Thursday, November 15, 2012

Macrobiotic Diet Improves Survival Chances for Pancreatic Cancer Patients

"As long as we continue to take in excessive nutrients, chemicals, and other factors that serve no purpose in the body, they must continue to accumulate somewhere in order to continue our normal living functions. If we don't allow them to accumulate in limited areas and form tumors, they will spread throughout the body, resulting in a total collapse of our vital functions and death by toxemia. Cancer is only the terminal stage of a long process. Cancer is the body's healthy attempt to isolate toxins ingested and accumulated through years of eating the modern unnatural diet and living in an artificial environment."
- Michio Kushi, The Cancer Prevention Diet

Macrobiotic Diet and Research

There were not many clinical studies to assess the potential of the Macrobiotic diet for alternative cancer treatment, but for the researches, which were completed, the results were more than encouraging.  One of the studies on Macrobiotic diet and nutritionally linked cancers (including pancreatic cancer), published in Journal of the American College of Nutrition, has exposed very interesting results: "The retrospective study of pancreatic patients disclosed that 1-year survival was higher among those who modified their diet than in those for whom there was no evidence as to diet alteration".

Mean survival for the 23 patients was 17 months, vs. 6 months for the control group. Median survival was 13 vs. 3 months for the controls. The actual case histories of the patients using the macrobiotic diet were fascinating. In one instance, the patient had survived 7 years when hospitalized for fever and abdominal pain. The patient died during surgery, and upon autopsy they found that the cancer was still on the head of the pancreas, but it had not increased in size over the years. Case 2 offered a similar type of result. There the patient showed no progression of the cancer for the 5 years of using the diet. However upon resumption of his standard diet the cancer seemed to spread and he died 2 years late. Patient 3 practiced the macrobiotic diet as well as chemo and monoclonal therapies. After 9 years he was in excellent health and no mass could be defined in the pancreas. Finally in case no. 4, the patient had basically no conventional therapy but went on the macrobiotic diet. After 5 years he remained in good health, while a CT scan after 3 years showed that the tumor was still present.

Other scientific studies have shown increased survival rates in both pancreatic and metastatic cancer in those following a macrobiotic diet as well. One study of note, cited in "Unconventional Cancer Treatments" in 1990 by the U.S. Congress Office of Technology Assessment, followed six patients with advanced malignancies. Vivian Newbold, a Philadelphia physician, documented all six cases of remission. CT scans and other medical tests revealed no presence of tumors after careful adherence to a macrobiotic diet.

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What is Macrobiotics?

The macrobiotic approach is based on the view that we are the result of and are continually influenced by our total environment, which ranges from the foods we eat and our daily social interactions to the climate and geography in which we live.

In considering all factors that influence our lives, the macrobiotic approach to health and healing views sickness as the natural attempt of the body to return to a more harmonious and dynamic state with the natural environment. As what we choose to eat and drink and how we live our lives are primary environmental factors that influence our health and create who we are, the macrobiotic approach emphasizes the importance of proper dietary and lifestyle habits.

The macrobiotic approach is based on principles, theories and practices that have been known to philosophers, scholars, and physicians throughout history. The term "macrobiotics" comes from Greek ("macro" meaning "large" or "long", and "bios" meaning "life") and was first coined by Hippocrates, the father of western medicine. Its most recent development stems from Michio Kushi who was inspired by philosopher-writer George Ohsawa. George Ohsawa published numerous works in Japanese, English and French, which combined the western traditions of macrobiotics with 5,000 years of traditional oriental medicine.

By using macrobiotic principles to address and adjust environmental, dietary and lifestyle influences, thousands of individuals have been able to prolong their lives by recovering from a wide range of illnesses including heart disease, cancer, diabetes and many others (view some of these recovery testimonials on our library pages). The macrobiotic approach to health recovery can be used along with conventional and alternative medical treatment and intervention and is compatible with and adaptable to all forms of religious and traditional cultural practices.

Some traditional and basic macrobiotic practices include eating more whole grains, beans and fresh vegetables, increasing variety in food selections and traditional cooking methods, eating regularly and less in quantity, chewing more and maintaining an active and positive life and mental outlook.
General dietary and lifestyle guidelines for persons living in a temperate, four seasons climate have been established by Michio Kushi. These guidelines outline basic dietary proportions along with healthier lifestyle habits and are not intended to define a specific regimen that one must follow, as additional adjustments are required for individual application which will vary according to personal situations. If you are seeking specific advice we recommend that you visit the Kushi Institute and meet with a Macrobiotic Counselor. The Kushi Institute's week-long training program "The Way to Health" is also recommended, as it gives you the skills and knowledge to put your counselor's advice into practice correctly.

Following are Michio Kushi's standard macrobiotic dietary and lifestyle suggestions.

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Macrobiotic Diet

The standard macrobiotic diet provides a framework that is modified depending on one’s age, sex, level of activity, personal needs and environment. It incorporates a respect for traditional food and for climatic and seasonal influences on food availability and personal and societal activity. It is also based in large part on the application of Eastern philosophical principles of yin and yang and related expressions of energetics such as the theory of five transformations. Thus, the macrobiotic diet is tailored to meet the needs of an individual rather than reflect a rigid set of structures.

Standard food categories and general daily proportions for persons living in a temperate climate include:

1.       Whole Cereal Grains
• 40 - 60% by weight
• Organically grown, whole grain is recommended, which can be cooked in a variety of cooking methods.
• Grains include: Brown rice, barley, millet, oats, corn, rye, wheat, and buckwheat. While whole grains are recommended, a small portion of the recommended percentage of grains may consist of noodles or pasta, un-yeasted whole grain breads, and other partially processed whole cereal grains.

2.       Vegetables

• Approximately 20 - 30% by weight
• Local and organically grown vegetables are recommended, with the majority being cooked in various styles such as lightly steamed or boiled, sautéed with a small amount of unrefined, cold pressed oil, etc. A small portion may be used as fresh salad and a very small volume as pickles.
• Vegetables for daily use include: green cabbage, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, collards, pumpkin, watercress, parsley, Chinese cabbage, bok choy, dandelion, mustard greens, daikon greens, scallion, onions, daikon radish, turnips, burdock, carrots, winter squash such as butternut, buttercup, and acorn squash.
• For occasional use in season (2 to 3 times a week); cucumber, celery, lettuce, herbs such as dill and chives.  Vegetables not recommended for regular use include: potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, spinach, beets, and zucchini.

3.       Beans & Sea Vegetables

• Approximately 5 - 10 % by weight
• The most suitable beans for regular use are azuki beans, chickpeas, and lentils. Other beans may be used on occasion. Bean products such as tofu, tempeh, and natto can also be used. Sea vegetables such as nori, wakame, kombu, hiziki, arame, dulse, and agar-agar are an important part of the macrobiotic diet as they provide important vitamins and minerals.

4.       Soups

• Soups may be made with vegetables, sea vegetables, grains, or beans. Seasonings include miso, tamari soy sauce, and sea salt.

5.       Beverages

• Recommended beverages include:
• Roasted bancha twig tea, stem tea, roasted brown rice tea, roasted barley tea, dandelion root tea, and cereal grain coffee. Any traditional tea that does not have an aromatic fragrance or a stimulating effect can also be used.
• When drinking water, spring or good quality well water is recommended, without ice.

6.       Occasional Foods

• Recommended fish include fresh white-meat fish such as flounder, sole, cod, carp, halibut or trout.
• Fruit or fruit desserts, made from fresh or dried fruit, may be served two or three times a week. Local and   organically grown fruits are preferred. If you live in a temperate climate, avoid tropical and semitropical fruit   and instead, eat temperate climate fruits such as apples, pears, plums, peaches, apricots, berries and melons.  Frequent use of fruit juice is not advisable.
• Lightly roasted nuts and seeds such as pumpkin, sesame, and sunflower seeds. Peanuts, walnuts and pecans   may be enjoyed as an occasional snack.
• Rice syrup, barley malt, amasake, and mirin may be used as sweeteners.
• Brown rice vinegar or umeboshi vinegar may be used occasionally for a sour taste.

7.       Recommended condiments

• Gomashio, seaweed powder (kelp, kombu, wakame, and other sea vegetables), Sesame seaweed powder, umeboshi plums, tekka, pickles and sauerkraut made using sea salt, miso, or tamari.

8.       Additional Dietary Suggestions

• Cooking oil should be vegetable quality only. To improve your health, it is preferable to use only unrefined sesame or corn oil in moderate amounts.
• Salt should be naturally processed sea salt. Traditional, non-chemicalized shoyu or tamari soy sauce and miso may also be used as seasonings.

9.       Foods to Eliminate for Better Health

• Meat, animal fat, eggs, poultry, dairy products (including butter, yogurt, ice cream, milk and cheese), refined sugars, chocolate, molasses, honey, other simple sugars and foods treated with them, and vanilla.
• Tropical or semi-tropical fruits and fruit juices, soda, artificial drinks and beverages, coffee, colored tea, and   all aromatic stimulating teas such as mint or peppermint tea.
• All artificially colored, preserved, sprayed, or chemically treated foods. All refined and polished grains, flours, and their derivatives, mass- produced industrialized food including all canned, frozen, and irradiated foods.
• Hot spices, any aromatic stimulating food or food accessory, artificial vinegar, and strong alcoholic beverages.

10.   Macrobiotic Lifestyle Suggestions

• Eat only when hungry.
• Proper chewing (around 50 times or more per mouthful) is important for good digestion and assimilation of nutrients.
• Eat in an orderly and relaxed manner. When you eat, sit with a good posture and take a moment to express   gratitude for the food.
• You may eat regularly two or three times per day, as much as you want, provided the proportion is generally correct and each mouthful is thoroughly chewed. It is best to leave the table satisfied but not full.
• Drink liquids moderately, only when thirsty.
• For the deepest and most restful sleep, retire before midnight and avoid eating at least 2 to 3 hours before sleeping.
• Wash as needed, but avoid long hot baths or showers which deplete the body of minerals.
• Use cosmetics and cleaning products that are made from natural, nontoxic ingredients. Avoid   chemically-perfumed products. For care of the teeth, brush with natural preparations.
• As much as possible, wear cotton clothing, especially for undergarments. Avoid wearing synthetic or woolen   clothing directly on the skin. Avoid wearing excessive accessories on the fingers, wrists, neck, or any other part of the body.
• Spend time outdoors if strength permits. Walk on the grass, beach or soil up to one half hour every day.   Spend some time in direct sunlight.
• Exercise regularly. Activities may include walking, yoga, martial arts, dance, etc.
• Include some large green plants in the home to freshen and enrich the oxygen content of the air. Open   windows daily to permit fresh air to circulate, even in cold weather.
• Keep your home in good order, especially the areas where food is prepared and served.
• To increase circulation and elimination of toxins, scrub the entire body with a hot, damp towel every   morning or every night. If that is not possible, at least, scrub the hands, feet, fingers and toes.
• Avoid using electric cooking devices (ovens and ranges) or microwave ovens. The use of a gas or wood stove   is preferred.
• Use earthenware, cast iron, or stainless steel cookware rather than aluminum or Teflon-coated pots.
• Minimize the frequent use of television and computer display units. When using a computer, protect yourself   from potentially harmful electromagnetic fields with a protective shield over the screen and other safety   devices.
• Sing a song!

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Anti-carcinogenic properties

Many aspects of the dietary pattern promoted under standard macrobiotic dietary recommendations have been suggested to have anticancer effects. For example, whole grains have been emphasized as a centerpiece of macrobiotic dietary recommendations for many years. There is growing evidence that whole grain consumption decreases the risk of cancers at various sites. The effects of whole grains on cancer prevention are probably not limited to dietary fiber effects but may also involve effects on estrogen metabolism, glucose and insulin metabolism, and oxidative processes. A wide variety of vegetables are also recommended for regular consumption. The evidence that vegetable intake is associated with decreased risk of cancer is large and consistent and was reviewed in the American Institute for Cancer Research and World Cancer Research Fund report. This report noted that increasing consumption of vegetables and fruits from 250 to 400 g/d may be associated with a 23% decreased risk of cancer worldwide. It has been suggested that sea vegetables, promoted in macrobiotics and an important part of traditional East Asian cuisine, may decrease risk of breast cancer and endometrial cancer. These associations may be accounted for in part by the antitumor activities of fucoidan, a sulfated polysaccharide found almost exclusively in brown seaweed, and fucoxanthin, the carotenoid responsible for the brown color of brown seaweed.

The role of beans and bean products, particularly soyfoods, in cancer prevention continues to garner substantial interest. The interest in soy is based in part on the lower overall cancer rates in the Far East, where soy foods are a traditional part of the diet, compared with the U.S. and other Western countries, where soy foods are consumed in much smaller quantities. Some evidence shows that soy intake is associated with decreased risk of hormone-dependent cancers such as those of the breast, endometrium and prostate and may also decrease risk of other cancers such as those of the stomach, although this may be limited to non-fermented soy foods. Soy foods and other legumes may decrease risk of cancer because of the presence of various compounds that may have anticancer effects, including protease inhibitors and saponins. There has been a particular interest in the role of phytoestrogens such as genistein and daidzein, which are found in high concentration in soy beans. These isoflavonoid compounds may not only influence estrogen metabolism but may also have antioxidant and antiangiogenesis effects and may influence signal transduction and inhibit the action of DNA topoisomerases. Phytoestrogen exposure through the macrobiotic diet is discussed below.

Some foods that are linked to increased cancer risk are minimized in standard macrobiotic dietary recommendations. In contrast to the cancer-prevention effects of whole grains, refined grains, which are not recommended in macrobiotics, may actually increase risk of cancer. With the exception of fish, animal food intake is generally minimized in macrobiotics. There is growing evidence that red meat intake increases the risk of cancers of the colon and rectum as well as cancers of the prostate, pancreas and perhaps other sites. Eggs may be associated with increased risk of colorectal and ovarian cancer, and dairy food intake is associated with increased risk of cancers of the prostate, kidney and ovary. A preference for natural, organically grown foods would minimize exposure to pesticides, herbicides and other such chemicals. Although the association of dietary exposure to such chemicals and cancer risk is controversial, some reports have suggested that exposure to such compounds should be minimized.

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American Cancer Society Warning

Prevention of cancer through various dietary factors has been demonstrated by long-term studies and endorsed by the American Institute for Cancer Research and the American Cancer Society (ACS). However, ACS is very cautious to accept the positive cancer treatment results, provided by macrobiotic diet due to the perceived shortcomings.

The ACS has stated that the macrobiotic diet may provide inadequate nutrition for cancer patients, is unsafe, and may cause malnutrition and death.  Other statements have also reported certain deficiencies in various nutrients - specifically vitamins D and cobalamin (B12), iron, calcium, protein-calorie malnutrition, and linear growth retardation.

While considering macrobiotic diet, or any other diet, as a matter of fact, you are strongly advised to discuss your intentions with your doctor. Note that patients with cancer have unique nutritional requirements and need to exercise particular care with any diet. Even more careful approach should be applied for infants and children with cancer, since adequate nutrients must be supplied for growth as well as the metabolic requirements of the individual disease challenges.

Sources and Additional Information:

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