Chemo is toxic, no way around it. During and after your treatments it’s important to support your body with immune building and detoxifying foods.
The following natural substances and modalities can help you detoxify chemo drugs and rebuild your immune system. All of these natural substances and protocols will also reduce the re-occurrence of cancer as well.
Broccoli sprouts contain a high amount of the cancer-busting and immune boosting substance sulforaphan. Sulforaphan has proven to be a strong cancer inhibitor, especially of Breast Cancer.1 It creates apoptosis (cancer cell death) and also boosts Natural Killer cell activity. Sulforaphane can also be consumed in supplement form and in some high-powered formulas. Making your own sprouts is easy and fun! Check out Amazon for sprouting kits.
A quality beta glucan supplement extracted from either yeast or (more powerfully) from medicinal mushrooms can provide a very effective way to boost your immune system overall. Beta Glucans boost the ability of the immune system and, according to a University of Kentucky study, can have an effect on breast cancer gene expression. Adding medicinal mushrooms to your diet such as shiitake and mistake mushrooms can help boost your immune system. 2
There are over 200 documented studies to date that address the effects of curcumin on breast cancer in particular. 3 And there are literally thousands on the positive effect this component of the Indian spice turmeric can have on the immune system. Curcumin has shown to reduce tumor growth and induce apoptosis, even on multi-drug resistant breast cancers. It is a potent anti-inflammatory and can drastically improve immune function. One study published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry reported that curcumin tripled the expression of a protein whose job it is to combat bacteria, viruses, and fungus.
Chlorella is most known for its detoxifying ability against heavy metals, but it is also a great chelator (binder) of other toxins (like residuals from chemotherapy) as well. In addition, it is a super-booster for the immune system, increasing Natural Killer cell activity. 4 It is a sound source of vitamin B-12 and provides 10 times the amount of beta carotene than carrots. It also contains polysaccharides, which have been shown to improve the ability of immune system cells to communicate with each other when pathogens threaten. It also contains chlorophyll, which increases blood oxygenation. Chlorella can also increase glutathione levels, you primary support for liver detoxification.
While your body absolutely needs probiotics for a healthy gut and immune system, the “good guys” in your digestive system need prebiotics to survive. Since a huge part of your immune system lies in your gut it’s important to keep probiotics on board during and after your chemo and eat “prebiotic” foods to feed the good guys. Two kinds of prebiotics, inulin and oligofructose, can be found in foods such as organic sweet potatoes, jicama, asparagus, garlic, leeks and onions.
A 2011 study conducted by the Babraham Institute in Cambridge, UK found that phytonutrients within green veggies provide chemical signaling for intraepithelial lymphocytes (IELs) in the gut and in the immune system. IELs help to ensure a fully-functioning immune system. Not only that but greens are loaded with antioxidants which are essential for building new immune cells, detoxification and lowering inflammation.
Here are a couple recipes that will super charge your immune system!
Super Immune Boosting Smoothie
Ingredients: Makes 2 servings
- 1 ripe avocado, peeled and chopped
- 2 kiwis, peeled and chopped
- 1 cup of organic kale, washed, stems removed and chopped
- 2 teaspoons fresh turmeric root finely chopped OR 1 teaspoon powdered
- 1 teaspoon chlorella powder
- 1-2 scoops collagen protein powder
- Quality salt to taste, such as pink or sea salt (approx. ¼ teaspoon)
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- 1 cup spring or filtered water
- Place all ingredients in a blender and process at medium for 10 seconds and then high for another 20 seconds or until smooth and homogenized. (Note: If you have a powerful blender, you can omit chopping the ingredients first.)
- Pour into glasses and garnish with a slice of fresh lemon if desired. Enjoy!
Immune Building Soup
Ingredients: Makes 2 servings
- 1 oz Astragalus root (may have to buy on-line or health food store. Astragalus boosts the performance of helper T cells)
- 1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and diced (anti-cancer benefits plus digestive support)
- ½ cup of Quinoa, rinsed
- 6-8 cup organic vegetable broth
- 2 Tabl. Olive oil
- 1 cup onions, diced (immune boosting sulforaphane)
- 1 cup organic carrots, diced (antioxidant)
- ½ cup shiitake mushrooms, sliced (Beta Glucans)
- 1/2 cup of button mushrooms, sliced
- ½ cup red pepper, diced
- 6 cloves of garlic, minced (anti-cancer)
- 1 Tabl Miso
- ¼ cup cilantro, chopped (heavy metal chelator)
- 1 cup chopped organic kale (greens!)
Simmer Astragalus root, ginger, Quinoa and stock in large pot for one hour. In separate pan sauté onions, carrots, mushrooms and pepper for 5 min, add garlic and sauté 1 minute more. Add to soup broth along with kale and simmer for 30 minutes. Add miso and parsley, do not boil.
About the Author: Chris McKee
Chris McKee is a Certified Nutritionist and Certified Diet Counselor with over 30 years of experience in whole-food cooking, healthy lifestyle coaching, individual nutritional counseling and speaking to 1,000’s of people about the role of good nutrition in preventing disease.
Chris is also a Certified Nutragenomix practitioner and this allows her to look deep into your genetic profile and personalize your nutrition program based on your unique genetic fingerprint.
She runs on-line courses including her 10 Day Clean Eating Challenge, 21 Days Prepping for the Keto Diet as well as her Hope 4 Cancer Recovery program.
Chris and her husband Ed love to travel, hence the name “The Nomadic Nutritionist”. She is a grandmother of four and a great-grandma of two! She loves to cook, explore new food finds, hike and fish.
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