All posts by clearwaternd

Cancer: A Process of Degeneration

Cancer Triangle

Did you know we have cancer cells in our body right now?  On average we have between 500-1000 cancer cells in our body at any given time.  So, why don’t we have cancer (the disease)?  It’s because of the balance among our immune system, liver, and emotional health.  When a diagnosis of cancer is made, balance has been lost in each of these three systems. Prevention starts with supporting their health.

The Liver

The liver’s role is to detoxify our body.  If this process is hindered or overwhelmed then there is increased likelihood for harmful chemicals that can cause the genetic defects in our cells to remain in the body.

For liver health and cancer prevention:

1. Quit smoking, or better yet, don’t start. Smoking is still the number one factor to increase risk of cancer. If smoking is an issue consult a naturopathic physician to help quit as it can take more than just will power, like balancing blood sugar and hormone function.

2. Daily detox by limiting toxins into the body and increasing toxins out. Limit inflammatory foods like gluten, dairy, alcohol, and sugar.  Choose organic foods as often as possible. Eat loads of veggies and fruit (6 cups a day minimum) as these foods supply the liver with necessary co-factors to safely eliminate toxins.

3. Decrease dependence on prescription medications.   Medications put stress on the liver. A drug in circulation is filtered by the liver about 300 times in a day.  The drug’s goal is to outsmart this filtration and stick around long enough to do what it was designed to do and the liver’s goal is to break down all chemicals and remove them from circulation. This battle can deplete vitamins and minerals the liver requires to detoxify other chemicals in your body.  We are NOT recommending you stop taking necessary medications.  We ARE recommending you add health to your life such that you don’t need them any more.

The Immune System 

One of the essential jobs of the immune system is to determine self from non-self. The cells of the immune system are constantly answering the questions, “are you me?” or “are you not me?”  The bodies ability too answer these keeps us free from pathogens like bacteria, viruses, and other foreign particles. In cancer, the hard part is the cells that cause the issue are “me”. In a healthy body, the immune system kills these rouge cells and keeps their numbers in check.

The lack of the ability to differentiate between Me and not me is one of the key reasons cancer takes hold.

Immune supporting cancer preventing ideas:

1. Limit immune compromising foods like (you guessed it) gluten, dairy, sugar, and alcohol.  Sugar especially suppresses immune function and is the fuel for cancer cells.

2. Eat supportive foods like veggies and fruits. Get your antioxidants and probiotics.  See the side bar for specific foods in these categories.

3. Be who you are.  Do know know what makes you happiest? Do you know at your core what makes You, you? This might sound funny, but people who are unsure about these questions also often have a trouble with their immune systems.  The more clear we get about our likes, dislikes, and preferences, and take action by using our VOICE to speak up about these desires, the better our immune system functions.

The Emotions

There is an emotional component to all disease, and this is especially true in cancer. When we explain this to our cancer patients most of them immediately know what the emotional issue is.  Some people have no idea yet, and further exploration into this is necessary to support healing. Cultivating healthy emotions is HUGELY preventive to the cancer process.

HMother and Child Laughingealthy emotions are emotions that come up and are experienced at the time they are triggered (vs suppressed and revisited at another later time, sometimes years in the future).  Healthy emotions mean we have full and complete access to the full rage of emotions from ecstasy and pure joy to sadness, grief, and even depression.


Healthy Emotional Expression and Cancer Prevention:

1. Learning to love ourselves is the most healing thing we can do to cultivate healthy emotions. The root of emotional suppression is often a belief in being wrong, undeserving, or not good enough to truly voice our feelings.  This usually manifests as self-criticism, complaints about ourselves, or unwillingness to forgive ourselves for what we feel we have done “wrong” along the journey of life.

2. Cultivating self awareness by getting quiet and listening to the signals of our body. Our bodies are talking to us all the time.  Its first communication is through emotions meant to guide us towards health and away from dis-ease. If we don’t get the message, or ignore it, the body talks to us a bit louder with physical symptoms. And finally, if we still have not heeded the call to change how we are living, disease results.

3. Live your dream life. True happiness resulting from deep life satisfaction is one of the all-time best health adding, disease preventing things on the planet.  Don’t know what your dream life looks like?  Finish this sentence: In my wildest dreams…

Still not sure?  Call us (406-551-1441) to schedule a dreaming session.  The Clearwater doctors are extensively trained in coaching techniques that can help you to answer this very question and make a plan on how to move closer to living a happy and healthy, dream life.

Hidden Sources of Sugar

Dairy products, especially SKIM MILK, are a hidden source of sugar.  Milk is made up of protein, fats and lactose (a simple sugar). If you remove the fat from milk all you have left is sugar and some protein. If you tolerate dairy drink full fat milk, and eat full fat yogurt and cheese.

Look out for ANY processed food labeled LOW FAT of FAT FREE.  It is probably full of sugar, as that is the only other option unless it is made of 100% protein.

Other hidden sources of sugar that seem healthy:

  • peanut butter
  • granola
  • cereal
  • flavored yogurt
  • dried fruit
  • trail mix
  • fruit juice
  • salad dressing
  • spaghetti sauce
  • ketchup
  • BBQ sauce
  • energy drinks
  • gatorade

A common theme in our newsletters… these are easy to avoid if you eat Whole Foods as Your Mother Nature intended.

Healthy Tips for Sweet Success

Follow these guidelines to help reduce your cravings for sweets and simple carbs and add health to your life everyday.

#1. Eat protein and healthy fats at every meal, especially breakfast! See our favorite breakfast recipe: The Usual Breakfast.

#2. Eat a startchy veggie at dinner and lunch instead of bread, pasta, or rice.  Examples: beets, sweet potatoes, turnips, carrots, winter squash, spaghetti squash, rutabagas, radishes, celery root, and Jerusalem artichokes.  See our Roasted Spring Beets Recipe for ideas.

#3. Make your own sauces, condiments and dressings.  Then you can use natural sweeteners like maple syrup, honey, stevia, and brown rice syrup in the quantity you desire, which quite possibly is less than the amount in the store-bought version.

Here is a long time favorite recipe of our friends and family never before released in our newsletter: Maple Syrup Dressing!

Sugar vs. Carbs

OK, when someone says sugar what are most of you thinking about? Candy? Ice cream? Cookies? Maybe some of you are thinking of soda, sports drinks, or caramel macchiatos.  How many of you think of milk, fruit, pasta, bread, mashed potatoes, alcohol, or rice?

What is sugar anyway?

Simply put, sugar is a form of carbohydrate. Carbohydrates come in three types: simple sugars, starches, and fiber.  Fiber is indigestible and isn’t exactly a nutrient so much as it is an essential food for the bugs in your GI track keeping your immune system in balance. The other two types, simple sugars and starch are really the EXACT same thing, only one is a bigger molecule than the other.

The only physical difference between a simple sugar, otherwise known as sugar, and a complex carbohydrate is one takes a little longer to get into your system because your body has to take more time to digest it.  That’s it. That’s all. Sugar = carbohydrate = sugar.

Don’t we NEED sugar to live?

Physiologically we do not need additional sugar, as in table sugar or sucrose, in our diet. Our body is perfectly capable of making all the simple sugar we need from the break down of more complex carbohydrates.  Physiologically the requirement for dietary sugar is zero.

We do, however, need carbohydrates, lots of them, and the best form is are vegetables and fruits.  Even thought we limit grains and avoid sugar, the Clearwater Docs do not eat a low carb diet.  I eat 5-6, or more, cups of veggies a day which is about 1000+ calories worth, that’s 50-60% of my daily calorie requirement from COMPLEX carbohydrates.

How much sugar is ok?

There is no agreed upon answer to this question in the literature. Thirty-two grams of “added” sugar (about 8 tsp) is the typical amount considered acceptable for non-diabetic persons. Added sugars includes table sugar (cane, beet, sucrose, fructose that is not in a whole piece of fruit), corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, corn sugar (glucose), honey, and maple syrup.

There are all kinds of different ways people were trying to divide up sugars that “count” as sugarand at the end of the day we are splitting hairs to justify how to eat more sugar a day and feel “ok” about it. Ultimately, your job is to listen to what your body wants.  This requires getting quiet, slowing down, and listening to your inner voice. (No, its not the one saying to eat a dozen doughnuts before lunch. It’s the other one.)

Read your labels: On a product label the category “sugar” refers to simple carbs. The fiber category is just that, fiber. The rest of the grams listed are complex carbohydrates or starches.

Sugar: How We Love Thee So

In the last 20 years, we have increased our sugar consumption in the U.S. by 26 pounds to an annual total of 135 lbs. of sugar per person! Prior to the turn of the 20th century (1887-1890), the average consumption was only 5 lbs per person.  It is reasonable to infer that this increase might play a significant roll in the increase in chronic illness as well (namely diabetes, heart disease, cancer, ADD, autism, and even anxiety and depression).

What contributed to this increase in consumption? One possibility was the introduction of processed food which made foods high simple carbs more available to the everyday person.  Another factor was eating a low fat diet.  In hopes of decreasing the incidence of heart disease we, as culture, decreased our consumption of fat from 35% of our calories to 20% from 1980 to 1999.  However, we still ate the same total number of calories a day.  We had to replace those calories with something… and that something was sugar.

The main place we associate sugar with disease is in the case of diabetes. However, sugar’s roll in disease is far more grave than that. There isn’t a chronic disease excess sugar doesn’t play a degenerative roll in.

diabetesSugar is a major factor in mood and metal disorders like ADD, ADHD, anxiety, depression, learning disabilities, and mood swings. Sugar is the fuel of cancer. Sugar plays a roll in chronic inflammatory illnesses like heart disease, high cholesterol, atherosclerosis, asthma, and allergies. Sugar depresses immune and hormone function. And it’s empty calories are deeply associated with weight gain and our obesity epidemic.

One way sugar shuts down the immune system by increasing cortisol levels released from the adrenal glands.  Cortisol is a stress hormone and one of its jobs is to prioritize the stressors over everyday physiology, like digestion, cellular repair, and fighting infection. This is why high stress times in your life often end with illness.

Additionally, sugar enters your cells using the same pathway as vitamin C. Thus, eating too much sugar can lead to a functional vitamin C deficiency and end with a depressed immune system which is dependent on vitamin C to function optimally.

Lastly, sugar is an inflammatory food and as such can damage tissues and increase swelling anywhere in the body.  One of the major issues in all chronic disease is excess inflammation, so avoiding sugar and simple carbohydrate foods is a great way to add health to rebalance your system.

Vermont Maple Syrup Dressing


1/4 c apple cider vinegar
1/2 c Vermont maple syrup
2/3 c organic olive oil
2 cloves garlic chopped
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp freshly ground pepper

Mix all ingredients in a mason jar and shake, dress and serve.

Try This: Try adding fresh herbs like mint, basil or cilantro for a twist of flavor.

Health Tip: Maple syrup is a great whole foods sweetener and I may be biased…but Vermonts maple syrup is the best!

Healthiest Sunscreens

Sunscreen falls into two categories: ones that physically create a barrier and “blocks” the sun and ones that absorbs into the skin and reflect the sun due to a chemical reaction.  In general the blockers – zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are a healthier choice.


  • PABAs
  • Parabens
  • Oxybenzone
  • Retinyl palmitate
  • Added insect repellent
  • Sprays
  • Powders
  • SPF above 50+

Look for:

  • Zinc
  • Titanium dioxide
  • Avobenzone or Mexoryl SX
  • Creams
  • Broad-spectrum protection
  • Water-resistant for beach, pool & exercise
  • SPF 30+ for beach & pool

Find recommendations for healthy sunscreens at: 

The Environmental Working Group (EWG)

They provide current research on sunscreen safety and effectiveness, published June 2011.