kris ulland

Your Nutrition Partner

Cancer Protective Behaviors

  • Sleep in complete darkness to recharge your immune system
  • Lower stress
  • Avoid toxins, carcinogens, pollutants, and non-organic compounds
  • Eat a clean diet – avoid GMO, irradiated, refined, and chlorinated foods
  • Avoid sugar – tumors have around 8X more receptor cells for grabbing sugar than normal cells
  • Regulate blood sugar carefully. Elevations correlate with poor prognosis while low levels correlate with remission
  • Oxygenate your body regularly – EXERCISE! Cancer thrives anaerobically, in an environment free of oxygen
  • Support immunity in diet and lifestyle to counter immune suppression
  • Stay alkaline
  • Resolve Candida or other chronic infections the compromise immunity and add toxins
  • Avoid aflatoxin, a contaminate of corn, wheat, barley, sorghum, and peanuts by soaking and rinsing or dehydrating
  • Lose weight when necessary since obesity is a risk factor for cancer

Thomas Seyfried, Ph.D., a leading expert on cancer as a metabolic disease, is of the strong opinion that biopsies should be avoided, as they may trigger metastasis, the spread of the cancer. Dr. Seyfried is a professor of biology at Boston College and a leading expert and researcher in the field of cancer metabolism and nutritional ketosis. Despite the risks, clinicians have had to do biopsies, no matter what, to help guide the treatment. That is now changing. Blood biopsies are improving, allowing a diagnosis to be made without puncturing tissue.

Seyfried is one of the pioneers in the application of nutritional ketosis for cancer; a therapy that stems from the work of Dr. Otto Warburg, a biochemist who worked in the early 1900s. Warburg received the Nobel Prize in Physiology of Medicine in 1931 for the discovery of metabolism of malignant cells, the cause of cancer. Seyfried has followed in Warburg’s scientific footsteps, and is conducting important research to advance this science. He has in fact exceeded Warburg’s initial supposition, shedding important light on the metabolic underpinnings of cancer.

The traditionally held view is that cancer is a genetic disease, but what Warburg discovered is that cancer is really caused by a defect in the cellular energy metabolism of the cell, primarily related to the function of the mitochondria, which are the little power stations within each cell.

The mitochondria were not well understood in Warburg’s time but, today, we have a much better understanding of how they work.

Cancer is not the only outcome when mitochondrial respiration goes awry. This kind of dysfunction also plays a role in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). It’s also at play in seizure disorders and in diabetes, obesity, hypertension and hypercholesterolemia. Most of the major diseases we are currently treating with harsh and toxic drugs can potentially be solved with proper nutritional intervention.

According to Seyfried, in order to achieve nutritional ketosis, you need to reduce net carbohydrates (total carbs minus fiber) to less than 100 grams, probably less than 50 grams.

You also need to reduce your amino acid content. Glutamine is the most common amino acid in proteins, and besides glucose, cancer cells can use glutamine for energy and growth as well. The combination of both glucose and glutamine creates a really “supercharged system,” Seyfried notes.

In order to lower glutamine, you have to eat less protein. Try Meatless Monday’s or plant-based lunches.

When you look at the statistics across all tumor types, all stages and demographics, chemotherapy has about a 3% success rate across the board. Radiation has about a 12% success rate and surgery, about a 50% success rate, with “success rate” referring to debulking or making the tumor smaller — not eliminating evidence of the disease.

It is important to note here that when your glucose and insulin are elevated, radiation becomes ineffective, as cancer cells are desensitized to radiation when they’re being bathed in sugar.

Lifestyle factors that improve mitochondrial function include exercise, calorie restriction, and reducing alcohol consumption. Adopting a regular sleep schedule can also help your mitochondria. Cellular energy is dictated by your circadian rhythm.

Physical activity offers a number of benefits, including increased mitochondrial enzyme activity, mitochondrial density, mitochondrial quantity, and muscle mitochondrial respiration. Studies have shown that combined training, including aerobic exercises  like walking, running and cycling and resistance exercises like weight training improves aerobic capacity and mitochondrial respiration.

New research has demonstrated that a calorie-restricted diet that meets all your nutritional demands can support mitochondrial health and function, even contributing to longevity. If you are interested in implementing a CR diet, I recommend that you work with your integrative healthcare provider to ensure you are following the diet safely and effectively.

Mitochondria-Supportive Nutrients

  • B Vitamins – Act as coenzymes and are necessary for reactions in numerous cellular functions – Sources: liver, eggs, tuna, legumes, brown rice, nutritional yeast, milk and yogurt
  • Vitamin C – Acts as an antioxidant. A deficiency can lead to altered mitochondrial function – Sources: citrus fruits, kiwi, strawberries, bell peppers, broccoli, kale
  • Vitamin E – An antioxidant that protects against oxidation of lipids in the cells. Deficiency will affect cellular energy balance. Sources: olive oil, nuts and seeds (almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, sunflower seeds), peanuts, leafy greens (spinach, Swiss chard, broccoli)
  • Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) – Important component to the function of the mitochondrial cell.It helps provide energy to cells. Coenzyme Q10 also seems to have antioxidant activity. People with certain diseases, such as heart failure, high blood pressure, gum disease, Parkinson’s disease, blood infections, certain diseases of the muscles, and HIV infection, might have lower levels of coenzyme Q10. Sources: organ meats, oily fish, spinach, cauliflower, broccoli, oranges
  • N-acetyl-cysteine – (NAC) is a compound that is found naturally in the body. It is converted to a chemical called glutathione, which plays a role in the detoxification of foreign substances in the body. It is used as an antidote for acetaminophen overdose. Helps restore damaged mitochondria. sources: chicken, turkey, yogurt, cheese, eggs, sunflower seeds, garlic, legumes
  • Magnesium – Required for cellular energy production. The mitochondria store high levels of magnesium. Sources: nuts and seeds, soy, green leafy vegetables

Zucchini

Zucchini are also known as courgette and is a summer squash in the Cucurbitaceae plant family, along with melons, spaghetti squash, and cucumbers. Zucchini is not always long, cylindrical, and dark green. There are round zucchini, too, and the skin can range from pale green to striped green to yellow.

It can grow to more than 3.2 feet in length but is usually harvested when still immature, usually under 8 inches. Although zucchini is often considered a vegetable, it is botanically classified as a fruit. It occurs in several varieties, which range in color from deep yellow to dark green. Zucchini has been used in folk medicine to treat colds, aches, and various health conditions.

One cup (223 grams) of cooked zucchini provides:

  • Calories: 17
  • Protein: 1 gram
  • Fat: less than 1 gram
  • Carbs: 3 grams
  • Sugar: 1 gram
  • Fiber: 1 gram
  • Vitamin A: 40% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)*** So much!
  • Manganese: 16% of the RDI
  • Vitamin C: 14% of the RDI
  • Potassium: 13% of the RDI
  • Magnesium: 10% of the RDI
  • Vitamin K: 9% of the RDI
  • Folate: 8% of the RDI
  • Copper: 8% of the RDI
  • Phosphorus: 7% of the RDI
  • Vitamin B6: 7% of the RDI
  • Thiamine: 5% of the RDI

Zucchini also contains small amounts of iron, calcium, zinc, and several other B vitamins. The ample amount of vitamin A content may help your vision and immune system. Raw zucchini has a similar nutrition profile as cooked zucchini, but with less vitamin A and more vitamin C.

Zucchini is also rich in antioxidants which are beneficial plant compounds that help protect your body from damage by free radicals. Carotenoids, such as lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta-carotene, are particularly plentiful in zucchini. These may benefit your eyes, skin, and heart, as well as offer some protection against certain types of cancer, such as prostate cancer.  Research indicates that the skin of the plant harbors the highest levels of antioxidants. Yellow zucchinis may contain slightly higher levels than light green ones.

Zucchini may promote healthy digestion. It is rich in water, which can soften stools. This makes them easier to pass and reduces constipation.  Zucchini also contains both soluble and insoluble fiber. Insoluble fiber adds bulk to stools and helps food move through your gut more easily. Soluble fiber feeds the beneficial bacteria living in your gut. In turn, these friendly bacteria produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) that nourish your gut cells. SCFAs may help reduce inflammation and symptoms of certain gut disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis.

Zucchini may help lower blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes. At 3 grams of carbs per cooked cup, zucchini provides a great low-carb alternative to pasta for those looking to reduce carb intake. It can be spiralized or sliced to replace pasta noodles in dishes. Zucchini’s fiber helps stabilize blood sugar, preventing levels from spiking after meals. The fiber found in zucchini may also help increase insulin sensitivity, which can help stabilize blood sugar. Additionally, animal studies note that zucchini peel extract may help reduce blood sugar and insulin levels. This may be due to the skin’s potent antioxidants.

Its high fiber content may be largely responsible for studies that show that zucchini is heart healthy. Observational studies show that people who eat more fiber have a lower risk of heart disease.

Pectin, one type of soluble fiber found in zucchini, appears particularly effective at reducing total and “bad” LDL cholesterol levels. In a review of 67 studies, consuming as little as 2-10 grams of soluble fiber per day for around 1-2 months reduced, on average, total cholesterol by 1.7 mg/dl and “bad” LDL cholesterol by 2.2 mg/dl.

Zucchini is also rich in potassium, which may help reduce high blood pressure by dilating your blood vessels. Healthier blood pressure is linked to a lower risk of heart disease and stroke.

Adding zucchini to your diet may aid your vision. That’s partly because zucchini is rich in vitamin C and beta-carotene, two nutrients important for eye health. Zucchini also contains the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin. Research shows that these antioxidants can accumulate in your retina, improving your vision and reducing your risk of age-related eye diseases. This may include a lower risk of macular degeneration, which is the leading cause of irreversible vision loss in older adults. In addition, diets high in lutein and zeaxanthin may also lower your likelihood of developing cataracts, a clouding of the lens which can lead to poor eyesight.

Regular consumption of zucchini may help you lose weight. This fruit is rich in water and has a low calorie density, which helps you feel full.  Its fiber content may also reduce hunger and keep your appetite at bay.  Studies consistently link high fruit and vegetable intake to weight loss and a slower rate of weight gain over time. Consumption of non-starchy, dark green or yellow vegetables with similar nutrition profiles to zucchini, appears particularly beneficial to weight loss.

Bone health –  Zucchini is rich in the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, as well as vitamin K and magnesium, all of which can help strengthen bones.

Anticancer effects – Test-tube and animal studies indicate that zucchini extracts may help kill or limit the growth of certain cancer cells. However, human research is needed.

A healthy prostate – Animal research shows that zucchini seed extracts may help limit prostatic hyperplasia, an enlargement of the prostate that commonly causes urinary and sexual difficulties in older men.

Thyroid function – Testing in rats reveals that zucchini peel extracts may help keep thyroid hormone levels stable. That said, research in humans is needed.

Zucchini is incredibly versatile and can be eaten raw or cooked.

 

 

How to Buy

The markets are packed with zucchini and other summer squash this time of year.

Look for zucchini that are no longer than six inches, one to two inches in diameter. Zucchini should have firm, shiny, and slightly prickly skin, be free of cuts and blemishes, and have at least one inch of stem attached.

How to Store

Store zucchini, unwashed, wrapped in a tea towel in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator up to 5 days. If  zucchini starts to wilt, use immediately. Cooked zucchini should be covered, refrigerated and used within two days. To freeze zucchini, slice into rounds, boil for two minutes, plunge into cold water, drain, and seal in airtight containers or baggies. Frozen zucchini may be kept up to one year.

How to Cook

Wash zucchini just before preparation. Do not peel. Here are some ways to incorporate zucchini into your meals:

  • Add it raw to salads. Use a spiralizer  (OXO makes a handheld one and a counter top 3 blade spiralizer. Amazon sells many with great reviews. If you don’t own a spiralizer, now’s the time to incorporate one into you kitchen utensils!)
  • Stew it with other summer fruits and vegetables to make ratatouille.
  • Stuff with rice, lentils, or other vegetables, then bake it.
  • For a mild stir-fry, add olive oil and sauté it.
  • Boil it, then blend it into soups
  • Serve it as a side, grilled or sautéed with a little garlic and oil
  • Spiralize it into spaghetti or linguine-like noodles, or slice it to replace lasagna sheets.
  • Bake it into breads, pancakes, muffins, or cakes.

In some cultures, the zucchini flower is considered a delicacy. You can either deep-fry, stuff or sprinkle zucchini raw atop salads, soups, and stews.

Pasta with Zucchini, Feta and Fried Lemon

Alison Roman/ The New York Times

4 Servings

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces pasta, such as spaghetti or bucatini  – I like Gluten Free Organic Brown Rice Pasta made by Jovial
  • Kosher salt
  • ¼ cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • ½ cup walnut pieces (optional)
  • 2 large shallots, 1 medium onion or 1 large leek (white and light green parts), thinly sliced
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced, seeds removed
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 1 ¼ pounds zucchini (about 2 medium), thinly sliced
  • 2 ounces feta, crumbled (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1 cup parsley or dill leaves, or a mix, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves

This is a less saucy, more pasta-salad-like pasta. The zucchini mixture should be deeply flavorful and concentrated, rather than loose or watery. If you’re looking for something saucier, add more olive oil (not pasta water) as needed to coat each piece of pasta before serving.

Photo: Michael Graydon & Nikole Herriott for The New York Times. Prop Stylist: Paige Hicks.

Instructions

 

  • Cook pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water until al dente. Drain and rinse pasta with cool water to stop cooking and toss with a drizzle of olive oil to prevent sticking; set aside.
  • Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add walnuts, if using, and toss to coat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until walnuts are toasted and golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon or strainer, transfer the walnuts to a small bowl (leaving the oil behind) and season with salt; set aside.
  • Add shallots and lemon to the oil and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until both the shallots and lemons are totally softened and have begun to caramelize, 5 to 8 minutes. Add capers and stir to coat in the oil, letting them sizzle a minute or two.
  • Add zucchini and season with salt and pepper. (Do not be alarmed at the amount of zucchini in the skillet; it will cook down by about half.) Cook, stirring occasionally, until much of the water has evaporated from the zucchini and it has totally softened, become translucent and is beginning to brown at the edges, 10 to 15 minutes. (This mixture should be very flavorful and lightly saucy.)
  • Remove pan from heat and add pasta, tossing to coat. (If your skillet is very full, you can always transfer everything to a large bowl and toss to coat there.) Season with salt and pepper.
  • Transfer pasta to a large serving bowl and top with toasted walnuts, feta and herbs, finishing with a drizzle of olive oil.

 

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