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About this Episode
Chris Beat Cancer | Amazing Cancer Survival Story with Chris Wark
In this episode of Discover | Dr. Dan Proactive Health Dr. Dan speaks with Chris Wark from Chris Beat Cancer to discuss ways to proactively take charge of your health. Chris is a cancer survivor and bestselling author with a plentitude of actionable advice on how to transform your lifestyle to that of an anti-cancer lifestyle. Listen to the full podcast below.
A Message of Hope: Take Charge of Your Health
Chris Wark was diagnosed with stage three colon cancer at just 26 years old. After cancer removal surgery was completed, Chris decided to not do chemotherapy treatment, as he had seen the harmful effects chemotherapy had on cancer patients. He decided to create and develop a lifestyle of preventative measures that would surely help eliminate the remaining cancerous cells in his body. Chris hopes to deliver a message of hope that chronic diseases can be prevented and treated with a change in lifestyle and diet. When asked about how Chris decided not to participate in chemotherapy and take the natural route, he states:
I also thought, “That doesn’t have to be me. I have a choice. I can not do chemo. I can say no to this.” My instincts and intuition were telling me not to. And so as a skeptical person, I guess I’m kind of a rare breed because I’m skeptical but then I’m also very, I guess, in tune with my own instincts. A lot of skeptical people freeze due to analysis paralysis, right? And they can’t ever have enough information or facts to make a decision. That’s not me.
Running off of his own instinct, Chris decided to take his therapy into his own hands by taking inspiration from others who have survived, eliminated, and healed cancer without chemotherapy. A common theme, he found, was living a lifestyle bountiful with raw fruits and vegetables, as well as practicing mindfulness, forgiveness, and developing habits of kindness and compassion.
Life-Saving Diet and Lifestyle Habits
The first major change Chris made post-surgery was changing his traditional American diet. He goes on to explain how after learning new information that a healthy lifestyle could help prevent cancer, he made a change overnight to eating a completely raw, plant-based diet rich in nutrients. “I had this epiphany which was, ‘Well, if I’m not going to do chemotherapy,’ which is a pretty harsh treatment, right, ‘then I might as well try to overdose on nutrition.’” In the beginning, Chris ate 100% raw food for 90 days straight to get on top of his nutrition. He found that one of the best ways to do this was to develop tasty recipes packed with cancer-fighting compounds.
The second major change Chris made was that of his attitude and habits. Chris says that the very first step to healing from cancer or chronic disease is to believe in yourself and in your body’s healing capabilities. “You have to believe you can get well. And if you believe you can get well, that is the sort of the catalyst that will propel you forward in your pursuit of wellness.” He goes on to discuss that those who live in a constant state of stress suppress their immune system by having high levels of cortisol and adrenaline hormones, which in large quantities over time reduce the body’s ability to fight off harmful cells and bacteria. Chris mentions that activities like meditation or learning how to forgive are all proven to help reduce stress levels. When believing in oneself is joined with stress-reducing habits, this combination will help boost the immune system and ward off unwanted maladies that carry the potential to do harm.
Exploring Phytonutrients and Cooking with a Purpose
In his quest for overall wellness and eliminating cancerous cells, Chris decided to explore his food options to see which foods contained the greatest amounts of nutrients and anticancer compounds. Eventually, he figured that eating a giant salad daily, packed full of cruciferous vegetables that contain phytonutrients was the easiest way to overload his system with anticancer compounds. He included vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and kale along with herbs and spices such as garlic, curry, and cayenne powders to add layers of tasty flavor. Each ingredient serves a purpose in boosting the immune system and eliminating cancer cells. Later on, Chris added some cooked foods into his diet including grains and other vegetables, and continues to eat a mostly raw diet. He urges his readers and listeners to make small and simple changes to their lifestyles that can increase the likelihood of health and long-living. By including phytonutrients and cooking with a purpose to improve well-being, these measures can help to prevent and reverse chronic disease. Chris leaves listeners with one last thought, “The simple changes that you can make in your life and in your daily routine can have a huge impact on your health. Today’s choices create tomorrow’s health. So if you’re willing to change your daily choices, that’s all you’ve got to be willing to do.”
To learn more about taking charge of health and preventing and reversing chronic disease, check out the Discover | Dr. Dan Proactive Health podcast episode below, and be sure to subscribe for new episodes each Tuesday.
Dr. Dan Gubler: (00:09)
Welcome to Discover with Dr. Dan | The Proactive Health Podcast. This podcast is sponsored by Brilliant, an innovative proactive wellness company. Brilliant helps people to live a healthier and happier life by discovering and using bioactive natural ingredients to formulate products that help them discover and unleash their innate brilliance. See feelbrilliant.com for more information. We’re delighted today to have Chris Wark on the podcast. Welcome Chris.
Chris Wark: (00:39)
Dr. Dan, thanks for having me. I appreciate it.
Dr. Dan Gubler: (00:41)
Same here. It’s great to have you and look forward to our conversation. As a brief bio, Chris Wark is a young adult cancer survivor, best-selling author and patient advocate. Chris was diagnosed with stage three colon cancer in 2003 at just 26 years old. After surgery, Chris made the decision to go against his doctor’s advice, opt out of chemotherapy and use nutrition and natural therapies to heal. Six years later in 2010, Chris began sharing his story of faith, courage and determination, and his message of hope that chronic diseases like cancer can be prevented and reversed with the radical transformation of diet and lifestyle. In the last decade, Chris has become one of the most well-known cancer survivors on the planet and reaches millions of people per year as a blogger, podcaster, speaker and global health coach through social media and his website, chrisbeatcancer.com. Chris is the author of the national bestseller, Chris Beat Cancer, A Comprehensive Plan For Healing Naturally, which was published by Hay House in 2018 and ranked by USA Today, Wall Street Journal and Publishers Weekly, and he’s a creator of a Square One Cancer Coaching Program. And he has a new book out. It’s called Beat Cancer Daily: 365 Days of Inspiration, Encouragement, and Action Steps to Survive and Thrive, published also by Hay House on October 27th, 2020. And it’s an Amazon bestseller. So great credentials, Chris. Again, so delighted you’d spend some time to talk with us.
Chris Wark: (02:08)
Glad to be with you. Any chance I get to share my story, I’d pretty much say yes to, so I really appreciate you giving me that opportunity.
Dr. Dan Gubler: (02:16)
Sure appreciate it, Chris. So tell us a little bit about your story with cancer and being a cancer survivor and how that, and the evolution there.
Chris Wark: (02:25)
Yeah well, I was diagnosed with stage three, colon cancer, as you read in the bio when I was 26 and like most 26-year-olds, I had no experience with the cancer and it was a very scary time — whirlwind experience. And what I experienced was very similar to what most patients go through, which is you get a scary diagnosis and the doctors try to rush you into treatments that you don’t understand. And most patients say yes to treatment because they’re so afraid and they don’t know what else to do, and they don’t realize they have other options. And there’s so much urgency, right? It’s a rush, rush situation. “We’ve got to get you into treatment before this thing spreads and kills you.’ That’s what I was told. So I had surgery, they removed the tumor and the surrounding lymph nodes. They told me I was cancer-free but I needed nine to 12 months of chemotherapy. The reason they told me that is because I wasn’t cancer-free. When you cut a tumor out, you are cutting off a symptom of disease but you’re not addressing the underlying cause of disease. And with cancer especially, we know that primary, that circulating tumor cells leave a primary tumor site before a tumor is even big enough to detect. So when it’s a tiny little lesion in the body, cancer cells will begin to leave and try to find other places in the body to metastasize. So the purpose of chemo after surgery is they know you have circulating tumor cells in your body, and they’re trying to mop those up with therapy. I didn’t feel comfortable doing that even with no experience in cancer. I was, I’m a person who, I guess I’m skeptical by nature in a lot of ways. And I was skeptical that chemotherapy would cure me, that it would, I had a sense that it would do me more harm than good and knowing very little about it. I did know that it was extremely toxic and I had seen what chemotherapy does to people. Even though I’d never had anyone close to me go through it, I had seen chemo patients out in the world and with advanced stages of cancer. And we’ve all seen those people in that condition and it’s frightening and concerning and disturbing and tragic to see people in that state. And I just thought, “Is that me?” Right?
Dr. Dan Gubler: (04:56)
Chris Wark: (04:56)
And I also thought, “That doesn’t have to be me. I have a choice. I can not do chemo. I can say no to this.” My instincts and intuition were telling me not to. And so as a skeptical person, I guess I’m kind of a rare breed because I’m skeptical but then I’m also very, I guess in tune with my own instincts. And so a lot of skeptical people sort of get paralyzed by analysis paralysis, right?
Dr. Dan Gubler: (05:26)
Chris Wark: (05:27)
And they can’t ever have enough information or facts to make a decision. That’s not me. I actually, if I feel strongly, if something resonates with me, even if I don’t have all the information, I’m very comfortable diving in head first and figuring things out as I go. So I made a decision not to chemotherapy. My wife and I thought about it, I’m a Christian and you know, I just said, “God, if there’s another way besides chemotherapy, please show me what to do. Help.” Right? Just when you’re facing a life-threatening disease, life-threatening situation, that’s a pretty good opportunity to ask for help. Reach out beyond yourself. And so I asked for help and I got a book that was written by a man who had healed his own colon cancer with a raw food diet and it had been 30 years and he was still alive. And that, his name is George Malkmus. So I read his story and I thought, “Wow, this is amazing. Like maybe if this worked for him, maybe he can work for me.” And so overnight I can, I just radically changed my diet from the standard American fare, which is meat and dairy at every meal, lots of fast food to junk food, soft drinks, like I’ve always been thin. So I just assumed I could eat whatever I want. Like I had this invincibility delusion that most young people have and frankly, most young people are pretty invincible but I was not. I was vulnerable. And I just let go of all those things. I let go of every, all my favorite foods, because I was determined to live and get well. And I actually was excited to see what would happen by converting to a raw fruits and vegetables diet. Like to me, it was like, “Wow, this is crazy. I’ve never heard of this before. This is brand new information.” You know, now I think most people have heard of a raw food diet, right? It’s 2021. But in January 2004, I had not heard of it. There was no Instagram, there were no like raw food celebrities or whatever. Like, and so it was basically just a fringe, weirdo diet for sick people, right? And I was like, “Well, I fit this category. So I guess I should do this.” I bought a juicer, started juicing carrots, drinking tons of carrot juice and vegetable juices, started, basically what, I had this epiphany which was, “Well, if I’m not going to do chemotherapy,” which is a pretty harsh treatment, right, “then I might as well try to overdose on nutrition.”
Dr. Dan Gubler: (08:12)
Chris Wark: (08:13)
“I’m going to try to cram every possible nutrient into my body as much as possible every day. I want the widest variety of molecules,” right, “plant molecules circulating in my body and my bloodstream and my digestive tract. I would want it all in there.” And I had this innate belief that my body would use what it needed. And I wanted to supply it with an abundance of raw materials, an abundance of resources that it could use to repair, regenerate, detoxify, and ultimately heal. So I didn’t have any good science, didn’t have any studies, had no scientific background, had no nutrition background. All I had were my instincts and intuition and a handful of survivor stories about people who had healed advanced cancers following this approach, this raw foods, juicing, radical life change.
Dr. Dan Gubler: (09:13)
Well, like you said, this is really radical, especially back in the day where there wasn’t much science about it. Chemotherapy is the standard option. It’s barbaric, right? You bring someone, a patient to the brink of death and then you try to hope to raise them up again, right? By destroying every cancer cell. So that’s really interesting that you have the courage to do that and to change your diet overnight, right? A lot of people, even when their health is so precarious, having them try to change super hard.
Chris Wark: (09:43)
Yeah. And I appreciate that. And I’ll tell you, it did not feel courageous. It felt like fear, right? Courage isn’t a feeling. Fear is the feeling and courage is what you do in the middle of fear, right? Plus if you’re a coward, you run away or you hide and if you are acting courageously, then you move forward. In spite of your fear, you face your fears head on. And so at no point did I feel brave or courageous. I just felt afraid of death. And also afraid in some respects of what chemotherapy would do to me, because it is incredibly brutal. And I was also, at the same time, excited about changing my life and the diet part of it was really presented to me that the first information that I read as the solution, right? It was like, if your diet is destroying your health, has destroyed your health, has contributed to cancer and if you don’t change your diet, you probably won’t get well. But if you do change your diet radically, you can increase your odds of survival and healing. And so to me, it was like, “Okay, I, this, I can do this,” right? It’s not expensive. I mean, costs a little bit more to eat all organic and eat fresh produce, but not a wildly more expensive proposal. And so, although it’s much easier now, in 2004 there was only one whole foods in Memphis. And so I had to buy all my produce there. Now you can get organic produce at every grocery store. But anyway, I was excited about it. So I just, I went for it all the way and I was not under any delusion that there was a quick fix or a magic bullet or some miracle cure, right, out there. But I just believe that if my body created it, cancer, then my body could heal it.
Chris Wark: (11:45)
I believed that I could get well. And that really is the first, what I call the beat cancer mindset. That’s the first, absolutely critical component of the mindset of people who have healed cancer against the odds is number one above all else, they believe they can get well. A lot of cancer patients don’t believe they can get well. They’re hopeless. They’re fearful. They’re lost. They’re crossing their fingers. They’re hoping and wishing they can get well, but they really don’t have a strong belief that they can do it. They’re really hoping the doctor can fix them and they have not been empowered with just the wonderful science that we have now and survivor stories and testimonials and things of people who’ve healed. And so once I started coming across that information, then I was like, “Oh well, other people have healed cancer then it’s possible.” Right? That’s all I needed to know. I just needed to know it was possible. And that was enough for me to change my life. So I set about transforming my life. The diet was the easiest part and I hear you when you say it is amazing how many people, they will change anything but their diet, right? I mean, they’ll go do chemo, right?
Dr. Dan Gubler: (13:04)
Chris Wark: (13:04)
But change their diet, no way. They won’t give up the pizza and the cheeseburgers and the whatever. And so that part was easy. What was more difficult was the mental and emotional work that I really had to do. Because if you assume the way that you’re living is killing you, which I did, then you also have to take responsibility for your life. And your life is much bigger than what you put in your mouth. It’s what you think. It’s how you act. It’s the way you respond in different situations, how you treat other people. And I realized that after a lot of introspection, a lot of reading and studying and learning from people that are understanding these things much more than I did that I was just kind of an emotional mess. I was vacillating back and forth between lots of negative states, lots of negative emotions. And what I mean by that is like, I was really competitive. So I was constantly feeling envious and jealous of other people who I perceived as having some advantage over me. Maybe they were better looking. Maybe they were smarter. Maybe they came from money. Maybe they were just making more money, right? Maybe their job or career was seen better than mine. And maybe they had more talent in some way. I had those feelings. I had resentments and bitterness toward people from my past. I was critical and judgemental of other people. I was extremely insecure and very hard on myself. And so, yeah. I mean, it’s just from one thought to the next, right? I’m just bouncing around between a lot of negativity.
Dr. Dan Gubler: (14:56)
So this is really fascinating. A lot of people, when we talk about changing things, we talk about diet and exercise, right? And what’s really fascinating is you’re branching out into lifestyle factors that are totally different than the traditional ones that people talk about.
Chris Wark: (15:13)
Yes. And something I realized later, much later as I was, I wasn’t that introspective in the middle of my cancer journey. Like I became introspective afterward as I was trying to explain what I did to others, right? Because I was really just operating in survival mode and I was doing the best I could to help myself heal. But looking back and thinking about the things I did, I realized that the raw food diet really did something for me that I didn’t expect. And that is, it allowed me to, it sort of unlocked something in my mind or my spirit where I realized if I can do it, what else, can I do?
Dr. Dan Gubler: (16:01)
Chris Wark: (16:01)
Right. I can eat a raw food diet and be disciplined in aspects like changing the way you think. That takes time.
Dr. Dan Gubler: (16:10)
Chris Wark: (16:10)
Changing it, getting control over yourself, right? Self control in all aspects of life takes time. And I’m, believe me, I’m not perfect at it. I’m better than I used to be but it’s still a process. And so I started becoming very mindful of the way I was thinking and catching myself in negative thoughts and negative emotional states. And then making a decision in those moments to not think that way, like to not be critical of other people, to not be judgmental, to not entertain prejudice, to forgive every person who had ever hurt me. And that was probably one of the most transformative things I did.
Dr. Dan Gubler: (16:56)
And that’s hard to do. Wow.
Chris Wark: (16:58)
It is hard. And it is, the things you want to do the least are the things you usually need to do the most. And I’ve talked a lot of cancer patients, more than I can even count. And many of them, almost all, have a lot of bitterness and resentment in their lives. And they have people in their lives they need to forgive. People from their past who’ve hurt them. And the thing about bitterness and resentment is that it’s the most toxic, emotional state. And to simplify it, when you are entertaining any negative emotion, right? Whether it’s anger or resentment or jealousy, it’s not just between your ears like, that negative emotion causes a chain reaction in your body. It causes a physical response. Your body starts pumping stress hormones, right? Cortisol and adrenaline are the two that everybody’s heard of. And they’re very helpful if you’re in a dangerous situation and you’re trying to escape a tiger or a home invader or something.
Dr. Dan Gubler: (18:07)
Chris Wark: (18:07)
But those same hormones, if they’re elevated day in, day out as you go through life in a state of chronic stress, they, what they do is they suppress your immune system. They interfere with your brain function. They interfere with digestion and they increase inflammation in the body.
Dr. Dan Gubler: (18:28)
Right. Signal transduction cascades are amazing. That’s a subject that’s near and dear to my heart. So are these bicycling reactions. Well yeah, well said.
Chris Wark: (18:37)
So what we have is we have a lot of people that over time, their body becomes a place where cancer can thrive because cancer thrives in a body that is inflamed and that is immunosuppressed. Because your immune cells are designed to identify and eliminate cancer cells. That’s one of their main jobs, right? It’s not just to kill bacteria and viruses. They also are supposed to identify and kill cancer cells, natural killer cells. But if your immune system is suppressed based on your physical condition or your mental and emotional condition, or both, then you become vulnerable. So as I, again, I’m reading and researching, not on the internet, I was just going from book to book to book back then because the internet wasn’t helpful and social media wasn’t around and YouTube wasn’t a thing. I, no one was doing the interviews on Zoom talking about this stuff, right? But I just went from book to book to book and the more I learned from doctors and researchers and health and wellness practitioners and survivors, they were all repeating the same common themes on health and healing, what we call holistic health, right? The idea that your health is not just the absence of disease. There’s a lot more to health than just the absence of disease. And in order to reverse disease, you don’t just treat the symptom. You’ve got to get to the root cause and the root cause can be mental, emotional, spiritual, or physical, or all the above. And so it took me a while to learn these things and make changes in my life and live my life in a different way. And of course, I talk about this in pretty great detail in my first book which is called, Chris Beat Cancer, everything that I did, everything that I learned. And the wonderful thing is that the truth is simple. Our bodies are brilliantly designed and infinitely complex, but you don’t have to have a degree in science or chemistry, or even a high school diploma to recognize the simple truth that your diet and lifestyle and your thoughts and stress can either promote health or disease. This is, it’s very simple stuff. And the changes that you need to make to promote health or disease are very simple, right? Don’t need any education at all to start eating healthy, right?
Dr. Dan Gubler: (21:08)
Chris Wark: (21:08)
You just need a little guidance and a lot of determination. And cancer for me was the determined, fueled my determination. I wanted to live. And I got, someone asked me, a practitioner asked me point blank, “Do you want to live?” And that was a scary question. No one had ever asked me, do you want to live? And I, for a moment, it was almost like time stood still. And I was like, thinking about it and I’m like, “Do I want to live? I don’t know. What’s the answer? How do I find out the answer?” Right? “What if I’m secretly sabotaging my health because I have a death wish?” Right? Am I killing myself with all my choices inadvertently because I secretly hate myself? And so like all these, it was just kind of crazy. Like all these thoughts were swirling, but then in that moment, I also had this clarity of, “You know what? I have a choice. I can choose to live. So do I want to live? Yes.” Doesn’t matter how I was behaving up to this point and whether or not I was trying to kill myself up to this point, like now I can decide to live. I can choose life. I can choose to live and I can choose to only do things that promote life and health. And I can reject and sort of, and evict all of the things from my life that were promoting disease.
Dr. Dan Gubler: (22:45)
Wow. What a powerful concept. A lot of times we think that we are, we’re not powers to act for ourselves. We’re just being acted upon. So what a great point.
Chris Wark: (22:57)
Thank you. You know, cancer patients are victimized. Not just cancer patients, but victim culture is a major problem right now. But cancer patients, when they go to the doctor, when they go see the oncologist and they get a diagnosis, they’re all asking the same questions. Like, “How did I get cancer? Why did I get cancer?” And the answer that they get is almost always, “We don’t know why you got cancer. It may be bad luck or bad genes,” right? “Maybe hereditary or genetic or we don’t know.” And so what that answer does is it makes the patient into a powerless victim, right? It’s nothing you did. It’s either in your genes and you couldn’t help it, or it’s just bad luck. You just, you flipped the coin, you lost, you got cancer. And if that’s true, then nothing you did caused cancer or contributed to cancer. Then there’s nothing you can do to help yourself, is there? And your only hope is to show up for treatment, cross your fingers, say your prayers, show up for treatment. “We’ll do the best we can and we’ll see what happens. Can’t promise you a cure.” And so cancer patients leave in just in a state of utter hopelessness and they become victims of disease. And the message that I have is that you’re not a victim of disease. We know what’s causing cancer. You’ve got to take responsibility for your health. You’ve got to own it, right? You don’t have to beat yourself up. Like this is not, I’m not trying to make anybody feel bad about their situation like, “It’s all your fault and you’re a terrible person.” But it’s like, “Hey, you got a problem. You may have contributed to that problem,” because we know based on population studies and nutritional science studies, that our diet and lifestyle choices are dramatically increasing our risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, all these western diseases. They’re coming from our choices. There are environmental causes as well, but only roughly 5% of cancers are genetic.
Dr. Dan Gubler: (25:09)
Yeah. I love what you’re saying, right? What you’re talking about is taking charge of our health. Another form of that is a proactive wellness, right, versus reactive wellness. Like you said, this is victim culture.
Chris Wark: (25:21)
And unfortunately when you get into, when you get a diagnosis you’re in the reactive mode. Being proactive is prevention, which I want to help people prevent it as much as I want to help them heal. And the same things you do to heal also work in prevention, which is great. It’s the same strategy. Although the prevention strategy doesn’t need to be quite as hardcore as the healing strategy, but it’s much easier to prevent it than it is to heal it. And there’s a lot less stress if you’re in prevention mode, right? Like no stress. But to something you said earlier, we should all be, if you don’t have cancer, you should be, you should take it seriously. Because one out of every two men and one out of every three women will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. So if you’re not serious about it, you should be, right, about prevention. Because if you’re just living and eating like a normal person, well you got a 50/50 odds. You’re going to get cancer as a man. And over 30%, over a third odds, you’ll get it as a woman, but you can drop your risk dramatically. I would never say you can be cancer proof, but you can drop your list, your risk, excuse me, extremely low. You can get in the lowest risk quartile, right? The lowest risk group by doing some very simple things, eating a plant-based diet, exercising, and managing your stress, keeping your stress very low. And the ways that you keep stress low is forgiveness, right? Forgiving people that have hurt you, keeping your emotions in check, not holding on, catching yourself, not letting yourself be critical of others or jealous of others. For me, giving my fear and my worries to God was a huge part of my cancer journey. And I still do this, right? I just, I trust him with my life. I make good choices but I also trust him with the rest, right? There’s so much I can do. And I trust him with the rest. So these are all simple things. There’s simple things. Any human can do them. Again, just takes a little bit of guidance, some determination and some action, and you can radically transform your life and health.
Dr. Dan Gubler: (27:52)
That’s amazing. One area of research that I’ve always been fascinated with as a scientist is the power of the mind, which science is not able to explain. You know, with clinical studies where someone takes an act of compound and another person takes a placebo, right? It’s the power of the mind that actually can heal that person. So I love what you’re saying here.
Chris Wark: (28:11)
There are so many fascinating studies on the placebo effect and the nocebo effect. It’s believing something will help you increases your odds that it will and believing something will harm you, even if it’s innocuous, actually can result in you experiencing those side effects that you thought you would get from a sugar pill. I know it’s crazy. And I talk about some of those studies, in fact, in my book, because just to illustrate the power of belief. You’re, and this goes back to what I said earlier. You have to believe you can get well. And if you believe you can get well, that is the, sort of the catalyst that will propel you forward in your pursuit of wellness, right? It’s, you just can’t, I’ve talked to a lot of cancer patients, like I said earlier, and some people have such a strong will to live and they believe they can get well, and they’re just unstoppable, right? They’re relentless and they’re determined and they persevere and they just do not give up. And they have ups and downs. They may do some things and some therapies and they don’t work quite right or whatever. And then, but they just don’t quit. They just, they keep reading and learning and researching and trying new things. And this doesn’t just apply to cancer. I mean, this could be lyme disease, it could be lupus or MS, any type of chronic debilitating condition. I know people who have persevered and healed autoimmune disease, Hashimoto’s, all kinds of stuff. So, but they all had that belief they could get well. And it is such a fascinating subject, the body, mind, spirit connection. But your mind is directing your life. Your thoughts and your mind direct your actions each day. And so the second book I wrote is called, Beat Cancer Daily. And this was really just something I wrote to serve my community because healing is a daily journey, right? It’s just one day at a time, all you’ve got is today. You’ve got right now, you got your next meal, right? You got, what are you doing between sun up and sundown? And so when you simplify and reduce your healing strategy to just a daily routine, it becomes very manageable. It doesn’t become overwhelming anymore. And so Beat Cancer Daily is a sort of like a daily reader/devotional with encouragement and inspiration and practical action steps that a person who’s either trying to heal or prevent cancer can use just to help improve their life just day by day, making these small shifts and all the small changes that you make over time, add up to big change, right? It’s like saving money, right? If you’re saving a dollar a day, that adds up.
Dr. Dan Gubler: (31:09)
Right. Exponentially, not linear.
Chris Wark: (31:10)
$10 a day, it adds up, right? And so no one can just be like, “I’m going to save $10,000 tomorrow.” Like to get there, you have to save a little bit, a little bit, a little bit, and then you have all of a sudden, it’s added up. And so the small changes that you make in the way you’re thinking and the way you’re eating and by exercising, like all these small changes, if you stay consistent, produce this momentum, healing momentum, and there’s a snowball effect with this kind of thing. Like nobody gets well in a week eating a raw food diet.
Dr. Dan Gubler: (31:46)
So in relation to a raw food diet on the information on your blogs and website, amazing. What a wealth of information there. You talk about phytonutrients from plants. And a lot of people don’t really know what that is. Why don’t you explain to us, what are phytonutrients and how do they work in the body in general and their potential in disease and helping with disease?
Chris Wark: (32:10)
Well, we all know what the word nutrient means, right? That’s like generally, people think a nutrient is a compound that provides some positive benefit in the body, right? Nutritional benefit. Phyto means plant. So this word, phytonutrient, is interchangeable with another word, phytochemical. So plant-based chemicals, plant-based compounds. And we use the word phytonutrient to imply, really to narrow that down from just any random chemical found in a plant to the chemicals found in plants that are actually beneficial for us. And so, because some plants have, are poisonous. So like I wouldn’t call poisonous mushrooms, I wouldn’t call that compound a phytonutrient. But there’s actually no official number of phytonutrients. Tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, but there are many, many compounds in plant food that you can not get from animal food. It’s only in plants that have known anticancer benefits in the body, known immune boosting, immune supportive benefits, known detoxification benefits and known nutritional benefits. And so the obvious things are like, “Oh, your vitamins and minerals,” right? Everybody knows those are pretty important. And we heard things in school about certain vitamins and minerals that you need for optimal health. But beyond that, there are unique compounds like, garlic has a compound called allicin. And allicin is arguably the most potent anticancer compound in the plant kingdom. Curcumin is a compound found in tumeric root, another incredible anticancer compound. Resveratrol, another one found in grapes. Querciten is a phytonutrient found in apples and onions and other plant food. Apigenin is an incredible, just unbelievable anticancer compound. And it’s found in the highest concentrations in parsley but also found in celery and chamomile. So, green tea has EGCG, a known anticancer compound, and I can go on and on, right? There’s, look, they’re not talking about this stuff on the news, right? And on major media, I mean, it’s a little too geeky and people aren’t really interested in that unless they’re sick. And then, but when you’re sick and you start to look at the research and so I’ll jump ahead in my story. Obviously I got, well, I did find a team. I found a naturopathic doctor and an integrative oncologist to work with, and they supported me in my journey.
Chris Wark: (35:00)
And six years after I got well, I started blogging just to share my story. Chrisbeatcancer.com. But when I started blogging, I realized, “Okay, I know what I did. I can explain exactly what I did, but I don’t know if what I did was just a fluke. Was I just lucky? Like, is there any science to support that the food I was eating was actually helping me heal?” And that’s when I started geeking out on nutritional science and reading studies. And then the whole world opened up to me because I realized there were so, volumes, right? Volumes and volumes, reams of studies. I can’t even read them all. It’s too many. But even the ones that I have read over the last 10 years and many of them, of those, of my favorite studies I talked about in my books, are what has informed me. And they, it really helped me connect the dots and realize, “Okay, almost everything I did helped me in a number of ways. And now I understand why.”
Chris Wark: (36:09)
So the foods that I was eating the most of were, I ate giant salads for lunch and dinner every day because I came to this conclusion that I want to eat the most nutrient dense food, and I want to have the most variety. And how am I going to do that? Well, a salad. It’s all the vegetables you want to cram in one bowl and then figure out how to make it taste good. So olive oil and apple cider vinegar, and then lots of spices like garlic powder, cayenne pepper, curry powder, stuff like that. Oregano. And I just sort of came up with this delicious concoction that now as people know as the giant cancer-fighting salad. But the actual vegetables in the salad turns out are the most potent, anticancer vegetables. The cruciferous vegetables and the allium family vegetables are the top anticancer vegetables in terms of nutritional potency. So garlic, onions and leeks are like really the top three. And then after them, you’ve got broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, all the cruciferous vegetables. And so, legumes. So I was eating sprouted mung beans, and garbanzo beans, and peppers and sauerkraut, which is just more cabbage. I was having red cabbage and then sauerkraut on my salads. And every day, twice a day, I was just pumping in the anticancer nutrition. And so when I started to read, find out that there was already tons and tons of research on the known anticancer compounds and anti-inflammatory compounds in these foods, it was like, “Oh, okay. This, we’re onto something.”
Dr. Dan Gubler: (38:00)
Right. Well, that’s a phytonutrient nutrient powerhouse right there with all the great compounds. Allicin and then sulfurophanes like you said, in broccoli and cabbage.
Chris Wark: (38:06)
Dr. Dan Gubler: (38:08)
Chris Wark: (38:08)
Absolutely. Indole-3-carbinol, another one in the cruciferous vegetables. And so there is no, there is no more nutritious, potent, anticancer meal than a giant bowl full of cruciferous vegetables. And especially if you can get a lot of garlic and onions in there too. So, and that’s what folks, that’s sort of been my, that’s the anticancer diet, it’s the one I followed for years. And by the way, I’m not a raw foodist. So I don’t eat raw food exclusively. Now I was a hundred percent raw for 90 days. And then we added some cooked food back into my diet, just to help me maintain weight. And raw food is amazing for detoxification and weight loss. But if you’re trying to maintain or gain weight, you need a little more cooked food, you just need more calories. And so I’m adding things like cooked beans and quinoa and rice and things like that are pretty easy to do, to cooked squash, sweet potato, any of the tubers, just add more calories. So it makes it easy. But, so I went from a hundred percent raw to about 80% raw, and I maintained that for years.
Chris Wark: (39:24)
And, so now I eat, I still eat a plant-based diet. I’d say 98, 99% plant-based. I have on average one raw meal a day, some days too. And what I’ve learned is I’m in prevention mode now as opposed to healing mode. But what I’ve learned is that when you look around the world at the healthiest, longest living populations, they eat on average 95% plant-based. Now they’re not pure vegan, but they eat mostly plant food and it’s unprocessed plant food, right? It’s not veggie burgers.
Dr. Dan Gubler: (40:06)
Right. That’s a whole other topic.
Chris Wark: (40:08)
Yeah. It’s starches, lots of potatoes, rice, beans, corn, lots of grains. It’s lots of starchy food, because that really will keep you alive. If you live in Sub-Saharan Africa, you’re eating mostly starches because they’re easy to grow. They don’t go bad quickly like a lot of fruits do. And there’s no restaurants, there’s no stores, there’s no fast food available, right? So these folks are subsisting on high fiber, high starch vegetables, give you lots of energy, fill you up and are easy to grow and easy to store. So yeah, that’s what I eat now. I just eat a lot of, lot of plant food, tons of fiber, tons of starch, love fruit, and all the veggies I can cram in everyday.
Dr. Dan Gubler: (40:57)
And it’s interesting where you said you were adding starch as another thing to balance it out. So you’re getting a good ratio of macronutrients, micronutrients, and then these phytonutrients.
Chris Wark: (41:06)
Yes. And I think there’s something else that I should mention about the raw food diet that gives it a unique advantage. One, there’s three things. One is raw vegetables and fruit, most of us eat fruit raw, but raw vegetables contain millions of bacteria. And most of that bacteria is the stuff that people are paying to take in supplement form. But one apple has roughly a hundred million bacteria. Just an apple. And what I thought was fascinating was this study I read recently, I think in the last year or two, is that 90% of the bacteria in an apple is in the core and the seeds, right? The part that nobody’s eating, right? So you just eat the outer part and toss away the core. You’re only getting 10% beneficial bacteria from an apple. So anyway, when you eat raw vegetables like a salad, you’re getting, probiotic bacteria. You’re getting live enzymes, because enzymes are destroyed by cooking. And there’s books and books and books written on enzymes and all the sort of miraculous things that enzymes do in your body.
Chris Wark: (42:21)
And you are also getting unique anticancer compounds that are destroyed by cooking. And sulforaphane is one example. It’s created when you chew broccoli. When you chew it up, there’s an enzymatic reaction that happens. It creates sulforaphane, this awesome anticancer and detoxification, liver detoxification compound. And you can also chop broccoli and let it sit for 15 or 20 minutes and that sulforaphane will be created that way too. But, when you eat tons of vegetables, yeah, especially the cruciferous vegetables, their anticancer power is diminished significantly when they’re cooked. So anyway, I wanted to throw that in there because there’s, people were like, “What’s the, why raw vegetables?” Right? Well those are three reasons why.
Dr. Dan Gubler: (43:11)
Oh, that’s great. One area that I’ve always been fascinated about is a plant-derived nanoparticles. So these are little goodies, little packages that are embedded in fruits and vegetables that contain, like you said, phytonutrients, microRNA, and other really interesting biological compounds, enzymes. And so they’re little care packages, right, that are delivered to the body. And like you said, they’re destroyed upon cooking, upon elevating temperature and denaturation and decomposition.
Chris Wark: (43:41)
That’s really fascinating. I, we just, we just underestimate plant food, right? I mean, that’s the thing. We just, we underestimate it. Most of us just don’t realize how incredibly miraculous an apple or an orange or an onion, right, or spinach or broccoli is. It’s a perfect whole food matrix. And a lot of folks are afraid of fruit now because they think the sugars are going to make them fat. Right? And I’ve got news for you. Nobody got fat from eating too much fruit. Nobody got cancer from eating too much fruit. Like the fruit is not the problem. Right? That’s not the problem. In fact, I know lots of people who have lost tons of weight eating an all fruit diet. People who’ve healed cancer on all fruit.
Chris Wark: (44:30)
Fruit’s awesome. And the sugars in fruit are perfect. They’re perfectly designed to satisfy you, to light up your taste buds, right? To deliver energy to your cells. But it’s kind of like what you mentioned, the fruit is like a Trojan horse. The sugars in fruit are bringing with them all of these phytonutrients and beneficial compounds. So it’s not like you’re just eating, like chugging a bag of white sugar where you get nothing but sugar.
Dr. Dan Gubler: (45:06)
Or even sugar complex with fiber.
Chris Wark: (45:09)
Yeah. You get this perfect matrix, this whole food matrix. There’s an interesting study that I read, Colin Campbell talks about in his book, Whole, where they, and I’m going to try not to butcher it. But these researchers discovered that if you extracted the vitamin C from an apple and I’m paraphrasing, but if you extracted the vitamin C from one apple, you’d get like a hundred milligrams or something like that, like a pretty small amount. But if you eat the whole apple, the equivalent of vitamin C and all of its, all of the other compounds that work synergistically with the vitamin C, the ascorbic acid in that apple is like 10 times higher. Something like that. I’m butchering it a little bit, but it’s a very significant difference, right? The difference between a whole food and just a compound, right, extracted from that food.
Dr. Dan Gubler: (46:04)
Right? Yeah. It’s a phrase I like to call, polypharmacology, where you have multiple compounds in plants that hit multiple targets in the body. We talk about synergy, we always think it’s positive, there’s negative synergy, but in this case, hugely positive, right? To cause a one plus one equals 500,000.
Chris Wark: (46:24)
Yeah. That to me is so cool and fascinating and I’m still learning. I’m still researching. I’m still learning. I’m still being blown away by things that I discover in terms of the nutritional power of food. And it’s just so cool that again, you don’t even need to understand any of it. Like I said earlier, you just need to eat it. Just eat the food, let your body use it. It will use what it needs and it won’t use what it doesn’t need. And consistency is really the key, right? It’s just consistently nourishing your body day by day, giving it as much as you can to survive and thrive and just trusting the process. Because our bodies really do want to heal. I mean, your body wants homeostasis. It wants to be an optimal health. It wants to heal. And if you deprive it of essential nutrients and we’ve been taught wrongly. We’ve been taught to think that essential nutrients is just like protein, fat and carbohydrates and some vitamins and minerals. And the essential nutrient conversation is never about all these miraculous, incredible phytonutrients in plant food. And so that’s what we’re trying to do is like broaden this conversation to like know there’s so much more that you get when you eat a plant-based diet, a plant-rich diet.
Dr. Dan Gubler: (47:49)
Wonderful. Well, it’s good to see other people on this phytonutrient crusade because that’s really where the medicinal powerhouse is. I love the phrase an apple a day keeps the doctor away, right? And that’s cliche. But when you understand the power of phytonutrients and other compounds, that is so true. As you mentioned here.
Chris Wark: (48:06)
Yeah. Eating substitutions that are so easy to make. If you have a sugar craving, eat more fruit, right? It’s not hard. Don’t buy a Snickers bar, get an apple. Like just practice a little bit of self-control and eat a banana or an apple or a couple of oranges. You know what I mean? It’s so easy to swap eggs and bacon and sausage breakfast for oatmeal. Oatmeal is so incredible. You can make it so delicious. This is my breakfast every morning. It’s it’s oats with flax, chia and hemp seeds. I’ll put, if we have fresh berries, I’ll put blueberries or blackberries or raspberries in there. I like to sweeten it with a little blackstrap molasses, which is really high in potassium, magnesium, iron. And blackstrap molasses is actually the highest antioxidant sweetener known.
Dr. Dan Gubler: (49:03)
Chris Wark: (49:03)
So on the antioxidant charts, molasses has the highest levels. And I mean, I just love it. It’s so good. It fills me up, gives me energy, just a wonderful breakfast. And so that’s, that’s an easy way to swap, eat a plant-based breakfast, giant salad for lunch, easy. And then dinner, most nights we eat just some variety of cooked vegetables, right? So maybe sweet potatoes, black beans. So last night we had, let me think, what did we have? We had cooked, we had black-eyed peas. We had some cooked kale. We had, I believe there were some sweet potatoes on the plate. And there’s a fourth thing that I can’t remember that was on the plate that my wife made. But it’s always just some variety of veggies in there. It could be, like I said, rice, beans, corn. Almost always organic because we think that’s pretty important to avoid exposure to pesticides and toxic chemicals stuff they spray on food. But my diet is simple. It’s just whole foods from the earth, every day, nourishing my body and it’s given me lots of energy. I’m strong. I work out five, six days a week and I feel good.
Dr. Dan Gubler: (50:21)
Wow. That’s awesome, Chris. So this has been like drinking from a fire hose here. Wow. I know the information that you’ve provided here. I mean, my mind’s blown and I’m sure our listeners are as well. So what final thoughts would you give to all of us? Both the people that are healthy, people who are suffering with cancer, cancer survivors, what would you tell us?
Chris Wark: (50:46)
Well, of course I hope they would consider reading my book because it’s, my book lays it out in a way that’s very easy to understand and digest. And I know it has been like a fire hose, me just like brain dump on the podcast. But the big, I think the big takeaways, hopefully is that truth is simple. And the simple changes that you can make in your life and in your daily routine can have a huge impact on your health. Today’s choices, create tomorrow’s health. So if you’re willing to change your daily choices, that’s all you got to be willing to do, right? You got to just be willing to change. You can set in motion, right, this, a new chain of events. That is a health promoting chain, right? It’s like the health promoting domino effect as opposed to the disease dominoes, right? And I hope that that actually gives people hope to understand that the body creates or the body can heal it. Cancer can be prevented. It’s not bad luck or bad genes. Our diet and lifestyle choices really matter. And your choices can either lead you down the path or down the path, the path of health or down the path of disease. And you have the power to choose which path you go down. And if they’re listening to your podcast, they’re probably already on this health path, right? They’re already trying to learn and read and research and grow in their knowledge so that your listeners can make the best decisions for them. So that’s my, I guess that’s my sort of overarching message that sort of encapsulates everything I do. I mean, the practical stuff I talk about in my book, but it really does start with the understanding and the belief that you can get well, and that your choices affect your future. It’s personal responsibility and you’re not powerless. You’re not a victim.
Dr. Dan Gubler: (52:44)
Wow. What a powerful and hopeful message. I love how you couple science and nutrition and actionable information with hope and power, action. Well, Chris, this has been amazing. Thank you so much. I love how you’ve mentioned your resources, your two books, which are there in the background and your website, chrisbeatcancer.com. So thank you so much, Chris. Appreciate you and hope you and your family are well.
Chris Wark: (53:11)
Thank you, Dr. Dan. It’s been fun.
Dr. Dan Gubler: (53:13)
Thank you and thank you all for listening. This is Dr. Dan signing off.