If you or a loved one has received a cancer diagnosis, it’s possible that your physician or dietician has mentioned the Budwig diet. This strict meal plan heavily features flaxseed and prohibits processed foods, among other things. But can it really prevent or even cure cancer? Keep reading for more information surrounding the Budwig diet, how it originated, and its possible benefits and side effects.
What is the Budwig diet?
Dr. Johanna Budwig developed this diet in the 1950s as a method to prevent cancer cells from spreading. Also known as Budwig protocol, this diet involves flaxseed oil and cottage cheese, as well as nixing processed foods and animal fat. Budwig believed that the combination of flaxseed oil and cottage cheese improves cellular functioning. Flaxseed oil and cottage cheese are heavily featured in this diet, as flaxseed contains omega-3, which is believed to reduce certain cancerous chemicals. It also contains lignans and phytoestrogens, also known for their anti-cancer effects.
What can you eat (and not eat) on the Budwig diet?
If you’re considering the Budwig diet, you’ll be eating a lot of flaxseed oil and cottage cheese, as the polyunsaturated fat from these specific sources will help prevent cancer cells from spreading. But the diet will also heavily feature fruits, vegetables, and fiber-rich foods. This diet focuses on fruits, vegetables, and other whole foods, so any processed meats and refined grains should be avoided. Those following this diet should also steer clear of sugar, butter, hydrogenated oils, and tea and coffee.
You will also want to be sure and drink plenty of water on this diet. High doses of flaxseed can actually lead to a bowel obstruction if you’re not properly hydrated. Also, flaxseed may also interact with some prescription medications, so chat with your physician before increasing your flaxseed consumption.
Exercise and the Budwig Diet
Dr. Budwig recommends spending at least 20 minutes outside each day to boost Vitamin D levels, help balance blood pressure, and to help manage pH levels and cholesterol. Some people on this diet swear by sunbathing daily, but you’ll want to limit your exposure to the sun’s harmful rays, especially if you have a family history of skin cancer.
How do you make the flaxseed mixture?
There are many variations of this recipe, so don’t be afraid to experiment! A quick, lightly sweetened recipe will include:
- 8.5 ounces (oz) of flaxseed oil
- 16 oz of 1% cottage cheese or low-fat quark
- 4 tablespoons of honey
As mentioned above, the cornerstone of the Budwig diet is a mixture of cottage cheese and flaxseed oil. You can make this mixture with low-fat milk, and even add fruit, nuts and honey to the seeds to sweeten it. Just be sure that you eat the mixture within 20 minutes of making it.
Are there side effects involved with this diet?
Some may encounter some nutrient deficiencies and some gastrointestinal discomfort due to the amount of flaxseed consumed. The supplementation may cause gas, bloating, constipation, stomach aches, and frequent bowel movements.
It’s difficult to say whether or not the Budwig diet itself can lead to weight loss, but eliminating processed foods can also certainly be the culprit.
Does the Budwig diet cure cancer?
Scientists have not produced enough evidence to show that the Budwig diet can benefit a person with cancer. Flaxseed has shown some promise as a cancer-fighting food, but there is not yet enough research to prove that it’s an effective treatment.
This diet is certainly interesting, but as of now, no diet can cure cancer. However, more physicians are becoming open to supplementing traditional Western medicine with alternative options.
Eliminating many processed and refined foods from your diet will usually improve one’s health. However, depending on your specific needs, you may want to explore other diets that may be better for you. If you’re interested in this diet, chat with your doctor and a dietician to ensure you’re getting enough vitamins and minerals.
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