When I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 43, I chose to make nutrition a conscious part of treatment. At first, this overwhelmed me... in addition to trying to keep up with doctor appointments, learning all I could about treatments, and of course learning about my cancer... now I was hit with everything from keto, to paleo, to vegan, to juice fasting, to alkaline, to... well you get the idea.
I am not going to lie when I say that many of these diet recommendations felt like they were pushing onto me a narrative that felt like I had caused my cancer because I did not follow some secret magic diet that would have removed cancer from my life. Reality is, not only was I eating well when and super fit when I was diagnosed but five years into this I can tell you that I have met women who were following all of the previously mentioned diets... and guess what... none of those diets were a silver bullet of anti-cancer certainty.
So what did I do? Ultimately I worked with a Naturopathic Oncologist or FABNO (Fellow by the American Board of Naturopathic Oncology) who shared an office with my medical oncologist. His nutrition recommendations were the most simple, doable, and frankly in alignment with what felt good for my body.
What did the FABNO recommend?
He kept it simple. Avoid processed foods and focus on foods that you could forage, hunt, or grow and get as close to that as possible. Citing the Goss Study, he also recommended I begin to incorporate 2 tablespoons of freshly ground flax into my diet daily. (Some fun reference articles included at the bottom of this page for those that like to get their nerd on, like me.) He also recommended that I forgo processed sugars and replace them with organic maple or organic honey as sweeteners.
Dr. Paul Goss, director of the breast cancer prevention program at Princess Margaret Hospital and the Toronto Hospital held a study involving 50 women who had been recently diagnosed with breast cancer. While waiting for their surgery, the women were divided into two groups. One group received a daily muffin containing 50 grams of ground flaxseed, about 30 milliliters (two tablespoons). The others were prescribed ordinary muffins. When their tumors were removed—usually within 40 days of diagnosis—the researchers examined them for signs of how fast the cancer cells had been growing. It turned out that the women who had received the flaxseed muffins had slower-growing tumors than the others.
Incorporating Flax into Daily Life
My FABNO's recommendations meant a lot of kitchen experimentation. Flax is easy to add to oatmeal in the morning, but I wanted more morning options. So I started experimenting with recipes, sometimes with success... sometimes with tragic unedible outcomes... below is one of my favorite breakfast snacks. They are light, filling, sweetened with organic maple and even my guy devours them (true story, I have to hide some for me or he will eat them all). In addition to the health benefits of flax, this recipe packs a second punch of numerous health benefits provided by oats. If you try the recipe, let me know how you liked the muffins and what adaptations you used.
Wishing you much happy healthy cooking!
Lemon Berry Oatmeal Flax Muffins Recipe
1 cup Organic Milk
1 cup Organic Flour
½ cups Bob's Red Mill Raw Whole Brown Flaxseed, freshly ground
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
½ teaspoons Baking Soda
½ teaspoons Salt
1 whole Beaten Egg (or egg replacer like Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Egg Replacer)
½ cups Organic maple syrup
2 tbsp Olive Oil or melted Coconut Oil
3 tbsp Organic Lemon juice (or fresh squeezed)
1 cup fresh or frozen berries
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease, or line, muffin tin.
In a medium bowl, soften oats by adding oats and milk together, let them soak for 15 minutes.
While the oats are soaking, in a separate bowl combine the flour, ground flaxseed, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
To the soaking oats, stir in the beaten egg, maple syrup, and oil.
Once the 15 minutes have elapsed for the oat mixture, add lemon juice and berries to the mixture and combine before adding the wet mix to the dry ingredients. Stir until well blended.
Fill the muffin cups about 3/4 full.
Place the pan in the preheated oven on the middle rack, and bake for 15-17 minutes.
Let cool slightly before removing from pan and placing a cooling rack.
I freshly grind my flax with my Mr. Coffee 12 Cup Electric Coffee Grinder (Model IDS77-RB). I love the detachable top and multiple settings.
You can use old fashioned or quick-cooking oats or a combination of both.
You can use any light flavored oil you choose. I tend to use olive oil or melted coconut oil.
You can also substitute non-dairy milk of choice in place of milk.
Flaxseed and Its Lignan and Oil Components: Can They Play a Role in Reducing the Risk of and Improving the Treatment of Breast Cancer?: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24869971/
Flax and Breast Cancer: A Systematic Review: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24013641/
Flaxseed Extract Induces Apoptosis in Human Breast Cancer MCF-7 Cells: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30905866/
Supplementation With Flaxseed Alters Estrogen Metabolism in Postmenopausal Women to a Greater Extent Than Does Supplementation With an Equal Amount of Soy: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8077314/
Effect of Dietary Components, Including Lignans and Phytoestrogens, on Enterohepatic Circulation and Liver Metabolism of Estrogens and on Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG): https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2826899/
Phytochemicals Targeting Estrogen Receptors: Beneficial Rather Than Adverse Effects? https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28657580/
By the way, have you give the Your Killer Life Podcast a listen?
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