Starving Cancer the Natural Way
If you’ve read my book, you know that the macrobiotic diet was a key factor in saving my life 37 years ago (and counting) after being diagnosed and treated for Stage 4 cancer. I was flat on my back in the hospital when I first learned about this extraordinary diet and way of living in Dirk Benedict’s book, Kamikaze Cowboy. And like Dirk, I, too, made my way to the Kushi Institute in Boston, Massachusetts, where I learned as much about the macrobiotic diet and principles that I could. The time I spent there was rich and rewarding, and I even ended up on staff for a number of years (read more about my experiences at the Kushi Institute in Chapter 5 of my book, I Used to Have Cancer).
I recently had the opportunity to reconnect with someone I met during my time at the Kushi Institute. Steven Acuff is regarded as one of the foremost experts on macrobiotics in the world today, with good reason. He studied with macrobiotic author and lecturer Michio Kushi, who is credited with introducing macrobiotics to the U.S. Steve has since lectured in 27 countries, including the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Singapore, Israel, the Bahamas, Iceland and much of Europe.
In a recent interview as part of our Expert Interviews series, Steve shares his vast knowledge of the science of macrobiotics (link below). He began by explaining what macrobiotics is — for those who are new to the macrobiotic diet and lifestyle — and elaborates on a number of macrobiotic diet tips every cancer patient should know when dealing with this deadly disease.
Reconnecting and Harmonizing with Nature
The word macrobiotic first appeared in the writings of the Greek physician, Hippocrates. Translated, it means “great life” and is defined as a “full, healthy life with balance in food, drink and work.”
Macrobiotics still stands as an authentic, healthy way of living today. If anything, it is more important than ever before. During the last 100 years, in particular, there has been a radical shift in the way mankind interacts with nature. For example:
- Our ancestors spent 90% of their time outdoors, and today most people spend 90% of their time indoors.
- The diet of our ancestors consisted of food harvested from the land. Today, a large part of our diet consists of artificial or highly processed food that is all too often laced with a myriad of chemical additives to lengthen shelf life or to make them more palatable.
- Food was cooked over wood heat – typically low and slow — before the invention of microwaves which negatively impact the nutritional content of the food.
- In days gone by, clean drinking water was largely obtained from freshwater springs or pumped from deep wells. Today, the majority of our drinking water is heavily chlorinated and pumped through (sometimes) highly corrosive pipes throughout municipalities. Even if you live in the country, existent wells are all too often contaminated with dangerous pesticides linked to runoff from neighboring locations (learn more: If You Have Cancer, Clean Up Your Drinking Water NOW).
Principles of Macrobiotics
It is impossible to capture the rich study of macrobiotics in a few paragraphs. But to understand this way of life and its documented success in dealing with cancer, you first need to understand the energetics of food. And that isn’t as hard as it sounds. Macrobiotics takes into account the “chi” or life force that sustains us all.
How do we increase our life force? What diminishes it? Macrobiotics, while encompassing a way of life, begins with what we put into our mouths… the food we eat.
The Importance of Sea Vegetables
One of the principal ingredients in the macrobiotic diet are sea vegetables. And there is a good reason for that. A whopping 97% of Americans are deficient in iodine. This deficiency is connected to many of the most destructive health disorders of our time – including hypertension, cardiac arrhythmia, diabetes, brain disease, polycystic ovary syndrome, and fibrocystic breast disease.
When you’re dealing with cancer, iodine becomes critical to success… as adequate Iodine levels are able to cause tumors to shrink.
Iodine is one of the most important minerals in your body, and the macrobiotic diet includes a variety of sea vegetables which are rich sources of iodine. And if you are concerned about heavy metals that many of us have accumulated through the years, you’ll be delighted to know that the sodium alginate present in seaweed actually works to flush these dangerous metals out of the body.
Tip: Foods sourced from certified natural food companies are reliable, as these companies routinely test the products they sell. Recommended brands of sea vegetables include The Seaweed Man in New England and Algamar, a company based in Spain.
Determine if You Are Deficient in Iodine with This Do-It-Yourself Test
Urine and blood tests are available to determine iodine deficiencies. But an easy DIY home test for an iodine deficiency is the iodine “patch” test. To do that, you simply paint an approximate 2×2 inch patch of iodine on the inside of your forearm. If you are severely iodine deficient, the iodine will be absorbed quickly into your skin and will fade from sight within 8 hours.
If the iodine you painted onto your skin disappears in less than 24 hours, it is a sign that you are deficient in this micronutrient. But if your body has adequate stores of iodine, the patch will take more than 24 hours to fade.
Tip: A tincture of iodine is available in most drugstores or can be ordered online. J Crow’s Lugol Solution of Iodine (a combination of iodine and iodide) has been around since 1829 and is a dependable brand.
A Word About Grains
When many people first encounter the macrobiotic diet, they may be alarmed at the amounts of grains that are recommended (the Kushi standard is 50% whole grains per meal). Grains have become a source of much debate in recent times, and the rise of low-carb diets has helped to perpetuate their unpopularity.
On top of that, grains have gotten a bad rap for harboring contaminants. It’s true that grains can be a source of toxins and mycotoxins, but if you know which ones to select and how to prepare them properly, these foods are not the threat they are perceived to be, but are instead enormously healing.
Tip: Choose whole grains that are organically grown. Eating organic cuts cancer risk by 25%! All foods that you consume – grains or not – should be grown without the use of glyphosate, a very dangerous, but widely used chemical in modern farming practices (see The Dangers of Glyphosate).
Tip: All whole grains should be soaked before cooking. When you soak grains prior to cooking, you break down the phytic acid which makes them much easier to digest. Rice, oats, and other heavy grains should be soaked in clean, filtered water for 24 hours. Lighter grains like quinoa, millet can be soaked for 6 hours. After soaking, pour off the water in which they soaked before cooking
Let’s Talk Rice
The rice grown in much of the southeastern United States is often planted on land where cotton was once grown. Cotton is not a food source, so the use of arsenic was once permitted as part of the pesticide protocol. Unfortunately, the arsenic residue still present in the soil is easily absorbed by the tender rice plants.
But there’s more. The rice you purchase in your local market may also be high in cadmium. What is cadmium and why is it concerning? This toxic carcinogen is particularly prevalent in rice imported from China and has been proven to adversely irritate the human digestive system, cause vomiting and diarrhea, in addition to damaging the lungs (Jarup, et al., 1998, Nawrot, et al., 2006, Åkesson, 2011, Lee et al., 2011).
Tip: When looking for a dependable source of organically grown rice, check out the Lundberg Brothers in California.
Tip: When cooking rice, add a bit more water than recipe calls for. When pot comes to a boil, ladle off a bit of the water. By doing that, you will reduce any arsenic present by up to 80%.
Remember to slow down when you eat. Savor each bite of the food you have carefully selected to nourish your body. Grains are great sources of fiber, but you must chew them properly to get the full benefit.
Tip: Chewing is very important to break down the food so that your gut bacteria can easily digest the fiber. According to macrobiotic standards, each mouthful of food should be chewed at least 50 times before swallowing.
A New Way of Life
It’s impossible to do justice to the fascinating world of macrobiotics in one simple blog post, but time spent exploring this tried-and-true avenue to good health should not be underestimated. After all, it’s only logical that if you keep doing the same things over and over that resulted in your diagnosis of cancer and expecting different results… it just won’t happen.
But if you open your mind to alternative ideas, you just might find that a few simple but profound changes in your diet and lifestyle to be the pathway to reclaiming your health and enjoying life.
Meet Macrobiotic Expert Steven Acuff
We’ve just touched the surface of what this macrobiotic expert has to say about macrobiotics, a proven healthy cancer-fighting diet and way of life that has the power to rejuvenate and renew your body in ways you cannot imagine until you try it.
Please join me as I interview one of the world’s foremost experts on this subject. Steven Acuff is author of Eating the Wu Way. His book includes 30 pages of macrobiotic recipes, and the first chapter is available on his website as a free download. You’ll also find free downloadable Food Plans and Food Guidelines to help you in your macrobiotic journey. Steve also offers coaching sessions through Zoom and is an expert in facial and body diagnosis.
- Be encouraged by listening to authentic cancer survivor stories from men and women around the world in our amazing Survivor Stories, a selection of one-on-one video interviews.
- Download my FREE guidebook that outlines The 10 Things I Do Every Day to Stay Cancer Free.
Amjad M. Shraim, “Rice is a potential dietary source of not only arsenic but also other toxic elements like lead and chromium,” Chemistry Department, Faculty of Science, Taibah University, Almadinah Almunawarah, Saudi Arabia; The University of Queensland, National Research Centre for Environmental Toxicology (Entox), Brisbane, Queensland, Australia (received 12 July 2013, accepted 4 February 2014, available online 10 February 2014, Version of Record 15 June 2017).
Liu Hongqiao, “The polluted legacy of China’s largest rice-growing province,” China Dialogue (May 30, 2014).