Is Fish Oil Beneficial or Detrimental?

nutrients for immune function series

This week, we continue with part 4 in my Nutrients for Immune Function Series on nutrition and its impact on immune function. We are talking about fish oil. If you missed the previous entries in this series, I would make sure you check them out! Part 1 is here. Part 2 here. And part 3 here.

Fish oil is known as a strong anti-inflammatory. It impacts both T-cell mediated immune system and inflammation. A high intake of fish oil can result in a significant reduction in inflammation, which is a beneficial result. However, it can also cause a reduction in T-cell mediated immune function, which is a detrimental result.

This detrimental, adverse effect of a reduction in T-cell mediated immune function appears to be due to an increased antioxidant requirement with fish consumption. To test whether antioxidant supplements taken along with a fish oil supplement might prevent this adverse effect, researchers gave vitamin E at three different doses to 30 free living subjects age 65 and older.

The subjects received 100 international units (IU), 200 IU or 400 IU of vitamin E per day along with fish oil (Omega-500 TM, providing 1.5 g EPA, 1 g DHA and 5 IU vitamin E per day).

When fish oil was given with 100 IU and 200 IU of vitamin E per day, there was not an adverse effect of reduction in T-cell mediated function. In fact, there is an enhancement in T-cell mediated function!

The conclusion of the research study was that if you want to prevent the adverse effect of fish oil on T-cell mediated function, you needs to take fish oil along with 100 to 200 IU of vitamin E. The relationship between fish oil and vitamin E is called nutrient-nutrient interaction. Nutrient-nutrient interaction can explain why some research shows a benefit with fish oil supplements and others show a detriment.

Bottom Line:

In order to receive the full benefit of fish oil consumption, you should be sure to consume adequate vitamin E. The amount that research has shown to be effective is 100-200 IU per day. This amount can be pretty easily consumed in the diet. Check out the chart below from the National Institute of Health that shows food sources of vitamin E.

Food Sources of Vitamin E

http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminE-HealthProfessional/

After taking a look at this research, I’m going to make sure I consume fish along with adequate amounts of vitamin E. I plan to try a recipe for wheat germ crusted salmon. Check out the recipe here. In the comments section below, let me know how the recipe turns out for you and if you enjoy it!

 

 

 

References:

http://www.fshn.chhs.colostate.edu/outreach/lfs/files/Nutrition,%20Aging%20and%20a%20Healthy%20Immune%20System-Meydani.pdf

http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminE-HealthProfessional/

Do Low Vitamin B6 Levels Harm My Immune System?

nutrients for immune function series

This blog is part 3 in my Nutrients for Immune Function Series on nutrition and its impact on immune function. If you missed the first two parts, I would make sure you check them out!

You can find part 1 here.

And part 2 here.

This content is based on information hosted by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), called Cancer Prevention Through Immunomodulation: Does Diet Play a Role? You can listen to the entire presentation here (click “View this webinar” under the Meeting Materials heading).

What is Vitamin B6?

Vitamin B6 is one of the water soluble vitamins. This means that it is found in the water component of the food we eat and not the fat or oil portion. It also means that excess B6 will be excreted in urine and not stored in our fat cells. B6 is actually seven different compounds, which have many roles in our body including metabolism and hemoglobin synthesis. If your vitamin B6 levels are too low, this can show itself as impaired glucose tolerance.

Do Low Levels of Vitamin B6 Impair My Immune System?

Vitamin B6 appears to play a role in immune function. For example, a significant portion of elderly people have low vitamin B6 levels. The elderly also have a less robust immune system. Low B6 levels have also been seen in cancer patients and low B6 levels are associated with an increased risk of breast cancer. These links are being investigated to see if there is causation or just simply correlation.

Do Low Levels of Vitamin B6 Promote Inflammation?

It was observed in the Framingham heart study that participants with lower levels of vitamin B6 had higher levels of inflammation. This is important because inflammation is associated with cancer and other chronic diseases. Specifically, the Framingham heart study found that those with B6 depletion have lower levels of lymphocytes and higher levels of neutrophils. The fact that neutrophils are high indicates the presence of inflammation. In addition, this observation of lower lymphocytes and higher neutrophils is important because researchers have discovered that the ratio of Lymphocyte:Neutrophil is an important predictor of survival from cancer. So, vitamin B6 deficiency affects both sides of this ratio in a negative way—you could call this a double-whammy!

Bottom Line

Vitamin B6 appears to be important in supporting a healthy immune system.

What Should I Do As A Cancer Survivor Who Wants To Thrive After Cancer?

Aim to meet your dietary requirement for vitamin B6. Recommended amounts are included in the table below. It is pretty easy to meet your requirement by eating a mixed diet as B6 is found in a variety of foods. Getting your B6 requirement from food is the preferred source—you will also get all of the other great nutrients that are found in the food item!

Certain populations are more at risk for deficiency including the elderly, alcoholics and people with type 1 diabetes, liver disease and rheumatoid arthritis. If for some reason you are not able to meet your requirement via diet, then you could consider a supplement. The supplement could be in the form of a multivitamin, B complex or stand-alone vitamin B6. It is important to respect the dosage and remember that more is not better—the upper limit is 100 mg per day. Also, it’s important to remember that taking a supplement is not an alternative to a healthy diet. The supplement should just be considered the safety net and not the long-term solution to a healthy diet.

Vitamin B6 Requirements

Source: http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB6-HealthProfessional/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This table shows you some selected dietary sources of vitamin B6.

Vitamin B6 Food Sources

Source: http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB6-HealthProfessional/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Achieving My Vitamin B6 Intake for the Day

Here is an example of how a person could achieve their daily vitamin B6 requirement by just selecting a few items from the list above. This isn’t a complete intake for the day, just a few selected items. As you can see, it’s pretty easy to meet or exceed the goal of 1.3 mg per day.

Selected Foods Eaten Throughout the Day

Food                                                               Vitamin B6

Breakfast

½ cup fortified breakfast cereal                  0.5   mg

1 banana                                                        0.4   mg

Lunch

½ cup chick peas in salad at lunch              0.55 mg

Afternoon Snack

1 oz of nuts                                                    0.1   mg

Dinner

3 oz of turkey at dinner                               0.4     mg

½ cup of squash at dinner                           0.2     mg

Total:                                                                         2.15   mg

Am I Getting Enough?

If you want to track your intake there are a couple of tools you can use. These require you to log your food intake and then they will provide the analysis of your intake. If you will embark on this, I suggest choosing 3 typical days to analyze.

Diet Analysis Tools

Super Tracker From the USDA

Eat Tracker from Dietitians of Canada

Stay tuned as I continue to discuss the interaction between diet and immune function. The next part in the Nutrients for Immune Function Series will be on the role of fish oil on immune function.

 

 

 

References

http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB6-HealthProfessional/

Vitamin E and Your Immune System

nutrients for immune function series

This blog is part 2 in my Nutrients for Immune Function Series on nutrition and its impact on immune function. If you missed reading last week’s blog, which discusses the immune system and its role in cancer protection, I would make sure you check it out! You can find part 1 here.

This content is based on information hosted by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), called Cancer Prevention Through Immunomodulation: Does Diet Play a Role? You can listen to the entire presentation here (click “View this webinar” under the Meeting Materials heading).

The Role of Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin. It seems to play a role in immune function but its effect is not consistent. For example, elderly subjects given vitamin E supplementation will show an improvement in immune function and reduced respiratory infections. But not everyone experiences this response.

Why not?

There are two reasons that could account for this inconsistent effect. First, not everyone is deficient in vitamin E. People who will show an improvement in immune function with vitamin E supplementation are those who are low in vitamin E. Second, there is a gene-nutrition relationship with vitamin E.

The Gene-Nutrition Relationship

TNFα (Tumor Necrosis Factor Alpha) can be used as an indicator of inflammation in your body. It is a cell signaling protein (cytokine) and one of its primary roles is to regulate immune cells.

TNFα has its own genes. The gene can vary by the allele that it contains – either AA, GG or AG. As it turns out, the A allele (AA or AG types) will have higher TNFα levels or in other words, more inflammation. When people who have either AA or AG alleles on their TNFα receive vitamin E supplement, they benefit from the vitamin E by a greater reduction in inflammation.

Another important point that Simin Nikbin Meydani, the scientist who presented the vitamin E data, recommends taking note of is that only the elderly benefited from the vitamin E supplementation. She is also quick to point out that vitamin E deficiency in the general public is rare. However, but vitamin E deficiency is increased in populations with fat malabsorption, which would include people with Crohn’s disease, cystic fibrosis or chronic diarrhea. To complete this circle of thought…those who do have a vitamin E deficiency have impaired immune function.

The Bottom Line

The National Institute of Health states that “evidence to date is insufficient to support taking vitamin E to prevent cancer. In fact, daily use of large-dose vitamin E supplements (400 IU) may increase the risk of prostate cancer.”

What should you do as a cancer survivor who wants to thrive after cancer?

If you suspect you are deficient in vitamin E, consult with your physician. You may consider taking 200 IU per day (the amount shown to have the best immune system response). In addition, everyone should include food sources of vitamin E in your diet every day. You should aim for 15 mg per day, which is the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for adults. This chart from the National Institute of Health shows you some of the dietary sources of vitamin E.

Food Sources of Vitamin E

Stay tuned for part 3 in my Nutrients for Immune Function Series, which will explore the connection between immune function and vitamin B6.

 

 

 

References:

http://www.fshn.chhs.colostate.edu/outreach/lfs/files/Nutrition,%20Aging%20and%20a%20Healthy%20Immune%20System-Meydani.pdf

http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminE-HealthProfessional/

What Foods Boost My Immune System?

nutrients for immune function series

I love to attend online trainings and I found one recently that is right up my alley when it comes to boosting my immune system and thriving after cancer. The training is called Cancer Prevention Through Immunomodulation: Does Diet Play a Role? You can listen to it here (click “View this webinar” under the Meeting Materials heading).

This was hosted by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the moderator and presenters are all researchers in the field of nutrition and immune function. The presentation is geared towards health professionals, so you may have some challenges following it if you don’t have a science background.

If this is the case for you, don’t worry! I’ve taken the presentation and put it through my science translator apparatus and have consolidated it for you using easy to-understand terms.

I think this is a very important part of my role as the Cancer Survivors Nutrition Voice of Reason. I want cancer patients and survivors to have this information. But sometimes, the level at which it is presented may make it indigestible for you. That’s where I come in. My Cancer Bites blog and all of my Thriving After Cancer trainings and programs are designed to support cancer patients and survivors by providing them with trustworthy, easy-to-understand, actionable information.

The Cancer Prevention Through Immunomodulation: Does Diet Play a Role? training talked about the following nutrients:

  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin B6
  • Fish oil
  • Prebiotics
  • Mushrooms
  • Soy

I plan to cover each of these nutrients in greater detail over my next several blog posts. Today, I want to start with a re-cap of the immune system and what it is. This is important foundational piece that should be understood first because I think our immune systems are a really important defense against cancer.

The immune system is comprised of two parts – the innate and the acquired. The innate immune system is what we are born with and it includes our skin and mucus membranes, which help protect us from the outside world. Our innate immune system also includes certain cellular soldiers such as neutrophils, macrophages, eosinophils , dendritic cells and the natural killer cells (these are my favourite—they have such a great name!). Here is a good video that explains the innate immune system.

The other part of our immune system—the acquired immune system—designs a specific attacker for each bacteria, virus or other pathogen that invades our body. This is a great explanation of the acquired immune system. Cells of the acquired immune system include the T cells (made in the Thymus) and B cells (made in the Bone marrow).

Once you are exposed to a virus like the flu virus or rhino virus (cold virus) your acquired immune system creates an antigen against that specific invader. And you will have this antigen in your body for the rest of your life. You might ask “Why do I get the flu more than once then?” This is because there are different viruses that cause the flu. You will only get a specific virus only once. The bad news is, you have to suffer through the effects of the flu to acquire this protection.

If you want to learn more on the immune system, there is another video I recommend you watch. You can find it here.

Your Immune System and Cancer

Your immune system doesn’t just protect you against the flu and colds. There are parts of the immune system that also protect you from cancer. Unlike invading bacteria and viruses though, cancer cells (with a couple of exceptions) are your own body’s cells, but with a defect. The exceptions are H. pylori bacteria, which are thought to be responsible for some stomach cancers and human papilloma virus (HPV), which is responsible for cervical cancer.

Have you ever heard that we all have cancer cells in our body but only some of us develop cancer? This is thought to be because the immune system keeps rogue cancer cells under control so that their numbers never get large enough to actually form a mass. However, when our immune system is overwhelmed, cancer cells can grow very rapidly and form into tumors. If this goes unchecked, the cancer can spread to other parts of the body.

So, keeping the immune system strong is a very good strategy for keeping cancer at bay. There are several ways to do this. I explore this topic in much greater detail in a webinar that I frequently offer to my community. You can sign up to be part of my community and you receive your own complimentary copy of my Thriving After Cancer Immune Boosting Quick Start Guide, as well as emails about my upcoming webinar presentations, blog post notifications and other updates. Sign up right here on my website or click here to sign up.

Stay tuned for my next blog where we will dig into the importance of vitamin E and the immune system for cancer survivors who want to thrive after cancer. If you aren’t already participating, I would encourage you to sign up to be part of the our community… and I will email you a notification when the next blog is live on my website!

Until then, focus on eating a healthy plant-based diet.

 

How to Find Support When You are Diagnosed with Cancer

Social Support

Recently, I have done quite a bit of research and study on the topic of social support. The bottom line is that social support provides direct benefits for cancer patients and survivors—it is an important part of becoming a cancer thriver!

But many of you may be feeling frustrated, scared and lonely—what do you do if you find yourself lacking support? you know you want and need support but where do you find it? I recently came across a great article from MD Anderson Cancer Center’s Cancer Wise website that addresses just this. You can find a list of suggestions and resources in the full article. CLICK HERE to go to the full article.

Important!

Thriving After Cancer Coaching and Support Community

Join a welcoming and supportive community of cancer survivors just like you where you can give and receive social support!

Click here to access the community

Podcasts for Cancer Thrivers

Podcasts for Cancer Thrivers

I am really getting 21st century now. First I did book reviews, then movie reviews and now…wait for it….podcast reviews. I feel so hip!

I am only two and a half years into my smart phone, but wow! Along with all the other gadgetry that comes with a smart phone, I have downloaded an app called “Podcasts” and I now subscribe and listen regularly to over 40 podcasts!

What a difference podcasts have made in my life.

I receive different benefits depending on what type of podcast I am listening to. Sometimes, I really want a laugh—research studies confirm that laughter can be medicine—so I’ll tune into some comedy or entertainment. And sometimes, I want to know the latest research on nutrition or organic agriculture because I want to make sure I am doing everything I can to thrive after cancer. Other times, I just want a bit of a vacation from thinking about cancer so I enjoy something altogether out of my realm. I suspect you have some of these same goals—having a laugh, educating yourself about the latest nutrition research, or just getting away from it all for a while.

How do I listen to so many podcasts?

Well first off, not all of them are weekly. Some podcasts have a set number of episodes per season, and then take a hiatus. Other podcasts are under 10 minutes, so I can listen to them very quickly. The rest I listen to:

  • at the gym while I am working out,
  • in the car (I can plug into my car’s stereo system and listen to podcasts like I was listening to the car radio),
  • while I am making dinner,
  • and at night while I am putting my kids to bed (my 5 year old doesn’t let me leave the room until she is asleep).

Tip: I use ear buds to listen at the gym and when sitting with my kids waiting for them to fall asleep.

I feel so smart, entertained and informed now that I have discovered podcasts. I think they are part of what helps me to live a thriving life after cancer.

Thinking about listening to some podcasts?

To get started listening on the go, you need 3 things—a smart phone, comfortable ear buds and the podcast app. Go to the App Store (or Google Play on Android) and download the podcast app, then ‘search’ for podcasts by keyword, top charts or featured. Learn more about accessing podcasts on Apple’s iTunes here. Or learn about podcasts apps for Android devices here.

If you are new to podcasts and don’t know where to start or if you are looking for some new ones, here are my Top 10 Podcasts for Cancer Thrivers. I have even included links to each so that you can go check them out right now!

Podcasts that make me laugh

As I mentioned, the adage that laughter is the best medicine has some evidence to support it. It turns out; laughter can increase the cells in your immune system. Here are my favorite podcasts when I am in the mood for a laugh.

  1. Vinyl Café – This podcast is hosted by Stuart McLean, a gifted storyteller. It combines stories and music and is wholesome entertainment at its best. It provides good laughs and I feel relaxed after I listen.
  2. Laugh out Loud – I love stand-up comedy! I would rather hear a comedian than see a band and this podcast features comedians with a low threshold for foul language. I get some really laugh-out-loud belly laughs with this one. I suspect my immune cells appreciate this too!
Podcasts that educate be about the latest nutrition and health topics

I also use podcasts to stay up to date on issues in the nutrition and health fields. These podcasts help to provide validation for the good habits I have already implemented as a cancer thriver. They also teach me about new nutrition and health topics and what changes I need to make to keep thriving.

  1. Nutrition Diva’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Eating Well and Feeling Fabulous – Registered Dietitian Monica Reinagel gets straight to the point in under 10 minutes. She answers popular nutrition questions with her evidence-based and common sense approach. By looking at the evidence, she can steer you though popular nutrition fads. Without her guidance, you may find yourself swept up in the enthusiasm for the latest fad only to discover down the road that the energy you spent on this was wasted.
  2. KOPN Food Sleuth Radio – Host Melinda Hemmelgarn is an Registered Dietitian and self-proclaimed “Investigative Nutritionist on a mission to find food truth”. I have learned so much about farming, organics, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and issues related to food by listening to Melinda. She really helps me to understand organics and genetic modification so I can feel more confident in the choices I make when food shopping. After you listen, I’m betting you will too.
  3. org – This is a video podcast with Dr. Michael Gregor, a medical doctor and vegan. He presents the latest evidence on the benefits of vegan lifestyle based on published literature with a dash of sarcasm in most episodes. While I am not a vegan, I find that listening to Dr. Gregor helps remind me to keep plants as the main part of my diet, which is supported by the cancer research.
  4. White Coat Black Art – This podcast is hosted by emergency room physician, Dr. Brian Goldman. He discusses medical issues “from his side of the gurney”. I think it is always helpful to know what is happening in the healthcare system, that way I feel better prepared should I or someone I know become a patient again.
Podcasts that provide relaxation and stress-relief

Sometimes, I just need a break from thinking about cancer and nutrition—I just want to been swept away in another world for a little while. I find listening to a good story to be a stress release.

  1. This American Life – Host Ira Glass introduces a new topic every week and tells 3 stories related to the topic. With the exception of two episodes on police violence (that I found too disturbing to listen to) I love listening to these compelling stories. A nice stress-relief break from the routine of my day.
  2. Serial – This podcast is like crack for the listener. You will get addicted to the story of a young man charged with murdering his girlfriend 15 years ago. He still maintains his innocence and investigative journalist, Sarah Koenig, tries to get to the bottom of this ‘who done it’. This podcast is a great way to be totally engrossed in a story and take your mind off of what might be troubling you.
  3. Invisibilia – This podcast on National Public Radio (NPR) is about the invisible forces controlling human behaviour. If nothing else, listen to the episode called “How to Become Batman”. It is amazing! Hearing about the invisible forces around us can show a cancer survivor that there are other tools available to us, including invisible ones.
  4. Under the Influence – This podcast, hosted by Terry O’Reilly, is a glimpse into the world of advertising and all of the industry’s boundary-pushing innovations. This podcast is so different from what I normally listening to or think about—it serves as a nice break from my daily stress and also provides some humor, which is important for thriving after cancer.

I hope this list gets you started with many hours of entertainment, education, stress-relief and empowerment. In my coming blogs, I will introduce you to my favourite podcasts that are hosted by other cancer thrivers (just like you!). Turns out you are not alone—it is great to hear how some cancer thrivers are using their cancer as a springboard to help others. Speaking of which, I have created a tool to help you too. My Thriving After Cancer Immune Boosting Quick Start Guide. To get your free copy of the Immune Boosting Quick Start Guide, CLICK HERE.

I love to hearing from you! In the comments below, tell me about your favourite podcast.

Movie Review – The Connection

The ConnectionI watched The Connection as part of a promotion from FMTV (Food Matters TV) , which is a service like Netflix, but it features food, nutrition and health films, many of which are documentaries.

The Connection is a film directed by Australian journalist Shannon Harvey who was diagnosed with a career-altering autoimmune disease. Check out the film’s website here.

Harvey used her training as a journalist to begin researching medical help for her condition. She found some research on stress and health. As she followed this research trail, she found a great deal of information published on the connection between the mind and the body.

During the documentary, she interviews medical experts such as Jon Kabat Zinn, known for his research in mindfulness-based stress reduction, and Dr. Dean Ornish, known for his work with reversing heart disease.

I must congratulate Shannon Harvey for seeking out the right experts for this research and film. I’m sure many alternative practitioners would have jumped at the chance to speak to her on film about this subject, but she choose conventionally-trained researchers and medical practitioners who can talk about the research with authority, which raised the film to high quality product.

In a follow-up interview, Harvey mentioned that the medical community is embracing her film and I’m not surprised as she really did create a high quality project.

Bottom Line:

I love this film. I think everyone should watch it, especially those who are dealing with a medical condition. It is powerful and evidence-based. I think it can have a major positive impact on your health.

 

The Quality of Your Social Support Matters Too

BreastCancer.orgRecently I came across an article entitled “Quality Personal Relationships Boost Survival in Women Diagnosed With Early-Stage Breast Cancer” on BreastCancer.org. The article talks about a new study that looked at social support networks of women diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer. The results of the study show us that it is not just the size of our support community that matters, but the quality of the support too.

CLICK HERE to read the full article over on BreastCancer.org.

Have you taken action to find and actively participate in a quality support community? If not, I encourage you do to so today!

 

Important!

Thriving After Cancer Coaching and Support Community

Join a welcoming and supportive community of cancer survivors just like you where you can give and receive social support!

Click here to access the community

Movie Review – Open Sesame: The Story of Seeds

Open Sesame - The Story of SeedsOpen Sesame: The Story of Seeds is a film by M. Sean Kaminsky. I know seeds are important—you can’t plant a garden without them—but this film took this to a whole new level! The most impactful demonstration of this was the fact that some species of plant would have been entirely wiped out by pathogens had it not been for one particular variety of the plant that was resistant.

It’s hard to talk about good nutrition without knowing where our food comes from. And this is why I think this film is important for nutrition professionals and people who care about good nutrition.

After watching this film I have a greater appreciation for biodiversity. Biodiversity really is an important issue. According to the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN), approximately 90 percent of the fruit and vegetable varieties that existed 100 years ago no longer exist today. The film has facts like this interspersed with documentary style interviews with famers and seed savers.

The people in the film are very likeable and off-the-grid type for the most part, but they very relatable and their passion for seeds is palpable and inspiring.

Also featured in this film is the legal battle to gain protection for farmers. Currently, Monsanto, who owns patents for genetically modified seeds, has the legal standing to sue farmers who have Monsanto’s seeds in their fields. This seems ludicrous but Monsanto has successfully sued for this very thing. So, the film is a David and Goliath story too with some clips of the plaintiff’s and their side of this issue. I won’t spoil the outcome for you.

This film is also a real call to action. Here are a few I took away from the film:

  • buy organic;
  • support local agriculture;
  • choose heritage seeds;
  • and save seeds and share your seeds, especially if you have some seeds that have been passed down to you that may no longer be commercially available.

 

Bottom Line

Open Sesame – The Story of Seeds is a great film. It has given me new respect for seeds. I feel inspired to buy some organic seeds, plant them and then save the seeds (not sure if I’ll do the saving bit, but I’m certainly inspired at the moment!). This film will be especially enjoyed by farmers, gardeners and all of you green thumbs out there. Two green thumbs up from me!

Movie Review – Food Matters

Food MattersFood Matters is a documentary from two Australians – James Colquhoun and Laurentine ten Bosch who describe themselves as nutritional consultants turned filmmakers. It is the first of two films they have produced. Their second film is called Hungry for Change. I have a very different bottom line on Hungry for Change than I do on Food Matters, so make sure you read my review of Hungry for Change too—you can find it here.

The website for Food Matters makes the following claim:

“In what promises to be the most contentious idea put forward, the filmmakers have interviewed several leading experts in nutrition and natural healing who claim that not only are we harming our bodies with improper nutrition, but that the right kind of foods, supplements and detoxification can be used to treat chronic illnesses as fatal as terminally diagnosed cancer.” (Emphasis mine.)

I would say that is contentious. In fact, statements like this can be downright dangerous—encouraging cancer patients to forgo conventional cancer treatment for treatments with foods, supplements and detox methods that have only anecdotal evidence. I love the idea of curing cancer in this way but it is a huge leap of faith with no published studies showing it is effective. With recent events here in Canada—the death of a young first nations girl who shunned her chemotherapy (which came with it a very high rate of success) for alternative and traditional treatment—this is contentious alright.

The website also states:

“The focus of the film is in helping us rethink the belief systems fed to us by our modern medical and health care establishments.” (Emphasis mine.)

If by “modern medical and health care establishments”, they mean video clips of commercials and public service announcements from the 1950s, then they have satisfied this criteria. But to me, modern means 2008 (the year the film was released).

A few weeks ago, I attended a nutrition and cancer research practicum at the National Institute of Health in Rockville, Maryland. For four days, I listened to presentations on nutrition and cancer research and none of it sounded like the dated clips in this film.

“The ‘Food Matters’ duo have independently funded the film from start to finish in order to remain as unbiased as possible, delivering a clear and concise message to the world.” (Emphasis mine.)

This film may be independently funded, but it is far, far from unbiased. If this film was unbiased, it would include interviews with conventional medical oncologists and cancer researchers. Instead, their “panel of experts” are all singing from the same songbook—conventional cancer treatment is bad, alternative treatment is good.

The most reasonable thing I heard throughout the 80 minutes of this film is this quote from Andrew Saul, PhD:

“There is no magic bullet, there is no monotherapy that cures cancer…that cures heart disease but there is lifestyle change that prevents, arrests, reverses serious chronic disease.”

Bottom Line

I already gave you the best line in the film, so save yourself 80 minutes. If you are looking for factual, unbiased, evidence-based information on cancer and its treatment, then don’t watch this movie. The only reason to watch it would be for entertainment value and to satisfy your curiosity about how alternative practitioners think and deliver their messages and conspiracy theories.

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