Every holistic cancer treatment plan we create is built on a foundation of high-quality, nutritious foods. At the EuroMed Foundation in Arizona, we understand that it’s not always easy to get all our nutrients through diet alone, especially if we have an extra need caused by disease. That’s why we also like to encourage our patients to integrate 2 important supplements into their lives: vitamin C and beta glucan.
Vitamin C: The Natural Immune Booster
Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is an essential nutrient required by many animal species. While most mammals are able to produce their own ascorbic acid in their livers, some primates have lost this ability, such as monkeys and the great apes. Humans are among the unlucky few mammals that are unable to produce vitamin C and, therefore, must obtain the nutrient from our diet.
Vitamin C plays 3 major roles in the body:
- Immunity: Vitamin C is an integral part of the immune system. It is commonly found in high concentrations within different immune cells and is believed to help regulate their activities and prevent the adhesion of pathogens to the membranes of healthy cells.
- Enzyme activity: Vitamin C is critical for the synthesis of compounds important to a person’s overall health, including neurotransmitters, collagen, and several amino acids.
- Antioxidant: As we discussed in our last blog post, vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that can help prevent certain diseases related to free radical formation, such as muscle issues, circulatory system health, and cancer prevention.
The use of high levels of vitamin C during cancer treatments has been of great interest within the holistic treatment community. In 2006, a paper was published that examined 3 cases where the patients had unexpectedly long survival times following the administration of high-dose intravenous vitamin C. Later on, another research group showed that high doses injected into the abdomen of mice with various cancerous growths decreased the growth rate of the tumors without harming the surrounding tissue.
These and other studies have shown that a combination of both oral and injected vitamin C may help reduce tumor growth without impacting healthy organs. This is why we often recommend intravenous vitamin C to our EuroMed patients along with dietary supplements.
Some great sources of vitamin C are peppers, guavas, kiwi fruit, and tomatoes. While citrus fruit are generally believed to be high in vitamin C, most of the nutrient is in the rind of the fruit rather than the portion people eat. Like most fruit juices, orange juice’s high sugar content negates any benefit of its vitamin C, so it’s best consumed in moderation in a healthful diet.
Beta Glucan: An Immune System Stimulant
A specific type of sugar called beta glucan has been well-researched in terms of how it can be incorporated into a holistic cancer treatment protocol. While the impact of beta glucan on the immune system has not been fully documented, there have been several research efforts funded by the National Cancer Institute to help us better understand the effects on cancerous growths.
Beta glucans are long chains of sugar commonly found in various organisms including yeast, bacteria, and some plants. The bulk of the cancer research has focused on a particular type of beta glucan referred to as β-1,3-glucan. The unique thing about beta glucans is that the human body treats these sugars as foreign bodies, triggering an immune response. In this way, beta glucans are an immune system stimulant.
Cancer is unlike most diseases because the body treats cancerous growths as natural, native cells and, therefore, does not trigger an immune response as it would for other diseases caused by bacteria or viruses. By using a safe and easily available immune stimulant, such as beta glucan, it is theorized that we could use the pathogen-fighting capabilities of the immune system against cancerous growths. Eventually, we may have a beta glucan-based anti-tumor vaccine that could help augment other cancer treatments.
In the meantime, we recommend including a beta glucan supplement in your diet. There are numerous options on the market, and we would be happy to direct you to our most commonly referred brands. It is best to take this supplement on an empty stomach to help maximize its absorption into your lymphatic system where it can best stimulate your immune function.
To find out more about how to optimize your diet, please head over to our nutrition page for more information. If you have questions, please leave us a comment below or contact us anytime online or at (602) 404-0400.
Next time on the blog, we’ll talk about cancer overtreatment and how we avoid it with our specialized approach. See you then!