I had the pleasure of attending the 2012 Integrative Healthcare Symposium, and wish to share some information. Dr Jeffrey Bland spoke on the clinical implications of epigenetics. Dr Leo Galland spoke on Dysbiosis and the GI ecosystem. Dr James Gordon spoke of importance of hope and also of the benefits of meditation, that meditation changes the structure of the brain. Dr Mimi Guarneri shared the opinion that Metformin may well be the most effective anti-cancer drug out there. Dr Dean Ornish spoke on the power of lifestyle changes. Dr Tori Hudson spoke on women’s health, hormones, and botanicals that can help reduce stress and protect ourselves during harmful chemo and radiation. Dr Lise Alschuler made a compelling argument for embracing polyphenolic flavonoids. Dr Mark Hyman spoke and entertained us with the perils of toxins and the benefits and strategies for detoxification. Devra Lee Davis, PhD shocked us with the perils of using cell phones and other such devices, and encouraged us to practice safe-cell (a topic of its own and will get its own post). There were many, many more and while I can’t possibly rehash all the valuable information, I’d like to share some key points and in the next few weeks will comment in more detail.
Jeffrey Bland spoke of environmental epigenetics, the exposure and its relationship to chronic illness, and also the effect of specific nutrients on genetic expression. He spoke of how phytochemicals “talk to our genes”. Food is information, eat dead food, get dead information. He encouraged us to eat for health.
What amazed me is transgenerational epigenetics, the effect on our future generations. He explained that once the genes are marked, they carry to the next generations, already marked. So, the lifestyle modifications that make you sick, such as radiation, stress, infections, drugs, diet, and pollution, will likely make generations forward sick. He mentioned Moshe Szyf, whose concern is what happens in a world community where the children don’t feel safe. Will this emotional stress jeopardize generations forward?
He then got into how the food a mother eats during pregnancy imprints the gene expression in her babies. A lack of Folate or b-12 can have detrimental consequences. He gave the example of childhood leukemia; that it has been identified to be associated with altered epigenetics, and in this case, he was especially concerned with the deficiency of B12 and Folate in those that carry the gene. He also said that early-life environmental conditions can cause epigenetic changes in humans that persist throughout life.
Leo Galland reminded us that it’s not that stress suppresses the immune system, it is because the stress directly affects the gut flora. The gut has a brain of its own; an intact and independent nervous system containing over 500 million neurons. The gut is also the largest organ of immune function in the body; 70% of our lymphocytes live here. (And we all know how important the immune system is in fighting cancer). He also commented that large bowel cancer is associated with high fat, high protein, low fiber diets. He suggests probiotics and prebiotics, foods that support the growth of probiotics, such as bran, psyllium, inulin (think chicory and artichokes), resistant starch, and oligofructose (think onions, garlic, rye, blueberries, bananas and chicory).
Dean Ornish talked about how fear is not a sustainable motivator; that we might agree to a treatment plan or drug out the fear our doctors might instill, but real change comes from what you want to do, not on what someone says you should do. If lifestyle changes make you feel better, you are more likely to stay with them as opposed to taking a drug that you fear of that makes you feel bad. Lifestyle changes empower you to take control of your health, and this was Dean Ornish’s message. He spoke of lifestyle and Prostate cancer risk and said that lifestyle had up to a 70% effect on risk. He also said that only one in 49 patients treated for prostate cancer actually live longer, so it would likely be better to treat with lifestyle changes. He spoke of lung cancer. Telling patients that by quitting smoking they will reduce risk of lung cancer did not motivate them to quit, but telling them that it gives you wrinkles or makes men impotent, well yes, now that was motivation.
He spoke of diet and like others, suggested that if it comes from a plant, eat it; if it is made in a plant, avoid it. He also reminded us that what you include is just as important as what you exclude, so eat mindfully.
He also made us aware that Medicare is now paying for comprehensive lifestyle changes for patients wishing to reverse heart disease, so hopefully the same will soon be offered for cancer patients.
He embraced cancer support groups commenting that meeting (in person or online) in a group once a week dramatically improved the survival rate for those with metastatic breast cancer. He asked us if we knew the difference between illness and wellness. (I also stands for Isolation, btw, and is not indicative of wellness).
Lise Alschuler explained that flavonoids exert antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, immune modulating, hormone balancing, blood sugar stabilizing and cancer prevention effects. Flavonoids are one of the reasons why it is so important to consume a diet full of colorful vegetables and fruits. She stressed that they can help your chemo work and protect you during radiation. She also said you need to eat them every meal, as the effects last for about 1-4 hours.
Trying to quit smoking? Studies showed that smokers who ate plenty of vegetables and drank tea and red wine substantially reduced their risk for cancer. So, while you are trying to quit, have some broccoli or a glass of wine with that cigarette. However, she stresses that this does not give you permission to continue smoking.
She also showed the reverse relationship between flavonoid consumption and ovarian cancer (37%), and 47% for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, as well as between isoflavonoids (Non GMO soy) consumption and ovarian cancer (49%).
She explained the powerful properties in Delphinidin as a cancer prevention agent (think Maquai berries) and mentioned that they were also helpful in reducing the damage of radiation, and that in general, flavonoids should not be so quickly dismissed during chemotherapy as they can be helpful, not harmful. She also mentioned the benefits of Resveratrol, (heard this from many during the three days…)
Mark Hyman takes the approach that doctors shouldn’t treat disease; create health and the disease will go away. He spoke of the hidden dangers of wheat, what he calls the new dwarf or FrankenWheat – a scientifically engineered food product developed in the last 50 years. Two slices of this new whole wheat bread now raise your blood sugar more than two tablespoons of table sugar. For those of us trying to eliminate sugar from our diets, this was quite a shock. For more information, check out his new book, Blood Sugar Solution http://drhyman.com/bss-sneak-preview/
He also explained how toxins make you fat (toxins interfere with and slow down metabolism) as well as contribute to all chronic illnesses, including cancer. To detox your body, he suggests:
- Eat more cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, kale, collards, cabbage, etc.) as well as garlic, green tea, turmeric, and whole eggs. They contain phytonutrient detox-boosting compounds. Add them to your diet daily. Other great detox foods are cilantro, celery, parsley, dandelion greens, citrus peels (not orange unless organic) pomegranate, artichokes and rosemary
- Sweat regularly using saunas
- Take glutathione-boosting and detox-boosting supplements NAC, milk thistle, and buffered vitamin C
- NAC dramatically increases glutathione. Glutathione helps eliminate pesticides and heavy metals and protects the body from oxidative stress
- Milk thistle has long been used in liver disease and helps boost glutathione levels
For more information on any of the topics above, please comment to this post or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Elyn Jacobs is President of Elyn Jacobs Consulting, Executive Director for the Emerald Heart Cancer Foundation, a certified cancer coach and a breast cancer survivor. Elyn helps women diagnosed with cancer to navigate the process of treatment and care, and educates to prevent recurrence and new cancers. She is passionate about helping others get past their cancer and into a cancer-free life. To learn more about Elyn’s coaching services, please visit: http://elynjacobs.wordpress.com