Tractor Time Episode 11: John Kempf, Founder of Advancing Eco Agriculture

Tractor Time is back, after harvest, to get back into the swing of recording and broadcasting interviews with your favorite people in sustainable agriculture. And we’re coming back with some thunder. Our guest today is a good friend of Acres USA. John Kempf is the founder of Advancing Eco Agriculture, a crop consulting company, and is an expert in the field of biological and regenerative farming. Since 2006, Advancing Eco Agriculture has been a leader in the area of soil and plant nutrition. AEA is an agricultural consulting and manufacturing company that works with farmers internationally.

A resident of Middlefield, Ohio, Kempf is a farmer who grew up in and remains a part of the Amish community.

Find all of our podcasts, including talks by Charles Walters, André Leu and Jerry Brunetti, here.

Fighting Food Insecurity

Author, Anti-Hunger Advocate Andy Fisher Sheds Light on Food Insecurity and its Ties to our Industrial Food System, Politics

Why is the problem of chronic hunger and food insecurity getting worse in the world’s top superpower? Forty-three million people receive SNAP (formerly known as food stamps), and 13 percent of the U.S. population fit USDA’s definition of “food insecure.” Despite an army of well-intentioned volunteers working with 60,000 emergency food sites supplied by more than 200 food banks, the anti-hunger sector has not been able to stem the tide of hunger. In fact, as Andy Fisher points out in his new book Big Hunger: The Unholy Alliance between Corporate America and Anti-Hunger Groups, little that they do alleviates the root causes of the problem.
Fisher is best known for his roles developing the concept of community food security and building the food movement. In 1994 he co-founded the Community Food Security Coalition, a national alliance of groups focused on improving food access and strengthening local food systems. He served as the organization’s executive director for 17 years, until 2011. CFSC brought together people from disparate parts of the food system, such as sustainable agriculture, anti-hunger, community gardening and farmers’ markets, which had not been in the same room before, and gave them opportunities to collaborate as partners and create projects that benefit multiple interests. Fisher was instrumental in gaining passage of federal legislation such as Community Food Projects and the Farm to School grant program. He has worked on a wide variety of food system projects and topics, including food policy councils, healthy corner stores, coalition building and farm to cafeteria. Since leaving CFSC, he has taught at various universities in Oregon, most recently as adjunct faculty member of the public health department at Portland State University, and served as interim executive director at Portland Fruit Tree Project.
Fisher became interested in domestic food issues as a grad student in Urban Planning and Latin American Studies at UCLA. When Los Angeles exploded following the acquittal of police officers accused of beating Rodney King, he and a handful of fellow grad students felt an urgency to deal with what was going on in their own backyard. “The food system was not working for people in South Central Los Angeles. People were burning grocery stores, and there weren’t many supermarkets there,” he said. Fisher went on to conduct a yearlong inquiry into the problems of food access, health and hunger in one South Central neighborhood and explore possible solutions. The report gained attention as one of the first community food assessments in the country.

Interviewed by Tracy Frisch

ACRES U.S.A. Food pantries and soup kitchens were originally intended as sources of food for emergencies, but millions of Americans regularly depend on them. Food pantries have popped up in so many neighborhoods, in rural areas and even at colleges. What went wrong in our country to make this the new normal?

ANDY FISHER: That’s a wonderful question. The first food bank — a place that aggregated food from retailers and processors in a warehouse — opened in Phoenix in the 1960s. Into the 1970s only a handful of food banks existed across the country. A nascent alliance called Second Harvest coordinated those efforts. Come 1981, after Reagan took office, the country went into a deep recession. A lot of manufacturing jobs went south or to Japan. The steel industry is a prime example of an industry where many jobs left the country. Many people became unemployed. During that period labor unions, churches and other groups started creating food pantries as a way to feed people on an emergency basis. Nobody expected it to last forever. But once the ball got rolling, food corporations realized it was a morally preferable way to dispose of their surplus food. For volunteers, it was a wonderful way to feel good. People continued to need the food. The emergency food system became very convenient for the federal government because it demonstrated that the private sector was addressing this issue and suggested that we didn’t need ‘big government’ to do it. Over time it became institutionalized. I started working on these issues in the early- to mid-1990s. For the first 10 years I was involved, food bankers would frequently claim that they were trying to put themselves out of business. Around a decade ago, I stopped hearing that on a regular basis. Part of what accelerated the process of making the emergency food system a permanent part of the landscape was America’s Second Harvest, the food banking trade association. Around 2006, Second Harvest hired Vicki Escarra, formerly Delta’s chief marketing officer, as its CEO. She led a rebranding of the organization as Feeding America and brought in high-level advertising PR folks. They ramped up their fundraising from corporate America and starting engaging in cause marketing. The relationships between the food banks and corporations really took off.

ACRES U.S.A. You call fighting hunger a national pastime. That sounds like something that Americans could be proud of. What makes you critical of the way we conduct this activity? (more…)

Real Health: A Response to What The Health (Opinion column)

By Maryam Henein

Back in March, I attended the premiere of the documentary film What The Health at the Downtown Independent theater in Los Angeles. I found myself in a room full of staunchly righteous vegans, including a guy who was wearing a T-shirt that read Vegan Feminist. The musician Moby, whom I formerly conducted a panel with to honor our prime pollinators and my film Vanishing of the Bees was also there.

cow herd

My aim was to write a positive review and interview Kip Andersen, one of the directors who brought us Cowspiracy. But by the end of the screening, I was utterly appalled by the irresponsibility of this film, not only as a health consultant and public health expert but also as a filmmaker and journalist who spent five years crafting her own documentary. It was sloppy, lacked distinction, was full of disconnects, and was rife with shoddy cherry-picked science. What The Health is not a documentary, rather an ad to promote veganism.

While the film’s basic premise of eating less meat and consuming more plants is a valuable message, considering most people follow the Standard American Diet, I do not support proselytizing veganism by fearmongering and spreading lies

After the film, I couldn’t even discuss my objections with my vegan friend; she literally shushed me because, well, she’s a vegan with an arguable crush on Andersen. Frustrated, I went home, whipped out my iron skillet and slowly cooked me some organic, pastured bacon and eggs, which according to What The Health is equivalent to smoking not one but five ciggies. Absurd! Organic eggs are a great source of vitamin B, choline, fat and protein.

After my many, many years of research and experimentation, I’ve come to realize that diet is highly personalized and individual. I’ve chosen a ketogenic lifestyle based on molecular blood tests. But people who rave about one diet miss a basic understanding: we all metabolize foods and burn energy differently.

Furthermore, after looking into Blue Zones, it is evident that some people can live up to 90 years plus in health subsisting on various diets, including diets that consist of mostly meat. Our bodies are highly adaptable.

“When looking at health, it’s not enough to look at the foods we eat and think that that is what feeds longevity,” adds Jason Prall, the producer of the upcoming eight-part series, The Human Longevity Project. “The quality of the food and what we are doing with it is the real factor.”

I agree. Given that we live in a highly divisive system that enjoys pitting people against one another, I believe that we should focus on the real problem at hand, which is modern agriculture with its monocultures, pesticides, and unsustainable practices.

Be a Chooseatarian — respect another person’s food choices and do not shame or demonize others. We can agree that what is important is to eat clean, organic, non-GMO, unprocessed food, which is ideally local. And if you eat animals, steer clear from concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFO).

Now let’s dive into the myriad issues with What The Health.

1.A Spoonful Of Sugar Doesn’t Help The Medicine Go Down

The Joaquin Phoenix-exec produced film rampages against meat, even going as far as to say — and this segment is the most disturbing to me — that sugar and high carbs “aren’t that bad,” and that a “meat-based diet” is the culprit behind diabetes.

“Diabetes is not and never was caused by eating a high-carbohydrate diet,” maintains Neal Barnard, MD., founder of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, who is featured in the film and is basically an animal welfare activist and leading advocate for veganism.

Barnard goes on to say that animal fats go directly to your fat stores and block the cells’ insulin receptors. He adds that insulin is like a key, opening a lock to get glucose into cells and that fats are like chewing gum that gunk up the keyhole so insulin can’t work.

Utter nonsense. My question is: how is this person even a doctor? Diabetes is NOT caused by a “buildup of fat in the blood.” It’s sugar and NOT fat that causes insulin resistance.

Need proof? Consider, for instance, that India is one of the epicenters of the global diabetes mellitus, with an estimated 70 million diabetics by the year 2020. And drum roll please … they do not all eat meat.

Meanwhile, research consistently shows that a ketogenic diet, characterized by high fat and low carbohydrates can reverse diabetes.

Vilifying fats is so 1965. That’s by the way around the time the sugar industry paid scientists to play down the link between sugar and heart disease and promote saturated fat as the culprit. I myself was indoctrinated, and it took me a while to become “fat-adapted” both mentally and physically.

“The “fat makes you fat” rhetoric is ingrained in so many peoples’ minds that they fear fat, even though study after study shows how fat crushes cravings, helps you lose weight, balances your hormones and turns on your brain,” explain health expert and biohacker Davids Asprey. “Fat, especially saturated fat, and cholesterol are the building blocks for nearly every cell in your body and mind. High-carb or sugar-filled diets — even well-meaning plant-based vegan diets — lead to the exact opposite.”

Ignoring or lessening the negative effects of sugar, low-fat, and high carbs is crazy! Sugar is highly addictive and messes with our hormones. And the ironic thing is that saturated fats from happy grass-fed animals is much better for you than processed vegetable oils full of inflammatory omega 6s.

“Sugar is a major cause of inflammation and oxidation damage,” adds Kearney. “It’s a major problem in the Standard American Diet, and it was irresponsible to suggest otherwise.”

While you can call certain foods “complex carbohydrates” to make yourself feel better, at the end of the day, says Lierre Keith, author of the The Vegetarian Myth: Food, Justice, and Sustainability, every last molecule of both simple and complex carbohydrates are broken down into simple sugars in your intestines and have to be dealt with.

“Diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular, and autoimmune conditions are a product of the modern age,” says Keith. “Please note, there are no corresponding ‘diseases of Hunter-Gatherers.’”

Respected health experts confirm undoubtedly that excessive sugar clearly promotes insulin resistance, with processed fructose being readily converted to body fat. Low-carb, high-fat diets have proven superior for controlling insulin resistance, which is the hallmark of obesity and metabolic dysfunction.

Fat is, in fact, the preferred fuel of the human body — not sugar. Dr. Richard Veech, a metabolic expert, says bluntly that fat burning is “the normal state” of humans.

And while it is possible to be a healthy vegan, consider that many eat grains and beans that are high in inflammatory lectins. Lectins, which are autoimmune-stimulating, are the plant’s natural compounds to ward off pests, fungal and bacterial attack. That is the plant’s natural immune system. When plants are under attack they raise their lectin numbers to fend off the attacking pests. Incidentally, soaking and sprouting grains and legumes can help reduce lectins.

2. Meatheads & Shrinking Noggins

“Choose your poison,” says one of the film’s experts, referring to the various ways that animal foods kill. “It’s a question of whether you want to be shot or hung.”

The movie doesn’t mention “organic,” “pasture-raised” or “grass-fed,” making no distinction between eating let’s say goat meat that has been sourced locally, biodynamically, and ethically versus chowing down on industrially-raised Tyson’s chicken pumped full of antibiotics and hormones where the animal has been subjected to horrid conditions.

The film is also full of false equivalences, meaning it spews logical fallacies in which two opposing arguments appear to be logically equivalent when in fact they are not. For instance, if you are going to trash fast food, understand that it’s not just made up of cheap meat. It’s also full of sugar, carbs, and fillers. And while yes — too much protein can tax your body, says Bulletproof’s Asprey, grass finished ethically sourced meat is not just “pure garbage” of “dead, decaying animal flesh.”

“Protein is a building block for your body. When you eat too much of it (from plants or animals, it doesn’t matter), your body tries to use the protein for energy. That raises ammonia levels in the body, which is bad for your kidneys,” explains Asprey. “But ever worse, some types of protein components called amino acids can directly trigger inflammation in the body when you have too many of them. A final reason is that high protein diets raise levels of a compound called mTOR linked to cancer. You need brief spikes of mTOR to build muscle, but eating high protein all the time raises your cancer risk.”

In figuring out how much protein to eat, Asprey says a good starting point is about 0.4-0.5 grams for every pound you weigh.

In my opinion, this is the kind of solid distinct information the film lacked. And for those of you on Team Vegan who need evidence beyond common sense that our ancestors ate meat, note that the first tools ever made were for hunting and butchering.

These tools are found next to the carcasses of megafauna and are still coated in animal fat, says Keith. Chemical analysis of teeth prove that our ancestors were eating ruminants that lived on grasses.

“Back up 400,000 years — that’s when homo erectus started to become homo sapiens. Brain size increased by 75 percent over a short 180,000 years while our digestive tracts shrank. The only way that’s possible is if our progenitors were eating nutrient-dense foods, which is to say animal fats and proteins,” adds Keith, a former vegetarian herself.

A recently updated and rigorous analysis of changes in human brain size found that our ancestors’ brain size reached its peak with the first anatomically modern humans of approximately 90,000 years ago. That then remained fairly constant for a further 60,000 years, according to the book Primal Fat Burner: Live Longer, Slow Aging, Super-Power Your Brain, and Save Your Life with a High-Fat, Low-Carb Paleo Diet. This factoid should fill us with horror: the human brain has shrunk by 10 percent under the pernicious diet of agriculture.

Incidentally, our brains are made of more than 60 percent fat and don’t require glucose; they actually function better burning alternative fuels such as ketones.

“The archaeological record could not be clearer: Wherever people took up agriculture, they lost six inches in height, their teeth fell out, their bones were riddled with diseases, and their brains shrank,” adds Keith.

Using tests and brain scans on community-dwelling volunteers, aged 61 to 87, who exhibited no cognitive impairment at enrollment, they measured the size of the participants’ brains. When the volunteers were retested five years later, the scientists found those with the lowest levels of vitamin B-12 intake were the most likely to have brain shrinkage. Not surprisingly, vegans who eschew all foods of animal origin, suffered the most brain shrinkage. This confirms earlier research showing a link between brain atrophy and low levels of B-12.

Some of us have unwittingly run that experiment on ourselves. I was an unhealthy vegetarian for seven years. A study from Oxford University followed omnivores, vegetarians, and vegans for five years. The people refraining from meat lost brain volume, with vegans losing a full five percent. In fact, the smallest brain of the omnivore was bigger than the largest vegan brain.

“This is tragic beyond measure,” adds Keith. “People are doing what they are told, eating a plant-based diet because it’s supposed to be healthy, and they are literally destroying their brains.”

The vegan diet is nutritionally insufficient, lacking not only vitamin B-12 but also iron, certain amino acids, and folate (meaning that we should refer to it always as a “vegan diet plus supplements”).

3. Shoddy Science

Move past the mafia informant-type interviews and ominous music in What The Health and you’ll come across nearly 40 health claims, all which are sensational and flimsy.

For instance: one serving of processed meat a day increases risk of developing diabetes by 51 percent. Wrong! According to multiple studies, if you eat highly processed red meat every day there is a 19 percent increased risk of developing diabetes. (Also keep in mind that we do not know what other factors or foods are being thrown into the mix!)

“Most of the claims in the film come from epidemiological studies. These are fundamentally limited in that they can only show associations and cannot establish causation,” explains Nina Teicholz in an excellent blog on the film. She is also the author of The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat, and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet. “Therefore, this data is really meant only to generate hypotheses and can only rarely ‘prove’ them.”

Among the many problems with epidemiological studies writes Teicholz: “The extreme unreliability of “food frequency questionnaires (FFQ),” which depend upon people accurately remembering what they ate over the last six or 12 months.” These methods also don’t objectively measure nutrient intake or measure food and beverage consumption.

Consider also that human beings do not eat one food but a range, so what foods are responsible for what? For instance, in Greece (where I live part of the year) people feast on nightshades vegetables (full of lectins) and actually exhibit incidences of arthritis. However, they also consume copious amounts of anti-inflammatory olive oil that may offset the effects. Point is things are complicated when it comes to nutrition. Especially when you consider that more and more of our food supply is adulterated, and that there are so many varying opinions/diets.

Teicholz makes another excellent point: in the past 30 years, as rates of obesity and diabetes have risen sharply in the U.S., the consumption of animal foods has declined steeply: Whole milk is down 79 percent; red meat by 28 percent and beef by 35 percent; eggs are down by 13 percent and animal fats are down by two percent. Consumption of fruits is up by 35 percent and vegetables by 20 percent.

“All trends therefore point toward Americans shifting from an animal-based diet to a plant-based one, and this data contradicts the idea that a continued shift toward plant-based foods will promote health.”

In summary, 96 percent of the data in the film does not support the assertions made in this film. What The Health fails to cite “any rigorous randomized controlled trial on humans supporting its arguments,” concludes Teicholz.

4. A Bone To Pick: Modern Agriculture

Whether I am in Guatemala studying permaculture or investigating Blue Zones in Greece, I see how modern agriculture negatively impacts culture, soil (the planet’s microbiome), and human health.

Want to vilify meat? Keep in mind that one season of planting your basic row crops — corn, wheat, soy — can destroy 2,000 years of topsoil. Keith explains that there were farms in South Dakota that lost all their topsoil — all of it — on the first day of the Dust Bowl, a period of severe dust storms that greatly damaged the ecology and agriculture of the American and Canadian prairies.

“That’s what happens when the perennial plants with their matrix of roots is removed — there’s literally nothing to hold the soil in place,” she says. “But the number I really want people to understand is this: civilizations last between 800 and 2000 years, which is how long it takes for the soil to run out. There are no exceptions,” says Keith.

And by 1950, the world was essentially out of soil. Instead of the population loss that should have followed, what we had instead was the so-called “Green Revolution,” in which scientists bred highly productive grains that needed massive inputs of fossil-fuel based fertilizer. If you’re eating grain, you’re eating oil on a stalk.

As environmental journalist Richard Manning and author of The Oil We Eat writes,

“With the possible exception of the domestication of wheat, the Green Revolution is the worst fate to befall the planet. We have got to face what we have done by taking up agriculture if we are to have any chance of saving life on this planet.”

We’re increasingly encouraged to eat less meat to tackle climate change, but how sustainable is it to eat avocados shipped in from Mexico or green beans flown in from Kenya?

For instance, it’s pretty nonsensical but because of EU subsidies, 15,000 tons of tomatoes are imported into Greece each year, at a cost of $11.6 million. Given their love of tomatoes and their ability to grow them, they should be a net exporter.

Perishable fresh fruit and vegetables are more likely to be thrown away compared to meat and fish, and food waste increases the carbon footprint, which counters positive gains.

“Considering that vegetables are over 90 percent water, it’s insane that anyone ships them anywhere,” adds Keith.

And newsflash: we kill dramatically more animals by eating grain than by eating a grass-fed cow. “In very brute terms, agriculture is biotic cleansing. You take a piece of land, you clear every living thing off it, and then you plant it to human use. That’s a long way of saying “mass extinction,” attests Keith.

Modern agriculture has skinned the planet alive. Think about all the casualties involved — rodents, birds and reptiles — that try to live inside fields of annual monocrops.

“The production of wheat requires the deaths of at least 25 times more animals per kilogram of usable protein than protein produced on intact rangeland,” explains Keith.

5. The Meat of The Matter

I do applaud What the Health for bringing more attention to the fact that the conventional meat industry and Big Pharma are behemoths that care about profit over people. However, all of conventional farming is to blame for ill health.

We douse tons of veggies and grains with Monsanto’s glyphosate. In fact, it’s becoming increasingly obvious that gluten intolerance is due in part to this herbicide. Worldwide, we’ve sprayed 9.4 million tons of the chemical onto fields since 1974. For comparison, that’s equivalent to the weight of water in more than 2,300 Olympic-size swimming pools. Today, the world is awash in glyphosate; RoundUp is in our blood, breast milk and brains.

And before we demonize meat, understand, adds Keith, that no human population in the history of civilization has ever been recorded surviving on a vegan diet. Our jaws were not designed for plant matter. Ruminants have a jaw for rotational chewing. The human jaw, like that of other carnivores, is made for vertical chewing.

We tear and crush with our jaws, while ruminants grind their food, explains Keith. Mastication is basically unimportant to humans and other carnivores, whereas for ruminants it is vital. Humans and other carnivores have incisors on both jaws; ruminants have them on the bottom only. We have ridged molars where ruminants have flat molars.

“If vegetarians — and vegans in particular — berate you for ‘murdering’ and eating animals, please be kind to them,” says Keith. “They are almost certainly suffering from self-inflicted brain atrophy, and have little recognition of both the damage they are doing to themselves and the harm that are doing to others who follow their advice.”

In keeping with what I said earlier about not shaming others for their food choices, if you are a vegan or vegetarian, monitor your sugar levels and keep inflammation down. Keep in mind, as Asprey points out, that people generally do well on a lower carb vegan diet.

“It takes careful planning to make sure you cover your essential amino acids, so work with a nutritionist if you don’t trust yourself to consistently plan week to week.”

As a tagline, the filmmakers describe What the Health as “the film that health organizations don’t want you to see.” But I’d go as far as to say that many health experts wouldn’t advise you to see it either.

Maryam Henein is an investigative journalist, and cofounder and editor-in-chief of HoneyColony. She is also the director of the award-winning documentary film Vanishing of the Bees, narrated by Ellen Page. Follow her on Twitter: @maryamhenein. Email her:

Ketogenic Diet: Fighting Back Against Cancer

Interview by Chris Walters
From the October 2017 issue of Acres U.S.A. magazine.

Nasha Winters is a naturopath based in Colorado and the co-author of a lucid, persuasive book called The Metabolic Approach to Cancer. She is an articulate, energetic and unstoppable advocate of the ketogenic diet as a therapy for cancer and a host of other maladies. Ketosis — not to be confused with ketoacidosis, a life-threatening condition — is a metabolic state in which some of the body’s energy supply comes from ketone bodies in the blood, in contrast to a state of glycolysis in which blood glucose provides most of the energy. Ketosis is a nutritional process characterized by serum concentrations of ketone bodies over a certain level, with low and stable levels of insulin and blood glucose. Longer-term ketosis occurs when people stick to a food regimen that is extremely low in carbohydrates and can be medically induced to treat a patient for diabetes or epilepsy. Along with a growing cohort of medical practitioners and ordinary citizens, Winters believes it holds the key to reversing some of the scourges that threaten to bankrupt our health care system. Herself a cancer survivor, Winters approaches her work with the fervor of one who knows it in her bones. She graciously made time for a long chat in between seeing patients, lecturing and writing.

Understanding Cancer from a Metabolic Level

ACRES U.S.A. What do you think is the biggest barrier to our understanding of cancer? For many years we’ve been hearing that millions of dollars are being spent and many millions more are needed for research. There are occasional stories of research breakthroughs and less frequent stories of significant new therapies. Yet cancer marches on. It is a subject of fear and incomprehension for most people.

NASHA WINTERS. Yes, exactly. I don’t know if I have the answer, but I have my thoughts and a quarter-century of personal experience with thousands of patients and hundreds of colleagues. First of all, when you hear the big C, when you hear “cancer,” it conjures up terror. It conjures up fear, and it conjures up a certain value and belief system. In the United States the only people who are allowed to say they treat cancer are oncologists and dental surgeons. Even your family practitioners are not allowed to treat cancer. It’s a turf war, if you will. If somebody’s diagnosed with cancer, they have to be referred to an oncologist. Well, that’s great. Oncologists know a lot about the actual cancer cell, the cancer cell cycle and the tumor itself, but frankly, they do not have any training in the terrain, in the medium in which that cell or tumor grows. That’s where we have the biggest disconnect and biggest loss in the past 70 years of cancer treatment, certainly since Nixon declared War on Cancer in the early ’70s. We have not made any headway. Just to back up and give a few statistics, one in two men and one in 2.4 women in the United States are expected to have cancer in their lifetime. When you have cancer in places like the United States, you also have a 70 percent chance of having a recurrence. Not only do you get to deal with it once — you have a high likelihood of dealing with it again. We’ve seen a 300 percent increase in brand-new secondary cancers in patients who’ve already been treated for cancer. Months to years later, they have brand-new cancers that are not related to the original diagnoses, and we find those are secondary to the treatments they received the first go around.

ACRES U.S.A. Is that a recent trend?

WINTERS. Yes, it’s a recent trend. In our book we give out the references to this research. Everything I’m telling you is referenced, and most of it comes directly from the American Cancer Society, World Health Organization and the CDC, as well as the IARC, which is the main investigative body for cancer research. So this is big. And yet, we haven’t made very much headway. We’ve not seen any change in survival rates basically in 50 years. We are seeing people being diagnosed earlier because of certain technologies, but it’s not changing their outcomes. So early diagnosis is not changing survival rate, unfortunately. What we’ve focused on for the past 70-75 years is the tumor and the tumor cell, and we’ve gone at it with all this traumatic theory or the DNA damage theory of cancer, as seen in Dr. Vogelstein’s work out of Johns Hopkins and people like him. They say that cancer is simply bad luck, that it’s a genetic mishap, and you’re just more or less a sitting duck, waiting for it to happen to you. I completely disagree, as does a growing body of knowledge, including researchers from Vogelstein’s group. Dr. Peter Pedersen’s work at Johns Hopkins, Dr. Thomas Seyfried at Boston College, Dr. Dominic D’Agostino out of Florida University and others are really picking up the momentum where Dr. Otto Warburg left off in the 1920s. He was looking at cancer as a metabolic disease back in the ’20s, but shortly thereafter Watson and Crick came onto the scene and pushed us into the world of DNA and genetics.

ACRES U.S.A. Does the genetic mutation idea, the bad luck thesis, have something to do with our incomplete record of the past? If we had a better record of the past, wouldn’t it be clearer that our cancer rates have gone up so much that simple bad luck can’t explain it?

WINTERS. You got it. I also think, boy howdy, we really didn’t figure out the genome until the late ’80s, early ’90s. We really expected that to be a home run for us, and it’s fallen very short of that. The people who are still pushing the gene theory alone are standing on the Titanic saying, “This is the way to go. We’re fine. Everything’s good here.” Yet we are coming to understand from the metabolic approach that it doesn’t throw the damaged DNA out with the bathwater. It says the DNA damage isn’t because of cancer. The cause of cancer is damaged mitochondria.

What Are Mitochondria and How Do We Damage Them?

ACRES U.S.A. Can you refresh our memory from high school biology?

WINTERS. Mitochondria are the little organelles within each and every one of our cells that create energy, that make adenosine triphosphate or ATP, which is our energy source, from what we feed it, from our diet. The discussion is changing from 75 years of saying, “Gene damage equals cancer.” Now we’re saying, “Damaged mitochondria equal DNA changes, which equals cancer.” We’re backing it up a notch by saying the problem is a little more upstream than we’re giving it credit for. This is the power of the metabolic theory of cancer and the metabolic approach to cancer — looking more at prevention and truly understanding how each and every one of us can tune up our mitochondrial function and help us become more resistant to cancer and chronic illness.

What are mitochondria?
Mitochondria on a blue background

ACRES U.S.A. How do we damage our mitochondria?

WINTERS. The biggest offenders doing damage to our mitochondria are our diets and our lifestyles. This is where we’re able to show in the research that upwards of 95 percent of all chronic illness, and especially cancer, is secondary to our diet and lifestyle choices. We have come to trust and believe in our government giving us good information about our food, and yet we’re one of the few countries that doesn’t label GMOs or outright ban them. We’re one of the few industrialized nations that doesn’t ban or label glyphosates. We’re one of the few countries that doesn’t ban certain chemicals added to our food, or hormones and antibiotics added to grain sources that feed the animals we eat. We have a way in the United States of saying, “We’ll keep doing it until proven otherwise,” whereas the rest of our industrialized colleagues say, “Prove it to us that it’s safe, and then we’ll use it.” They take a little bit different approach, just like I’m trying to put out there that we should probably take a different approach to cancer, that it’s not DNA damage that equals cancer. It’s cleaning upstream that prevents the DNA damage that causes cancer. It gets into the politics. It gets into Big Ag. It gets into chemical companies. And it gets into the medical system. When I talk about food, I mean it on all levels that impact our world.

ACRES U.S.A. Do people in the field resist the metabolic understanding of cancer because they are reluctant to accept that genome research just didn’t pan out as hoped? It’s not the master key to the most challenging locks. A scientist who has put a couple of decades into a certain way of thinking about something would be as reluctant as anybody else to abandon it if it’s not working.

WINTERS. Well, that’s just it. By the year 2020, the cancer industry — because that is the reality, it’s an industry — is expected to surpass a trillion dollars. We’ve invested a lot of time, money, effort and research dollars, as you say, into the gene model, the epigenome model, and it hasn’t panned out as we had hoped. Now, being a person who sees those sides of that equation, I don’t think we necessarily have to throw that out entirely. I just think it should not be our central focus. You still can have actionable targets within that genetic expression. But we need to be thinking more globally. We need to back it up from the tumor and the tumor cell, and we need to understand how we got here and how to get away from it. That’s what the emerging science is doing. Thankfully, at the end of the Obama administration, Joe Biden helped launch a concept called the Precision Medicine Initiative, which basically said, “We have money to give a bunch of scientists, but they have to talk to each other.” Because today the way our research works is that everyone hoards and hides their information because it’s worth something. It’s got value. The Precision Medicine Initiative says we’re spinning our wheels by hoarding our data — let’s bring our data together and compare it, and together we can make a bigger difference. I’m hopeful that it’s going to change some of the dialogue in the future. I also hope we start looking at the individual. Just this past week, a study came out in which they’re finally looking at somebody’s genes to truly decide what the best conventional drug treatment is.

ACRES U.S.A. This is a new idea?

WINTERS. I’ve been doing that for a decade, but it hasn’t been covered by insurance. People have to pay for these genetic tests out-of-pocket to determine the best treatment for them. But with this new study coming out, this may be part of your normal regimen — you get diagnosed with cancer and you get a precision, personalized medical approach. That is really a groundbreaking moment in 75 years of oncology care. Also, people are paying more attention to why we have more cancer, and that segues into talking about the industry that’s behind the gene research. There is a lot of industry behind the treatments. If you then say, “Gosh, that chemical we put on the food is toxic” — admit that once and entire multimillion if not multibillion-dollar industries could go down the tubes. No one in that industry wants to have people label known carcinogens. It would not be good for business. These are the kinds of things that we talk about in the book — who these industries are and where you need to look to educate yourself. You cannot depend on your government or Big Ag or big industry or even big medicine to do that for you. They’re all in bed together.

 ACRES U.S.A. Do you think there is a lot of walking on eggshells around the idea that we would like to solve this problem, but not really?

 WINTERS. Oh, totally. I think that’s actually a perfect statement. When you have something that’s encroaching on a trillion-dollar moneymaker, my goodness. We are not very compelled to change. There are people being paid to come and troll sites like mine, saying everything I’m doing is hooey, totally refutable and not standard. Then they jump on the fact that I’m not a conventionally trained medical doctor, even though I’m a naturopathic doctor. I went through the same board exams and studied to learn all of this personally and professionally. I work with conventional colleagues around the world and can communicate on their terms. There are people who are committed to blocking this information from being available and being transparent.

Understanding the World of Cancer Research

ACRES U.S.A. Let’s talk about your research activity.

WINTERS. I help consult on Institutional Review Boards on research projects at major medical universities and academic institutions on a regular basis. An IRB is an independent ethics committee that reviews your permission to do a research project through the FDA, for example, which vets the research. They give you a stamp of approval that you can run with this project — “It’s ethical. It makes sense. You’re asking a good question. Yes, let’s do the research.” I work within that arena, and I know what they’re saying yea and nay to, and they’re happy to say yes to the types of things that I want to study, but they’re not willing to fund it. That’s the other piece. A lot of the things that we need to be talking about, no one wants to fund. Thankfully, in this era we have a lot of philanthropic, entrepreneurial dollars and personal money being filtered into the world of research that may actually make a difference and get us somewhere. In the past we really depended on the industry, on the National Institutes of Health and the National Cancer Institute. We’ve looked at all of these other resources to do our research for us, but no one felt compelled to do some of it, because you can’t make money off food. You can’t make money off certain nutrients or supplements or herbs, and you can’t make money off lower dosing of some of the more toxic therapies. So it’s an interesting dance that we’re in.

ACRES U.S.A. You also have a personal connection to the world of mainstream cancer research, if I’m not mistaken.

WINTERS. Yes, my husband worked in cancer research. He was a cancer drug designer in grad school. He’s a biochemist by training, and he worked for Merck Pharmaceutical. He runs a medical marijuana-testing lab in the state of Colorado to make sure that people are actually doing what they say they’re doing, and also make sure it’s not fraught with chemicals and pesticides. We are very passionate about quality, quantity, research and the scientific method around all of these things, but we also recognize the many roadblocks that are put up to get real research done and to get information disseminated to the masses.

ACRES U.S.A. With your husband as a window into the world of high-dollar biochemistry, biomedical research, then you are highly informed about the world that you’re more or less opposing, if that is the right word.

WINTERS. Exactly. Or trying to create transparency, communication and some real change. I don’t think that it has to be us or them. I think there are different conversations. But they would see me as the opposition, right? That’s pretty clear.

ACRES U.S.A. Are they paranoid?

WINTERS. Judging by the way I’ve been addressed — yes, exactly. What is that old Schopenhauer quote about truth? First they laugh at you, then they vehemently oppose you, and then they accept it as fact. I have lived and practiced long enough, through 25 years of my own cancer diagnosis, as well as helping thousands of others, to have watched that process unfold multiple times. I used to be laughed at, like, “Oh, she’s just a kooky naturopath.” Now that I’m out there on a bigger stage around the world and even advising on conventional research and therapies, they’re starting to get really mean.

ACRES U.S.A. Recent experience tells us that armies of clever and nasty trolls can be hired.

WINTERS. Definitely. I don’t even respond. Luckily, I don’t have to. Most people who know me, who have worked with me, know that what I do is about education and empowerment. My mission is exactly the one you have at Acres, except mine says, “I bring you everything you need to know to grow a bountiful, nourished body and preventative terrain that doesn’t leave a welcome mat for disease and chronic illness.” We’re on the same exact path, trying to bring informed consent and understanding to the world. That’s what it’s about. I’m passionate. Doctor means teacher. It’s docēre in Latin, and I feel like that’s been my purpose, to help people understand that we are so far from what Mother Nature intended.

ACRES U.S.A. Something you said earlier really caught my attention. What is your theory on why we’re seeing this upsurge in secondary cancers?

WINTERS. It’s not even a theory. In fact, even the research says this 300 percent increase since the 1970s of brand-new, secondary cancers in people who’ve had a previous cancer is caused directly by the treatment they received. Radiation is a known carcinogen. Methotrexate, which we often give out like candy to rheumatoid arthritis patients, is a known carcinogen. It causes B-cell lymphoma. We know that people who’ve undergone lots of radiation or chemotherapy are likely to have leukemia or lymphoma. We know that children who’ve undergone childhood cancer treatment are almost guaranteed a cancer in their adulthood. It’s like a 90 percent rate of adult cancers in children who have undergone treatment. These are horrifying to me, and no one is asking questions. So treatment itself is the poison. If we come at it from a metabolic, mitochondrial approach, it’s not that we don’t do those treatments. It’s to say, “Clean up and enhance your mitochondrial function so you don’t end up being that statistic.” That’s where I’m coming from. That’s where this book is coming from. That’s where the metabolic approach to cancer research is coming from. Tidy up your mitochondria. Lower your risk of cancer and chronic illness.

ACRES U.S.A. How do you feel when you see somebody in the news such as Angelina Jolie having her breasts and her uterus removed because of her high genetic propensity for cancer?

WINTERS. The BRCA gene mutation that motivated Angelia Jolie to choose preemptive surgeries is simply a problem with how our mitochondria are functioning and how we methylate, which is just the way we process chemicals in our foods and things we’re exposed to — including emotional exposure, not only in our environment. What’s really sad is that she set us back about 10 years. We were moving forward in our understanding of this more as a metabolic, dietary, lifestyle, preventative approach. Angelina Jolie comes out, removes her breasts, and the world takes notice. Suddenly we see a huge upsurge in BRCA testing. We see a huge upsurge on surgeries. We see a huge upsurge in a lot of industries that fell from the tree of that announcement. In private practice, I’ve seen seven women who preemptively removed breasts and/or ovaries and ended up dying of stage IV metastatic disease. This is what is so crazy. The location is not the issue. The terrain is the issue. Simply removing an area that might have a likelihood of having cancer is like saying, “Well, great, I might have brain cancer someday, so I’d better remove my brain.” It’s insane, that approach.

ACRES U.S.A. It would present a severe difficulty.

WINTERS. Exactly. I have this gene in myself. I have hundreds of patients with this gene. I educate them. I empower them and help them understand what makes that gene express cancer, and they turn their diet and lifestyle around to make sure that they’re not expressing it. Some of them may do the surgery. Some of them may even do prophylactic treatments, but they also know they have to take this more global, terrain-centric approach. We’ve had a BRCA uptick, approximately 47 percent since World War II. That should tell us we’ve done something to our systems to make BRCA gene more prevalent today, and it’s because of the things we’ve put into our bodies. People think, “Hey, my DNA is broken; therefore, I’m going to get cancer.” We’re trying to explain, “No, no, no, no. That’s not it. Your mitochondria are going to keep that DNA healthy or unhealthy, depending on what you feed that mitochondria.”

ACRES U.S.A. There is something heartbreaking about these irreversible preemptive surgeries.

WINTERS. I had an experience recently with a young woman who had a prophylactic surgery, removing her breasts because of the family dynamic of this gene, and she said, “Well, great. I get a new pair of boobs. I get to keep smoking.” As she was telling me this, she was wearing her cell phone in her bra. I about cried, because invariably she will have this cancer raging through her body in few years. She’s just been given this false sense of security by simply removing a body part, and it has not changed her mitochondria one iota. She’s still exposing herself to well-known risk factors that cause mitochondrial damage that will lead to that BRCA mutation expressing.

Sugar Is a Culprit of Mitochondrial Damage

ACRES U.S.A. Which risk factor concerns you the most?

WINTERS. The other thing that drives this is sugar — sugar, sugar, sugar. We’ve gone from 5 pounds of sugar per person per year at the end of the 1800s and early 1900s, to 175 pounds of sugar per person, per year, in a recent statistic that came out in 2014. That is a metabolic catastrophe. Our body does not even know what to do with that information, and the mitochondria are overwhelmed. We are overfed and undernourished and we are oxidizing the heck out of ourselves with all of the growth factors and all of the inflammatory markers that sugar stimulates. That’s what leads into this. How do we pull back the reins on metabolic approach to cancer? Sugar is one of the center posts of this discussion.

granulated sugar
Close-up of granulated sugar in spoon and sugar pile on wooden

ACRES U.S.A. What has changed in the last 10 or 15 years to sharpen our understanding of what sugar is doing to mitochondria?

WINTERS. You probably heard that there were some researchers — one of them at Harvard — in the 1960s who basically got paid off by the sugar industry. That was what changed. We decided that fat was bad and sugar was fine. Then, of course, we got completely away from what our grandparents, our great-grandparents and upstream several generations before them had been eating. We said, “Boy, fat is bad. Eggs are bad. We need to go to a whole-grain diet,” thank you to agricultural subsidies, not to your health, which then also fed into the sugar industry. They’re all very much in bed together. Basically, Big Ag, like Big Sugar, took on a huge role in our post-industrial revolution after World War II. They put the spotlight on fat being bad and grains and sugar being good. Now, grains turn into sugar, mind you. I lump them into one conversation. What happened then is that we went barking up the wrong tree for a very long time. Over the last 10 years we’ve made no change in cardiovascular disease despite all the drugs we’re throwing at people, especially statins. The low-fat diet has not gotten us anywhere on cardiovascular health. By 2020, cancer is likely to be the number one cause of death in this country. It’s now the number one cause of death in 12 European Union nations, where heart disease always had been before.

ACRES U.S.A. But at least the danger of sugar is getting more attention?

WINTERS. We can now really see that cardiovascular disease and cancer are very much fed by sugar and carbohydrates and starch and grains. We are finally doing the research. We have people like Gary Taubes, who wrote Good Calories, Bad Calories and The Case Against Sugar. We have the famous doctor Robert Lustig and his book called Fat Chance. Specifically, we’ve had a lot of studies, but we’ve buried every one of them.

ACRES U.S.A. Can you give an example?

WINTERS. For instance, we’ve known for a very long time that diabetics have a higher rate of cancer. We’ve known that in the research well since the ’60s. We’ve known since we started using PET scans that when we give them a bolus of radioactive glucose, we see where it goes, and guess what? It goes to the cancer sites. It goes to the cancer cells, because there are more than 300 times the receptor sites for insulin and for sugar on the cancer cell than there are in our healthy cells. We’ve known that for a while, and your doctors use the technology that says sugar is a problem, and everyone still has their head in the sand. It’s ridiculous. We’ve known that the higher your hemoglobin A1c, the more you oxidize, the more damage to your blood vessels, and the more damage to your nerves. We’ve known this causes mitochondrial damage for a very long time. And yet we bury the data. It’s insane to me.

ACRES U.S.A. It wouldn’t be very difficult to write a science fiction story where somebody 100 years from now says, “You know, these people were real nutjobs. They made themselves incredibly sick to drive one-sixth of their economy.”

WINTERS. Exactly. We have all become metabolically inflexible. The disease that’s taking the Western world by storm today is Alzheimer’s. The research is mounting that Alzheimer’s is diabetes of the brain. Cancer is expensive, but Alzheimer’s is way more expensive. It takes a lot more to care for somebody with Alzheimer’s than it does for somebody with cancer. So it may be the Alzheimer’s group that gets us to start talking about sugar.

ACRES U.S.A. It will turn the gasoline into crude napalm.

WINTERS. Yes. That’s what we’re doing. We are napalming the heck out of ourselves. Imagine going from a 5-pound bag to 175 pounds of that dumped into your personal gas tank, on average, every year.

ACRES U.S.A. When you say, “the terrain is the issue,” are you referring to the mitochondria in every cell?

WINTERS. In Western science we would call that the extracellular matrix. It’s the goo that our cells frolic about in. It’s everything from the cell and the cytoplasm, which is the goo inside the cells, to the extracellular matrix, which the cell floats about in, to the lymphatics, the blood, the plasma that circulates through our bodies, to the tissues and organs and structure that holds our container together. So when I say terrain, I’m talking all the way down to the infinitesimal nuclei of mitochondria and even to the electrons of that mitochondria, all the way up to the external shell of our skin, our bone, our muscles. Terrain is the entirety, as well as how we interact with the people and the world around us. When I think about terrain, I think about our microbiome. I think about our hormones. I think about our blood sugar balance. I think about our immune system, our night and day circadian rhythm cycles, our stress response. It’s all-inclusive.

The “Evolutionary Gift of Ketosis” and the Ketogenic Diet

ACRES U.S.A. So the terrain of many people is in bad shape. The evidence in the medical media, along with what is happening all around us, seems persuasive.

WINTERS. Even when I was eating my vegetarian diet and exercising like a madwoman, I had some of the worst blood sugar ever, because I was living on grains and legumes and fruit and not a lot of vegetables and not enough protein and animal fat, and good, non-animal fats as well. I was on the low-fat, vegetarian diet kick, and even vegan for a while, and my sugars were out of control, as was my cancer. Basically, ketones are these little chemical messengers in our body. It’s an alternative fuel source. Just like we can convert our oil to gasoline or diesel, we can also do that in our own body. We can convert our glucose-burning mitochondria into ketone-burning mitochondria. We call that becoming fat-adapted and becoming metabolically flexible. Historically, even just a century ago, we weren’t able to access food 24/7/365. So we would naturally use this evolutionary gift of ketosis that gives us clarity, gives us fortitude, and gives us the ability to run smoothly so we can keep seeking our food. It was a built-in mechanism that came with the model that we were given. We then got further and further away from natural ketosis, and we became incredibly overfed and undernourished in the last 75 years. Now when we feed the body sugar, it gets converted into ATP — energy. But interestingly enough, we make more ATP when we burn fat over sugar. It’s actually a more efficient and more effective fuel source. It offers a lot more protection for the mitochondria than burning carbohydrates.

ACRES U.S.A. What are some of the positive effects?

WINTERS. When we look at the “Terrain 10” issues that I focus on in my book, we know that ketosis impacts positively each and every one of those, so it lowers inflammation. It lowers blood circulation vessels to the tumor. It stimulates and immunomodulates the immune system. It balances out hormone dysregulation. It changes the microbiome. Those are just examples. It heals our mitochondria. It encourages new stem cell growth, new, healthy stem cells, and induces actual cancer cell death as well. It has all of these assets in a really profound way. We don’t have a pharmaceutical or a chemotherapeutic agent that does. We might have something that hits one or two of those targets, but certainly not all 10. Ketosis has the ability to hit all 10. It’s not meant to be a standalone treatment. It’s meant to enhance other therapies. For instance, radiation will not work if somebody has high sugar levels. That’s well documented in science, well documented in the literature, and yet it is never described and discussed with the patient. If you have elevated blood sugars and you’re having radiation, the likelihood of that radiation working well for you is very slim, the side effects are even higher, and your potential for that radiation to cause a future cancer is even higher. If we actually have people in ketosis while they get their radiation, they’re going to get a better response to the radiation while protecting their healthy cells at the same time. It’s a win-win across the board.

ACRES U.S.A. What is a ketogenic diet? In your book, you mention that vegetarians or vegans will eat too many carbohydrates, and that reminds me of the confusion that surrounds complex versus simple carbohydrates, which in turn recalls the confusion around healthy versus unhealthy fats.

WINTERS. Exactly. The ketogenic diet has been utilized as a direct therapy for epilepsy since the 1920s. It started at Johns Hopkins. It was revived later by a man whose son had epilepsy. After the epilepsy drug Depakote came on the market in the ’40s it lost favor. Doctors found it easier to give out a pill than to teach a patient how to do this diet. But a parent whose son wasn’t responding to the pill found the literature and put his child on the ketogenic diet, which stopped the grand mal seizures. He later started a corporation called, and they have taught thousands, if not tens of thousands, of parents how to implement a ketogenic diet for their kids with neurological disorders. Then folks like Thomas Seyfried brought this more into the limelight a few years ago. Now we’re even seeing that it’s working on the autism spectrum and on Alzheimer’s.

ACRES U.S.A. How does it compare to popular diets of the past?

WINTERS. Basically this diet gets away from sugar. It’s 70-90 percent fat, depending on the level that people need to go into. Some people need to be in deeper ketosis than others to get the therapeutic effect. We often think back to the Atkins Diet, which was high-protein. A true ketogenic diet is not a high-protein diet. In fact it’s the opposite, low- to moderate-protein at most. You have to determine that person to person, because protein can switch over and turn into gluconeogenesis, making more sugar. If we get too much protein, which we tend to do in this country, that also converts to sugar in a low-carb environment. The protein amount for these folks is 20-25 percent and the carbohydrates are anywhere from 0-10 percent, depending on what’s needed for that person’s therapeutic response.

ACRES U.S.A. Are you talking about complex or simple carbohydrates?

WINTERS. It all turns into the same thing. On the outside of the body, it might be simple or complex, but on the inside there’s no discrimination. Sugar is sugar is sugar, whether it comes from a bean, a banana, a potato, a bowl of rice; it’s all the same.

ACRES U.S.A. I always thought eating asparagus was a lot better for me than eating white rice.

WINTERS. It sure is. That’s why we want our patients to eat vegetables as their carbohydrates versus grains or legumes, because you get all of the other co-factors, all of the nutrients that are anti-cancer, that clean up the mitochondria, that stabilize our epigenetic expression. You’re going to only get that from green, leafy vegetables, cruciferous vegetables. You’re not getting anti-cancer benefit from your grains and starches — not to the level that you get from a real vegetable. We really try to break down the mythology. We help people understand how to test for this to make sure they are, in fact, in ketosis. If someone’s not in ketosis and they think they are, they can feel pretty crummy. And once you hit ketosis, it’s like you hit this sweet zone. Your brain works better. Your body works better. You become what’s called metabolically flexible.

ACRES U.S.A. What are some things we associate with health that are misleading? You favor fasting, but it sounds like you’re not really a fan of the master cleanse trend.

WINTERS. The master cleanse base is maple syrup. If you pulled that out, you’d probably do great. We actually have patients do water with lemon juice, sea salt, baking soda and cayenne, and that works beautifully as a way to get your electrolytes. People use maple syrup to bring in the electrolytes. Well, guess what? We just bring ’em in with baking soda and sea salt. There are great ways to upgrade, if you will, some of these old fad cleanses and whatnot to make them more metabolically effective. At a time when we weren’t gorging on sugar, a little bit of maple syrup would’ve been great. But today it’s like adding fuel to the fire.

ACRES U.S.A. What are the pillars of a typical ketogenic diet?

WINTERS. When I say “animal protein,” from eggs to dairy to butter to flesh, poultry and fish, I have to qualify this. We are extremely fanatical about quality. If it has been industrially farmed, do not eat it. It is not worth it. It is loaded with cancer-causing agents. That’s where you see the studies saying meat causes cancer. It’s been done with that type of meat or dairy or what-have-you.

ACRES U.S.A. How would you describe an animal that’s raised in one of those facilities?

WINTERS. My colleague, Jess Higgins Kelley, who co-wrote this book with me, calls them four-legged Superfund sites. And that is exactly what they are. I know my farmers and ranchers around here in Durango. We just were at the farmers’ market this morning getting raw cheese and eggs and bones for this week’s bone broth. I know exactly how those cows and sheep and eggs are raised. If you don’t know where that meat’s coming from, it’s probably not worth the risk of ingesting it. We try to get folks to focus on vegetable as their base camp, shooting for three cups of leafy greens, three cups of colorful vegetables and three cups of cruciferous vegetables a day. All of those are in the lower-glycemic family.

ACRES U.S.A. What about squash and fruits?

WINTERS. Your lowest-glycemic squash is zucchini, spaghetti squash and pumpkin, so those can be woven into this. Tomato is actually a fruit, so that would be considered one of your fruits, as are avocado and olives. And once you become more metabolically stable, you can bring in some fruit and then eating really good, organic, low-glycemic berries and maybe organic — small Granny Smith apples. We’ve bred food to be more sugary, so most of the apples on the market are just little sugar balls. You want to go with the small, tart apples over the giant, sugar-ball apples. Corn, as much as everyone would like to think it’s a vegetable, is not. It’s a grain. Today it’s pretty much impossible to find corn that is not drenched in glyphosate and GMOs, and it’s also super high in sugar, which turns into insulin growth factor which is a known growth factor for cancer cells, so we just say no way on that. Potatoes are little starch balls as well.

 ACRES U.S.A. Please don’t take away potatoes. I’m from the Midwest.

 WINTERS. If you can get your hands on some organic, non-GMO, purple potatoes, or you can get your hands on non-solanaceae family sweet potatoes or yams in extreme moderation, then those can be great additions for the color added to your diet, the phytonutrients. On top of that, we have fat. After the vegetable base camp, we go with fat, and that’s olives, olive oil, coconut, coconut oil, avocado, avocado oil, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts — highest in omega-3s. We definitely bring in butter, ghee — again, grass-fed, finished, pastured. We want it rich with CLA (conjugated linoleic acids) and vitamin D. Then, if people tolerate dairy well — if they don’t have an allergy, their insulin growth factor isn’t too bad, and they know the quality of their dairy — whole cream. Whole sour cream has incredibly fat-dense nutrients to bring on board. Then meat or poultry or seafood becomes a condiment sprinkled on top of that. Again, quality is key. Then there is literally the cherry on top. We might use stevia or monk fruit as a sweetener that we might put into our beverages or bake with. Once you’re more glycemically stabilized, you can add some berries and low-glycemic fruit into the mix.

What is TH2 Dominance, and How Does a Ketogenic Diet Address It?

 ACRES U.S.A. Everybody knows somebody or is somebody with autoimmune problems. What is TH2 dominance, and how does your ketogenic diet address it?

WINTERS. Think of a teeter-totter on a playground. On one side you have TH1, on the other side TH2, and in the center you have something called T helper cell 3 or T3. Cancer is predominantly a TH2-dominant process. Autoimmunity is predominantly a TH1 process. Some of us, like me, for instance, could be both TH1 and TH2 dominant. I had the pair going at the same time, both autoimmunity and cancer. Some people can be completely TH1 and 2 depleted, so there’s no immune system left at all, and that’s Dangerville. What happens with a ketogenic diet is, it goes right into the center, right at that TH3, and balances the teeter-totter. If you’re having an autoimmune flare, it will bring it back to balance. If you’re having a cancer flare, it will bring it back into balance. And if you’re flaring on both or extremely depleted in both, it will bring it back into balance. We’re doing a lot of immune therapies in cancer right now, and the ketogenic diet is considered nature’s checkpoint inhibitor. That basically means that it balances the immune system. It’s quite powerful.

ACRES U.S.A. What kind of cancer did you have?

WINTERS. I had cervical cancer in my teens. They just did the old cryotherapy to burn it off with cold. There was a whole slew of reasons why my terrain was broken, and I have spent 25 years cleaning it up. At age 19, I ended up with Stage 4 terminal ovarian cancer. They’d missed it because of my age. We just didn’t know. And at that point, it was so far gone that they didn’t even recommend treatment. They recommended hospice. They said, “Well, we can do palliative treatment, but it’s likely going to make things worse,” because I was very, very sick. Probably the biggest gift they ever gave me was to say, “There’s nothing we can do,” because it stimulated something within me to say, “Well, then I’ll figure out what I can do.” And that’s what set me off on a 25-year journey and saved my life as well as thousands of other people who were also sent out to pasture, if you will. That’s why it’s been my joy, my purpose and my absolute passion to learn everything I can about the terrain, about cancer, about the metabolic approach and mitochrondrial reboot.

About Nasha Winters

Nasha Winters is a frequent speaker at the annual Acres U.S.A. Eco-Ag Conference & Trade Show.

Her book, The Metabolic Approach to Cancer: Integrating Deep Nutrition, the Ketogenic Diet and Non-Toxic Bio-Individualized Therapies, is available from Acres U.S.A. Visit the bookstore or call 800-355-5313.

Each Acres U.S.A. magazine issue features an in-depth interview with a top eco-farming industry or trend expert. Subscribe here!