The Block Center for Integrative Cancer Treatment and Optimal Health has been helping their patients find wellness for over 30 years. Based in Skokie, Illinois, the Block Center uses a many-pronged approach to healing. One of the cornerstones of their treatment approach is their Nutrition Program. Each patient gets a customized Nutrition Guide based on his/her specific health status and personal goals. Patients are also encouraged to adopt a regimen of taking vitamins, minerals, and herbal supplements. They are given techniques for body conditioning and stress relief. They are given psychosocial support. And, of course, they are treated with conventional medical technologies.
According to their literature, “The Block Center dietary plan combines general principles of good nutrition with more focused recommendations that can target the unique needs of people with cancer and at different phases in their path to recovery. Importantly, these guidelines can also be helpful in minimizing risk of other diseases that thrive in inflammation and free-radical production such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and many more.”
Although each Block Center patient receives a customized nutrition plan, there are some general guidelines they follow that we can all benefit from. The Block Center’s inflammation-fighting, free-radical-destroying diet is semi-vegetarian. The Block Center strives to teach its patients to reduce or eliminate meat, dairy products, and refined sugars. They recommend a diet based on complex carbohydrates (whole grains, beans, vegetables) and fish.
An ideal meal consists of:
- plenty of vegetables, preferably a green one and a dark-orange one (50% of the plate)
- whole grains or potatoes or corn (25% of the plate)
- fish, beans, or soy protein (25% of the plate)
- calcium-fortified soy milk or green tea (for your drink)
- fruit (as dessert)
- nuts (on the side)
They also recommend eating fermented foods like miso, sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh, natto, and kombucha tea due to their probiotics content. The Bock Center’s dieticians don’t want their patients going overboard on protein because of the post-meal surplus of amino acids that can happen. A surplus of amino acids in the body can lead to tumor growth. They say, “Limiting the amount of amino acids in the diet has been shown to slow tumor growth in animal studies—even with more aggressive types of tumors.”
Fat intake should also be closely watched. Although they recommend eating only good fats (olive oil, fish oil), these should be limited to two tablespoons per day. Refined grains and flours (white rice, white bread) should be limited, too. Sweeteners to be avoided include anything artificial (aspartame, sucralose, acesulfame K) plus the high-glycemic ones (brown sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, table sugar/white refined sugar). Approved sweeteners—and still only in moderation—are stevia, brown-rice syrup, agave nectar, maple syrup, xylitol, honey, molasses, and coconut nectar.
The Block Center is big on fluids. Keith I. Block, MD, author of Life Over Cancer, wants his patients drinking 8-10 cups of fluid per day. Two or three of those cups should be filled with green tea. Filtered water is another excellent beverage choice, along with herbal teas. Coffee, black tea, and coconut water are considered good options. The beverages to avoid are soft drinks, hard liquor (beer and wine in moderation with meals are okay), and mixed drinks.
As co-founders Dr. Block and his wife Penny Block, PhD say, “If only cancer and other serious illnesses were easily cured with a single therapy. But the magic-bullet approach to treating disease is generally more myth than fact. Truly effective treatment requires innovative thinking and a multi-faceted approach. The basic reason is that illness remains quite complex.”
Here’s a recipe for Barley Bean Pilaf from the Block Center’s “Life Over Cancer” blog:
Barley Bean Pilaf
2 tsp canola oil (organic)
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
1 ½ cups pearled barley
2-inch piece of fresh orange peel
1 whole cinnamon stick
3 cups vegetable stock or broth
2 cups cooked white or navy beans (or 1 15-ounce can, drained)
¼ cup finely chopped dill
1. Heat oil in a large saucepan and add onion, celery, and carrot when hot. Sauté over medium heat for 7-8 minutes. Add water as needed if veg are sticking to the pan.
2. Add barley, orange peel, cinnamon and vegetable stock to the pan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 35 minutes.
3. Add beans and cook for an additional 10 minutes, until barley is tender. Remove from heat and stir in the dill.
For more information on The Block Center for Integrative Cancer Treatment, call (847) 230-9107 or visit BlockMD.com.