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  • Nutritionism in Cancer Culture | Cure Today Many of us believe that in addition to our science, our nutrition will help us heal, repair and improve our health. And the scientific evidence indeed points us there. Research ...
    Posted Oct 10, 2016, 12:36 PM by Amanda Bontempo
  • Decoding Food Fear: Soy | Ingredient1 Rumors of breast cancer and “man breasts” leave many pushing away the soy milk. There’s an outcry that “soy is in everything!” So how did this darling of the ...
    Posted Jul 22, 2016, 6:23 AM by Amanda Bontempo
  • On Carbs & Cancer | Cure Today The “sugar is poison” ideology is wrong. While I’ve argued for reducing sugar for my entire career, I do think it’s wrong to perpetuate the idea that it ...
    Posted Jul 20, 2016, 9:19 AM by Amanda Bontempo
  • 10 Holiday Survival Tips | Cure Today I always encourage celebrating food that tastes good and does you good. Wellness begins from within; eating real, unprocessed and nourishing food allows you to live a healthier, happier and ...
    Posted Jul 20, 2016, 9:19 AM by Amanda Bontempo
  • Sugar & Sugar Substitutes | Cure Today There is so much confusion surrounding sugar and sweeteners in the health community and especially in relation to cancer. The devastating diagnosis of cancer often acts as an impetus for ...
    Posted Jul 20, 2016, 9:14 AM by Amanda Bontempo
Showing posts 1 - 5 of 33. View more »

Nutritionism in Cancer Culture | Cure Today

posted Oct 10, 2016, 12:33 PM by Amanda Bontempo   [ updated Oct 10, 2016, 12:36 PM ]

Many of us believe that in addition to our science, our nutrition will help us heal, repair and improve our health. And the scientific evidence indeed points us there. Research shows that one third of the most common cancers in the US could be prevented with what we know right now about food, nutrition and diet (Anand et alAICR CRUColditz et al). That’s over 330,000 cancers annually that never have to happen.

So why is it that we cannot agree on what it means to eat healthy? When there are endless diets, doctors, nutritionists and bloggers with just as many opinions, it seems that often we choose to have more confidence in evangelic anecdotes of food rather than implement the scientific evidence.
 
The act of eating is one of the most personal behaviors that we engage in daily. We hold certain beliefs and attitudes about what to eat, when to eat, how to eat, with whom to eat and more. We are guided, often unconsciously by beliefs or “-isms” like egalitarianism, hedonism, utilitarianism, humanism, idealism and others. The idea of nutritionism is something that I’ve observed for years among the “cancer culture.” Ideas held in nutritionism vary widely and can be as unique as the individual themselves. Sometimes patients come in with strongly held beliefs, other times patients are sponges willing to absorb from everyone and anything.
 
Maybe one of the reasons there is such a range of competing diets and opinions is because we don’t agree on what “health” itself is. Is it simply the absence of disease? Or is it management of disease? A mindset? A feeling? 

-Read more at Cure Today

Decoding Food Fear: Soy | Ingredient1

posted Jul 22, 2016, 6:20 AM by Amanda Bontempo   [ updated Jul 22, 2016, 6:23 AM ]

Rumors of breast cancer and “man breasts” leave many pushing away the soy milk. There’s an outcry that “soy is in everything!” So how did this darling of the natural food movement become ostracized, or was that just the rumor mill perpetuating scientific evidence that’s been disproven? Amanda Bontempo, an RD at NYU Langone Perlmutter Cancer Center, dispels the falsehoods, gives actionable guidance on what to eat and breaks down the science so you can have confidence in your food choices.

1. Estrogen can fuel the growth of certain breast cancers - is there a definitive answer whether isoflavones have the same effect?  

Because soy contains estrogen-like compounds, there was fear that it may raise the risk of hormone driven cancers. Early animal studies seemed to support this. We have a lot more research now and evidence shows that this is not true. Human studies consistently show that soy does not increase breast cancer risk. Humans do not process isoflavones in the same way that animals do. In fact, research shows that soy is not only safe but may also be protective, lowering risk for cancer survivors when eaten in moderate amounts. A moderate amount of soy is 1-2 servings per day.

According to the American Cancer Society, for breast cancer survivors, current evidence suggests no adverse effects on recurrence or survival from consuming soy and soy foods and there is a potential for these foods to exert a positive synergistic effect with tamoxifen, a common anti-estrogen drug for estrogen sensitive breast cancer (Nutrition and Physical Activity Guidelines for Survivors, here).

-See more at: ingredient1

On Carbs & Cancer | Cure Today

posted Jul 20, 2016, 9:19 AM by Amanda Bontempo

The “sugar is poison” ideology is wrong. While I’ve argued for reducing sugar for my entire career, I do think it’s wrong to perpetuate the idea that it is somehow toxic.

Sugar is in fruit — not toxic. Sugar is in breast milk — not toxic. Sugar is in our very bloodstream at all times. If it wasn’t, we would be dead. Our earliest ancestors ate sugar, albeit in vastly smaller quantities. Animals will even take great risks for it, as Winnie the Pooh taught us. Every culture today, including those who are eating healthy diets indelibly linked to low rates of chronic diseases and cancer, eat sugar. Hello baklava.

So, sugar is not a poison. The only rational message about the perils of sugar is that an excess is harmful. Just as an excess of oxygen, water or calcium is lethal. It is the dose that makes the poison.

Too much sugar and too many carbohydrates is a salient liability of modern eating. And while this statement lacks the visceral and poetic impact of “sugar is poison,” time-honored truths and common sense win in the end again and again.
 
Cane sugar, beet sugar and corn syrup, among others, and refined flours, which are pure starch, are cheap and used in copious amounts in our food supply, contributing mightily to our excessive intakes — and that’s very bad. We have been living and yes, dying, on a diet of unintended consequences. We now are left drowning in a roiling sea of obesity, diabetes and cancer. While this is just one facet of our modern dietary ills, it is such a central one that I find myself writing about it repeatedly.

- See more at: Cure Today

10 Holiday Survival Tips | Cure Today

posted Jul 20, 2016, 9:16 AM by Amanda Bontempo   [ updated Jul 20, 2016, 9:19 AM ]

I always encourage celebrating food that tastes good and does you good. Wellness begins from within; eating real, unprocessed and nourishing food allows you to live a healthier, happier and more energized life. The holiday season can be difficult to navigate with cookies constantly in the office and parties with endless food. Anyone, a cancer survivor or not, can benefit from the following tips.

Schedule rest. Lack of sleep leads to weight gain, especially around the belly. Try to stick to a consistent bedtime for better, more restful sleep. Time can feel like the enemy during the holiday season when you’re running around with an endless list of to-dos. Take three minutes, just three minutes, to reset, energize and refocus. A quick timeout helps you to be more productive and more present. Suddenly, time is on your side.

Stay hydrated. Humans have a poor thirst mechanism. Plan to drink water before meals and between alcoholic drinks.  Always always keep water out to remind you to drink. Make it a little interesting with a slice of orange peel and star anise or a sprig of rosemary and lemon peel to add extra flavor to the water.

Do not skip meals. Eating small meals or snacks with regularity allows us to remain in control of our food choices. Don’t try to cleanse or detox with restrictive diets. Denying your body of regular meals and necessary nutrients stresses your system and upsets your metabolism.

- See more at: Cure Today

Sugar & Sugar Substitutes | Cure Today

posted Jul 20, 2016, 9:14 AM by Amanda Bontempo

There is so much confusion surrounding sugar and sweeteners in the health community and especially in relation to cancer. The devastating diagnosis of cancer often acts as an impetus for people to make dietary changes. Over and over patients ask me if sugar feeds cancer.

I’ve heard doctors say that sugar must be avoided as much as possible while others insist patients to eat “whatever” they want. As a medical community we foster misconceptions and obfuscate diet recommendations. We occupy a moral safe house where everyone else is to blame so no one is responsible.

Sugarcoated

Oftentimes during anti-cancer treatment like chemotherapy and radiation, sugar and carbohydrate foods are tolerated best. It must be devastating to think that sugary foods most easily tolerated are also the ones feeding the disease. Let me assuage all guilt as this is simply untrue. Cancer hijacks the circulatory system to gain access to nutrients. Every cell in our body needs glucose (sugar) to survive and the trouble is cancer cells need nutrients to grow the exact same way healthy cells do. Sugar does not feed cancer cells any differently than it feeds healthy cells. Even if we removed all sugar and carbohydrates from our diets, our bodies will naturally create sugar from protein and fat by a biochemical process called gluconeogenesis.

While added sugar and refined carbohydrates aren’t directly causing cancer to grow, it’s hardly healthy either, especially when eaten in excess. 

- See more at: Cure Today

The Pain Fighting Shopping List | Cure Today

posted Jul 20, 2016, 9:11 AM by Amanda Bontempo

I often write about the effects of system-wide inflammation and how diet can influence our ability to control this detrimental chronic state. I’ve also written about the power of anti-inflammatory foods, many of which are nature’s potent pain relievers. Though we have every intention of making healthy changes to our diet, we often fall back on familiar staples. Anti-inflammatory food items abound market shelves, we just need a discerning eye to identify them. They often taste better and can also make a big difference for your body. Try some of these simple swaps for a pain-relieving pantry.

Instead of...

Balsamic vinegar: There’s nothing inherently bad or harmful about balsamic vinegar. In fact it tends to be one of my favorites but many brands are actually "condiment" balsamic vinegar, which is little more than white vinegar, caramel color and added sugars. Other seemingly quality or artisanal brands or varieties still have added sugar, corn syrup and coloring.

Try...

Raw apple cider vinegar: The fermentation process in raw apple cider vinegar creates beneficial bacteria and enzymes that reduce inflammation. Look for "cold pressed" brands with sediment at the bottom. Use in marinades, salad dressings or even create a daily tonic by added two tablespoons to eight ounces of water.

- See more at: Cure Today

Inflammation: The Duplicitous Fires Within | Cure Today

posted Jul 20, 2016, 9:08 AM by Amanda Bontempo   [ updated Jul 20, 2016, 9:08 AM ]

Inflammation is a new health buzzword everyone is talking about. As science and research delve deeper into the root causes of illness, they are constantly linked back to the age-old biological mechanism of inflammation. Inflammation is a series of complex biologic and immune responses to true or perceived harmful stimuli or irritants. Inflammare or ‘to set aflame’ was described by first century physician, Dioscorides, in a way that is still taught in medical schools: heat, redness, swelling and pain. 

While unpleasant, these hallmarks demonstrate that the body’s innate immune response is indeed working. Our bodies repel threats like microbes that could potentially make us sick while at the same time healing cells damaged in the process. This type of acute inflammation is usually localized to the area of trauma. If the agent causing the trauma persists, the inflammatory response becomes protracted and the adaptive physiologic response to injury becomes a self-destructive process.

Evidence is mounting that a subclinical prolonged smoldering inflammation is a liability with significant health costs. Chronic inflammation is the common denominator associated with many chronic diseases.

- See more at: Cure Today

Living Well Now | Cure Today

posted Jul 20, 2016, 9:04 AM by Amanda Bontempo

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans is meant to encourage a healthful diet to promote health and prevent chronic disease. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture jointly publish the Dietary Guidelines every five years using the 500-page 2015 Dietary Guideline Advisory Report (DGAR), which was just released last week.  

Some laudable direct quotes from this report include:

  • A healthy dietary pattern is higher in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low- or non- fat dairy, seafood, legumes, and nuts; moderate in alcohol (among adults); lower in red and processed meat; and low in sugar-sweetened foods and drinks and refined grains.
  • A diet higher in plant-based foods...and lower in calories and animal-based foods is more health promoting and is associated with less environmental impact than is the current U.S. diet.
  • It will take concerted, bold actions...
- See more at: Cure Today

Nutrigenomics: Food as Medicine | Cure Today

posted Jul 20, 2016, 8:59 AM by Amanda Bontempo   [ updated Jul 20, 2016, 9:21 AM ]

During last Tuesday’s 2015 State of the Union address, President Barack Obama reminded us of the importance of personalized medicineThe White House Office of Sciences associate director, Jo Handelsman, describes precision medicine as “an emerging approach to promoting health and treating disease that takes into account individual differences in people’s genes, environments and lifestyles.”1  

We’ve also heard from CURE,2 how precision medicine is a model in which a treatment plan is based on an individual’s genetic characteristics and tumor genetics. This, in place of a cookie-cutter approach to treatment that can be very effective for some but very limited for others. Cancer treatment has entered this new model as patients with breast, lung, colorectal cancers and melanoma routinely undergo DNA testing as part of their care enabling their physicians to select the best possible treatments for them individually. In fact, some genetic testing like the BRCA mutations, which increase the risk for breast and ovarian cancers, are required to be covered under the federal Affordable Care Act if recommended by a healthcare provider.

Knowing how genes and nutrients interact could likewise be the prescription for improved health.

- See more at: Cure Today

Holistic Nutrition Nutrition | Cure Today

posted Jul 20, 2016, 8:54 AM by Amanda Bontempo   [ updated Jul 20, 2016, 9:21 AM ]

The importance of a nourishing diet as a factor in maintaining health has been at the foundation of all medical treatment up until the beginning of the 20th century. It has been our evolutionary and cultural heritages. Ancestors would pass down the knowledge to identify foods that nourish and those that threaten a more insidious outcome. As our culture deviates further and further from our food system, so does our relationship to health.

Home gardens have been replaced by factories and the Standard American Diet has indeed become SAD. The question of what to eat in health and in sickness, plagues us all. Working with cancer patients, I try hard to be patient, sensitive and empathetic while giving advice on this dietary conundrum. When we are stuck in a medical paradigm that focuses only on medical treatments, the lack of commitment to nutrition is clear. In the face of such a formidable enemy that is cancer, I believe we must recommit to making nutrition and prevention a focus in our healthcare and scientific research. Indeed, the National Cancer Institute recognizes prevention as “the first line of defense against cancer”and this inevitably includes nutrition.

Eating fresh, whole foods is the best way to meet the intertwined goals of weight loss, health maintenance, treating cancer and then keeping it at bay. It is important to remember that food should not and cannot be judged one component at a time. Low saturated fat for heart health; high fiber for gut health; low sugar and refined carbohydrate for diabetes; low sodium for high blood pressure, etc. We cannot use one nutrient at a time to protect one attribute of health. Rather, it is overall wholesome diets that form overall defenses against a whole host of ills. Time and time again a healthy diet has been shown to be a pillar of health: to improve prevention, improve survivorship and improve quality of life. 2-6

We are unlikely to reach health if we continue to view nutrition one component at a time.

- See more at: Cure Today

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