Cathy Biase on the Cancer Canopy and Nutritional Support During and After A Cancer Diagnosis

Cathy Biase, nutritionist and cancer coach joins me to talk about nutrition and cancer, circadian rhytyms, nutritional support for cancer patients and side effects, the microbiome.

Cathy Biase on the Cancer Canopy and Nutritional Support During and After A Cancer Diagnosis Introduction

Today we’re exploring nutrition and cancer. We’re touching on circadian rhythms. We’re going to be looking at nutritional support for cancer patients, managing side effects, the microbiome, and building health and immune support. And we are going to be talking to Cathy Biase. And Cathy is a nutritionist.

She’s got a Bachelor of Science degree with major in psychology. She’s a nutritionist and a cancer coach. She specializes in the functional application of nutrition for the root cause of health improvement in the area of chronic disease with a particular focus on cancer care. I hope you enjoy this conversation I had with Cathy Biase.

Podcast Transcript

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:00:05] I’d like to acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the traditional custodians of our land, Australia, the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation are the traditional custodians of this place. We now call Sydney, where I record this podcast.

The Unstress podcast is proud to be an ongoing supporter of the Healing Foundation, a national Aboriginal organization that partners with communities to address ongoing trauma caused by actions like the Stolen Generation. We have so much to learn from our First Nations people. This land always was and always will be Aboriginal.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:00:47] Hello and welcome to Unstress. My name is Dr Ron Ehrlich and today we’re exploring nutrition and cancer. We’re touching on circadian rhythms. We’re going to be looking at nutritional support for cancer patients, managing side effects, the microbiome, and building health and immune support. And we are going to be talking to Cathy Biase. And Cathy is a nutritionist.

She’s got a Bachelor of Science degree with major in psychology. She’s a nutritionist and a cancer coach. She specializes in the functional application of nutrition for the root cause of health improvement in the area of chronic disease with a particular focus on cancer care. I hope you enjoy this conversation I had with Cathy Biase.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:01:35] Welcome back to the show, Kathy.

Cathy Biase [00:01:37] Thank you for having me. Nice to see you.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:01:40] Nice to see to Cathy now. Cathy, last time we spoke, we were talking about circadian rhythms, and that was a really important conversation that is such an integral part of our everyday life to state the obvious. But today’s topic is about cancer, and I doubt whether there is a single person listening to this podcast that hasn’t in some way within one degree of separation or at the very least two degrees of separation being affected by cancer. And today we were going to go over some prevention and some treatment options. But I wondered if you might give us a little bit of an overview, a reminder of how big of a problem this is.

Cancer overview

Cathy Biase [00:02:24] Well, studies say, Ron, that, you know, one in every two people in a lifetime is going to have a cancer diagnosis. And the thing about this is, is that the majority of cancers are not genetic. So, you know, some do have a genetic component, but we can do so much in our own health space to really minimize whether or not we get this diagnosis of cancer. And it’s been a passion of mine to get that out to people because it’s so much better to be living a preventative lifestyle than to be dealing with this in the middle of a diagnosis. And, you know, we’re aware people in our realm of education can get stonewalled of it, is that people really don’t want to start talking about this until it becomes an issue.

So, you know, if I could just tweak the ears of people and get them to understand that living a cancer prevention lifestyle is what we’re really talking about here, is understanding our own bodies and living a healthy lifestyle, because whether you’re an act of treatment or whether you’re trying to live a healthy lifestyle, we’re trying to create an environment where cancer won’t flourish. And this can be done on so many different levels. And I’m trying to educate people on how simple life changes, lifestyle changes, nutrition, and just educating them on how the body functions. So we talked about circadian rhythm. Right. And that’s a big piece.

But with when you start expanding out from circadian rhythm, you see how other things also impact the timing of when we eat, understanding how the microbiome impacts circadian rhythm and how they all work together so we can divide them into weeks, we can divide them into programs. But the thrust is, is that we need to create a healthy internal train that will try its best and do its best to block out the growth of cancer.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:04:31] And remind our listeners to what I mean. We should probably go back to Cancer 101 and say, well, what is cancer? What happens? What does that actually mean and why is it such a big deal?

Cathy Biase [00:04:44] Well, basically, cancer is a proliferation of cells. It’s an overgrowth of cells that take over the body. And when this happens, things start to break down. And then these cells just continue.

Cancer doesn’t have turn-off switches. It doesn’t have the apoptotic switches that are normal cells do it doesn’t recognize when it’s not helping the body. It’s very ingenious. Cancer’s a very ingenious disease and very hard to stop because it finds very many, many pathways and mechanisms to help it survive. So, again, this is a basic and basic terms as a proliferation of cells, which we don’t want.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:05:26] And to put that in perspective, for example, if you had a liver, we have liver and we have cells within that liver, which are liver cells performing the function of the liver and that proliferation of nonliver cells in the liver or in the lungs or in the bones or in the brain that are doing stuff that they shouldn’t be the nonspecific cells that have no longer functioning as they should. You mentioned the word apoptosis and I know what that means. But I wondered if you might remind our listener about what that means.


Cathy Biase [00:06:01] Apoptosis, our normal healthy cells, once they’ve lived out their life or if they become damaged, the body has a way of sort of shutting off and turning them off and cleaning them out of the body. So it’s a switch-off of cells. It’s that it’s the death of a cell that cancer cells don’t have. So our normal cells, they perform, they do their duty. They live a good life for us. And then when it’s come to the end, they are eliminated by many different forms from the body. So that’s basically what Apoptosis.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:06:32] Yeah. And the other thing that we. When you said one in two people will experience cancer in their life, which is very shocking, very confronting. I mean, I myself have experienced that. So if there’s another person out there, I’ve taken a hit for the two of us,.

Cathy Biase [00:06:50] Me as well, so there we go.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:06:51] OK, OK. And it’s interesting to think, well, is that because we’re getting older, you know, people might dismiss them? Well, you know, we’re living longer, but it doesn’t really stack up, does it? I mean.

Cathy Biase [00:07:05] Well, that’s you know, clinically, I see all age ranges from children up to the elderly. And cancer is not age-specific. When I got cancer, I was, you know, air quotes young and I got cancer. So our environment has changed. Our food sources have changed, our activity levels have changed. Our attention to health has changed. Our lifestyle has changed. And I would look upon these factors more than anything else as a driver behind and not just cancer behind many chronic diseases. We have rampant inflammation, rampant obesity. And these are all triggers for chronic disease, one of which is cancer, asthma.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:07:54] And the specificity of that cancer is perhaps the genetic component,.

Cathy Biase [00:08:00] It could very well be right. Like we all have some weaknesses. And where inflammation may lead to a cancer diagnosis for somebody, it could lead to heart disease for somebody else or diabetes. We don’t know if it’s if we knew everything about cancer, it wouldn’t be here. But, yeah, I think that there is some underlying for sure.

There will be maybe a weakness, perhaps a genetic component, perhaps not. But yes, there are. You know, it’s triggered it’s a triggering of something in our system or an overburdening of our system with toxins that’s allowing cells to proliferate unrestrained.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:08:42] And it’s interesting, isn’t it, that a trauma which a diagnosis of cancer is is often a crisis, if you like, is often a trigger and quite rightly so, to reassess your life. What has led to this point and how you will move forward? It’s life often for many people, a life-changing experience. I know that sounds obvious, but actually many people reflect on it as a in an almost positive way, don’t they? Because I kind of go, well, you know, I’ve never been healthier since I’ve got my diagnosis cancer.

Cathy Biase [00:09:18] Yeah when people really focus on health, amazing things can happen. The body wants to heal, the body wants us to heal. The body wants to be healthy. And when we give our bodies the tools that they need, it responds beautifully. Know people going into there’s such a difference between someone who’s going into cancer treatment, who is prepared, who has changed their.

That’s how their body functions and how to take care of themselves going through treatment, there’s such a difference between the outcomes of those people and side effects than people who are not going into treatment and preparing their bodies for it. When when I’m working with people, we have goals and when we’re going into treatment or I’m working with someone going into treatment, our main objective is to get through the treatment and that’s it. We take steps and we want to get through treatment.

It can be harsh, but if you understand ahead of time what side effects may happen, if you realize how to make smart choices and create a health, it’s never too late. It’s never too late to start then your outcomes. Science has shown it clinically. I’ve seen it and science underlines it to the health you are going into treatments, the better the outcomes can be.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:10:35] So I guess there are three phases to this and maybe we can cover these. And one of them is the prevention. The other is the preparation for treatment. Be that I guess surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy is that. And then out of that, you know, consolidating your health after your phase of treatment. So let’s perhaps start with the prevention part of things. What are some of the key elements in preventing cancer?

Cathy Biase [00:11:09] Well you want to eat properly?  But you also want, you know, coming from a nutrition background, that’s going to be the first thing I say. Right. Obviously, I’m going to say you need to eat well. But if your body if the receiving vesicle is not healthy, no matter what you eat, it won’t be absorbed properly.

I focus on the health of the microbiome because that’s where science is leading us, the health of the microbiome. Now we have the word uncle biome. We know that we have beneficial bacteria, yeast and viruses that if they are cultivated properly, can do wonderful things for us. They can create vitamins, they can transfer minerals into things that are more absorbable for our body. They help with detoxification, but we have to create good health of the microbiome. So understanding how to create good health of the microbiome is key.

Also understanding that is back to our circadian rhythm because our microbiome has a circadian rhythm, understanding when to eat, when not to eat, when to do certain things, understanding what time of day our body wants to be doing certain things in general space. We generally want a lot of our detoxification. Our liver works on detoxification when we’re in that position, when we’re sleeping during the day. I mean, the liver has so many different functions. This is very simplistic. During the day, our liver helps with digestion of food and mineral absorption and glycogen storage, glucose storage.

Cathy Biase [00:12:35] So it’s like I probably said this before with circadian rhythm, we have an orchestrator and it shows every or dictates all over our body what should be working and what dictates that our sleep-wake cycle when we eat our medication when we’re exposed to light. And what does this do? This impacts our hormones.

It’s all a big system, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming when you take bite-size pieces and you start to realize how your body responds. I’ve seen it over and over again. When people understand and actually see and feel a good response to some choices they make, they start for more choices and they go out and they learn and they research and they will talk and we set a plan.

So all these things are important for prevention, very, very key for prevention. But you know what? It’s the same thing. Going into treatment will tweak different things depending on the type of chemotherapy or the type of therapy that they’re going into. Surgery will do certain specific things. But again, the underlying premise here is we want good health. And when a person is pulled into the medical answer, there can be an overwhelming sense of a loss of control.

So understanding that your impact on your outcome is vital, just as vital as what your oncology team or your integrative health team is doing. It’s great for the mental health, but it’s key for the body. So I work on health. People like myself work on the health and the medical team works on the cancer and they work beautifully together. I mean, in an ideal world, medical team would be sending cancer patients to learn about this because it just helps their therapies. It just creates a better outcomes for them. This is my hope. This is my passion is to have a world where we’re all working together.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:14:38] Well, that’s music to my ears, Cathy, because there are three words that kind of summarize. The way I like to approach health care, and that is collaborative, inclusive and proactive, and I hate this us and them ideas, you know like we are real doctors because we do chemotherapy. You guys are doing soft. So, you know, you’re touchy, touchy-feely things, but it’s not real medicine. And we get a lot of that attitude. And I think the patient is ultimately the loser in that experience.

Cathy Biase [00:15:07] Yes. Yes. And right now we are progressing because, you know, just when in integrative oncology clinic like ours, when we’re seeing patients come to us because they don’t feel that they’re getting everything they need, that’s much better than it used to be. So what’s our next up? Prevention, of course. But as soon as you get that diagnosis, you start integrating all your therapists. And then once you know it is changing, I do find that it’s changing.

And when we don’t approach it as an us and them, when we approach it especially for the patient, because we don’t want to confuse them, you know, to try and say, you know, you listen to me, don’t listen to them. All that does is up the stress level. And I would never do that. And everyone has a place. Cancer patient has a place in their protocol, integrative health and the medical team, and it can work. I’ve seen it work as beautiful chemistry.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:16:08] Yes. I think one of the impediments and frustrations for patients in this process is ego. And I mean the ego of the practitioner, perhaps the oncologist, whose knowledge of what you might be talking about nutritionally or from a circadian rhythm point of view is limited. And rather than say, you know, that’s so interesting, I don’t really know a lot about that. But if you’re happy to pursue that, that’s fine. As opposed to the other attitude which says, oh, look, if I don’t know about it, it’s really not worth knowing about and I wouldn’t bother with that. And that’s and that’s unfortunately what sometimes creeps, I think is, as you’ve observed, increasingly less happening.

I think people are being a lot more open-minded about this. And you raised another issue there about when we start in this process and I’ve been in this I mean, I had a diagnosis of prostate cancer when I turned 60. I was five years ago. And it was a very interesting experience for me because you then start a process through the medical system, which is very passive, it’s very passive.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:17:18] You are on the conveyor belt of MRI’s, CAT scans, biopsies, surgery, chemo, radio, none of which you are in control of. Right. And what you’re talking about is saying, hey, don’t forget, there is a lot you can do as an individual to ensure the results of that passive treatment that you’re going through is more successful. And the mental aspect of that is is also so important.

Cathy Biase [00:17:49] You know, this is the next step. I’m working on the profound vacuum of the attention to the mental health of a cancer patient. And that’s it’s not you know, it’s just because we’ve got these areas focusing on getting them through and dealing with the cancer. But, you know, the more I talk to people, the more I deal with patients, the more I see that this is a piece that really needs to be attended to.

But again, when you’re attending to your health, when you are strengthening your microbiome, there is a great number of research papers showing the absolute link between the gut and the brain. So when I’ll say to patients, I find it happens a lot more in women or it’s more stressful in women.

I can’t remember things seeming to lose my mind. Everything is. And then once all I have to say is there’s a very strong connection here between the gut and what’s going on in your brain, plus the fact of the stress you’re under. So it’s not just you losing your mind. You have physiological things that are going on here. And once they understand that, they can impact that, that by doing things to tweak gut health and they see that it’s not just a mental breakdown. The eyes are wide open and say, OK, you know, there’s such a positivity there and again, research, I’m evidence-based. I like the science behind it. There is so much research behind positive attitude and the gut. It’s profound and it really is profound.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:19:27] You mentioned the word OncoBiome and I’m not. Could you just talk to us a little bit more about that? Because I’ve heard Micro, but Onco is a new one for me.


Cathy Biase [00:19:36] Well, it’s a fairly new term. We’re not, you know, with cancer. There are lots of studies going on, but it’s we’re very tentative about nailing things down because this is cancer. But the OncoBiome, there has been research within the area of melanoma and how the makeup of the microbiome can affect medication and how it can either enhance or decrease the effectiveness of certain chemotherapies. Mostly right now, from what I’ve been reading, is that within the area of melanoma, but it’s how the it’s sort of the twist on how the microbiome impacts cancer.

So it’s not specifically talking right about one little area, but it’s sort of a reference of the microbiome in the cancer space and what the impact of the microbiome is in the cancer world. So that’s called the OncoBiome the estrobolome.

So that’s another thing, the estrogen metabolism, the microbiome and how it affects the estrogen metabolism. So it’s starting to become more specific as far as research is focusing on disease-related impacts of the microbiome and how it impacts it.

But the really big one now is what the melanoma and how certain medications can be affected by the makeup of the microbiome. And the thing with the microbiome, too, is as much as science is researching it, it becomes clear and clear that diet and lifestyle are what creates health in the space. There’s no medication. They’re trying we’re trying to create specific probiotics and so forth.

But right now where we’re at is that the health of the microbiome is dependent upon the person, their decisions on what they’re doing in their life and what they’re eating. So it’s probably the microbiome, last I heard, was the most research area within health. So many papers are coming out about it. So again, so it’s a long-winded answer to your question, but it’s the study of the microbiome within the cancer space. Basically.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:21:48] In our program on my podcast, I often interview people in the regenerative agriculture space. And I am interested in soil health. And obviously, my background in dentistry is the oral microbiome. And what you are discussing here is the gut microbiome. And the thing I’ve observed in all of them and is simply this. The more diverse, the more resilient, the more resilient, the healthier it is. And that’s.

Cathy Biase [00:22:17] One hundred percent.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:22:18]  Oral gut. What are some I mean, you’ve touched on the broader aspects of diet and lifestyle, but microbiome that lacks diversity. How do we reach that point? What goes wrong?

Oral Gut

Cathy Biase [00:22:34] We don’t eat enough good quality food. We don’t eat a variety food. And I think one of the nutrients that I’m going to call it a nutrient that is lacking in most diets is fiber. Fiber is key for the health of the microbiome, proper detoxification.

You know, we want to make sure that we’re detoxifying properly sleeping. But again, with diet, fiber is key and a good amount of different phytonutrients, lots of color in the diet. This is what really impacts the microbiome as far as proliferating. So we have transient microbiome which are sort of good probiotics.

So if you’re having probiotic foods, fermented foods or probiotic by pill, those bacteria will come and they’ll help out what’s called your residential bacteria. So your residential bacteria is like your fingerprint and that is cultivated from the time you’re a baby up to about the age of two. And that is perpetuated by your environment again and what you eat. So feeding your microbiome, feeding it properly, you know, we’ve clinically we’ve seen it I haven’t been able to get my hands on too much research, but people moving from one part of the world to another part of the world where diet has completely changed can open themselves up for disease if they’re not being careful right away because it’s a big hit to the microbiome.

You know, you experience this when you travel from me coming to you and Australia, I would have issues with my stomach. My gut, it would be upset for a while until it is used to the food, used to the change in time, all of that, so many key things to perpetuate the microbiome.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:24:15] Yes, you mentioned there the resident microbiome being set from naught to two, and it reminds me of the when the Jesuits sometimes say, show me the person at seven and I’ll show you. They say, show me the boy at seven and I’ll show you the man. I’m trying to be more nonsexist here, but show me the child at seven and I’ll show you the person for life is what they say. And I would really like show me the microbiome, the two, and I’ll show you the microbiome for life is.

Cathy Biase [00:24:46] I don’t know if that’s going to end up being the case, but a good you know, it’s like a fingerprint. We can perhaps create more diversity with. It may not stick like the residential bacteria, but we certainly can create diversity, things like akkermansia this is a very it’s actually called an oh, my goodness. The word has left me. It’s a very particular type of bacteria, keystone. That might be the word keystone bacteria. And it’s in very small amounts normally. And studies have shown that things like pomegranate juice, I have very, very low akkermansia.

It wasn’t even read on my report. Very protective of bacteria. Some studies have shown that you can propagate it by eating certain foods. Now, whether that will stick around remains to be seen. But there is more research really. We’re on the cutting edge right now.

I mean, it may seem like we’ve been researching this for a long time, but I still think there’s going to be so much to uncover. You know, it was thought that the babies have a blank slate when they’re born and everything is just sort of populated. There are some studies out showing that may not necessarily be true. I think we’re just going to keep finding more and more and more and we’re going to always be needing to go back into the research to update. But as it stands now, usually about the age of two is where that thumbprint of the residential bacteria is.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:26:21] And how is what in your experience, what techniques are best for determining the makeup of the microbiome? Because I think some of the bacteria, some of the microbes being anaerobic are difficult. It’s a challenge to culture. What is a DNA is a culture. What are we using?

Cathy Biase [00:26:40] There’s a GI map. There’s a tool, a test called a GI map, and it’s a stool sample that you can send in. And it will give you a reading of your microbiome and the makeup of the microbiome. And again, I’m sure that more and more we’re going to get more attenuated, better types of tests coming out, more accurate tests. But I know that we use one called a GI MAP test, and it is a stool sample you send in and it will give you a readout of the microbiome.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:27:09] Hmm. I know when we were talking about you talking about timing and circadian rhythms, and it’s really easy to see how our lifestyle has kind of cut through circadian rhythms. You know, we have lunch that give us access. We have you know, we’re in control of day and night almost. And I love the way you mentioned.

The liver has two different roles, detoxification at night and digestion during the day. What are some other things apart from timing and microbiome that we can be looking at? You’re talking about the composition of nutrition and with the circadian rhythm specifically. Well, with that, with prevention in general. So looking at the timing of our food, which actually let’s go let’s dove into that a little bit, the timing of our consumption of food. But what’s your view on how we should be doing that?

Cathy Biase [00:28:12] I think, you know, I love the intermittent fasting type of schedule. Intermittent fasting is not for everybody. I want to say that right off the top here to start on an intermittent fasting schedule, you should speak to somebody that understands how it works, understands if it’s good for you, should talk to a practitioner before you start this.

I’d like to qualify that. I know where everyone’s jumping on this fasting train and it’s great for the majority. But there are some that it just isn’t good for us. So let’s start there. I think that we should be eating during a window of time, eight to ten hours. We wake up, we eat, and as soon as the sun starts to go down, we need to be turning over. And we need to be when I’m starting when I start work with people that are not used to eating of time, most people graze, they’ll eat all day, they’ll snack at night and then head to bed.

So what I like to do is start off with three hours before bedtime, try not to eat anything. This will give your body some time to do a lot of the digesting so that when you go to bed, at least the body will have done a bit of digesting and then the reparative restorative piece of the day, which is our nighttime sleep. So sleep is key as another way. Having it touched on sleep is key, but the reparative piece can go along a little bit less unhinged as opposed to if you’re eating right before bed and you’re going to sleep.

Cathy Biase [00:29:48] There is a digestive process that will be done first that will take precedence. And when you are trying to when you’re if you’re a patient going through treatment, you want to detoxify and repair, your body is undergoing a shock and it’s being hit with medications or therapies that are challenging. So you want to give your body time to repair and clean things out so you don’t want to be eating right up against bedtime and, you know, eating 16 hours a day.

To me in general, space for sure is too long of a time to be eating. And again, the research just bears this out. We don’t need to be eating all day. We really don’t. The obesity rate is increasing and we just eat too many calories. For the most part, we don’t need to eat as much. Again, I don’t want to say too specifically the research is, is it an eight-hour eating window on a 16-hour fasting? That’s where the sweet spot of the research is. But again, this doesn’t apply to everybody. But you get the picture. You want to not be eating more than you are eating.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:30:55] Yeah. Yeah. And I actually personally, that suits me very well. That’s exactly what I do. I think this idea of eating three meals a day and two snacks is a great way of selling lots of food. And it’s a great economic model for the food industry and probably for the pharmaceutical and medical industry that will inevitably follow that kind of advice.

A wonderful economic model, just not a very good health model. What how would someone know if apart from I just don’t feel well on this fasting, what are some of the things that, you know, you’ve alluded to that it’s not right for some people, is it just how they feel?

Cathy Biase [00:31:36] No. So if someone has a blood sugar issue, you want to be careful about just jumping on to intermittent fasting or a really narrow range of eating because blood sugar is an issue here. If you had any bad connection with food, if you’ve had an eating disorder, getting on some type of intermittent fasting may not be appropriate. But this, again, is when you want to be working with someone who understands that so that they can monitor things, blood pressure, sleep habits, things like that. You may not be wanting to put someone who’s pregnant on an intermittent fasting schedule.

So everybody is different. So you can be you know, it’s like so many diets that have come out, some are appropriate for, some not appropriate for others. But you want to be understood if you’re not sleeping. Well, if you know, I’ve had many people that I’ve worked with that have gone on to this intermittent fasting schedule on their own.

Cathy Biase [00:32:34] And I had one woman who said that I’ve been fasting. I get up at eight and I stop eating at four. Now, we were talking and she said, oh, I have no problem doing that. But my issue is that I’m not sleeping at night. And well, your body needs calories at night as well. Your body uses depending upon size and so forth. We can say three to five hundred calories at night.

So if you’re not giving your body enough food, then you’re going to wake up. You’re not going to have a restful sleep because you’re not giving it the nutrients and calories that it does. So this is the type of play that we want to have monitored and depending upon and we’re talking in the cancer space. Generally speaking, I don’t want people losing weight. Most people I’m not looking to lose weight.

There have been a few, but I don’t I’m not using intermittent fasting and cancer to lose weight. I’m using it for hormonal balance. I’m using for microbiome detoxification. And there are situations many times where I’ll ask them to cut down calories before treatment a day or two before treatment, because, again, research shows that if you cut calories back, treatment can be more effective. Side effects are more manageable or minimal.

So, again, this is something when we’re talking about people that are disease, you just can’t jump onto these bandwagons. You really should talk to somebody who knows what they’re doing.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:34:04] When we’re talking about people being having difficulty with it, with the fasting. It kind of reminds me also of the fact that there’s the thing which cancer patients go through called a PET scan, which injects radioactive glucose into your body. And it’s because it is known that cancer cells love glucose. So if you lie still for 10 minutes so your muscles don’t fill up with the glucose, the radioactive glucose will go up to the cancer and light up the X-ray.

And yet I don’t see that’s a diagnostic connection between glucose consumption and cancer cells. But so rarely do I hear that connection being made in prevention and treatment to avoid the carbohydrates which the cancer cells presumably like even when they’re not radioactive. You know, this whole relationship of carbohydrates and fats is an important one in the fasting picture as well, isn’t it, as well as the cancer. What’s your view of how it is taken cancer?

Cathy Biase [00:35:18] Yeah, it is interesting. Now, again, the body has a system of regulating glucose, it’s not just insulin in insulin, the pancreas secreting insulin and glucose going into the cells. It our body has a big system to manage glucose. And sometimes your glucose levels can go up if you’re trying to fight off a disease, if you have an acute infection, glucose is our main source of energy. So sometimes blood glucose levels rise in response to a body is need the argument and I understand that argument, but it’s just not that simple.

And again, we need carbohydrate complex carbohydrates to feed the microbiome. I have over the last year seen and I may not I may raise some eyebrows. Less and less. Less and less. Talk about the ketogenic diet, less and less. Talk about the hit against carbohydrates. And I think it has to do with our greater understanding of how our microbiome functions and what it needs.

Cancer patients, their body needs energy again, ketogenic diet and cutting down on carbohydrates as a therapy I will use in certain situations. It does have merit, but in my opinion, across the board, cutting out of carbohydrates is detrimental, especially when someone is just going to cut them out altogether. So it’s just, again and again, this is my take and my take on the research.

I feel that complex carbohydrates are a necessary part of a diet and it’s all relationship know whole food, for the most part, will have a combination of the macro’s and carbohydrates is one of them. And that, again, is body does need carbohydrates. And to play it the other way, if you’re going into treatment, cancer cells have a very rudimentary way of creating energy through carbohydrates.

We go through the we are healthy cells, go through the Krebs cycle and it generates a lot more ATP than when cancer cells go through the Perovic acid cycle. And this is why it needs more and more of the glucose. It doesn’t mean that the rest of our cells don’t need it as well. So therapy-wise, going into treatment, if you do restrict the amount of glucose and carbohydrates a day or two before treatment, you do weaken the cancer cells because they haven’t had time to switch over to another type of energy.

They can break down cancer cells, can break down protein into glucose that it can use as well. So, you know, I say this often, if it was just a matter of cutting out carbohydrates, I think cancer would have been cured. It’s just not that simple. We do need some complex carbohydrates in the diet.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:38:16] I think whenever we whenever there is a discussion about low carb, let’s put that in quotation marks, low carb, it’s often some there’s a semantics involved here. I mean, what are we talking about? Low carb, because to the ketogenic world, 20 grams of carb a day is what is ideal to the food pyramid. Healthy eating plate people, 150 to 200 grams of carbohydrate a day is low carb because they’re suggesting if you look on the websites of official recommended daily intake, you’d be given, you’d be suggesting three hundred to four hundred and fifty grams of carb a day as a normal ideal level.

So what’s low carb to one person is not low carb to another. And that’s often reflected in the research. Well, what is termed that? What is?

Cathy Biase [00:39:14] Yeah, we do percentage-wise and really right like that, because Grams is kind of hard to do because one man, his size and energy level is what it could be, very different from another man. What is very different. So it’s percentage-wise, I would look more on that, that spectrum.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:39:33] And when we’re talking about nutrition and microbiome, where the fats fit into this when the fats into the picture here.

Cathy Biase [00:39:41] Fats are essential. Fats are essential, they’re essential part of the diet. They’re essential part for hormones, very important for the brain, very important for cell structure. It’s not that fats are not fats are essential. We need them in our diet, especially children need fats in their diet. Again, it’s this notion of claiming one macronutrient is bad and putting the tag is bad, whereas a healthy the biggest studied diet, the most well-studied diet is the Mediterranean diet right now.

And that’s a healthy combination of all the macros and getting a good mixture of vital nutrients. So fats are important, as I said, for hormones, for cell structure. And you want healthy cells. You want a healthy it’s a by lipid layer that’s surrounding each of our cells. It’s important for inflammation. It’s important, again, for brain health. We need a good amount of fat in the diet.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:40:40] Hmm. And when patients are coming to you about to embark on treatment, what are some of the specific things you are recommending to them in preparation for that.

Cathy Biase [00:40:56] So diet-wise, again, we want a Whole Foods diet, we want to minimize the red meat consumption, and again, in that space, some people do need the everyone is different. Some people metabolize and need V12 and they need iron in their diet. So if someone is chronically low and iron in a and some organ meat or some red meat every once in a while, it’s just that some of the research is pointing to a change in the microbiome to help to digest the red meat.

So I am not a complete vegetarian or a vegan. Different people need different things in their diet. I’d like 80 percent on their plate being grains and vegetables, mix of grains and vegetables. Different colors are wonderful for people rotating. So if you’re in a climate where you’ve got four distinct seasons and four different crops, different types of crops that are coming up, I like people to eat seasonally. I think that’s very important. Again, on average, women don’t need more than two thousand calories. Again, this is on average, so between 15 and 20 calories in a day. So that’s where I like them to go down. I’d like people to try and incorporate vegetables into their diet. Of course, no junk food, try and get rid of all the desserts.

And those are not helpful. And again, it’s not I’d like to approach diet as an add-on. So adding on things like cakes and cookies and things are not adding on to what you need, but they’re filling you up. So you just want to keep filling your diet with things that are pushing you forward, not holding you back. And processed foods can be inflammatory. So I like grains, I do like grains in the diet, a good source of complex carbohydrates. I love things like seeds and nuts. I think they’re wonderful for the diet. Lots of hydration. Of course, butter’s good, healthy, fat in the diet.

So quite a complete diet. And you have to understand, too, that when I’m talking diet within the cancer space, I also have to consider the stress that people are under and I have to consider where they are coming from because I don’t want food to be another stressor in their life. So I like to meet people where they are. And if it’s a matter of adding a couple of things just to push them a little farther forward, then that’s what I’ll do. You know, cancer patients are under a lot of pressure. So everyone is individual. Everyone can do only so much depending on who the chef is in the family. All these things are so many things to consider. It’s a very individualized approach when you’re working with cancer patients.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:43:44] Another one is sunlight and vitamin D. It’s kind of a paradox, isn’t it? We’re being advised to stay out of the sun, and particularly in these times of lockdown, global lockdown is actually keeping us out of the sun. And yet vitamin D is really an important hormone vitamin. How are we going on that front? What are you seeing in your patients? Is Vitamin D?

Vitamin D is really important

Cathy Biase [00:44:13] I am seeing doctors. Oh, yes, I still think it’s a problem for most, but and now we’re trying to land on the exact amount that people should be in that sweet spot range that they should be in and how to get that. You need to have a blood test done to really determine because it stays in your system. It’s a fat-soluble vitamin.

So I always recommend most people are deficient. So we’d like to get a good reading on that. to begin, genetics plays a role here. Some people are able to absorb and hold on to vitamin D better than others. So blood test is number one. But doctors now they’re on board with vitamin D and this is really made life easier for people like me because it’s essential.

So many studies coming out with breast cancer and lack of vitamin D and such a high percentage of women with breast cancer. So it is now and especially now with covid. And there’s been a strong correlation of vitamin D deficiency or those who have a vitamin D deficiency and symptomology of covid. So vitamin D is earning its place. But right now and it’s the wonderful thing as far as I’m concerned because that’s a supplement that most doctors have no problem right now going along with. But I still think that having a blood test done just to find out if you’re in the right range is important because you need to understand dosage.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:45:42] We covered a lot of territory there around cancer and prevention and treatment as well. Interestingly, also located in Toronto, Canada, I’m sitting here in Sydney, Australia, and we have obviously all experienced a very challenging time. We still are. Tell me how things are going in Toronto. What are your observations about how this pandemic is being dealt with?

Cathy Biase [00:46:08] With cancer patients are in general?

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:46:10] No, in general, in general.

The Biggest Health Challenge

Cathy Biase [00:46:13] Well, it’s been very stressful. It’s stressful for me because I honestly I don’t know where to land on so many different aspects of it all. I just feel for the small businesses that are forced to close down. We have friends that own restaurants and own small businesses, and it’s just been such a trying time for them.

I don’t know what the right answers are. I honestly don’t know. We are so new to this virus that I think to make harsh draw the line in the sand comments or recommendations is difficult because I think we’re going to keep learning more and more and more as time goes on as far as the vaccines that are coming out. It’s a very personal, very personal choice. And it depends upon how frightened you are. It depends on any comorbidities that you might have. It depends on your age. You know, if someone in their 80s and 90s, this is awful time for them, you know, a year for them is so much more impactful than a year for a 30-year-old. So, you know, there’s no right or wrong. And here I don’t feel I as I said, I’m back and forth on so many aspects of this.

Cathy Biase [00:47:34] I’m going to step back and wait for research myself as a former cancer patient. It’s a touch of a red flag at the lack of research right now. But that’s me. And if someone said to me, I’m getting this vaccine, I know what I’m saying. Don’t, because I don’t know enough. And I’m happy to say I. I don’t know enough about it. I will do my due diligence. I just hope people are getting outside and walking around and trying to get some exercise. You know, our gyms have just closed down again. And all these things impact the mental health.

Cathy Biase [00:48:12] We’re going to be learning for years impacts from this pandemic on mental health and so many other things. So it’s a sad time. I just hope that we can get goodness out of it somehow. Maybe being forced to slow down in some space, getting reacquainted with our families is changing focus. Maybe we can pull something good out of it. Definitely the lights at the end of the tunnel. And, you know, I just hope that that, you know, we’re doing our best, the best we can to survive out there. Everyone’s doing what they can. So challenging times.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:48:48] Indeed. And Kathy, listen, you’ve we’ve covered so much territory and given people lots to think about and empower them to take control of their health at this seemingly disempowering period in human history. There is so much we can do. We’ll have links to your Web page. And I know you’ve got your own podcast in Canada as well. And thank you so much for joining us today.

Cathy Biase [00:49:14] Thank you for having me back on is a real pleasure.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:49:16] Thanks Cathy.


Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:49:18] Well, I think it’s a timely reminder, isn’t it, that the prevention, the treatment, if this is all sounding familiar, whether we’re talking about heart health or diabetes or cancer or autoimmune conditions, they are all slightly more nuanced.

They are more nuanced, there’s no question. But there are some common themes which run through this. And immune function is the common theme. And the gut microbiome is always there. And it’s worth being reminded of that. And again, as I said to Cathy, diversity equals resilience and resilience equals health. And whether we’re talking about gut oral or soil microbiome, that appears to be the case. And hey is it any surprise that eating real foods are the key?

And the other thing I love about talking to Cathy is her focus on the circadian rhythms, which I make no apology about. Reintroducing you to me and myself to that concept. And just as an example, the liver, the liver function being detoxification at night and digestion during the day and her advice to not eat for two or three hours before you go to bed, you know all great advice, simple, simple and not complicated. Very accessible, very cheap. And again, the emphasis on sleep, you keep coming back to some basics.

Look, at the end of the day, as a world in which we live becomes more complicated, I believe the solutions are remarkably simple. That’s part of what this message, the message of this podcast, my book and the program, the online programs that will be running in the coming in this year are all about. So I hope you found that helpful. It’s a good reminder on many issues. We’ll have links to Cathy’s website. As I said, the other thing is go online and leave us a review on iTunes.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:51:17] I keep encouraging you to do that. And I’d love you to do that because I want this to be one of the most popular podcasts in the world. There it is. I don’t make any apology for it, because at the end of the day, this is about personal empowerment. And I believe personal empowerment is the key to us all, taking control of our health and being the best we can be. So I hope you found that helpful. I hope this finds you well until next time. This is Dr Ron Ehrlich Be well.


This podcast provides general information and discussion about medicine, health, and related subjects. The content is not intended and should not be construed as medical advice or as a substitute for care by a qualified medical practitioner. If you or any other person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with an appropriately qualified medical practitioner. Guests who speak in this podcast express their own opinions, experiences, and conclusions.