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Scientists are beginning to realize that healing phytochemicals and functional foods can be more effective for treating cancer than chemotherapy and other high-risk, conventional methods.

This is an important and necessary shift, given the precipitous rise of cancer incidence and the unsatisfactory effectiveness of mainstream oncology.

While chemotherapy and radiation therapy have certainly helped many people, it’s becoming clear that there simply has to be a better way. These treatment modalities rely on bombarding the body with substances or forces toxic enough to kill even rampantly proliferating cancer colonies—which means that the rest of the body is subjected to the same toxicity. This process cuts the body out of the equation; the entire burden of fighting cancer is placed on the externalized method, and the body must simply cope with the chemicals and radiation with which the battle is fought.

On the contrary, anticancer phytochemicals work by empowering the body to fight cancer on its own. Many of the most powerful cancer-treating foods and phytonutrients also fight cancer cells directly, but unlike chemotherapy and radiation, they do so without killing healthy cells or compromising the immune system.

We’ve written about many of these cancer-fighting foods and compounds in past articles; one in particular that’s getting a lot of attention lately is lemon (and specifically d-limonene, a terpene found abundantly in lemons).

The cleansing, disease-fighting power of lemons

Lemons are an all-around wonder. They provide the body with loads of antioxidants and other nutrients, alkalize the body, control systemic inflammation, support healthy endothelial function,[1] balance digestion[2] and microbiome diversity, and offer incredible support for both the liver[3] and the kidneys.[4]

For these reasons and more, adopting the practice of adding lemon juice to your drinking water is one of the simplest possible ways to augment every aspect of your health (this is why lemons are at the heart of so many “cleanses” and detox regimens). At the very least, try adding lemon juice (always freshly squeezed) to the first glass of water you drink in the morning.

And the cleansing abilities of lemons extend to your household too. In a past article, we discussed how lemon essential oil can be used not only for its health benefits, but also as an ingredient in homemade laundry detergent, teeth whitener, soap, natural disinfectant, face wash, wood and silver polish, and much more.

Within the last decade, thanks to the rising tide of interest surrounding functional foods, researchers have honed in on lemons as a powerful tool for fighting cancer. Here’s what they’ve found so far.

Lemons contain cancer-fighting vitamin C. As we’ve written about before, vitamin C is an absolute powerhouse for preventing and fighting cancer, especially when taken in the right form and at the proper dose. It improves many of the primary markers for cancer development and proliferation, including systemic inflammation (as measured by pro-inflammatory cytokines and C-reactive protein). Improvement of these markers via high-dose vitamin C has been shown to increase cancer survival rates.[5]

Lemons reduce cancer risk via cellular detoxification. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) of Australia reports that regular consumption of lemons and other citrus fruits can reduce the risk of cancer by up to 50%.[6] Researchers attribute this benefit to their unparalleled ability to facilitate cellular detoxification, as well as their high levels of d-limonene.

Even d-limonene on its own has been shown to exhibit potent anticancer properties: when researchers at the University of Arizona Cancer Center gave the compound to newly diagnosed breast cancer patients for 2-6 weeks, their primary breast cancer markers dropped by an average of 22%.[7]

Lemons contain 22 directly anticancer compounds. D-limonene is just one of a whole cornucopia of anticancer compounds that lemons contain. Researchers have identified 22 different anticancer limonoids, all of which have the capacity to prevent cancer and to fight its proliferation.

A study published in the journal Food & Function examined nine isolated limonoids, and found all of them to exhibit anti-proliferative properties (i.e. blocking the growth of tumors), the ability to induce apoptosis (i.e. kill cancer cells by causing them to commit cell suicide), and anti-aromatase properties (aromatase inhibition, which lowers endogenous levels of estrogen, is a key part of every breast cancer treatment protocol).[8]

So when life gives you lemons…

…put them to good use! Adding lemon juice to your drinking water is a simple way to benefit from lemons every day.

And after squeezing the lemons, don’t throw away the peel and fruit; these parts have been shown to contain even higher levels of d-limonene (an average peel contains 300 milligrams). You can grate lemon zest from the peel onto salads, stir fry dishes, and desserts, or even add the entire lemon rind to a smoothie.

As always, choose organic over conventional. Fruits with tough skin (like lemons) are generally considered to be more protected against pesticide contamination (this is the case with the Environmental Working Group’s “Clean 15). But since you’ll be eating the lemon zest and peel too (wouldn’t want to waste all those cancer-healing, detoxifying nutrients), you’ll want to err on the side of organic.

 


References

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14597156

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9322190

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11990004

[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16482864

[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3480897/

[6] https://www.citrusaustralia.com.au/wp-content/uploads/Health-Benefits-of-Citrus-Fruits-CSIRO-Full-Report.pdf

[7] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22126498

[8] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23117440

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By now, you’re probably well aware of the dangers of conventional, processed sugar. Besides being a primary contributor to obesity and weight gain, sugar is completely devoid of beneficial nutrients, and can actually deplete the body of other critical nutrients like magnesium, vitamin D, calcium, and vitamin C.

Worse still, consumption of processed sugar has also been linked to the development of serious health conditions, including chronic inflammation, immune dysfunction, diabetes,[1] heart disease,[2] liver disease, cancer,[3] and high blood pressure.[4]

The natural sugars in fruits and other foods are a whole different story. Sugary whole foods are not what you need to worry about, as long as you consume them alongside a healthy balance of vegetables, clean protein sources, healthy fats, whole grains, seeds, and legumes.

As a general rule, it’s best to avoid all forms of added sugar or sweetener. Luckily, though, there are two notable exceptions to this rule—they not only circumvent many of the issues with processed sugar, but also offer loads of other health benefits.

The first is honey, the virtues of which we’ve discussed at length in previous articles. You’ve probably heard of the second one too: stevia.

How stevia fights the diseases that sugar causes (and tastes just as sweet)

Stevia is a South American plant related to marigolds and chrysanthemums. There are over 200 different varieties, but the one used to make the commonly available sweetener is called Stevia rebaudiana. The plant contains two glycosides that are responsible for its sweetness: stevioside and rebaudioside.

These compounds pack some serious sweetness—between 30 to 200 times that of conventional processed sugar, depending on the form used (more on that below).

Even if stevia was nothing more than a safe alternative to sugar, it would still be worth recommending—but research demonstrates that it also works to heal a number of health conditions (many of same ones that sugar consumption causes). Here are some prominent examples.

Lyme disease. One of stevia’s most fascinating therapeutic applications was only discovered in recent years. Researchers at the University of New Haven compared stevia leaf to the three leading antibiotics for Lyme disease treatment—it was as effective or more so than all the antibiotics, and it carried none of the side effects commonly associated with Lyme antibiotic regimens.[5]

High blood pressure. Studies have shown that stevia can dilate blood vessels and increase sodium excretion (two of the most important mechanisms for maintaining healthy blood pressure).[6]

Diabetes. Replacing sugar with stevia works wonders for preventing and healing diabetes, simply because sugar consumption is a primary risk factor for the metabolic dysfunctions that lead to diabetes. But one study also demonstrated that stevia can actively heal diabetes by dramatically lowering fasting blood sugar levels and balancing insulin sensitivity.[7]

Cancer. In 2012, a prominent study published in Nutrition and Cancer demonstrated that stevioside enhances apoptosis (the process by which cancer cells destroy themselves) and decreases numerous stress markers that contribute to the growth and spread of cancer.[8]

Must-follow practices for safe and effective usage of stevia

If you’ve already done a good amount of research into stevia, you may have heard that its consumption can carry side effects. Specifically, a 1999 study suggested that stevia decreases the fertility of male rats.[9] This may sound like cause for alarm, but it’s not the full story by a long shot.

First and foremost, subsequent research failed to confirm any connection to decreased fertility. Further, the mechanism blamed for this effect—namely that the glycosides in stevia are chemically similar to hormones that could affect fertility—is a property of many other plants, none of which have ever been shown to affect fertility adversely.

Most importantly, only one type of stevia product has any likelihood of causing side effects. As with most products, not all stevia is created equal. Raw green-leaf stevia is the least processed form; because it’s not altered from its natural form, it contains both stevioside and rebaudioside.

When companies create stevia extracts, they usually isolate rebaudioside, which tastes sweeter but lacks most of the benefits of stevioside.

Highly processed forms of stevia, like the popular brand Truvia, are even worse. They not only don’t contain stevioside, but also are made with carcinogenic solvents, and often contain no more than 1% actual stevia!

Many people find raw stevia to have a bitter aftertaste, because it contains stevioside. If you’re going to use stevia as a sweetener, though, it’s critical that you use this unprocessed form, as side effects have only been linked to highly processed products containing only rebaudioside.

If you’re using stevia therapeutically to prevent or treat illness, it’s even more important that you use a product that contains stevioside. Most of the studies cited above used a liquid alcohol extract, which ensures a full-spectrum extraction of glycosides and concentrates the strength of these beneficial compounds.

 


References

[1] http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/26/4/1008

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24493081

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5133084/

[4] https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/1819573

[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4681354/

[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19000919

[7] https://www.researchgate.net/publication/261289491_The_Effect_of_Stevia_Rebaudiana_on_Serum_Omentin_and_Visfatin_Level_in_STZ-Induced_Diabetic_Rats

[8] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23061910

[9] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10619379

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Of all the nutrient deficiencies discussed, vitamin C is certainly not the most common. It’s almost invariably associated with scurvy, a condition characterized by mood imbalance, connective tissue defects, rashes, impaired wound healing, and even internal bleeding.

Scurvy occurs in circumstances of dire malnutrition—such conditions are still endured in developing countries, and sailors historically struggled with it (because vitamin-C-rich fruits and vegetables couldn’t be preserved onboard during long voyages). But surely it’s no longer a concern in the developed world?

Is vitamin C deficiency more common than we think?

Scurvy is admittedly a state of extreme deficiency, and one which is very uncommon, especially in the United States. Less than 20,000 cases of scurvy are reported annually in the United States, and it’s estimated that only around 6% of the population has ever suffered from the condition (probably from a combination of nutrient-poor diet and preexisting medical issues that interrupt the process of nutrient absorption).

As recently as 2016, though, major media outlets like the BBC reported that scurvy may be making a comeback in the developed world—hospital admissions related to scurvy increased 27% between 2009 and 2014.[1] This may not seem like much, but it’s an important reminder that vitamin C deficiency is still worthy of our concern.

If you don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables, routinely fast or engage in restrictive dieting, have a medical condition like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis that inhibits nutrient absorption, use drugs or alcohol frequently, or smoke, you should be especially careful. These factors place you at high risk for vitamin C deficiency, so consider supplementing with a high-bioavailability vitamin C product (and altering your lifestyle habits whenever possible).

Here’s a quick checklist of vitamin C deficiency symptoms to watch out for:

  1. Frequent illness and other signs of poor immune function.

  2. Fatigue

  3. Depression and other mood imbalances.

  4. Joint pain and inflammation

  5. Rashes, dryness, and other skin issues

  6. Dry and brittle hair and nails

  7. Periodontal issues such as swollen or bleeding gums

  8. Easy bruising and slow wound healing

  9. Frequent nosebleeds

Even if you’re not currently experiencing any of these symptoms, though, don’t write off vitamin C just yet. Research into the mechanisms of this amazing nutrient are beginning to redefine the terms of deficiency. Due to the complex and multi-faceted role that vitamin C plays in the body, individuals can suffer the effects of insufficient vitamin C long before any symptoms begin to present (and certainly before they progress to full-blown scurvy).

And because of its seemingly miraculous healing capacities, having anything less than optimal levels of vitamin C (and thus missing out on its incredible benefits) is its own brand of deficiency.

We’ve certainly encountered this issue with other nutrients, such as vitamin D. Our government-approved RDAs (recommended daily allowances) are often woefully low, because they target only the level necessary to prevent severe deficiency.

Fortunately, a growing number of health experts are starting to speak out about the power of optimizing our nutrient levels, rather than simply meeting our body’s barebones requirements. Dr. Mark Moyad, M.D. speaks particularly highly of vitamin C, claiming that “vitamin C may be the ideal nutrition marker for overall health. The more we study vitamin C, the better our understanding of how diverse it is in protecting our health, from cardiovascular, cancer, stroke, eye health [and] immunity to living longer.”[2]

There’s lots to love about vitamin C

Dr. Moyad is the latest in a long line of vitamin C enthusiasts. In a past article, we covered the research of Dr. Fredrick Klenner, who in the 1940s used high-dose vitamin C to cure a staggering number of serious diseases, such as leukemia, cancer, Herpes simplex infection, schizophrenia, multiple sclerosis, and even physical ailments like ruptured intervertebral discs.

Dr. Klenner’s work remains controversial to this day, but modern research is nevertheless revealing that vitamin C can be profoundly healing for a wide variety of health conditions, from sepsis to cancer to heart disease. This is because of its profound antioxidant capacity—fighting the free radicals generated by oxidative stress is centrally important for maintaining overall health and preventing disease.[3]

And here’s the best part: you can enjoy the many benefits of vitamin C easily and inexpensively. Always start with food, and don’t overthink it. While there’s some foods that are especially rich in vitamin C—like guavas, black currants, red and green peppers, kiwis, oranges, strawberries, papayas, broccoli, kale, parsley, and Brussel sprouts—you’ll do just fine as long as you eat a varied, colorful diet with lots of fruits and vegetables.

Once your body has a good foundation of food-sourced vitamin C, you can unlock the more acutely therapeutic benefits of this nutrient through supplementation.

==> Also seek out liposomal vitamin C, which is dramatically more absorbable (and thus more effective) than any other type of formulation. Studies have even shown that oral supplementation with liposomal vitamin C approaches the absorption capacity of intravenous administration.[4]

 


References

[1] http://www.bbc.com/news/health-35380716

[2] https://www.webmd.com/diet/features/the-benefits-of-vitamin-c

[3] http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S8755966886800217

[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4915787/

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