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UCSD program using food to fight and prevent disease


By Neda Iranpour

San Diego - Local medical researchers and physicians are finding that food is healing, even for cancer patients.

Parsley can be a form of medicine, so can collard greens, onions or almost any vegetable.

UC San Diego's Natural Healing and Cooking program was co-founded by Director of Research Dr. Gordon Saxe and managing director Lauray MacElhern two years ago and is continuing to gain popularity.

Many patients of UCSD's Center for Integrative Medicine are desperate for answers outside of pills and shots to heal their stomach and heart diseases, even their cancers.

Cancer patient Julie Negrin said, ”everybody says they can’t believe I’m going through chemo and I think it’s because I'm eating good food and taking care of myself.”

Negrin has stage two cancer. Recently she had her uterus, tumors in her ovaries and a large section of her colon removed. “To be honest I was on the couch before I got here and fatigue is a big part of what I'm dealing with but I knew that I would be remedied by being here and they would give me healing foods,” she said.

She follows guidelines given to her by Dr. Saxe who encourages a whole, plant based diet. “There’s a great deal of evidence in cancer research that diet is very important for cancer risk and is much of a factor even more than cigarettes,” Dr. Saxe said.

Dr. Saxe says nourishing foods provide strength, fight illness, and in Negrin’s case, bring on her lovely smile.

In fact, many at this Sunday class say these foods are ridding their addictions to processed and sugary meals.

“I think people are thirsting for ways to get well and stay well,” Dr. Saxe said.

Bottom line -- food is medicine. “We actually have control over potential diseases,” Lauray MacElhern said. This culinary strategy to fight and prevent disease is one UCSD hopes sweeps the nation.

For information on the eight-week Natural Healing and Cooking Program with UCSD’s Center for Integrative Medicine click here:

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