Healthy Eating with Maggie Jones
Certified Holistic Nutritionist
Brief Introduction/Tell Us About yourself (where you are from, etc)
The week before I turned 40, I left my comfortable life in Los Angeles and took a one-way flight to Hong Kong. I'd never been to Asia before but I had a job offer and was excited to see more of the world.
One month later, I was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer which had spread to a tumor in my eye, two in my brain, and dozens throughout my neck and chest. It wasn't long before I developed 2 additional brain tumors and the cancer invaded my liver and abdomen. I was dying. The median survival for someone with my diagnosis is 6 - 8 months.
How did you become passionate about healthy eating?
The very first weekend after I was diagnosed, I started frantically reading and researching everything I could about cancer and complementary treatment. I discovered the nutritional therapies that have helped so many along with emerging metabolic therapies. I was diagnosed with cancer on a Tuesday. That Sunday, I started my first fast and I resolved that, once I resumed eating, everything I put in my body would be something that actively made cancer weaker and my healthy cells stronger.
My research intensified and I started reaching out directly to scientists and leading practitioners to learn more. I attended conferences and read pre-publication studies. Not only did I lose 50 pounds of fat while implementing these strategies, but, one year after my diagnosis, I was miraculously cancer free.
What kind of training did you undergo / certification you received?
I'm now dedicated to sharing the evidence-based nutrition and metabolic therapies that helped save my life and countless others at cancerV.me
I've never stopped reading the latest research in nutrition science and, after achieving remission, I codified my knowledge by studying with the AFPA to become a Certified Holistic Nutritionist. This program takes a whole foods, plant-based approach which most closely matched my experience for optimal nutrition.
What do people look for in a nutritionist or dietitian?
My practice is focused on helping people navigate their cancer journey. Most of my clients are looking to survive their late stage cancer diagnoses and have stumbled on the metabolic approach to cancer. I also work with them as a coach, listening to their experiences, coordinating with their medical team, and sharing research on both conventional and complementary treatments relevant to their cancer.
How has your approach to nutrition changed over the years?
For over 5 years before my diagnosis I had a "healthy eating" blog. I was pescatarian and cooked at home according to how I thought people should eat: lean meat, low-fat dairy, whole grains... I was nevertheless overweight, almost obese, which I attributed to a sedentary lifestyle and bottle-a-night wine habit.
My experience with cancer gave me tools to get control of my metabolic health. I eliminated all alcohol, sugar, processed food, dairy, and grain as they fed my cancer. I was already pescatarian but would have eliminated meat if had been in my diet. I continued to eat wild-caught, fatty fish on rare occasion. I focused on the provenance and quality of my food, treating it as medicine.
I learned that the frequency of meals is as important as their content. Spending time in a fasted or deeply ketogenic state was paramount to my metabolic therapy and, after one year cancer free, my husband and I still enjoy intermittent fasting and an extended, 3-4 day fast each month.
What do you eat in a typical day?
I fast in the mornings and enjoy green tea, lots of water and a little apple cider vinegar in water.
For lunch I eat a large salad. My favorite that I have around twice a week is made from dark, leafy greens and broccoli sprouts dressed in a vinaigrette made from flax seed oil, apple cider vinaigrette, raw garlic and mustard, topped with cucumbers, flax seeds, homemade sauerkraut, walnuts, and any other vegetables lurking around. I usually snack on a piece of fruit after lunch before taking a short walk to aid digestion.
Dinner is a giant tray of roasted vegetables or a heavily-spiced vegetable curry followed by a pot of chia seed pudding or fruit before another short walk.
What’s the easiest thing to correct nutrition-wise?
I've found that the degree of difficulty for lifestyle change depends completely on the individual. What is most impactful, however, is to completely eliminate the factory foods that are engineered to make us crave even as they destroy our health. I generally don't like diets that require eliminating wholesale categories of food as too restrictive, but these products aren't food. No doctor will tell you that you need more sugar and processed food in your diet. Processed meats are classified by the World Health Organization as a class 1 carcinogen, the same as cigarette smoke. Eating a hot dog is as damaging as smoking.
What are the five best foods to incorporate into your diet?
Any plant food in its whole form is beneficial for the body. My five favorite cancer fighters are:
- Garlic. Especially raw.
- Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale and Bok choy.
- Spices like turmeric, cinnamon, cloves, cumin and chili.
- Dark,leafy greens like spinach, kale, dandelion greens, and collard greens.
- Flax and chia seeds, which are especially high in omega-3 fatty acids.
What’s one change that a person can make to their nutrition that will get them the best results?
Replace processed factory foods with real, whole plants. The results will feel like magic.
What nutrition trends are you paying attention to?
I'm very excited to see more positive attention being given to fasting. The benefits are so well-documented that it makes me crazy more doctors don't prescribe it to their patients. I'm hoping to shifting cultural attitudes will help more people feel more comfortable not eating for longer periods of time.
Plant based living is becoming more and more popular. When eating a mostly plant based / vegetarian diet, are there certain foods to focus on to make sure we’re getting enough nutrients and protein?
Americans are fed so much propaganda about the importance of high-protein diets. The fact is, protein deficiency is almost unheard of in the Western world. The US dietary guidelines far exceed the World Health Organization guidelines and most Americans eat almost double our inflated recommendations. Any dietary protein that isn't used to build or maintain lean muscle mass is converted into glucose or fat. Of course, people will require more protein if they are actively building lean body mass. This includes children, adolescents, bodybuilders, those trying to gain weight, and women who are pregnant or breast-feeding.
A balanced, plant-based diet will provide adequate protein. 1 cup of raw broccoli provides 2 grams of protein. One half cup of cooked spinach has 2.6 grams of protein. Especially rich sources include legumes, nuts and seeds. Half a cup of lentils provides 8.9 grams. Every tablespoon of chia seeds has 1.7 grams. Half a block of tofu has 14.6 grams. One half cup quinoa is 12 grams. The plant kingdom is chock full of protein.
Nutritional deficiencies become a risk for "dirty vegans" living off fritos and oreos. They can eventually be resolved by eating a wide variety of real, whole vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. The exceptions are Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D which may need to be supplemented.
Speaking of plant based, what are some of the benefits of drinking chlorophyll water?
What’s one of your favorite organic/natural supplements or vitamins you recommend?
While I always recommend whole foods, any means of getting plants inside you are beneficial. One animal study published in 2013 in Food and Chemical Toxicology
found that chlorophyll reduced the incidence of liver tumors by 29 to 63 percent and stomach tumors by 24 to 45 percent. [https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3486520/
I'm a major fan of medicinal mushroom. While eating the whole plant is optimal, you can't always find whole turkey tail, reishi, or cordyceps mushrooms at the market. Powders, extracts and even capsules still have enormous immune-strengthening benefits.
Any favorite health / nutrition podcasts or books you recommend to our readers?
A great place to start for information about the health benefits of plant food is Dr. Michael Greger's How Not to Die. For a cancer-focused approach, I strongly recommend The Metabolic Approach to Cancer by Dr. Nasha Winters and Jess Higgins Kelley. My own book, Your Metabolic Cancer Therapy Action Plan, is scheduled for release January 2021.
Where can our readers find you? (Instagram, Facebook, etc).