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Earlier this week I had the opportunity to chat with Dr. Ed Bauman, Ph.D., founder and president of Bauman College of Holistic Nutrition and Culinary Arts (where I studied nutrition education). Dr. Bauman is also the special advisor for the National Association of Nutrition Professionals (NANP). Despite his many applaudable credentials and decades of dedicated work in the holistic nutrition field, Dr. Bauman is super down-to-earth and personable. I had such a great time talking with him!
The focus of our discussion was largely devoted to Dr. Bauman’s two new books, both of which are incredible resources that I’m thrilled to let you know about over the next two weeks. Today we’re going to focus on The Whole-Food Guide for Breast Cancer Survivors. (Don’t worry, we’ll get to Dr. Bauman’s new cookbook, Flavors of Health, next week. And trust me, you won’t want to miss learning about this fantastic resource!)
Why This Book?
When I asked Dr. Bauman why he wrote The Whole-Food Guide for Breast Cancer Survivors, his answer really touched me. “My mother died of breast cancer 30 years ago,” he said. “I was a practicing whole food nutritionist at the time. I presented her oncologist with oncologist Max Gerson’s book 50 Cancer Cases, to show him evidence that nutrition can extend both the quality and duration of life…but he dismissed it. Consequently, I lost my mom, but vowed to help women with cancer, especially breast cancer, recognize how to take charge of their health even when undergoing chemotherapy and radiation, to optimize treatment outcomes, and to minimize often devastating side effects.”
Dr. Bauman pointed out that his new book is also a risk reduction guide for those looking to prevent cancer of all kinds. When people get worn down, he explained, illness really accelerates. This book is all about keeping your immune system strong and supported to fend off illness.
Interestingly, nowhere in the book does Dr. Bauman advise against chemotherapy or other traditional cancer treatments. It’s a guide for people who’ve gone through treatment in the past or are currently doing so. It’s not a book about curing cancer. Instead, it’s about giving the body the support it needs to heal and be well.
Food Sensitivities & Cancer
Of course, I couldn’t let our conversation go by without asking Dr. Bauman about his thoughts on gluten and dairy sensitivities/allergies and their affect on cancer. He explained that following a hypoallergenic diet during cancer treatment and recovery can be beneficial for several reasons.
First, people with reactive immune systems (even those like me who don’t necessarily have celiac disease but still react negatively to gluten) do not optimally absorb their nutrients when they are eating foods that provoke an immune reaction. By eliminating the provocative foods, these people will in turn “have a higher uptake of the foods and nutrients that they are eating,” Dr. Bauman said.
He also made the point that eliminating allergenic foods can give a person more energy. Increased energy means more activity and exercise, a key element in cancer prevention and recovery. When a person has more energy, they’ll also be less likely to consume caffeine, sugar, and other stimulants to perk them up.
I took away this “bottom line” from our conversation: While going gluten-free is not a direct cure for cancer, for those with sensitivities it can be a very helpful tool in speeding up the healing process and achieving overall wellness.
What About Vegan & Vegetarian Diets?
When I asked him about his thoughts on vegan or vegetarian diets and their relation to cancer, Dr. Bauman made clear that meat in it’s pure and proper form (organic and grass-fed) is very “helpful and healthful” for most cancer patients because of it’s nutrient-density. People who are very weak need dense nutritional support through their treatment and recovery process. “Animals concentrate nutrients,” Dr. Bauman explained. They also concentrate contaminants, which makes it all the more crucial to seek out clean, pure proteins whenever possible.
Dr. Bauman developed his nutrition model, Eating for Health™, in 1989. The model emphasizes eating a diversified whole foods diet that is plant based, “which means 80% or more of the foods we eat come from seeds, nuts, whole grains, legumes, plant fats (such as olives, avocados, coconut and their oils), and four types of carbohydrates, which include colorful leafy, crunchy, and starchy vegetables and unsprayed fresh fruits.” So while there is a place for animal protein in this model of eating, nutrient-packed plants take center stage.
Outlined in The Whole-Food Guide for Breast Cancer Survivors, the Eating for Health™ model “is not a diet,” Dr. Bauman pointed out. “It’s a sensible system of choice based on taste, temperament, and need. Eating for Health™ is all about expanding choice, not limiting it.”
Toward the end of our conversation, Dr. Bauman said something that really stuck with me. “Foods don’t fight cancer,” he said. “Foods nourish cells.”
I left the conversation with this conclusion: combating disease is all about nourishing our bodies in a holistic way, both through what we eat and drink as well as through our emotional, mental, social, and cultural choices. Health is created through the decisions we make each and every day.
Stop by next week for the second part of my interview with Dr. Bauman, where we’ll be focusing on his cookbook Flavors of Health. I know you’ll love this resource!