When I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 30, this is exactly how I felt. My undergraduate and graduate degrees were in nutrition and exercise physiology and I practiced what I preached. I was careful with my diet and exercised regularly. My weight was in the normal range and I ate many vegetables. So why did I get cancer? What could I do to decrease my risk of having a recurrence? What can I do to help my patients decrease their risk of getting cancer?
Looking for answers to these questions sent me on a journey through my medical training and eventually to an education in Functional Medicine. Functional medicine is a different way of looking at health and disease. Instead of just naming the disease and then giving the same treatment to everyone with that disease, it looks at the individual systems in a person’s body to look for the underlying root cause. Functional medicine individualizes treatment, focusing on the patient instead of the disease. We appreciate the importance of prevention and look at the many interconnections within the body. Most importantly, functional medicine asks the question…why?
Functional medicine helped me understand that some of the systems in my body were not working as well as I had thought. I realized that my years of antibiotics as a child influenced my digestive system and therefore my detoxification system. In addition, I did not handle stress in my life in the healthiest way. This depleted my immune function. I started to look at health and disease in a different way. I began to understand that a person is not healthy one day and sick the next. The changes in someone’s body that ultimately lead to cancer take many years to develop and are very different for each individual person.
In addition, every woman with breast cancer is not the same, and the causes for an individual person’s cancer are not the same. There are many different kinds of breast cancer. We are not just talking about cancer…but cancers. We are not just talking about breast cancer… but breast cancers. Even if we take all of the women with estrogen receptor positive breast cancer, they are not all the same. Each has different causes, a different body environment, and different genetics. Because of this, it is important to treat each individual person differently and rebalance their body so that they do not get a recurrence. This concept has helped me with my own health and the health of my patients. In functional medicine, we have begun to look deeper at the various causes that can result in the growth of a cancer. This way, we can help prevent cancer from occurring and, if it does, help treat people and prevent a recurrence.
What we have learned is that the environment—or terrain—of the body influences whether or not cells can become invasive cancer. A healthy terrain will prevent the growth of cancer; whereas, an unhealthy terrain can feed cancer and cause it to grow. It is important that we focus on more than just the individual cells in the body, but also on the environment in which these cells live. Creating a healthy terrain in our body is as simple as removing what is causing the imbalances in our body and replacing what is needed for balance to be restored in our body.
Let’s get started! What can you do to create a healthy terrain in your body and decrease the risk of cancer? Here are some of the components that we focus on at The UltraWellness Center.
- Eat a whole foods diet that avoids packaged and processed foods as much as possible.
- Avoid simple sugars and refined carbohydrates that cause spikes in blood glucose and insulin.
- Support your body’s natural detoxification system by eating cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and kale) every day.
- Avoid toxins in the environment such as pesticides, parabens, BPA, and heavy metals (like mercury and lead). Get a test to see if these toxins may be suppressing your immune function.
- Only use antibiotics when necessary and consider adding a probiotic into your regimen.
- Consume a diet rich in phytonutrients. These can be found in colorful fruits, vegetables, and spices.
- Work on managing your stress with methods such as meditation and yoga.
This is just a start. I talk more about creating a cancer-free terrain in my free ebook that you can download at http://www.drboham.com/free-ebook.
To Your Health,
Elizabeth Boham, MD