How Can You Protect Your Health After A Thyroid Cancer Diagnosis?
FIRST, MAKE YOURSELF SOME RAW GINGER TEA
Let’s start out with something so simple, yet profoundly helpful. Make yourself a cup of tea with raw Ginger today. In fact, make yourself one every day!
Raw Ginger kills cancer cells, and improves your stress response. Researchers have found that the cancer-destroying effects of Ginger occurred at concentrations that were non-toxic to healthy cells. So that means that components of Ginger only kill cancer cells, leaving your healthy cells alone!
If you can find it in stores, you could also throw in some raw Turmeric, along with some Lemon, to increase the effectiveness (and deliciousness) of the tea.
Both Ginger and Turmeric have powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Ginger is also fantastic for stimulating stomach acid and enzyme production. And Turmeric is a great support for the liver. It’s a total win-win for you!
Here’s a really simple way to make a restorative Ginger/Turmeric Tea:
Ginger/Turmeric Tea Recipe:
Boil peeled, sliced fresh Ginger and Turmeric in filtered water for 10 minutes, and then add a squeeze of Lemon or Lime and a little Honey or Stevia if you want it sweetened, although that’s not necessary. (You can also enjoy this as a cold drink on ice!)
If you can’t find raw Turmeric, you can substitute organic dried Turmeric (Curcumin), or just use the Ginger, it’s extremely effective on its own!
Now that you’ve had time to relax with your Ginger tea, let’s go on and find out how you can increase your vitality every day by practicing a few simple, yet incredibly effective, actions.
START EATING BROCCOLI SPROUTS
Add cancer-fighting broccoli sprouts to your sandwiches and salads. Broccoli sprouts contain a compound which helps improve your blood pressure and kidney function. Even more pertinent is the fact that broccoli sprouts have been shown to help fight cancer every time you eat them. In a Johns Hopkins press release from 1997, Dr. Paul Talalay reported that “three day old broccoli sprouts consistently contain 20 to 50 times the amount of chemoprotective compounds found in mature broccoli heads and may offer a simple dietary means of chemically reducing cancer risk.” (and this is all the way back in 1997!)
Broccoli is one of the “goitrogens”, named as such because they tend to cause goiters in those who are iodine deficient. (more about that later on in this book!) Goitrogens include broccoli, brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, turnips, kale, cauliflower, radishes, turnips, rutabaga, and cabbage. All have the active ingredients known as “indoles”, which have been proven to protect against cancer.
Only broccoli sprouts have a sizeable amount of “sulforaphane”, which is a protective compound that flushes out cancer-causing chemicals. It is usually advised to minimize eating RAW goitrogens, although lightly steamed or cooked goitrogens are highly beneficial. The advice to reduce RAW goitrogens has come about because raw goitrogens can disrupt the production of thyroid hormones by interfering with iodine uptake, and thereby reduce your ability to absorb iodine, which in turn reduces thyroid levels and can starve your reproductive organs of healthy iodine. (The key here is to remember that iodine must be at healthy levels.)
If your thyroid has been removed, there is less concern about RAW goitrogens, although the advice about lightly cooking and steaming them is still valid. Additionally it is easier on your digestion! Since there are increasing concerns about raw goitrogens, there are now vegetable powders on the market that eliminate goitrogenic vegetables, so you don’t have to worry about eating them raw when you are drinking green smoothies. (The benefits of raw broccoli sprouts outweigh the need to avoid these little powerhouses. Go ahead and steam or lightly saute other forms of broccoli and goitrogens in general.)
Cruciferous vegetables may help your body produce glutathione, which is a very important antioxidant for thyroid health in general, and has great detoxifying properties.
ADD A SMALL AMOUNT OF APRICOT KERNELS TO YOUR DIET
An apricot kernel is the seed of an apricot. It contains a natural substance known as “amygdalin”, which is sometimes referred to as Laetrile (the common trade name for a synthesized compound similar to amygdalin) or Vitamin B17, although this substance is not technically a vitamin, and is called that because of its known cancer-fighting properties.
Controversy surrounds this compound because it contains cyanide; however it is in a chemically inert form, and it is therefore harmless to normal living tissue because the cyanide is “locked into” the compound. The FDA claims amygdalin (and its similar form Laetrile) is toxic, due to the cyanide. It is beneficial, though, to consider that amygdalin is unique in the way that it attacks cancer cells. We all have cancer cells being produced in our body all the time. The problem arises when there is an over-multiplication of cancer cells, which can overwhelm the immune system. Your healthy cells contain the protective enzyme “rhodanese”, which protects against cyanide. (It is rendered harmless by combining with sulphur). Your body metabolizes the amygdalin compound and releases the cyanide. Cancer cells do not contain this protective enzyme, so the cyanide is able to destroy the cancer cells.
In the 1960s, groundbreaking anti-cancer research on amygdalin was being performed in New York at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, but the pharmaceutical industry put pressure on them to keep their research hidden, in order to keep this natural therapy from the marketplace, and instead the pharmaceutical industry focused on promoting chemotherapy.
It is recommended to safely take up to 10-12 apricot kernels per day, ground. However, using even just half a teaspoonful a day, chewed, or ground and sprinkled on food or used in smoothies can be effective. It is advised to use no more than one and a half teaspoonsful per hour, as it may lower your blood pressure too quickly.
Other less potent sources of this anti-cancer powerhouse include wild blackberry, lingonberry, elderberry, grape seeds, strawberries, flax seeds, fava beans, raw macadamia nuts, alfalfa sprouts, bamboo, and cassava.
DRINK SOME MATCHA GREEN TEA
Green tea contains polyphenol compounds which have been shown to inhibit actions that are essential for tumor growth. The ECGC in green tea appears to be a potent catechin, which is an even greater cancer fighter than Vitamin C. (Vitamin C has great cancer fighting properties as well, though!)
Matcha green tea is a powdered form of green tea with a higher chlorophyll content due to the way it is harvested. It is typically sourced from the tips of the camellia sinensis tea plant. The young leaves are chosen, stone ground to a very fine powder, and concentrated so much that one cup of matcha tea equals ten cups of ordinary green tea! Matcha tea is a powerful antioxidant that contains anti-carcinogenic chemical compounds which promote cancer cell death and inhibit cancer growth.
EAT WILD CAUGHT FISH
Your body doesn’t produce its own Omega 3, so you need to get it from food sources. Wild caught fish contains plenty of protein, Vitamin D, selenium, and B12, and is known as one of the richest source of omega 3 fatty acids, which may be helpful in the prevention of autoimmune disease and cancer, among other things. Omega 3 fatty acids are a type of PUFA (polyunsaturated fatty acid) that are an essential component of your body. Cold water fatty fish like salmon, cod, and anchovies have the highest amount of anti-inflammatory Omega 3s, and are connected to cancer prevention.
The key words here are “wild caught”. Farm raised fish, on the other hand, can be damaging to your health in many ways, so, please stay away from “farmed” fish such as farm-raised salmon, tilapia or cod! These fish are injected with antibiotics (which can affect your own microbiome by eating them), and they have been found to contain pesticides from the grains they are fed. Scientists have actually found PVC plastics in the tissues of farm raised fish, as well as dioxins, and even some flame retardants! The farm-raised salmon do not feed on their natural food source of krill, shrimp and plankton, which naturally give the wild salmon their beautiful deep pink color. These farm-raised fish are housed in small enclosures in the sea, unable to find their own food, and are fed GMO grains instead, and they become colorless and gray. Farm-raised salmon are then injected with a dye that is also used as a human sunless tanning dye!
EAT PROBIOTIC RICH FOODS
Having a healthy balance of gut flora is imperative to achieve good overall health. Besides taking probiotics in supplements, there are plenty of naturally probiotic rich foods to choose from every day.
Fermented foods can supply you with a rich source of healthy microbes, and the options are both endless and delicious! Kefir probiotic drinks are kind of tart, and are loaded with strains of active probiotics that can help your gut stay healthy. Water kefir and coconut kefir are some dairy free options with great flavor and nourishment. Yogurt is usually made using a fermented milk, (but it doesn’t necessarily need to be dairy-based). Keep in mind that the quality of dairy yogurts in the supermarkets is questionable at best. These dairy yogurts have typically been pasteurized with high heat, which destroys most of the beneficial bacteria, and they usually have added hormones and antibiotics, as well as added sugar.
Apple cider vinegar helps with digestion by assisting in the creation of stomach acid, which helps break down nutrients. Additionally, try eating some miso soup, or munch on a small amount of dark chocolate — that’s right, your friendly gut bacteria will break down and ferment the dark chocolate, which can contribute a healthier gut!
Kombucha is a bubbly drink very much like soda, made from fermented black tea. It’s refreshing and uplifting, as well as very beneficial to your gut. Sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles and other cultured vegetables are high in organic acids which promote the growth of good bacteria. Remember to get your pickles and sauerkraut from the refrigerated section of the supermarket, not the jars of pickles or cans of sauerkraut that have been preserved.
Probiotic foods help with digestion, and contribute to a stronger immune system and increased energy. You can even experience better smelling breath becauses probiotic foods can destroy any overgrowth of candida. With daily consumption of probiotic rich foods, you can experience improved skin as you heal from a leaky gut, and you can even experience some healthy weight loss.
EAT VITAMIN C RICH FOODS
Camu Camu is a berry from a shrub in Amazon forest, and is popularly known as a “power fruit”, with very effective qualities that boost your immune system. It is a great antioxidant, and it’s anti inflammatory. You can add it to smoothies to increase your Vitamin C.
Other great food sources of Vitamin C include oranges, red peppers, kale, strawberries, brussels sprouts, grapefruit, kiwi, and papaya. Vitamin C can go a long way in reducing inflammation and boosting your immune system, keeping it strong and resilient.
ENJOY RAW CACAO
In addition to the probiotic benefits of dark chocolate, if you consume the ingredient in chocolate known as raw cacao, you get a burst of flavonoids and antioxidants. Anthocyanidin (a blue-ish red flavonoid) is especially high in cacao beans, along with epicatechins (yet another antioxidant). Cacao nibs are even more nutritionally potent. Raw cacao and cacao nibs contain magnesium, calcium, zinc, B vitamins and iron.
Raw cacao and raw cacao nibs can be added to smoothies, used in baking, and enjoyed daily to boost your immune system, your mood and your energy.
Garlic has been linked to a reduced risk of cancer, especially in the stomach, intestine, breast, brain, lung and esophagus. Garlic and the other vegetables in the allium family (leeks, yellow and green onions) have antibacterial properties, and can block the formation of cancer causing substances, enhance DNA repair, and induce cancer cell death.
Garlic is considered a “triple threat” against infections, with its anti-viral, anti-fungal and antibacterial properties. It has been shown to be effective against yeast overgrowth, viruses, parasites, and even MRSA. So, add in plentiful amounts of garlic to your daily diet, and reap the benefits!
Turmeric is a powerful spice that has been used for centuries. It’s a bright orange root that is a member of the Ginger family. Turmeric’s powerful antioxidant qualities reduce inflammation and keep your immune system strong. It has a reputation of being a powerhouse at helping to manage the symptoms of arthritis and fibromyalgia. It’s been shown to protect against liver damage, cancer, and even Alzheimer’s. Curcumin is the active ingredient in Turmeric, which is well known as an anti-viral and an anti-fungal. Laboratory studies have shown in clinical trials that Turmeric can stop changes in pre-cancerous cells from becoming full blown cancer cells. Other studies have shown Turmeric can prevent cancer cell growth. The most important take away here is that using Turmeric regularly can fight infections and boost your immunity.
In addition to using Turmeric as a spice in cooking, and mixing up a Turmeric elixir with ginger, honey, coconut oil and warm almond milk, you can add it to scrambled eggs, sprinkle it on roasted vegetables, add it to rice, try it with greens, use it in soups, and blend it into a smoothie.
KEEP YOUR SELENIUM LEVELS AND IODINE LEVELS BALANCED
Without Selenium, there can be no activation of your thyroid hormone. Selenium is necessary in the process of removing one Iodine molecule from T4, in order to convert it into the usable form of T3. (Fun fact: The numbers on T4 and T3 refer to the number of Iodine molecules attached, which is important to know, if you are trying to learn about how important your thyroid hormones are for your body to function properly!) So, Selenium supplementation can improve the important conversion of T4 to T3. You can find Selenium in brazil nuts, tuna, halibut, sardines grass fed beef, turkey, beef liver, and chicken.
Selenium deficiency impairs the enzyme known as glutathione peroxidase, which is essential for good immune function and for managing inflammation. Low Selenium results in health conditions that show low glutathione levels and immune system disorders (including problems with the heart, liver, and kidney, cancer, impaired detox of heavy metals, even Parkinsons and Alzheimers!) Selenium is Important as a glutathione cofactor, and Selenium’s crucial antioxidant role helps speed up the reaction between glutathione and free radicals (particularly toxic hydrogen peroxide, which Selenium-containing peroxidases help transform into harmless water).
For those readers who still have a thyroid, it is also very important to know that Selenium deficiency is the underlying prerequisite for Iodine-induced thyroid damage in Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, and Selenium supplementation is protective and prevents thyroid damage from Iodine. The proper balance between Selenium and Iodine can be tricky. Selenium deficiency causes intolerance of high Iodine. Iodine intake from seaweed can be accompanied by thyrotoxic metals and halides, so please use caution when supplementing Iodine from seaweed sources. Additionally, a sudden increases in Iodine can induce a reactive hypothyroidism. All three of these negatives can be avoided by supplementing Selenium along with Iodine, and using potassium iodide, or only a good source of seaweed as the source of Iodine, and increasing Iodine intake gradually. The only way to do this safely is to work with an experienced practitioner.
You can see that your body needs Iodine in order to make thyroid hormone. It’s important to note that diets both low and high in Iodine can be associated with hypothyroidism. High Iodine increases the risk of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, and although foods high in Iodine can be useful in treating hypothyroidism, it is crucial to remember that only applies to those who are diagnosed as Iodine deficient.
Most readers of this book are either thyroid cancer survivors with no thyroid, or those with no thyroid due to an autoimmune disease. Others may have a partial thyroid remaining or a compromised thyroid, and it is imperative to work with a knowledgeable and well-trained practitioner when deciding how much Selenium and Iodine are needed for your specific situation.
(You can read more on keeping Selenium and Iodine balanced in Chapter 3)
USE THE ZINC POWER FOODS
Having a healthy amount of zinc in your body is linked to having an improved immune system, as well as improved thyroid function, and a regulated heartbeat. Zinc is an essential trace mineral, and it protects against oxidative damage, and even makes DNA. Zinc deficiency can contribute to having frequent colds, thinning hair, poor vision and slow healing wounds. You can find zinc in grass-fed beef, chickpeas, pumpkin seeds, cashews, raw cacao, chicken and spinach.
Zinc may be helpful for those with low T3 and can help with the conversion of T4 into T3, although too much zinc can suppress thyroid hormone production. As with many health concerns regarding thyroid cancer and thyroid malfunctions or removals, zinc and all mineral balance is key to improved body function.
REPLENISH YOUR B VITAMINS
Adequate absorption and assimilation of the B vitamins can be crucial to cell metabolism, and therefore to overall good health. There are eight vitamins that make up the B Complex, and each one has a critical role to play in your immunity and your energy. Deficiency in any of the B vitamins can leave you lacking the building blocks you need. Let’s take a quick run-through of all of these essential water soluble vitamins:
Vitamin B1 is also known as Thiamine. It’s important for the nervous system, and can be found in lentils, whole grains and pork. Vitamin B2 is also known as Riboflavin, and it supports cellular energy production. You can find it in eggs, salmon, beef, spinach and broccoli. Both Vitamins B1 and B2 convert food into energy. Do you have cracks on the side of your mouth? If so, you may need more Vitamins B1 and B2, or you might need to find out why you are not absorbing these nutrients if you know that you are in fact eating enough of them in your diet.
Vitamin B3 is also known as Niacin, and it supports cellular energy production. You can find it in beef, poultry, fish, and lentils. Vitamin B5, also known as Pantothenic Acid, supports cellular energy production as well. You can find it in liver and kidney, and in egg yolks, whole grains like brown rice, and broccoli.
Vitamin B6 metabolizes amino acids, and helps manage blood glucose. It is involved with a normal nervous system function and with the formation of red blood cells, and additionally helps with energy and fights infections. You can find it in chickpeas, salmon, beef, chicken, potatoes, bananas, spinach, meat, poultry, and eggs.
Vitamin B7, also known as Biotin, is important for healthy hair, skin and nails, and it supports protein, carb and fat metabolism. You can find it in strawberries, cheese, brewer’s yeast, and organ meats.
Vitamin B9, also known as Folate, is vital for the proper development of a baby’s nervous system and for fetal health and development. It is known to reduce the risk of neural tube defects. Proper amounts of Folate are necessary to protect your heart and avoid heart disorders and stroke. According to the Journal of Nutrition, in addition to cardiovascular risk, Folate deficiency is related to an increased risk of certain cancers.
It’s really important for you to know that Folate is sometimes confused with “Folic Acid”. Folic Acid is the synthetic form of Folate, and Folic Acid started being used in the 1930s. You can find Folate in dark green leafy vegetables, avocados, dates, liver, and brewer’s yeast. You can find Folic Acid in some supplements and in fortified foods. So remember that Folate occurs naturally in foods, and Folic Acid is synthetic and not found naturally in foods.
The main problem with Folate vs Folic Acid comes when a person has an MTHFR single nucleotide polymorphism (or SNP) gene defect. (And the fact is that as many as 1 in 2 people have this SNP!) MTHFR is an enzyme that adds a methyl group to Folic Acid, in order to make it usable in your body, and having the MTHFR gene mutation means that you will not be able to add that methyl group and therefore you won’t be able to assimilate or absorb folic acid, which means you could end up with cardiovascular or cancer issues. This enzyme also helps your body convert homocysteine into methionine which is needed for proper metabolism, and for creating glutathione (a peptide which predicts how long we live). You can become glutathione deficient from infections, chronic stress, toxins in the environment, and from radiation therapy like RAI. Glutathione is crucial to maintaining a healthy immune system, as it reduces peroxides in your body, helps your liver detoxify fats, and is involved with cancer cell death. If you have this gene mutation you will have trouble eliminating toxins from your body, which is a road to cancer development.
Suffice it to say that the process of methylation, (meaning how well you can get rid of toxins in your body and therefore stay healthy) relies on your body’s ability to process this all important Vitamin B9, either in the form of Folate or of Folic Acid. Since someone with the MTHFR gene mutation has impaired ability to break down the synthetic Folic Acid, they should be taking Folate instead, or they will end up with a Vitamin B9 deficiency resulting in symptoms such as fatigue, mouth sores, poor immune function, poor digestion, anemia, mood changes, and even premature gray hair. (That’s right, if you went gray early on in life, it may have been from your inability to absorb synthetic Folic Acid!) So, look for Vitamin B9 from the above food sources rather than from fortified food, unless you want to get tested and see if you do in fact have the MTHFR gene SNP. Some high quality supplements provide Folate rather than Folic Acid.
Vitamin B12 exists in several forms. Methylcobalamin is the form that is active in human metabolism, so that is the form you want to focus on. It helps make DNA, and is crucial for a healthy brain, proper metabolism, nerves and blood cells. Lack of proper B12 absorption can result in some anemias, psychological issues and exhaustion, rapid heartbeat, memory loss, brain fog and other neurological damage, with symptoms like tingling hands and feet, poor balance, fatigue, and depression. Vitamin B12 works closely with Vitamin B9 (Folate) to produce important compounds involved in your immune function and your mood. Supplementation should always be considered a last resort, and you should try to get your B vitamins from food sources. Methylcobalamin can be found in meat, poultry, liver, eggs and shellfish.
The B vitamins are all intertwined and are crucial for optimal health. Be sure to get your daily dose of all of these important super nutrients!
OPTIMIZE VITAMIN D3 – AN IMPORTANT HORMONE
That’s right — even though Vitamin D3 is called a vitamin, it is really more of a fat-soluble hormone. It is estimated that over half the population is deficient in Vitamin D3, and most of them are undiagnosed. A 2013 study in the International Journal of Health Sciences indicated that Vitamin D3 deficiency is associated with hypothyroidism.
For optimal absorption,“Vitamin” D3 is best taken as a liquid emulsionwith dinner. A liquid emulsion is simply a supplement suspended in a little fat. Since Vitamin D3 is fat soluble, taking this as a liquid emulsion improves the absorption, and its best when taking this with dinner, because hormones are best absorbed at night.
The Vitamin D Council has noted that researchers published a study in the journal Thyroid indicating lower Vitamin D3 levels appear to be associated with increased tumor size in Papillary Thyroid Cancer patients. Thyroid cancer and thyroid nodule patients have a higher rate of Vitamin D3 deficiency than the general population, as reported by the International Journal of Endocrinology.
The best way to keep your Vitamin D3 levels optimum is to get out into the sunlight, for about 20 minutes a day, between 10:00 am and 2:00pm. Try to get 40 percent of your body exposed, without the use of toxic sunscreens. This may seem to go against the mainstream notion that the sun itself is toxic rather than the sunscreens. But if you do enough research you will find that a moderate amount of sun exposure without sunscreen can give your body enough Vitamin D3 stores to actually lower your risk of cancers. Of course, in the colder months this might not be practical. Luckily, your body stores up the Vitamin D3 from the sun, and in the colder months your body can use these stores. Then when it gets warmer outside, your body can begin to replenish its Vitamin D stores with regular exposure outdoors.
Other than the very important daily exposure to sunlight, there are good food sources of Vitamin D3, which include wild caught salmon, egg yolks, sardines, and cod liver oil.
For supplementation with Vitamin D3, up to 5,000-10,000 IU daily is effective, but you must work with a practitioner and test your starting levels first, before trying to reach the optimum level of between 50-80 ng/ml. When you have your Vitamin D3 levels tested, your doctor will most likely test your 25-Hydroxy Vitamin D3 levels. Even though the lab may report an adequate level of vitamin D3 as 25-30 ng/ml, the optimal vitamin D range is about 50-80 ng/ml.
AVOID INFLAMMATORY FOODS
Foods that can increase inflammation and therefore cancer risk include:
Sugar – Most added sugar is found in the form of fructose, which wears on the liver, and then the liver turns it into fat. Sugar is basically empty calories, but more importantly it is involved with decreased insulin sensitivity, obesity, and heart disease. You may already have experienced the fact that sugar is highly addictive, but you may not know it also causes leptin resistance, and since the hormone leptin tells you when you are full, you want to avoid eating sugar if you want to be able to manage your weight.
Refined oils – Some oils such as soybean, vegetable, canola, safflower, corn, and margarine, contain large amounts of omega 6. Disturbingly, these industrially processed oils are actually the end product of the heating and processing of toxic chemicals and highly toxic solvents! When you eat these oils, the natural fatty acid composition of your body gets out of whack, which causes inflammation. Therefore you could end up with cardiovascular disease, arthritis, depression and cancer. These oils are loaded with trans fats, too, so please steer clear of them!
Refined carbohydrates – White bread, white pasta, white rice, and other refined carbs have been stripped of most of their nutrients so that they enter your bloodstream in a way that is similar to an injection of sugar. That triggers the release of insulin, which then converts that sugar into stored fat instead of using it as energy. Avoid refined cereals and grains, and you can avoid diabetes and obesity.
Conventional dairy – In the raw state, dairy has a good supply of nutrients. But after being pasteurized, milk really becomes less of a food and more of a beverage. For instance, skim milk is watered down and highly processed and therefore nutrient deficient. A fermented form like yogurt is best but it should really be homemade or raw, not processed. Dairy in the conventional form does not contain much available calcium, and vegetables, nuts and fish like salmon have a much more usable form of calcium. Unfortunately, conventional dairy can contain growth hormones and antibiotics, so aim for raw, organic, pastured, grass fed full fat dairy, or use other sources for your calcium and protein.
Farm raised meats – It’s true that what the animals eat you eat, and considering the living conditions that require high doses of antibiotics, plus added hormones, other additives and radiation for longer shelf life, it’s difficult to find a reason to eat farm raised meats. Depending on the type of radiation used, some food can retain trace amounts of the radiation, preservatives, flavor enhancers, chemicals, nitrites, nitrates, and you can even find gluten from a form of a glue that is used to keep muscle pieces stuck together. In terms of economy, I would suggest you cut down on buying conventional meats, and use that money to buy a smaller amount of pastured, grass fed, organic meats. Your body will thank you!
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