Anti-Cancer Strategies: Kick the 3 a Day Habit!

anti cancer dietary strategiesMake that 4-5-even 6 smaller meals a day instead.  And why is that?

It’s the blood sugar, stupid. (I didn’t really mean that last bit.)

But it is. After you eat, your body reacts by turning carbs and simple sugars into glucose–or blood sugar. In response, the pancreas pours out insulin to usher the glucose into cells—particularly the cells of muscles and organs, which use the sugars for energy. The brain and heart, for example, need a lot of it.

Consider what happens in a torrential downpour. Rapid release of hordes of rain brings on flooding. But if the rain falls slowly and steadily over a period of time, the earth simply absorbs it.  Our bodies respond likewise.

Type 2 diabetes, the kind associated with poor eating and lack of exercise, occurs when the body, after too much flash flooding of glucose, becomes resistant to insulin.  The pancreas has to keep producing more and more insulin to get the glucose into cells.

And insulin, it seems, can fuel cancer growth. (We’ll save the discussion of those studies for another day.)

So what’s a reasoning person to do? Avoid foods that spike your blood sugar, and space out your eating throughout the day. Yes, go ahead and graze every 3 to 4 hours. Just make sure you decrease your portion sizes.   

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3 thoughts on “Anti-Cancer Strategies: Kick the 3 a Day Habit!

  1. Pingback: What Foods help Control your Blood Sugar? | Weeds of Wisdom ®

  2. Dear Ms. Miller,

    This post regarding the frequency of eating for a cancer patient is nicely crafted and raises important issues for a victim of cancer to address. I agree with your description of the body’s response to an influx of carbohydrates, as well as the damaging repercussions of a cancer patient over eating. However, I find this advice lacks an educated reasoning based on the research it addresses. Insulin spikes do fuel cancer growth, which is backed by research, however your suggestion to “graze” over more frequent, smaller meals a day is not a sound argument based on this fact. In fact, I argue that the body’s response to carbohydrates supports the reasoning that eating less frequently is a more effective option for cancer patients than your proposal. Your argument contradicts the extensive cancer research that supports fasting for cancer patients, which you have also written about. Though fasting is not always an easy option for cancer patients, which you have also addressed, the second best option would be to eat less frequently, not more frequently.

    When the body lacks nutrients, particularly carbohydrates, the metabolic pathways that convert the glucose, therefore fueling cancer cells, are shut down. Would you agree? Not only does this decrease the amount of insulin released by the pancreas, but it also allows for a massive spike in the body’s superoxide dismutase levels. This superoxide dismutase is one of the most important factors in fasting, as it protects the body’s cells from chemotherapy and a lack of nutrients. Do you know how frequent “grazing” effects the superoxide dismutase levels in the body and the amount of antioxidants needed to consume to combat this loss? Even if “fasting” for only a few hours, in between meals for instance, the body will produce superoxide dismutase. Therefore, by eating more frequently, the body’s superoxide dismutase levels will decrease, increasing metabolism and fueling cancer growth with the constant release of insulin. Rather than absorbing the insulin as your metaphor suggests, the constant release of insulin forbids the body from having a chance to cleanse itself from the insulin released when eating. Would you suggest that a cancer patient’s body would benefit more from a constant low amount of insulin than a constant cleansing of the body after short spikes of insulin? Therefore, while I believe that smaller, more frequent meals are effective in increasing metabolism for weight loss and healthy living, as a cancer researcher myself, I support less frequent meals as a superior option for cancer patients.

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    • Lisa,
      Thank you for your input. I certainly agree with you that fasting seems to be very important for people with advanced cancers–and I think the next best option would be for those people (and probably for most all people in developed countries) to eat less food period. I reached the conclusion on spreading out your food intake–and keeping insulin levels consistent–based on research showing that it’s the spikes in insulin that are problematic, and I’m always open to discussion. As you point out, people living with cancer may need to adopt different eating patterns than people who don’t have cancer, and I appreciate your pointing out the need to make that distinction. How long does it take the body to cleanse itself from the insulin released during eating? To what degree does it depend on how much and the types of food you eat? Are there any studies looking at this aspect of metabolism in humans? I welcome your response.

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