19 September 2011

Ian Gawler Blog: Food for life – what to eat when

One useful way to decide what is the best eating pattern for us to follow, is to consider what phase of life we are in.

When we were developing as a foetus inside our mother’s abdomen, both of us had very specific nutritional requirements. As a child and adolescent, we needed about 25% more food on a weight for weight basis to take account of our growth rate. Some parents would say, for teenage boys it is way higher! Certainly if we are engaged in physically demanding sport or work, we need significantly more than someone who sits behind a desk all day.

When we are basically well, it is what we eat mostly that is important. The fact is that as human beings, our bodies are reasonably adaptable. If you eat well at home through the week and then go out on the weekend and play up a little, there is little likelihood of harm. If you play up every night, then the risks begin to build fairly rapidly.

So again, when we are well, what we eat mostly is important. However, when we are dealing with major illness, what we eat all the time is important.

This statement is made based on my years of clinical experience, and is reinforced by the one randomised, lifestyle-based cancer trial published to date. Dean Ornish first won acclaim back in the nineties for publishing data that demonstrated how it is possible to reverse coronary artery disease using a basically vegan diet, exercise, meditation, yoga, emotional healing and group therapy – a program very similar to the one I helped to develop at the Gawler Foundation.

Ornish then went on to investigate the same program with men diagnosed with early prostate cancer (in what essentially in those days was called the “watchful waiting phase”). The results were compelling. Not surprisingly, the cancer advanced for virtually all the men in the control group; their PSA’s (a blood marked of prostate cancer activity) went up, the aggressiveness of their cancers went up and several required major medical treatments.

Those men who made modest lifestyle changes stabilised their condition, a significant benefit in its own right. However, those who made major lifestyle changes and diligently maintained them were able to reduce their PSA’s, reduce the aggressiveness of their cancers and after one year, none had required medical intervention. After three years, the benefits were still highly beneficial in a way that was statistically very significant, although a small number of the diligent men had required more medical treatment.

In nearly all areas of life, how we apply ourselves will make a difference. Do nothing and the natural course of events is likely to follow. Do nothing in response to cancer and it is highly likely to progress. Intervene; use your own resources, and remarkable outcomes become possible.

So when faced with active cancer, the recommendation is to take what you eat seriously. It can really help. But if you think “I will eat well long enough to get well, and then go back to junk food”, you are missing the point.

The first thing when faced with cancer is to recover. Then we aim for a long, happy and healthy life. What we eat provides the raw ingredients for healing as well as a healthy old age.

For everyone, what we eat will make a huge difference to our life, both immediately and for the future.
Perhaps the secret to a good life is as simple as "eat good food and meditate".

RELATED BLOGS     Big Mac or a Salad

                                Eating for Recovery

                                What Fuel Goes into your Tank?


BOOKS:  You Can Conquer Cancer; Ian Gawler- contains nutritional details and the basis of how to eat well for those who are well and aim to stay that way; as well as those seeking to recover from cancer

CDs: Eating Well, Being Well; Ian Gawler – a thorough introduction to the Wellness Diet which is suitable for most people and families
Eating for Recovery; Ian Gawler – details the Healing Diet recommended for those dealing with cancer (and which builds on the previous CD, eg people with cancer are recommended to obtain both CDs)

PROGRAMS and COUNSELLING on food matters: The Gawler Foundation


  1. Thanks again Ian.

    Have a good week.

  2. Interesting report on Radio National Science Show on Sat 21st.
    Podcast describes how fasting can be as effective as chemotherapy. Effect of combined chemo and fasting for 40 day cycles showing good outcomes also.
    Not dissimilar to Ian' dietary advice for people with active cancer.
    Thanks again Ian. Jenny

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