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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Getting Personal...

For years I have had an ongoing battle with my primary care physician over my cholesterol levels.

The numbers have been inching higher and higher year by year.

Dr. Kyle has repeatedly perscribed statin drug to lower the cholesterol levels, and I have repeatedly said no.

So... I am stubborn.  And so is he...

Perhaps you are having a similar battle?  Maybe not... but this is where the story gets personal for me.

Last year my total cholesterol topped 260.  It was 263 to be exact.

A desirable normal total cholesterol level would be below 200 mg/dL.

200 -239 is borderline high.

Over 240 is considered high and dangerous.

Obviously I have fallen into the dangerously high levels.

It is something of a family "gift" I suppose... my mom was on statin drugs and so is my brother because of abnormally high cholesterol levels.

Dr. Kyle said it is not up for discussion.  The high levels of cholesterol in my system will set me up for heart disease... take the statins he said!

And this is where my struggle lies.  There are so many side effects associated with statin drugs.  Such as muscle pain and damage, liver damage, increased chance of developing type 2 diabetes and neurological effects (memory loss and confusion).

There had to be a better way!

Enter The China Study...

Remember, I had picked up the book because of our cancer research... I was intrigued by the claims of being able to "dramatically reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes just by changing your diet."

I was not prepared to read that Dr. Campbell's research in China and the corresponding studies in England had established an indisputable link between elevated cholesterol rates and cancer risk...

"We compared the prevalence of Western diseases with diet and lifestyle variables and, to our surprise, one of the strongest predictors of Western diseases was blood cholesterol."

Seriously, what was cholesterol doing in the middle of a cancer study??

What Dr. Campbell and his team had found as they studied the rural Chinese communities was that as blood cholesterol levels rose the incidence of Western diseases (cancer, heart disease and diabetes) also rose.

The other astonishing finding was that rural Chinese participants had blood cholesterol levels far, far below the Western average... like really, really low cholesterol readings...

In America, our average blood cholesterol readings are between 170-290mg/dL.  In China, the average readings were between 94-129mg/dL.  That's almost 100 points lower!

My brain started setting off alarm bells... with my high cholesterol was I at a higher risk for cancer too?  Maybe it's not just heart disease that I should be worrying about!

Ok, now you've got my attention.

And as mom and I often did, I decided to set up my own "unscientific" test...

I had 6 weeks until my follow-up physical and blood work (to see if the statins were lowering my cholesterol).  What I chose to do is perhaps not the smartest thing to do (according to Dr. Kyle), but I needed to know if there was anything to this China Study Diet...

For the next 6 weeks I chose to follow the Whole-Food Plant-Based diet as closely as I could.  And not take the statin drug.  (Please know that this should never be construed as medical advice for you or a loved one... this is just a personal journal of my truly unscientific experiment!)

The first week on the diet was the hardest (more on that in the coming days!) but I knew if there was any chance to tell if the diet worked on lowering my cholesterol I needed to be as consistent as I could...

Amazingly I made it through the 6 weeks (and actually found I missed the animal-protein foods less and less!)

The results were well worth it... After 6 weeks on the diet, my total cholesterol level had dropped to 231!!!!

From 263... a 32 point drop in 6 weeks.  Dr. Kyle was impressed. 

I was doing a happy dance (and just a little shocked to be honest) but incredibly impressed by the results.

I am continuing to apply the diet in my life and hope to see the numbers drop to even healthier levels.  But now I know that The China Study has merit, and have begun to advocate strongly for a Whole-Food Plant-Based Diet.

That is the reason I am sharing in this 31 Day Write Journal: Beating Cancer, 31 Days to Healing.  If you or a loved one is searching for answers.  A plan. For a bit of hope... Keep on trucking with me...

The China Study Diet is simple, wholesome and surprisingly delicious.  It is very do-able,  It reaps amazing benefits.  And can be started today.

Looking forward to sharing the tips and recipes that made a transition to Healthy easy and fun...

See you back tomorrow!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Brain Cancer and a Case Study

Dr. John Kelly shares a story in his book, Stop Feeding Your Cancer, that highlights the amazing effects of the China Study diet.  It is the story of how brain cancer stopped a 34 year old woman in her tracks.

Her name is Melissa and her is how Dr. Kelly shares her story...

"At surgery, Melissa's tumour was classified as a grade 3 anaplastic glioma.  These are usually serious tumours of aggressive malignant cells that quickly infiltrate surrounding brain tissue, making it almost impossible to completely remove the tumour.

Melissa's neurosurgeon had been circumspect about her prospects while she was under his care in hospital, but as soon as she got home she had checked her prognosis on the Internet.  Best predictions were that she would probably live for five or six years.  The quality of those years would depend very much on how effective chemotherapy and radiation treatments turned out to be; this is the great variable in all cancer treatments.  From her reading, one thing seemed certain: the remnants of the tumour that the surgeon had been unable to remove would, despite any conventional treatments, some day begin to grow again.  It would continue to grow until there was no more room for it inside her head.  Then she would die.  This was not a prospect that was easy to live with, even for someone like Melissa, who was strong, resourceful and full of natural optimism.  It horrified her that nowhere was the possibility of a cure even mentioned. The situation, in the medium term, was hopeless.

In the absence of any hope, Melissa made the decision to end the relationship with her boyfriend... and attempt to adjust to what she called the emptiness of her new world.

Much of this happened before I'd read The China Study.  It was while I was in the process of considering my best approach to a study with my patients that Melissa telephoned to say that she was not well and thought that the tumour had returned.  She had developed a fever and the mild headaches that she had on a continual basis since her surgery had become much more severe and were now reminiscent of the headaches she had before the cancer was first diagnosed.  I detected her overwhelming anxiety and tried to reassure her.  In truth, the symptoms didn't sound too serious to me but in the circumstances, and because I wanted to have some quiet time with her, I decided to visit her at home.

I examined her and was able to quickly assure her that her hour had not yet come.  This time at least, she was in the clear.  She was simply suffering from a viral infection.  She perked, but the intense anxiety was evident in her eyes.  I could see that she was struggling with understandable despondency and I was grateful that I had The China Study to talk about.  I told her the whole story of how the book had been given to me and that while I had very little experience of using the diet with patients, Professor Campbell's and the other studies had convinced me that animal protein likely had a great deal to do with the way cancers grew.  I asked her to give the diet a trial and suggested that because brain tumours do not normally metastasize the diet might be particularly effective in her case.  I emphasized that if an animal-protein free diet stopped her tumour from growing she would be cured.

I could see that Melissa was far from convinced, but I had brought a copy of The China Study and I handed it over.  My strategy got half a smile from her.  Her expectations were grim diagnosis, surgery plans and despair management - and I was giving her a paperback gift.  I made her promise to prioritize reading the book, to start the diet and to phone me to let me know how she was getting on.

Melissa phoned three weeks later and I could instantly hear in her voice that she was feeling better.  I offered to drop by to see her after I finished at the office.

A striking transformation had taken place.  She gave me a full smile and in spite of reciting her reservations about the inconvenience of the diet it was obvious that she was in a much more positive frame of mind.  She told me that she had begun to feel better within two weeks of starting the regime.  She admitted that, as a discipline, it hadn't been easy.  All of us are prone to comfort indulgence when we are under stress, and food "fixes" are often alluring.  But she said she developed a new emotional energy once she dove in.  Simply committing to the diet had made her feel that her destiny was to some extent now back in her own hands  The awful burden of despair that had plagued her since the tumour had been diagnosed was gone.  More revealingly, her headaches had miraculously disappeared.

Every time I saw Melissa I encouraged her and congratulated her on her progress. Neither of us expressed any doubts about her future or allowed any negativity into our discussions.  It could not have been going better.  However, as the day of her visit to her neurosurgeon and her next MRI scan approached, I did feel a certain amount of apprehension.  We had striven for positive thinking together and been rewarded with positive results.  But the science had yet to be tested and, I confess, I wasn't certain yet what to expect.  I felt it my duty to have a cautionary work with Melissa.  But she would have none of it.  At least on the surface she continued to portray utter confidence in her recovery and seemed fully convince that the diet was working.  She told me in no uncertain terms that she was looking forward to the scan as a rubber stamp of confirmation.

As it turned out, the results could hardly have been better.  The tumour had reduced considerably in size and what now remained was a smaller, five-centimeter calcified mass situated in the left frontal lobe.  Her immune system appeared to have walled off what remained of the tumour from the rest of the brain.

The neurosurgeon was delighted.  He indicated that what remained of the tumour could probably be removed in a straightforward surgical procedure.  He performed the operation a few weeks later and the histology now indicated that the tumour had changed into a low-grade astrocytoma.   As far as the neurosurgeon was concerned, Melissa had been cured.

All this took place some three and a half years ago and during that time I have only seem Melissa twice.  She has had the appropriate follow-up scans and all the reports show that the tumour hasn't returned.  She has made an excellent recovery in every possible way and now leads a normal, happy life."

This is just one case study... the results speak to a better ending than many experience on this cancer road.  For Melissa, she credits the diet for the transformation... and I am inclined to agree... however, for even the most cynical among us, we can agree to an element of curiousity at least.

The China Study diet is a novel approach to cancer.  It has intrigued and fascinated me to no end!

More tomorrow...

Grace to you this night, My Love,

Sunday, October 15, 2017

A Sunday Blessing

What a sweet Blessing for Dad to celebrate with a cherished grandson
and his beloved...

Wedding Bells have rung,
Toasts have been raised,
First Dances danced...

Dad was enjoying every moment
and we don't take one minute of this for granted!
God is so good...

Wishing all Love's Best to the Happy Couple!
We love you Jeff and Chloe!!

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Now to the Bad News...

Yesterday we shared a beautifully long list of plant-based foods that Dr. Campbell advocates in the Whole-food, Plant-based Diet.

Today we share his list of foods we should minimize and/or avoid altogether.  It's a short list, but it hurts... I'm just going to lay it all out on the line, fast and furious (kind of like ripping off that bandaid, just want to get it over with!)

Foods to Minimize:

Refined Carbohydrates - pastas (except whole grain varieties), white bread, crackers, sugars, and most cakes and pastries

Added Vegetable Oils - Corn oil, peanut oil, olive oil

Fish - Salmon, tuna, cod

Foods to Avoid:

Meat - steak, hamburger, lard

Poultry - chicken, turkey

Dairy - cheese, milk, yogurt

Eggs - eggs and products with a high egg content (i.e. mayonnaise)

Are you still with me?  Feeling overwhelmed?  Asking if you could really do this?

I've been there.  And like most Americans, the idea of giving up virtually all meat products, including beef, chicken, fish, cheese, milk and eggs, seemed impossible.

Dr. Campbell shared quite truthfully when he made the following statement,

"Giving up virtually all meat products?  You might as well ask Americans to stop breathing.  The whole idea seems strange, fanatical, or fantastic.

He continues, "This is the biggest obstacle to the adoption of a plant-based diet: most people who hear about it don't seriously consider it, despite the truly impressive health benefits."

And that is true.  It took a very fortuitous turn of events to open my eyes (and heart) to this radical way of eating and living.

I stumbled across mention of The China Study while reading responses to an online cancer blog.  It was just a sentence or two, but the hope that sprung up when reading of the results people were experiencing compelled me to order a copy of the book and start my own study.

About this time, my daughter stumbled across a documentary while surfing channels one night.  It caught her attention and before long had captured her husband's attention as well.  When I arrived that weekend for a visit (with The China Study packed in my bags), they both said you have to watch this documentary with us...

It was called "What the Health."

And it was powerful.  Especially in conjunction with the research I was currently gleaning from The China Study.

It stuck with me.  Created questions that demanded answers.

And this 31 Day journal has been a place to share my experiences with the research, the data, the results.

I don't often do this, but as we slide into the weekend, I would challenge you to download "What the Health" and watch the documentary.  Come back Monday and let's talk...

The focus of this work is to offer hope, encouragement and light to an otherwise dismal and hurting journey... Might we be reminded that we are all seeking a road to wholeness and health...

It is a joy to be journeying together.

Friday, October 13, 2017

The Good News... Or the Bad?

So, which do you want first??

If you are intrigued with the benefits of the China Study and want to give it a try, what does the diet consist of?  That was my first question!

Right!  So, do you want the Good News first or the Bad?  {And truly, it's all Good News!}

Dr. Campbell's research was clear and unmistakable... a Whole-Food, Plant-Based Diet was the key to less disease and better health.

But back to the details... What exactly is a Whole-Food, Plant-Based Diet?

To make it easy, Dr. Campbell drew up a large graph (page 237!) and here it is... in a nutshell...

Eat All You Want of Any Whole, Unrefined, Plant-Based Food (while making sure to get lots of variety!)

The wonderful variety of foods that make the list are:

Fruits:  Orange, okra, kiwi, red pepper, apple, cucumber, tomato, avocado, zucchini, blueberries, strawberries, green pepper, raspberries, butternut squash, pumpkin, blackberries, mangoes, eggplant, pear, watermelon, cranberries, acorn squash, papaya, grapefruit, peach


Flowers - broccoli, cauliflower

Stems and Leaves - spinach, artichokes, kale, lettuce (all varieties), cabbage, Swiss chard, collard greens, celery, asparagus, mustard greens, brussel sprouts, turnip greens, beet greens, bok choi, arugula, belgian endive, basil, cilantro, parsley, rhubarb, seaweed

Roots - potatoes (all varieties), beets, carrots, turnips, onions, garlic, ginger, leeks, pinto beans, white beans

Legumes - green beans, soybeans, peas, peanuts, adzuki beans, black beans black-eye peas, cannellini beans, garbanzo beans, kidney beans, lentils, pinto beans, white beans

Mushrooms - white button, baby bella, cremini, portobello, shiitake, oyster

Nuts - walnuts, almonds, macadamia, pecans, cashew, hazelnut, pistachio

Whole Grains (in breads, pastas, etc) - wheat, rice, corn, millet, sorghum, rye, oats, barley, teff, buckwheat, amaranth, quinoa, kamut, spelt

And that's the good news... pick any, and actually many, from the above list... in any combination, in all the glorious varieties and fill up with all the amazing goodness!

No counting calories, points or servings, no portion controls, or eating specific amounts of certain foods at specific intervals.  No fancy tools, nor complicated mathematical ratios... just wholesome, healthy plant-based foods!

The simplicity of this "diet" is absolutely revolutionary.  And it works.  The testimonies are undeniable.

Can't wait to start sharing some of the amazing recipes that have won me over to the Dark (leafy, green) Side!

Tomorrow we round out the "diet" with food groups/items that we should minimize.  Trust me, it's a much shorter list (albeit, the tougher one).  Sharing ways to maximize our health is the core of this study, even if it means minimizing some of our beloved food groups...

Hang in there... nothing good ever comes easy.  And preventing, even reversing cancer is worth all the hard work of putting these principles into practice!


Thursday, October 12, 2017

Guiding Principles, Part 2

...And we continue with the lessons learned from Dr. Campbell's China Study...

Principle 5

Nutrition can substantially control the adverse effects of noxious chemicals.

Jane-speak:  This one is huge! Follow me here... there is a widely held perception that cancer is caused by toxic chemicals, think artificial sweetners, aflatoxin, nitrites, etc...  I believe we are looking for a scapegoat, a reason we got cancer... but Dr. Campbell and his team uncovered a startling truth in their studies:  the toxin that may initiate cancer is controlled be nutrients we eat.  A whole-food, plant-based diet can actually repress the chemical activity (cancer growth) of said toxin. Go to Principle 6 for an even more radical revelation.

Principle 6

The same nutrition that prevents disease in its early stages (before diagnosis) can also halt or reverse disease in its later stages (after diagnosis).

Jane-speak:  The same good nutrition maximizes health at every stage of a disease.  Research has found that many chronic diseases, including cancer, can take years to develop.  So, if you are doomed to get cancer, or suffer heart disease or become diabetic does it really make any difference what you eat?  The answer is a resounding Yes!  A whole-food, plant-based diet has shown amazing results in reversing advanced heart disease, helping diabetics get off medication and even reversing early stage cancers.  That is radical!

Principle 7

Nutrition that is truly beneficial for one chronic disease will support health across the board.

Jane-speak:  You don't need a different diet to reverse heart disease and a different diet to protect against cancer or a different diet to undo diabetic damage.  One simple dietary change can maximize health for diseases across the board:  a whole-food, plant-based diet.  Extraordinarily simple!

Principle 8

Good nutrition creates health in all areas of our existence.  All parts are interconnected.

Jane-speak:  We are what we eat.  Our food choices have an incredible impact on not only our metabolism, but also our energy levels, our emotional and mental well-being, and most importantly how our bodies respond and react to disease.  All of these seemingly separate areas are inexplicably intertwined. 

These 8 Guiding Principles provide a solid foundation for Dr. Campbell's work on nutrition and disease.  There is an undeniable link between a whole-food, plant-based diet and improved health.

Getting excited yet?  It is so empowering to know that we can make a positive difference in our own health.  Are you ready to dig into the whole-food, plant-based diet we keep talking about???

Yes!  Me too... Whole-food, Plant-based Diet Coming Up!!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Guiding Principles, Part 1

The China Study is an incredibly detailed accounting of Dr. Campbell's life work.  A study of how nutrition and disease are completely entwined.  After four decades of dedicated testing, research and complex, peer-reviewed studies, Dr. Campbell shares his revolutionary data in The China Study.

The lessons learned have been distilled down into 8 Guiding Principles...

Principle 1

Nutrition represents the combined activities of countless food substances.  The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Jane-speak:  Our bodies are amazing.  We have been created to pull nutrients from whole foods in an infinitely complex process. The astounding network of digestive cells we each possess can derive maximal benefit from whole foods just as they are found in nature.  No processing necessary!

Principle 2

Dietary supplements are not a panacea for good health.

Jane-speak:  Vitamins and mineral tablets, powders and liquids are no substitute for good, old-fashioned whole food.  In simpler words, a pill cannot overcome the dangers of a diet filled with unhealthy, processed, red meat, sugary, fast-food meals.

Principle 3

There are virtually no nutrients in animal-based foods that are not better provided by plants.

Jane-speak:  This principle came as a light-bulb moment when I began working through my high cholesterol issues.  More on that early next week... But it is truly amazing to think that all the nutrients we need can be found in plants.  Hard to accept when we're so in love with Big Macs and Super-Size Fries!

Principle 4

Genes do not determine disease on their own.

Jane-speak:  While it is true that the origin of every disease is genetic, it is also true that nutrition plays a crucial role in determining which genes, good or bad, are expressed.  So, a good whole food diet can be incredibly helpful in keeping errant genes dormant.  And that is a really good thing where cancer genes are concerned!

Stay tuned... More China Study insights tomorrow... Each principle will be put into practice in the coming weeks as we dig into the whole-food, plant-based diet that Dr. Campbell advocates.

And yes!  We are getting to the heart of this incredible diet.  I'm praying that you are beginning to feel hope rising.  There are lessons to be learned from Dr. Campbell's work... extraordinary lessons for better health, less disease, and a way to take back the life we long to live!