Disease-proofing

by Christina on December 5, 2014

“If you are a woman, you have a 38% lifetime risk of developing cancer. If you are a man, your changes are even worse – you have a 45% chance.” ~ Dr. Joel Furhman

I could be eating better. I’ve gotten into the habit of eating a lot of cheese, butter, and waffles. My excuse has been that I’m breastfeeding and need the extra fat and calories.

I needed some inspiration to get back on track, and thanks to my sister I started reading Joel Fuhrman’s Disease Proof Your Child:

“A diet centered on milk, cheese, pasta, bread, and sugar-filled snacks and drinks lays the groundwork for cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and autoimmune illnesses to develop later in life. It is not merely that sugar, other sweets, white flour, cheese, and butter are harmful it is also what we are not eating that is causing the problem.”

Dr. Joel Fuhrman talks about how important one’s diet is in preventing common childhood problems (colds, allergies, asthma, ADHD), chronic diseases (heart disease and diabetes), and cancer. He emphasizes the concerning fact that cancer rates are rising:

“Acute lymphoblastic leukemia is up 10.7 percent over the last twenty years. Brain cancer is up 30 percent, osteogenic sarcoma, a type of bone cancer, is up 50 percent; and testicular cancer is up 60 percent in men under thirty. No one can tell us why.”

He sites numerous epidemiological studies showing a link between animal fat consumption and cancer.

It’s inspiring me to change some things in our house. Here’s a summary of his dietary recommendations — I like them all:

  • Eat a high-nutrient, vegetable-nut-fruit-based diet: will start eating more nuts
  • Have one tablespoon of ground flax seeds daily: need to start doing this
  • Have at least one ounce of raw walnuts daily, as well as other raw nuts: bought walnuts and plan to start eating daily
  • Take a DHA supplement of 100-600mg daily: doing this with a 240mg omega-3 supplement
  • Have no processed foods, no dairy fat, no trans fat: need to work on the cheese thing – no more buying it

“Cheese consumption during childhood is a major concern because it takes ten pounds of milk to make one pound of cheese. Besides the bovine growth hormone given to cows, their milk contains estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, prolactin, and other natural cow hormones. Cheese not only is richer in saturated fat, but is a more concentrated source of these hormones.”

  • Use little or no oils (essential fats are supplied from raw nuts and seeds and DHA supplementation): minimize the amounts of olive and coconut oil I’m using for cooking
  • Avoid antibiotics: done
  • Breastfeed for close to two years: 2 years is a good goal

“The child’s immune system is still underdeveloped until the age of two, the same age when the digestive tract seals the leaks (spaces between cells) designed to allow the mother’s antibodies access to the bloodstream. So picking the age of two as the length of recommended breast-feeding is not just a haphazard guess, it matches the age at which the child is no longer absorbing the mother’s immunoglobulins to supplement his own immune system. Nature designed it that way.”

I’d like to start our days with green smoothies: celery, cucumber, banana, flax seeds, chia seeds, spinach and whatever else we feel like throwing in. Did it today and feeling pretty good.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

david newell December 6, 2014 at 7:58 am

Hello Christine,
I once had lunch with a Buddhist/vegan/yogi friend of mine. Hadn’t seen her for a few years. She looked great. I was about to start eating and looked down at her pile of brightly coloured veggies, no bread, fruit salad on the side, glass of plain water with lemon slice and asked, naively, “how long has this been going on?” I may even have waved my fork dismissively at her plate. She launched into a calm, reasonable and enthusiastic description of how cheese is made and what actually goes into it.
I looked at the blue cheese, full fat mayo, fries, cheese dip and decided not to eat a single mouthful. Since that day whenever I look at cheese in any shape or form, the word “pus” springs to mind and all the fun goes right out of the meal for me.
My diet now looks a lot like that suggested by the good doctor Joel. And I struggle through Ashtanga primary 3-4 times a week at least. No dairy means coughs and colds disappear – much less mucus, nothing for germs to bed down in.
It’s got to be worth the effort. Love your page. All the best . David

Reply

Christina December 11, 2014 at 4:45 pm

Hi David,
Thanks so much for your comment and that is a powerful image for cheese… ever since reading your comment I’ve been thinking about that and have lost the taste for cheese a bit. Great to hear about your diet and ashtanga practice! They do definitely compliment one another.
All the best,
Christina

Reply

Chris Palmer December 6, 2014 at 4:14 pm

I love that great story from David Newell above. Associating cheese with pus is a powerful idea.
Your post on diet is crucially important. I particularly like the following quote from Dr. Furhman (one of my heroes): “It is not merely that sugar, other sweets, white flour, cheese, and butter are harmful; it is also what we are not eating that is causing the problem.”

Reply

Erin Sugrue December 8, 2014 at 7:26 pm

Hi Christina,
I always enjoy reading your blog and it’s fun to hear about your new adventures in mothering. I have not read the book you talk about in the post, so I realize my response will be uniformed at best, but I have to say that the title of it made me bristle. The idea that one could “disease proof” their child is a complete fallacy. We are kidding ourselves if we think we have or are striving to have complete control over our or our children’s health and wellness. Now, I totally support the power of food in terms of health and wellness. A few years ago, after years of suffering from terrible, recurrent sinus infections, I saw a naturopath who suggested that since I have Hashimoto’s disease, I should get the gluten antibody. I was initially skeptical (gluten-free is sooo trendy), but I went ahead and ended up testing positive for one of the gluten anti-bodies, went gluten free, and the change in my health over the past few years has been amazing — truly life-changing. I am a big believer in the “inflammation as major cause of illness) hypothesis and so I am a firm believer in how our diets can impact our health. That said, I think there is a slippery slope we must be aware of — a balance between making healthy choices and taking care of ourselves and attempting to have full control over our health at all times (wouldn’t the Buddhists call that becoming too attached to our own health and diet?). I think this is especially true when it comes to making choices for our children about their foods and how they eat. Being too controlling or rigid about our kids’ diets has been shown to be a bad call in terms of their actual diets and their future mental health. I guess I also worry that recently we’ve been equating physical health with moral virtue. As if those who are lucky enough to be physically healthy (and I do think there is some luck involved), are better people — more virtuous, more self-disciplined — and those who are sick have some how failed. I’m not saying you are saying this, but I do feel that tone in some of the literature and discourse regarding eating and exercising “right.” When the fact is, sometimes people get sick — sometimes children get sick. Sometimes I wonder if constant striving for perfect wellness can, for some people, ultimately detract from living life to the fullest… In my opinion, waffles, cheese, and butter seem like perfectly fine foods for a new, nursing mom who is having to give so much of herself to others all the time — warm, rich foods are comforting — and I think psychological comfort can be a good thing. Maybe there’s room for those and green smoothies? Anyway, thanks for getting me thinking about all these issues. Much love to you and your family.

Reply

Christina December 11, 2014 at 9:31 pm

Hi Erin, thank you so much for your comment and thoughts. I agree with you while there is definitely a role for good nutrition, it is not possible to say we can be “disease-proof.” I think you might enjoy reading his book though — he is quite convincing about diseases that generally are preventable — heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers.

And I completely agree with you that eating butter, waffles, cheese is not the worst thing for nursing mom – I definitely need comfort food. But I find that I don’t always feel great after eating those things, and I want to eat in a way that gives me and baby the nutrients and energy we need.

Thanks again for sharing all that and I love hearing from you! I hope you and your family are well!

Reply

Chris Palmer December 9, 2014 at 5:49 am

Erin, fascinating comments! Thanks for sharing! Much love to your family, too.

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: