Cook food right to fight cancer (and other health problems)

August 18, 2013

By Lisa Price
Naturopathic Doctor

After exercise, nutrition is the top factor in prevention of disease, including cancer. Eating the right foods, in general, and the right specific foods during illness can have a profound effect on quality of life and also recovery.

The question is, however, which foods and spices are the most beneficial during cancer treatment and beyond.

The standard American diet is a bit heavy on simple carbohydrates. In addition, because it is also high in processed foods, nutrient deficiencies, like magnesium, Vitamin D and omega 3 fatty acids, are quite common. In general, a shift towards diets containing ample portions of protein, complex carbohydrates, good fats and low simple carbohydrates (25 grams for women and 35 grams for men per the American Dietetic Association) and five servings of leafy greens and fruit is beneficial. Diets should include minimal soda as well as minimal artificial sweeteners. Whenever possible use high burning oils, like coconut oil, to cook with if you are frying foods. Using whole, unprocessed foods containing minimal preservatives are also a good bet. An example of this would be using real butter instead of margarine as a condiment.

Conventional cancer treatment while necessary can be pretty tough and can decrease quality of life to a certain extent. During conventional treatment, high protein turnover contributes to fatigue and what we know as “chemo brain”. Digestive disruptions like constipation or diarrhea are also common, as are anxiety and insomnia. Some foods are helpful because of specific nutrients they contain that can address nutritional needs.

Foods high in protein, complex fiber and dense in nutrients are winners in helping to resolve some of these issues. Some of these include avocados, oatmeal, eggs and a grain called quinoa. Deep water fish high in omega 3 fatty acids and lean protein like salmon and halibut are especially good choices. Broths are usually nutrient dense and you can prepare your own. Spices such as tumeric, ginger and garlic make foods taste delicious and also are packed with vitamins and minerals.

There are a variety of ways to prepare greens so they don’t taste like “grass”. We’re including a recipe that you can try given no food sensitivities or dietary restrictions.

For more guidance on food and supplement choices during conventional treatment and beyond, feel free to contact us for an appointment.

Kale in Almond Butter Sauce


  • 1 to 2 heads of kale
  • Coconut or olive oil
  • Garlic (to taste)
  • 2 to 3 heaping TBS of almond butter
  • ½ cup of balsamic vinegar
  • 1 TBS agave


  1. Place the oil in a wok or skillet and heat on medium. Dice garlic and place in the oil. Chop the kale into thin slices and add this to the oil and garlic. Increase heat. Stir.
  2. Combine almond butter, vinegar and agave. Mix well.
  3. When kale is wilted, add sauce and cook for about five to ten more minutes. Enjoy.