Foot Fads and Food Fasts

Posted to Subscribers on 10 March 2018


Dear Subscribers,

About 25 years ago, when I had a clinic in Santa Fe, I hired someone to research cancer diets. I gave her an unlimited budget for buying books and asked her to pour through all of them. I will never forget the look on her face when she stepped into my office one day and blurted out, "Is there anything upon which everyone agrees?" My answer was that most people agreed that white sugar does not belong in the diet of anyone battling cancer, but after that, there is practically no consensus at all.

It actually does not matter exactly where one starts because food habits are very deep and hard to shake. We bring our preconceived ideas, not to mention ethnocentricity, into whatever we study. At the time, there were probably not quite as many fad diets as today and the vast majority of cancer patients who were trying to toe the line were relying on either the Kelley or Macrobiotic diet or perhaps the Gerson fast. The Internet was hardly off the ground yet so while we were both able to do basic things on computers, we could not search the way that became possible just a few years later.

One of the very first searches I did was for diets and there was a report by an ostensibly unbiased organization that put Macrobiotics at the bottom of the list. The other contenders were the Atkins, Rotation Diet, and, of course, a number of others that usually had very little in common. Some of them seemed almost insane. It was almost as though if one wrote a book, one could make the facts fit the desires. This, of course, helps to deal with guilt, but in addition to diets, there were various fasts, again, often with very little in common and, of course, lacking scientific stamps of approval.

The food industry is very powerful, and it is actually not exactly legal to claim that a food has health benefits. Many people have suffered for expressing such opinions, a fact that only further complicates the decision-making process.

I do not like to think of myself as a fool, but it is said that fools rush in where wise men fear to tread. There must be some other one-liner that is friendlier to my own perceptions. That said, a tiny bit more background material will be helpful. The first is that there are almost as many theories of what cancer is and isn't as there are diets for patients. Of course, there are also those who believe that what you eat does not matter in terms of disease but how nutrition and disease became so separated is curious in its own right. Research today is very seldom clinical. It is often based on studies in petri dishes or with laboratory animals, but it must be obvious that clinical results are what really matters. In short, theories are just theories, the little pets of minds that are often fixated on Nobel prizes or at least commercial benefits.

Before I started what I do now, I had a brief stint on Wall Street. I worked in the research department of the U.S. Trust Company, a very dignified and respected old bank, one that at the time had no branches. Being the only woman, perhaps token woman, in the research department, I was assigned the food and retail trade industries. Dreadful as it was, the first real task was meat packing, a true horror to my sensitivities. Then, it was wine and beer and later the retail sales of food of companies like Howard Johnson and so on and so forth. We worked in groups of four, and the boss in our group was in charge of chemicals and pharmaceuticals and was a big Monsanto fan. So, back in the mid-60s, I was invited to a banquet hosted by the fake food purveyors who were discussing their long-term plans to substitute whatever for the real deal. In short, the handwriting was on the wall, and we were about not simply to "go soy" but to go in the direction that hardly anyone knew what they were really eating. I was terribly young at the time but was reeling because I actually like to cook, Jupiter in Cancer, and I had already lived in several countries and acquired a passion for eating with chopsticks and trying just about anything once.

This is not the time or place to tell my life's story, but there was a pivotal moment in late 1968 when I was driving a Land Rover across the north of Afghanistan en route to India. Okay, it was a crazy, hare-brained thing to have done, but there were no roads or restaurants so people would simply offer food, and I would reward them with whatever loose change there was in my pocket. I suddenly came into deep contact with what nutritious feels like. The food was so tasty and satisfying that I felt I had more energy than ever before in my life. Ironically, on my return trip years later, I took the southern route and had no such wondrous reports, but the food in Iran was also very stabilizing though incredibly simple compared to the pilafs in Afghanistan. You know, I was very near Hunza country, not quite, but close.

In any event, one might say that because of my travels, I realized that regardless of what textbooks said about food groups, it was quite obvious that traditional diets had sustained countless generations whereas the fads may or may not be here to stay. In the context of how my mind works, it should not surprise anyone that the first books I read on cancer diets were more anthropological in nature, why Eskimos did not have cancer until sugar and crackers came into their lives, why there was allegedly no cancer in Hunza, and so on and so forth. This said, cancer was found in dinosaur bones as well as Egyptian mummies so McDonalds cannot take all the blame.

Then, we come to what is cancer, and there were about as many theories on this as there were on diet, but the prevailing ones in the alternative health world revolved around oxygen. After that, there was, in my opinion, quite a lot of confusion, especially about metabolism. What I found is that patients in general have weak metabolisms, but the area surrounding the tumor is hyperactive. This does not — in my opinion — translate to "metabolic disorder". So, my starting point was actually digestibility, and we ran some experiments in the clinic. One of the nicer ones was done jointly with Drs. Smita and Pankaj Naram who at that time were young and very bright stars on the horizon. Smita made two very simple dishes and I videotaped the production. The patients who said they could not digest anything had no trouble with what she made, and the interesting point was that it took only one meal to prove this to patients. Moreover, just as digestion had improved, so had elimination. In short, we could regulate metabolism through diet with just a little education.

The clinic was on St. Francis Drive, just north of St. Michaels Drive. I mention this because I had had a dream about Santa Fe being the shape of an egg with a cross and that I would have a clinic at the center of the cross. It was walking distance to two huge health foods stores. I would give recipes to patients but they would return to the clinic saying they could not find this, could not find that. I asked where they had looked. They had looked in the canned food section, then the frozen food section. Most never even thought of fresh produce. I began to see the effect of modern indoctrination, only a few decades after my incredibly boring classes in home economics, there was an entire generation of people whose idea of cooking involved putting a box into a microwave oven.

One particularly ill patient had major eating disorders and I prescribed kitchari for her. There was a potluck dinner some months later and she brought kitchari. Even my dogs would not touch it. I therefore built a kitchen studio for filming. This was years ago but I find myself today revisiting all this history. The manuscript for the cancer cookbook was stolen. I know who has it but I do not think getting it back is in the cards, but my thoughts have changed so we begin with where I am now.

Once I observed the oxygen therapies in Germany, I completely lost interest in that theory. Oxygen is a secondary issue, in my view, and the primary one is what the tumor uses for growth. There is not as much agreement as one would expect. Some say the tumor requires glucose and others put the emphasis on protein. The Kelley diet restricts protein intake whereas many other diets limit or eliminate the intake of carbohydrates. We are not however all the way back to square one. There are actually some diets that make more sense than other diets, but the deterioration of food has meanwhile reached critical mass.

This is so serious that as the weather warms and people have begun ordering seeds, I have debated whether or not to suggest covering plants so as to protect them from chemtrails. I am sorry to say that I believe the situation is this serious.

Meanwhile, we fuss with cruciferous vegetables and the endless debates over raw versus cooked food, seasoned versus bland, grapes versus carrots, and on and on and on. I have almost never, if ever, seen a nutritional study that clearly stated whether the vitamins and antioxidants and other nutrients refer to all spinach, organic spinach, cooked spinach, juiced spinach, or whatever. I am astonished that such important "details" are almost never addressed so here we go.

All food should be organic. It should also be very carefully washed before use. This is just as true for cooked as for raw food. People need to use colanders or big strainers and really tackle the particulates that are all over the food. To the extent possible, people should source their food locally from growers they trust or they should grow food themselves. Even a growing tent is better than no covering at all.

Just as I found the food in Afghanistan so nutritious, I also found this to be the case in Ecuador. In general, I was energized rather than exhausted after eating. Here, I am often sleepy after eating even though I eat relatively carefully. I also try to eat foods that are somewhat shielded. For instance, I eat nuts because even though the shells cannot protect the nuts from everything, the shells do eliminate some of the risk. I do grow much of my own leafy greens and potatoes and am extremely careful about shielding these. I don't think I can ever be careful enough because the risks are actually very high.

Frankly, I don't know what "organically grown" means in the context of chemtrails. Then, believe it or not, an employee at a supermarket kept answering my questions with "but it may contain sulfite" and I finally asked him why he kept repeating that. He said that all produce is sprayed with sulfites in the store, including everything in the organic section. Also, he said, all wine bottles are washed with sulfites that are not removed before filling. Oh, gosh! As if GMO threats were not already enough! What he said was, "This is legal." I think very few people selling at farmer's markets would be guilty of such deeds.

Okay, this is starting to get long so where am I today?

First of all, I do think it is important to eliminate processed foods from the diet. Ralph Nader has often advocated avoiding everything packaged: no canned foods, nothing in boxes, nothing mixed. This might be life or death for some people but not practical enough for most. Still, it makes sense to avoid everything with additives, preservatives, food coloring, words you cannot pronounce or have to look up in a dictionary, and so on and so forth. The most egregious substances might be white sugar and white flour, but I suspect there are worse even if most experts agree on these two. Interestingly, sugar is a natural food. On this side of the pond, most sugar comes from cane sugar that is very heavily sprayed and ground up with mud and whatever and then bleached with lye. Believe me! I went to factory in Hawaii and decided never to eat sugar again. Of course, I could not avoid it completely, but I do not buy it.

In the studies I did years ago, i.e., the sixties, per capita sugar consumption had gone from what our forefathers ate annually to what my generation ate monthly. I do not think our bodies can adapt that fast but both sugar and salt are used as preservatives so even if they are not sprinkled on at the table, they are in most processed foods. Natural cane sugar that is organically grown has some decent nutrients, but cane sugar needs to be organically grown. In Europe, sugar usually comes from beets, but the same arguments for reducing intake and relying exclusively on organic products are relevant.

White flour means eliminating most pasta and bread, including all sorts of bakery goods. Some people can go cold turkey from a standard diet to a healthy one IF they are motivated and educated as to the wisdom of the diet. Others inch their ways into healthier life styles but we have to keep in mind that some of those who are moving slowly need to listen to the clock ticking. A nudge here and there may seem rude but whenever I have been too patient or polite to nudge, I have regretted it later. What we do in the name of peace is sometimes costly when it comes to health and survival.

Once I had a non-verbal client who liked to draw. We did a very small book together, the idea being that a Hulk type would go into the kitchen with a big black bag and go through every cupboard and remove everything that does not belong in a healthy home. There was a seven-day schedule that started with aluminum and coated cookware and ended with reading all the labels in the pantry.

Though I am a huge advocate of fasting, I still believe we ought to address the worst culprits first. This means that detoxifying from life histories of risk is probably a better starting point than getting on board a fasting regime. However, I like to make schedules and set review points. We have to evaluate results and tweak, not just hang out with fingers crossed.

Fasting has an austere sound, but when I use the term, I am not referring to water fasts that are done for religious or ritual purposes. I mean juice fasts. Unlike many others, I love nuance and variety so I am not a fan of mono diets or mono fasts. Moreover, all my clinical experience suggests there is much more latitude than a few books and recipes might indicate. One thing that seems important is to choose between fruit and vegetables as these should not be mixed. They should not be mixed in one glass nor in one fast, meaning that before starting, one should choose a fast that relies on one or the other. That said, I have very good accounts of mono diets that were successful when no one expected them to be. One patient was down to about 65 pounds when she started the grape and grape juice fast. She recovered completely from metastatic cancer. Another ate nothing but butter. She was convinced she was dying and craved butter. She ate it continuously for three weeks and recovered. Another did the same with yoghurt and recovered. Yet another was arrested and the natural medicines upon which he thought his life depended were confiscated. He was in federal prison eating prison food and recovered. So, you see, there is a spectrum and room for a range of experiences.

Many patients I have known have journaled and even published their journals. They were often on a mixture of protocols but tended to attribute their cures to one particular part of the healing process. For instance, some have found inner peace that allowed them to release anger while others felt their cures had depended on something difficult to find or perhaps even illegal. Energy follows thought so I feel that what we think can make us sick or make us well. I take this so seriously that I would go so far as to say the guilt from cheating on a diet is often more dangerous than what was swallowed. I watched a TED talk late last night. A neurologist confessed to having had pizza twice that week. There was no indication that she was sick, merely that she was trying to create a soft zone between temptations and guilt.

This said, cancer is characterized by lack of respect for boundaries. The tumor grows and encroaches on adjacent tissue and metastasizes so tough boundaries can be healthy so long as they do not create so much rigidity that spontaneity is lost.

It goes without saying that whenever one makes something simple, the idea is apt to have a larger audience. We can see this with cancer diets as well as other fads. I am putting the diets in the fad category because I think all are unnecessarily authoritarian. However, if I were to say something as simple (and perhaps dumb) as "eat nothing but celery for six weeks", I would probably be on every talk show and perhaps not as strapped for funds. That would not however allow my conscience any rest so I would not be at peace with myself. This said, I believe wholeheartedly in simplification of the diet and in fasting, but I feel there is room for some variety, meaning the recipe for the juice can be changed and the changes would ideally correlate to the patient's particular changes and needs.

Keep in mind that the starting point for each patient is different. Some are underweight, some are overweight. Some are diabetic, some are hypoglycemic. Some are gluttons, some are picky eaters. Some have known food allergies. Some have a history of candida, tropical infections, prescription medications, you name it. Many people never made anything more complicated than a peanut butter sandwich in their kitchen, and others are gourmet cooks without any actual training in nutrition. So, we have to start where we are and go from there, and the journey will be different for each person.

Fasting does take discipline, especially in the first days. Besides food cravings, there is die off, and this can make for some difficult days. In general, fasting becomes easier with time. As a sort of general rule, I would propose that all fasting is scheduled for a particular time frame such as early morning to sunset. Only pure water would be allowed in the off hours, but even here, there are exceptions so supervision by a truly experienced professional is often advisable. Such individuals are hard to find. Most alternative cancer clinics were built around the success of one particular protocol. Sometimes, clinics emulate the successes reported by others so there may be two or three pillars supporting the therapy and sometimes there are ten pillars. For instance, one place may offer wheatgrass, art therapy, Chi Gung, and hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Another may offer mistletoe, meditation, and organic foods. Over the years, I have met people who went to this clinic or that one, but only rarely were all the needs met in one place. Obviously, it would be ideal to have everything under one roof.

My experience is that herbs can be added to juices and this is preferable to IV use. The body is designed to ingest nutrients orally, but Viktoras Kulvinskas told a story one evening at dinner of a patient who swallowed Pine Sol and could not swallow. He applied the juices to the skin and she would go into the sun to promote absorption. This worked so there are solutions for just about everything. We simply have to find the perfect fit. I have generally encouraged people to be decisive. Spend ten days reading everything possible on the options and then choose one. Give it a try, stick with it faithfully. Set evaluation points so that assessments of the efficacy are made. Only if the protocol is failing should one try the second option or the third. Mixing and matching is often necessary but a gamble. It takes a lot of experience to know what will interfere with the desired outcome. I have a pretty hard and fast rule that 120 days is the maximum that should be permitted for experiments that have not resulted in the desired outcome. In most cases, however, I think we know much sooner when things are or are not going the right direction.

So, I do want to wrap up for now, but by reminding everyone of the cardinal rule, the one Mornnah Simeona taught me. We have to remove the obstacles to cure. She did not say this has to be the first step, but if we skip it, we might not get where we want to go (my words, not hers -- she was softer in her speech than I am). Long before cancer appears, there have been other problems such as diabetes, exposure to yeast and mold, parasitic infections, root canals and periodontal diseases, heavy metal toxicity, and so on and so forth. A good case history will generally reveal what ought to be the starting point. I hope this helps people a bit. I get e-mails all day long but it is very hard to work with people at a distance. Much as I hate the idea of dependence on others, I think that serious questions require one-on-one contact so I am looking forward to moving south very soon.

Much love and many blessings,



Copyright by Ingrid Naiman 2018

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