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Health Experts

Thriving vs. Surviving

Five to Thrive: Your Cutting-Edge Cancer Prevention Plan Explores the Difference

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Lise has a few questions for Karolyn:

If you were stranded on an island and you could only have one dietary supplement, which one would it be?
Well, I could probably catch some fish-so I would be able to get my essential fatty acids-and I would hope I could find berries or roots to give me antioxidants, so I’m going to say probiotics.

Horseback riding is your favorite way to unwind. Why is that?
To me, horseback riding is like a moving meditation. It allows me to be fully present. Most of the time, I’m thinking about all of the things I have to do or everything that’s going on in my life, but when I’m riding, none of that exists-I’m in the moment. And what a gift that is!

Why are you so committed to helping people lead healthier lives?
You and I share the same mission, which is to not only help ease the suffering caused by cancer, but to also help people experience what it feels like to thrive. As a survivor of ovarian cancer myself, I know how incredible that feeling of exuberant living is, and I want others to experience it too.

-Lise Alschuler, ND, FABNO

It’s always a pleasure to interview Lise Alschuler, ND, FABNO. Lise and I have been collaborating for more than a decade. In 2007, we released The Definitive Guide to Cancer, and just this month, our latest book, Five to Thrive, hit bookstores. A naturopathic doctor with advanced training in caring for cancer patients, Lise has also been personally touched by the disease, and she used an integrative approach to treat her own breast cancer.

BN: Has your diagnosis changed the way you look at cancer?

LA: In some ways. After maintaining a healthy lifestyle most of my life, breast cancer was a wake-up call to the fact that there are no guarantees. At the same time, I’ve felt like a healthy person with cancer. I was a healthy person receiving chemo and radiation. My experience taught me that prevention is about living in such a way that we feel well and vital regardless of our health challenges.

BN: Why did you write Five to Thrive?

LA: People are searching for practical advice that can help reduce their risk of developing cancer. Our book ties in the fascinating science of epigenetics-the study of how we change the expression of our genes-to five key bodily pathways. These pathways are those that most strongly influence how our genes behave. With this understanding, Five to Thrive prioritizes diet, lifestyle, and dietary supplement strategies that will impact our genes away from cancer development and towards health. The strategies in Five to Thrive are sustainable, and that’s the key: doing things that will both make a difference in the short term, and stick for a lifetime.

BN: What are your five favorite pieces of advice from the book?

LA: It certainly is a hard choice, but if I had to narrow it down to five, they would be:

  1. Eat a colorful diet. When there’s a rainbow of naturally occurring colors on your plate for every meal, you’re eating foods with a broad array of cancer-fighting compounds.
  2. Exercise outdoors. Exercise for at least 30 minutes every single day lowers the risk of developing almost all cancers and improves the survival rates of people who have already been diagnosed with cancer. Exercising outdoors is even more beneficial, with greater impacts on the immune system and on stress reduction.
  3. Laugh and experience joy. Laughter, especially joyful laughter, increases the activity of natural killer cells, one of our most powerful weapons against cancer.
  4. Supplement your diet with targeted nutrients. Diet is foundational to prevention, but there are nutrients that can be concentrated into dietary supplements to augment the anticancer effects of diet.
  5. Live with integrity. Being true to ourselves and our deepest sense of purpose in community with those we love is the end-all and be-all of cancer prevention.

BN: I’ve always been amazed at how hard you work and the hectic pace of your life. How do you do it?

LA: I’m very passionate about what I do, so my work supports my vitality. Having said that, sometimes I tend to fall a bit short on sleep. Sleep is critical to overall health, and I continually seek ways to give myself more time with my head on the pillow. With a bit of extra sleep supporting my daily activities, my days truly become a magical expression of living a life of gratitude and joy.