assured that if the food is on the clean 15 list, it's not going to be highly sprayed. But if it's on the dirty dozen, you know, there are foods, if I go to the store and I see strawberries and they're not organic, and I don't have access to organic strawberries, I won't buy them.
MELANIE: I won't either.
KARA: Because they're on the dirty dozen and I know that eventually if I ate those strawberries every day, my body would, you know, that would lead to part of that toxic chemical overload.
MELANIE: Something about that too, I'd like to say, Kara, is a lot of my clients come in saying, “Well, I wash; I wash them really good”. But the problem is, is not only is the crop sprayed on the outside, but the seeds in the soil are sprayed. So it's really all throughout the produce. So the clean 15 and the dirty dozen become a really valuable tool.
KARA: I agree. I carry it in my wallet. I mean I happen to have a little printout. People can go online though and it's ewg.org which stands for the environmental working group.
KARA: So it, well let's move on. What are some key tips that you would give to our listeners if they were thinking, you know, “I want to prevent cancer”, which I'm sure everybody does. But what are just some key tips that you would give to them?
MELANIE: I think one of the most important aspects, and this sounds a little sciency, but to keep your blood sugar balanced. We talk a lot about this on this show. Our blood sugar rises and our blood sugar lowers. And how we do that is eliminating certain foods. And we'll talk some more about those. But keeping your blood sugar at a healthy level has been shown to dramatically decrease your risk for cancer. We talked about all organic, of course. And then it's important that you're getting five to nine cups of vegetables. Vegetables are the powerhouse that help us to fight cancer. Five to nine cups a day.
KARA: Not five to nine servings.
KARA: Cause I think often, you know, a serving is considered a half cup. People are doing pretty good with five to nine servings. But for true cancer prevention, you're saying five to nine cups.
MELANIE: I'm kinda tough on my cancer clients with that.
KARA: I think you should be. I mean if people want to get serious about it, they need to know that.
MELANIE: And when we know that there are components in vegetables that fight cancer, why not? Also eliminating sugar. If you have some sugar, it better be on a scale of one to 10, 10 being your best thing in the world. It better be a 10. So never ever do I think like I used to when I leave a restaurant, grab the mint. That mint is loaded with sugar. Never ever do I think, I'm going to put just a little bit of sugar in my coffee. I just, it's not a 10 for me and I'm not going to increase that sugar in my diet. So I'm really strict about sugar coming into my life and my clients too.
Moving your body: keeping your body active. Move it, that helps the body to detox toxins that come in. I would like to say though that I was extremely athletic when I was diagnosed, so…
KARA: Okay. So that is something that you were doing. You're just saying, you, you, this is still a recommendation for our listeners.
MELANIE: Based on studies. We want to do that and I'm still here. So moving my body I think did help.
KARA: Oh yeah. Yeah. I mean because you had got a cancer diagnosis doesn't mean that you weren't doing anything right.
MELANIE: Right: a few things. And then of course we talked about avoiding pesticides in foods and grains and in your environment overall. And hands down get your vitamin D level checked yearly. If your vitamin D level is low, which is below 50, according to research, we want that level between 50 and 80.
MELANIE: If your vitamin D level is low. You're at a 40% risk of breast cancer and men are at a 40% risk of prostate cancer. So it's a big deal. I said it before. I am a vitamin D Nazi. Get it checked yearly.
KARA: And that's a simple blood test. Right, Melanie?
MELANIE: It is. And give a little push back if your doctor is not willing to do it because you're the boss of them.
KARA: Yes, I totally agree. If somebody says it's not necessary… I actually had a doctor tell me one time that I was too young to need my vitamin D checked. I mean this, this was a little while ago. I wasn't that young, though. But I pushed and I pushed and I insisted on that test. So you can do that too listeners. It's time for our second break. You're listening to Dishing Up Nutrition and we're sharing nutritional information about food and cancer. Here are a couple of facts for you to ponder. Research has found that foods which are high in sugar and low in nutrients have been linked to a higher cancer risk. Several research studies have also found that a diet which causes blood sugar levels to spike, which Melanie had mentioned before, is associated with an increase in several cancers, including stomach, breast, and colorectal cancers. And we'll be right back after break.
MELANIE: I have another interesting fact that a research study concluded. Your risk of developing colorectal cancer is 22% higher if you have diabetes. We know about 12% of the population has diabetes, but there's a large number of people who have prediabetes or elevated blood sugar numbers, which could also put them at risk for developing colorectal cancer. Elevated blood sugar numbers are almost always a result of what you're eating or drinking. I don't think people realize how serious the effect of elevated blood sugars is on their health. Some of you may be thinking, how do I learn to control my blood sugars? Well, nutritional classes and counseling are the real answer. Call our office today at (651) 699-3438 to set up your nutrition consultation and we will help you find the best solution for you.
KARA: And that really is the best solution. If somebody wants to do more of a deep dive on “What do I eat?” Whether it's “what do I eat to keep my blood sugars sable and prevent high blood sugars,” “What do I eat for cancer prevention”? I mean to do a really deep dive, we're trying to give information today. The sitting down one on one is going to be your best bet for that.
MELANIE: It really is, there's so much media chatter out there about diets. It's actually very simple.
KARA: And you know, someone like you, you could sit down and sift through that information and there's a lot of misinformation out there. And you could, you could help people to sort through all that.
KARA: Now, as a dietitian, Melanie, would you say that there are certain foods…? Okay, I know the answer to this, but I'm just going to ask it anyway. Would you say there are certain foods that are helpful with cancer prevention?
MELANIE: Yes. Yes, yes. As I mentioned, organic veggies are key, especially cruciferous. Now, when I say cruciferous, I'm talking about the ones you cook and you feel like you need to apologize to everyone in the house because they smell like sulfur. So those cruciferous veggies are, you know, broccoli, especially is a powerhouse. But broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, Brussels sprouts. Those are key. In fact, my cancer patients and myself, I make sure that we're getting three cups of those alone a day. I don't put my head on the pillow until I've had three cups of cruciferous vegetables.
KARA: Good for you. So broccoli, cauliflower, kale…?
MELANIE: Kale, yes, big powerhouse, but really any colorful foods. And I'm not talking about Skittles. I'm talking about foods from your farmer’s field: carrots and blueberries and tomatoes. Think about what they look like when you open your refrigerator. Do you see a lot of colorful vegetables and fruit? Nuts have also been very helpful with their healthy fats. Olive oil and fatty fish for omega-3s. If you think salmon and mackerel, sardines. Also I like the certain spices: tumeric and garlic and cinnamon have been shown in research to be very anti-carcinogenic.
KARA: Wonderful. So the turmeric that has the curcumin. People may have heard of that. That's an important anti-inflammatory component of turmeric. So well those are, those are some really great tips. Now on the flip side of that, what about foods that our listeners should be avoiding for a cancer prevention plan?
MELANIE: Well, let's think about this. The major cause of cancer is the sugar intake, not our fat intake, but sugar intake. So things like obesity and prediabetes and insulin resistance like we've talked about, increase your cancer risk dramatically, right?
We also need the right fats such as the omega-3 fats that I mentioned that can protect you from cancer. I regularly eat wild caught salmon, sardines and mackerel. Those are excellent sources of omega-three. I use a good amount of grass fed butter in my cooking or on my vegetables as well.
Sugar feeds cancer and creates obesity and disease. The average American consumes about 152 pounds of sugar a year. And what people don't realize, they also consume about 146 pounds of flour a year. And we have to remember that flour and processed carbs turn rapidly into sugar as well as limiting or eliminating those foods that are imperative for our cancer prevention. So we're bumping out the good stuff to eat the processed stuff. So processed foods with chemicals, especially nitrates which are found in processed meats: we want to avoid.
KARA: So like, deli meat, maybe bacon hot dogs.
MELANIE: Processed meats. I mean I have a really good grass fed sausage. You know, there are two things you can do to prevent or control cancer: really important. It's controlling that blood sugar levels with what you eat. A balanced meal: say it with me, listeners: protein, vegetables and healthy carbs, healthy fats. And then minimize or eliminate sugary processed foods that are blood sugar-raising.
KARA: So it really sounds like you're driving home the point of sugar.
MELANIE: I hope I haven't made everyone a little paranoid out there.
KARA: I think people need to know that, but what you said I thought was interesting. It's not just sugar like Skittles, ice cream, cake, cookies, things like that. People know that that is sugar. I think kind of the hidden things are more of the flour based products. And I just want to, you know, clarify that. When you said flour, you know, people may be thinking flour. Hmm.
Well that's pasta, bread, biscuits, cereal, crackers, chips, bagels, muffins.... I mean we could kind of go on but we have to remember that all of those are very high starch, high carbohydrate foods and our body doesn't know any difference, when we eat those foods, they break down into high sugar. So that's still really elevating the blood sugar levels.
So Mel, do you believe that there is, we're going to just switch over a little bit from the food aspect and do you think there's a link between chronic stress and cancer?
MELANIE: I do. We know from research of course, when it comes to stress and cancer, I've done a little digging. Stress raises our hormone cortisol and there are connections and there are numerous studies that suggest that cortisol levels tend to be higher overall in patients with breast cancer. A study conducted in 2000 by the Stanford University found that the women with abnormal cortisol levels had fewer natural killer cells, which played a major role in their lack or their ability to fight cancer cells in their body. Making sure we're getting, we're taking that time to decrease the stress in our life and get enough sleep in our life plays a major role in fighting cancer. And the sleep component: we know lack of sleep, less than seven to eight hours a night increases your blood sugar. It increases those cortisol levels, which in turn increase your sugar cravings.
MELANIE: No one can, you know, white knuckle it through sugar cravings.
KARA: And I think we can all relate to that. I mean, even, you know, if I have a poor night's sleep, I've shared in the past, you know, I've kind of struggled off and on with insomnia. So I know what it's like to have a poor night of sleep. I think we all do. But those cravings that we have the next day and often, you know, I would be going for caffeine, but also you kind of just want some bread or pasta, you know, you want, you want something that's going to raise your blood sugar quickly.
It's almost like for a false energy. And those cravings, like you said, can be quite uncontrollable. And so, and, and you know, I know if people have insomnia, that's an issue where maybe you need to meet with a nutritionist to get that sorted out.
MELANIE: We have a lot of solutions, don’t we?
KARA: But if it's, if it's a lack of sleep for other reasons, just up too late, you know, on social media or something…we understand there's a lot of reasons, but what you're trying to say is sleep is so important and actually should be part of a cancer prevention plan is getting that seven and a half to eight hours sleep.
MELANIE: And the stress. We have to decrease stress in our lives.
KARA: We do. We do. So Mel, can you talk about what you recommend? You know, if someone has the diagnosis and they're going through chemotherapy, maybe radiation, chemo and/or radiation, are there specific recommendations that you have for that patient, that client?
MELANIE: That's a really good question. It is, I love to get a client when they were just diagnosed because one of the first things before you even enter into treatment is we want to boost that, your nutritional status so that you respond well to these other treatments, the chemo and the radiation. And then once we walk through the chemo, the radiation together, there's a lot that we can do to help with things like food aversions. And just for instance, when you go through chemotherapy, a lot of times there are certain foods, it’s almost like pregnancy, you cannot tolerate.
So, one of the tricks of the trade is you make food super cold because when they're super cold you don't smell them as well and you don't taste them as well. So it's an easy way to sort of get around food aversions. I really love smoothies for this point and vegetables in your smoothies.
For radiation, that's a whole different little beast because depending upon where you're being radiated, you can have difficulty with swallowing or heartburn, nausea. And so, then we, we lean towards, you know, mild foods, less salty foods, very softly cooked foods. And I like certain key supplements to help with that tissue repair of those burned regions like the L-Glutamine and a whole host of other things. So each individual treatment affects each individual differently and you just need that team player to help you kind of navigate.
KARA: I like that. I think everyone needs a mentor, a team player, like you said.
MELANIE: I would agree.
KARA: Instead of trying to just figure it out on their own.
MELANIE: Which I did, you know, there was no, no one sent me to a nutritionist and so I was exhausted digging in my own research.
KARA: I bet you were. I'm going to have a couple more questions for you about that, but we're going to take our third break here first. You are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. And starting the week of June 3rd we're going to be offering our Nutrition for Weight Loss series at all seven of our locations and also online. And this real food plan supports all aspects of your health, not only weight loss. We help you develop the practice of eating real food that will support your energy, your moods, your memory, weight loss, add much more. It's nothing fancy. It's not a fad diet, it's just pure science. It's the pure science of eating real food. You can call (651) 699-3438 or you can go to our website: weightandwellness.com to sign up. And remember, you can save $50 with our early bird discount if you sign up by May 27th and we will be right back.
MELANIE: Serious problem, and we believe you need to follow the best nutritional plan possible. I see many clients every week to give support and direction on eating real food for the best immune support. There are many theories about healthy eating, but as both a cancer survivor and a dietitian, I believe that we teach what we teach at Nutritional Weight & Wellness is the best plan. It's why I work there. So during that critical time in my life, I read and I re-read the book… one of the one of the only books I could find called Beating Cancer with Nutrition by Patrick Quillin. The research in this book supports what we believe at Nutritional Weight & Wellness, that real whole organic food, is really a result in not only improving your odds and preventing cancer but also recovery from cancer. So it is what I experienced. It's also what I believe as a practitioner. If you have more questions you can email me at email@example.com.
KARA: Thank you Melanie. So before break you were touching on some, you know, some different recommendations for people that may have already had a diagnosis and either going through chemotherapy, you mentioned a couple things, or radiation, and yeah, I just have a kind of a general question about when you were diagnosed. Were you given recommendations on what to eat, what to avoid either from an oncologist, another health provider?
MELANIE: No, I wasn't. In fact, I was at the time drinking a lot of soy milk. And it wasn't until I met with my oncologist the second time after I was kind of done with my whole journey that he said, “Oh, and by the way, you don't want to be drinking soy. You don't want to be eating soy”.
KARA: So the second time.
MELANIE: Yeah…around and I was like, “Oh dear”, because that's about the only thing I could keep down. Cause mind you, I was two weeks out from back cancer. So my, I’m sorry, back surgery. Yeah. So my appetite was, I'd already had dropped 15 pounds, so I was doing everything I could. But, I think it's really critical that not only as soon as you're diagnosed that you start that supportive care with a nutritionist because you want to go into the fighting process with the best nutritional status you can have because we know from research that the majority of cancer patients actually die from malnutrition.
MELANIE: Not the cancer itself. So that’s a staggering statistic. You need that support.
KARA: And so what it sounds like what you're saying is it's never too late to turn around your nutrition. So if somebody maybe didn't know they, this is maybe the first time that they're hearing that nutrition might even be related to cancer, good or bad.
KARA: It's never too late. Whether you are preventing, trying to prevent it, whether you have a current diagnosis, whether you're, you're cancer free, you're through radiation, you're through chemo, whatever your status is, you can still improve the quality of your nutrition.
MELANIE: You know, and that's such a good point. Kara, because when I see a client and the rubber meets the road, they have that diagnosis, but they want to do is I'm going to do everything to survive. So my challenge to our listeners out there is why not do everything to prevent? Start your day with a vegetable, vegetables in your smoothie. Get those five to nine cups in. It's critical.
KARA: And we talked about that yesterday, even on the phone, how we both have smoothies with vegetables, because even as a nutritionist and a dietitian, we know that it's hard to get in three to six cups. How many cups? Sorry, you are the expert on how many cups of vegetables? I size three to six.
MELANIE: I say five to nine.
KARA: Five to nine: that's even better.
MELANIE: It’s a tall order.
KARA: So that is one way to get a couple of servings and is throw some, throw a few handfuls of greens into your smoothie.
MELANIE: I throw in frozen broccoli and cauliflower in my smoothie.
KARA: I love it. There's those cruciferous vegetables too. Now as our listeners know, for any health condition, we always consider food first, but often there are, excuse me, going to be some key supplements that help as well. So what supplements do you recommend to people that… just in general, I guess, I don't know if you have specifics for chemotherapy or radiation or…
MELANIE: Well, I do want to defer to the oncologist just because they know the cocktail going in for chemotherapy, but there are some standard: Vitamin D of course. For chemotherapy, Magnesium, L-Glutamine to help that tissue repair, Collagen Protein Powders that just kind of dissolve, and it's one way to help with, those tissues; and Melatonin. Melatonin has been shown to be very anti-carcinogenic. About 10 to 15 milligrams, depending upon what my client can tolerate. I take melatonin every night.
For radiation, that’s like I said, that's different. So again, the L-glutamine and the collagen, the vitamin D and magnesium. I love a product called Dynamic Greens because it's an easy way to wonderfully flavor smoothies, but also you can put it in water. It's a good nutritional boost of fruits and vegetables.
And then when I get the green light from the oncologist, I definitely address with antioxidants and probiotics and things to restore what has been damaged from, you know, these treatments.
KARA: So you're really referring back to the oncologist that's working closely with the patients. I think that's important too.
MELANIE: Yes. You want to be a team.
KARA: Yeah. And so, you know, you can have your oncologist as one team member and you can have your dietitian or nutritionist as well. So, let's see. One, I wanted to just touch back on that book that you had mentioned, because it sounds like that really was, you said the only book you could find; but it does sound like it was a favorite book that you read when you had cancer. Could you talk about that title again?
MELANIE: Beating Cancer with Nutrition by Patrick Quillin. And, what I loved about that book so much was…I want direction, like I, that's who I am. Give me a plan. I will work the plan. And there were a lot of key factors in there that I thought “I can do this and I can do this”. And, oddly enough, I was diagnosed with breast cancer during breast cancer month and I was in the bed a lot recovering from the back surgery. So I would turn on the TV to get away from cancer and there'd be all these commercials for breast cancer. And so I change the channel to PBS. And on there was a special on the Gerson way, which was a treatment. And so they mentioned, I believe they mentioned that book and that's where I found it.
KARA: Okay. That's so interesting. You were turning off the breast cancer commercials and then and you found it on PBS: I love it. Mel, you know, we have one minute left. So could you give a practical tip as far as what's a dinner that you would have? You know, you're avoiding sugar. You're, you're avoiding high-carb. You're getting in the veggies.
MELANIE: So a practical tip… Again, the practical tip is for me is avoid the sugar, increase the vegetables and blood sugar balance. Eat the healthy protein. Eat the animal protein. Eat from the farmer's field and avoid those pesticides and sugars.
KARA: So you're talking real foods, whole foods. We're not eating low fat. We're not doing fad diets.
MELANIE: No chemicals. If you can’t pronounce it or pluck it from a farmer's field, don't eat it.
KARA: Mel, thank you so much. This has just been phenomenal today and I really appreciate you sharing your story. And our goal at Nutritional Weight & Wellness is to help each and every person experience better health through eating real food. It's a simple, yet it's a very powerful message. Eating real food is life changing. I want to thank all of you for listening and have a wonderful day.