Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Eat More Fruit!

This has been a great year, right off the bat. In January I received the great news that my tumor marker had dropped to well within the normal range. That was followed by more good news when my PET scan in February showed no signs of cancer. I've been on a plant-based diet since the cancer recurrence in 2005, with about 50% raw food, until last year when I tweaked my diet to 80-100% raw. I believe that’s what finally sped up the healing process. I’ll get specifically to the fruit part shortly.

My research into raw foods has been relentless, and after receiving the PET scan results in February I decided to fine-tune my diet even further by going ninety days on a 100% raw vegan diet. Although I’m now cancer-free I still have some health issues that need to be resolved and I reasoned that a 100% raw diet would contribute to further healing.

When the cancer came back it spread to several places, including my skin, in the form of nodules all over my neck, torso, back, underarms, and – the nastiest of all places – my eyelids. The latter aren’t noticeable to most people but they certainly make their presence known to me. They’ve clogged my oil glands, leaving my eyes chronically and unbearably dry and without lubrication. The other nodules have receded and are nearly gone but there are still some small stubborn ones, mostly on my neck.

Even though these are residual “tumors” with no cancer cells remaining, as verified by the PET scan, I want them GONE. So, no more grains. Forget about beans. Not even an occasional organic egg. I was surprised to find how easy the transition to 100% raw has been and I can only attribute that to the fact that I had already been at least 80% raw for nearly one year. My cravings for cooked food were short-lived once I went all the way raw. The ninety day mark recently past but I'm not yet ready to incorporate cooked food back into my life.

Last week I received the results of my three month follow-up which showed that my tumor marker is virtually unchanged – still well within the normal range. I can now say with even more confidence that I am cancer-free. This is wonderful for many obvious reasons, but perhaps most importantly because of what I’ve learned about fruit, of all things.

I’ve always loved fruit – who doesn’t? However, there are many contradictory reports when it comes to fruit sugar and cancer. Some experts say to limit fruit because sugar – even natural sugar – feeds cancer. Others say fruit is OK. I found it impossible and undesirable to stay away from fruit. I trusted my instincts and ate fruit daily but was unsure if I was eating too much or not enough. Cautiously, I limited myself to about four or five pieces of fruit daily.

Malignant cells have a tough protective membrane that makes it difficult for the immune system cells to penetrate and destroy them. Sugar feeds cancer, right? Intuitively, or perhaps because I love fruit so much, I aligned myself with those who believe that the fruit sugar is a transport vehicle into the cancer cell – a sort of Trojan horse – that once inside releases its antioxidants and destroys the cancer.

When I went 100% raw in February my fruit intake nearly doubled. Everything I eliminated was replaced by luscious fruit, but as I approached my three-month follow-up I wondered if I was doing the right thing. Would my tumor marker increase? Could cancer still be lurking, just waiting for some more sugar to feed its growth? Needless to say I was very happy to learn that my markers have stayed put.

On the other hand, why haven’t the markers dropped to zero? While I’m doing extremely well with the 100% raw lifestyle, the nodules have not dissolved in this relatively short period of nearly four months. So, once again I’ve recently taken my diet to the next level. And I do mean recently – in fact it’s only been a few days.

I’ve read quite a lot about the various forms of raw vegan diets and the one I’ve been following since February actually has quite a lot of fat from nuts, seeds, avocados and oils. Perhaps that’s why the transition to raw wasn’t too difficult – I was still consuming a high fat diet, which is standard for most Americans.

The diet which has resonated most with me while at the same time seems difficult to adhere to is the “80-10-10 raw vegan diet", AKA the low-fat vegan diet, or in shorthand: “811rv”. This term was coined by Dr. Douglas Graham in his book “The 80-10-10 Diet”. The numbers refer to nutrient ratios, with a minimum 80% of calories from carbohydrates (fruits and vegetables); a maximum 10% from protein and no more than 10% from fat. Food is consumed as it comes from nature: an abundance of raw, whole, fresh fruits, greens, vegetables, and a very small amount of nuts and seeds. I know it seems radical and it’s taken me some time to embrace this concept but I now understand the science behind it and am giving it a try. I’ve read some remarkable accounts of healing from this very diet, or I should say “lifestyle”.

With the 811rv diet fruit rules. Greens and vegetables are also important but fruit supplies the majority of calories and provides ample energy and the bulk of nutrients. I no longer have a love-fear relationship with fruit and am getting used to consuming many more times the amount of fruit than I’ve ever been accustomed to. Like I said, this is a recent change and I’ll have follow-up reports with my progress, but so far I don’t get hungry or tired provided I get enough calories from fruit – not fat.

For those shaking their heads in doubt or wondering about fruit fueling diabetes or candida – I have one thing to say: It’s not the fruit sugar you should worry about –it’s the fat! Fruit digests very quickly and gets energy to your cells within minutes, while fat takes anywhere from 12 – 24 hours to make its sluggish way into your cells. If you eat fruit while there’s still fat in your bloodstream (maybe from a high-fat meal the night before) it has a tough time getting to your cells. Fat slows everything down and your blood sugar increases, fueling the growth of candida among other troubles. I’m writing a report that will go into more detail about this and other plant-based diets, so watch for that. And don't be afraid to eat more fruit!


Ella said...

I know eating fruit is important, but shouldn't there be a greater stress on eating vegetables instead, especially since fruit contains a lot of sugar?

Mary Laredo said...

Vegetables are absolutely important - especially the leafy greens - but they don't have enough calories to meet the body's nutrient requirements, even when consumed in massive quantities. Fruit has enough calories if eaten in abundance. The problem with eating a lot of fruit is if you're also eating a lot of fat. (More than 10% of total calorie intake). That's when trouble begins. Fruit and vegetables actually have plenty of natural fats and yes, protein - again, if eaten in abundance. I know it's a tough concept to accept and I'm new to the 80-10-10 diet, but it seems to suit me well, especially when I keep the fat calories to within the proper ratio. That's not always a breeze, but it gets easier as I go because that's when I feel my best. I'm writing a report that compares the various plant-based diets, including the 80-10-10, so watch for that, but in the meantime you may want to check out one of the many on-line reviews of the book by Douglas Graham. Or better yet, get the book or check it out of the library - I believe it's essential reading for anyone interested in health.

alikatrn said...

I am applauding your resolve to eat that which Mother Nature has so abundantly supplied but I think you are fearing fats too much. The Weston A Price Foundation is a good website which should explain away fears about fats and cholesterol. You also commented that vegetables do not have enough calories to meet the body's nutrient requirements. Therefore, since fats are calorie dense and the fats that you choose to eat are excellent options why not go ahead and eat more of them. Some other good choices are coconut, peanut, and palm oils. Again, that which Mother Nature has so abundantly supplied us. I just can't imagine people a thousand years ago counting calories. I think they ate what was available, what was in season, of course, and definitely what was local. But asking themselves if they had eaten too many nuts in one sitting? Probably not. Just stopped when they had had enough. Right? And then there is the old adage, "everything in moderation", so that if you find yourself eating one type of food to make up for not eating another type, doesn't that suggest an imbalance? I appreciate your writing a blog about your fight with cancer so that others may consider what has worked for you. I will keep you on my favorites should there come a day when I find myself in similar shoes as yours. Thanks, Ali

Mary Laredo said...

Hi Ali -
I appreciate your comments. I haven't been on the 80-10-10 diet for too long so I can honestly say that I don't know yet if it will be feasible for the long term. I do know that I feel my best when I adhere to it and the concepts are scientifically sound. I continue on my journey of researching, applying, and learning all I can about my body and it's capacity for healing.

As for fearing too much fat, I think that anyone who has dealt with cancer should be cautious when it comes to fat. Max Gerson, the reknowned cancer specialist understood the link between excess fat and cancer and had his patients on a strict nutritional regimen that included a mere tablespoon of flax oil daily as the only source of dietary fat. That is extreme, but so were his cancer cases. The majority not only survived, they thrived on the plant-based diet. The China Study is another great book that addresses the issue of excess fat and cancer. And of course Douglas Graham's book The 80-10-10 Diet goes into great detail on this issue.

I do eat a huge amount of vegetables and greens, but pound for pound they are not as nutritionally complete or calorie dense as fruit.

I agree with you that people didn't count calories 1000 years ago and that's likely because they subsisted primarily on a plant-based diet. We can eat raw plant food to our heart's content but doing the same with fat is without question detrimental to health.

The 80-10-10 diet doesn't require counting calories and I believe - at least in theory at this point - that the ratios are guides to follow if absolute optimum health is the goal.

Thank you also for the info on the Weston Price Foundation. On my healing journey I continue to search for knowledge and take everything into consideration. Salud!