Dietitian Jill Place On The 5 Things Everyone Needs To Know About Cancer
An Interview With Savio P. Clemente
Cancer is scary, and the best way you can support those who have it is to create a positive environment for healing. Even if the prognosis is bleak … the best thing you can do is to listen, be there, and keep your own opinions out of it.
Cancer is a horrible and terrifying disease. There is so much great information out there, but sometimes it is very difficult to filter out the noise. What causes cancer? Can it be prevented? How do you detect it? What are the odds of survival today? What are the different forms of cancer? What are the best treatments? And what is the best way to support someone impacted by cancer?
In this interview series called, “5 Things Everyone Needs To Know About Cancer” we are talking to experts about cancer such as oncologists, researchers, and medical directors to address these questions. As a part of this interview series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dietitian Jill Place.
Dietitian Jill Place has been called a “Visionary” and “Trailblazer” … and “The Good Gut Queen” … by clients, peers, and alternative medicine clinicians alike. She was one of the pioneers of functional medicine treatment and training among dietitians. Dietitian Jill believes … and loudly promotes through her Facebook Good Gut Group, Good Gut Show, teachings, talkings, cookings, and writings … that the secret to GREAT HEALTH is a GOOD GUT! Her website is www.healyourhealthnow.com.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
I was born into a middle-class New York Jewish family. And until my late thirties my passion was theatre, singing, and acting. I starred off-Broadway in a musical at 20, did eight sitcom pilots in a row (I AM still funny … ), and helped run and taught at the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute. I also later spent over 20 years teaching acting.
But I always had a sensitive gut. Exacerbated by increasing doses of antibiotics for a year in my twenties for a condition that turned out to be a misdiagnosis. Which totally sent me into a downward spiral with digestive problems for years.
Doctors couldn’t help … they either recommended laxatives or antacids … or advised me to “live with it!” I was even told by a doctor that I should have a hysterectomy because of my pain … at age 27!
I was about to get my doctorate in theatre and teach it because of my prior experience as an actor, teacher, and arts administrator when a chance meeting changed my life!
What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.
Because of my digestive problems … early on … I was open to any way I could find to solve them. When a chance meeting with Harvey and Marilyn Diamond, the couple whose groundbreaking book, Fit for Life, was virally-hot the time, transformed my life.
Through the Diamonds and running huge seminars for them, I developed a passion for the effect of better diet on health. Eventually, I went back to school and became a Registered Dietitian … not knowing at the time that my job was based upon treating sickness … not wellness.
Another chance meeting took me further down the path toward alternative ways to health back in the days when it wasn’t really mainstream. And enabled me to meet, talk with, and befriend Jeffrey Bland, one of the fathers of Functional Medicine … a new wellness paradigm that treats dysfunction before it becomes disease.
I also became closely aligned with the supplement company, Metagenics, who was partnering with Bland to bring this new concept to the health care practitioner community. They helped in the writing of my book, Supplement Savvy.
And I have been writing, talking, and speaking about Functional Medicine and wellness ever since.
This is not easy work. What is your primary motivation and drive behind the work that you do?
I am committed to bringing good gut awareness to the public as some of the health problems today are virtually untreatable with what we call “modern medicine.” Problems stemming from leaky gut (up to 80% of us have it), an overly toxic environment, and poor lifestyle choices.
With the diet and supplement protocols I’ve created, I’m able to potentially heal autoimmune problems such as SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) as well as overgrowths of candida and parasites, food sensitivities, and even serious things like Lyme disease.
Oh … and everyone who’s read my astrological chart says I’ll be a public figure. It was not meant to be with acting … so perhaps my actual purpose is to change lives by teaching a total approach to health.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
I’m currently working on my signature course called “Dietitian Jill’s GOOD GUT PLAN” which will be live early next year. We’ve just developed a blueprint for it that’s so exciting as our “5 essential habits for a good gut” includes mindfulness and emotional awareness.
As well as changing health thought to include finding the root cause for illness. And yes … we will also be talking about and implementing a good gut diet. But changing mindset is possibly the MOST important part of any lifestyle change.
Changing diet without changing mindset is why most weight-loss plans fail … the statistic is a whopping 95%. So, it’s probably no surprise that my next course is going to be the weight loss plan that I use with my own clients … “Are You Weighting?” … also based upon these five essential habits …
Articles about these good gut “5 essential habits” are currently on my website.
For the benefit of our readers, can you briefly let us know why you are an authority about the topic of Cancer?
Another chance meeting led me to be a part of an integrated cancer center called B’Shert (it means destiny … and boy … it was for me!) Integrative Oncology Services (BIOS). BIOS was a multi-pronged approach to cancer that included nutrition, mind-body therapies, homeopathy, etc. along with traditional medicine.
I knew NOTHING about cancer nutrition when I started. But learned quickly and, along with my knowledge of Functional Medicine, soon was watching patients heal from the ravages of chemotherapy and other treatments with diet and supplements. Along with the other modalities that the clinic offered. We became so famous that Discovery Health did a program on us.
And soon I was asked to speak all over the world about the value of diet and supplements in cancer treatment. As well as contribute chapters about various aspects of Complementary and Alternative Medicine to several textbooks. I even wrote the presentation and spoke to healthcare practitioners all over the U.S. about Resurgex, a new line of cancer supplements.
Ok, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. Let’s start with some basic definitions so that we are all on the same page. What is exactly cancer?
According to the National Cancer Institute, “Cancer is a disease in which some of the body’s cells grow uncontrollably and spread to other parts of the body.” I prefer, instead, to explore the root cause behind that uncontrollable spread,
In other words, instead of asking what disease we have and what drug we take, as conventional medicine does, in Functional Medicine terms, we must ask why it has occurred. In this case, what underlying causes lead to cancer?
What causes cancer?
Numerous things can contribute to cancer. In a Functional Medicine approach … and also in many studies (and growing) … diet, exercise, toxic thoughts and feelings AND environmental toxins all contribute to the initiation, growth, and progression of the disease.
Most people think cancer (and other health problems) are all the result of genetics. But studies show that only about 30% of genetic predispositions directly contribute to cancer and other disease diagnoses.
Therefore, it’s now thought that poor lifestyle contributes to the lion’s share of health problems. Unfortunately, most people (including my sister) think that genetics is pretty much responsible for our wellness lot in life. Which is probably why most people don’t embrace a root-cause philosophy of healing. Yet …
Among U.S. adults, more than 90 percent of type 2 diabetes, 80 percent of CAD, 70 percent of stroke, and 70 percent of colon and other cancers have been researched as preventable by a combination of diet and other positive lifestyle changes.
What is the difference between the different forms of cancer?
There are more than one hundred different types of cancer. And, since cancer is defined as an overgrowth of cells, each type is classified by the type of cell from which the cancer begins. For example, a lung cell or a gut cell. Each kind of cancer is mostly one of three types:
- Carcinomas are cancers of the cells of linings of the body like the skin, the gut, the mouth, or the lungs.
- Sarcomas are cancers of the cells of connective tissues like bones or muscles. For example, an osteosarcoma is a cancer of bone tissue.
- Lymphomas are cancers of cells in bone marrow and lymph glands.
I know that the next few questions are huge topics, but we’d love to hear your thoughts regardless. How can cancer be prevented?
There’s no 100% guarantee that cancer can be prevented. I’ve worked with many people with cancer who are young, active, eat well, and practice spiritual disciplines.
I do think, however, that John Boik has part of the prevention answer. Boik’s landmark book, Natural Compounds in Cancer Therapy, validated my belief in supplements as an adjunct to cancer treatment.
I used his “Seven Modifiable Factors for Cancer Inhibition” in the chapter I wrote on complementary and alternative medicine in Nutritional Issues in Cancer Care.
Boik cited these seven factors as a way to normalize tissue function where a functional change has taken place that might lead to cancer. Things that could be corrected without affecting surrounding normally functioning tissues and organs like traditional treatment does.
He proposed this normalization mainly by the use of natural compounds but hinted that diet and other lifestyle changes were also important. Things that traditional medicine doesn’t even consider as treatments when it comes to cancer.
Traditional medicine doesn’t halt … as Boik says … the proliferation of cancer cells which are “the descendants of normal cells in which something has gone wrong.” Natural compounds, however, act on cancer cells in three ways … directly on the cell, indirectly by changing the body’s environment, and by boosting immune response. These seven modifiable factors can …
- Reduce oxidative stress … that may lead to gene mutations with antioxidants.
- Normalize gene expression … that turns off disease and turns on health.
- Normalize cell signaling … signaling between cancer cells is abnormally excessive and natural compounds may normalize it.
- Normalize cellular communication … healthy cells normally talk to each other, and that conversation is halted by cancer growth. Natural compounds restore this communication.
- Block blood vessel growth … this growth, called angiogenesis, also proliferates out of control with cancer, allowing abnormal cells to grow and spread. Natural compounds may inhibit them.
- Block metastasis … which is the lethal spread of cancer throughout the body. Natural compounds may slow or stop this progression altogether.
- Boost immunity … many believe that a failure of the immune system causes cancer. This … to me … is the most important of all of these seven factors as the immune system and the gut exist together in the small intestine.
Failure of the gut to do its job of filtering out molds, toxins, and other bad stuff leads to a failure of the immune system to protect us. Inflammation results, and … with it … a host of problems including a predisposition for cancer.
It’s amazing to me that both books are around twenty years old … and well-researched … and few changes have happened despite all this studied information except among alternative practitioners.
How can one detect the main forms of cancer?
This is best answered by an oncologist as my focus is on prevention and repair from treatment … and detecting disease is outside my scope of practice.
Cancer used to almost be a death sentence, but it seems that it has changed today. What are the odds of surviving cancer today?
This really varies with cancer type and rate of growth, stage at diagnosis, age, and sex. But overall the survival rate is about 50%, with survival increasing between 1.5 and 2% every year for many types.
Can you share some of the new cutting-edge treatments for cancer that have recently emerged? What new cancer treatment innovations are you most excited to see come to fruition in the near future?
Again, an oncologist is better suited to answer this question. But I am extremely excited about the use of DNA technology to diagnose and treat specific forms of cancer (with drugs like Gleevic). DNA researchers have said in many interviews that eventually they will obliterate cancer as the primary scourge of our population with these new technologies.
Healing usually takes place between doctor visits. What have you found to be most beneficial to assist a patient to heal?
Well … if you consider everything I’ve said previously … you can see that most of what I’m advocating (diet change, use of supplements, guided imagery and mindfulness for emotional awareness and stress reduction, etc.) happens at home between doctor’s visits.
But my way of healing is quite different than just doing weekly visits. Through the magic of technology and the app from my private practice, I’m able to keep daily tabs on my clients (I hate to call them patients because that labels them as sick) and support them through whatever changes they’re making.
They can take pictures of what they eat (who doesn’t like selfies!), ask about labels, and yell for help if they need it. It’s difficult to make lifestyle changes, even with the motivation of an illness, so I’ve found this radical departure from normal doctor’s visits extremely beneficial for healing.
From your experience, what are a few of the best ways to support a loved one, friend, or colleague who is impacted by cancer?
Cancer is scary, and the best way you can support those who have it is to create a positive environment for healing. Even if the prognosis is bleak … the best thing you can do is to listen, be there, and keep your own opinions out of it.
My first job out of school was as a hospice dietitian … and I found that the worst thing about it were supposed loved ones who forced their own agendas upon those who were dying.
Those with cancer have a lot to digest … and they need to be supported and listened to … not burdened with the opinions and agendas of those around them. So just be there for them … and don’t put forth an opinion unless you are asked!
What are a few of the biggest misconceptions and myths out there about fighting cancer that you would like to dispel?
In my opinion, the idea that serious disease can ONLY be treated with medicine, surgery, chemo, and radiation is actually a misconception for ALL medicine and ALL health. And that diet, nutritional deficiencies, poor gut health, and positive mindset have nothing to do with fighting cancer.
When I worked at BIOS, we had remarkable success with recovery and further prevention. The 50% survival rate increased to around 75% for many who embraced all the modalities we had to offer. Proof that emphasizing a total approach to healing was the best way to beat a cancer diagnosis.
Thank you so much for all of that. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your experiences and knowledge, what are your “5 Things Everyone Needs To Know About Cancer? Please share a story or example for each.
- Most cancers and chronic diseases are preventable. All you must do is look at the well-researched statistics for this one … 70% of most cancers can be prevented by a combination of diet and other positive lifestyle changes.
- Eating a healthy diet of lots of fruit and vegetables and avoiding processed and fast foods … and possibly going organic, gluten- and dairy-free … can have a significant impact upon your survival and further cancer prevention. My friend, Diana Dyer, RDN, a three-time cancer survivor, published a HUGE bestseller … A Dietitian’s Cancer Story … in which she outlines her prescription for health along with her own story. Diana was an early inspiration for me when I first began to learn about cancer nutrition. And is still alive to this day despite other types of health setbacks (I think we’re both septuagenarians).
- Supplements are important for cancer recovery and prevention. Supplements such as L-Glutamine can protect you from the ravages of chemotherapy, and others after treatment can reduce inflammation, alleviate nutrient deficiencies, and heal tissue damage caused by treatment. I brought the supplement L-Glutamine, which has been well-researched as protecting (and healing) the gut from chemotherapy and radiation, into the BIOS clinic. It was so successful among our patients that, after I left, the doctor who did chemotherapy research at the clinic included it as part of his research protocol.
- The best cancer treatment should include both traditional and alternative protocols. I experienced this firsthand at BIOS. Traditional medicine is great at ridding the body of most cancers. And a Functional Medicine root-cause whole-person approach is the best way to replenish the body and prevent cancer recurrence. As well as reduce stress, inflammation, and leaky gut … all of which promote more disease. Yes … these ideas are still controversial according to the medical community … but acceptance of them is becoming more widespread and mainstream. After all, it was a DOCTOR who started the clinic that I was a proud part of … and hired all of us alternative practitioners. I will never forget that that doctor … Lorne Feldman … once said to a patient … “I know nothing about supplements. That’s why we hired Jill. Go ask Jill …” So, the bottom line is …
Doctors need to ask the right questions or collaborate with people who can. One story about not being aware of other influences such as diet on cancer treatment always comes to mind. I was sent by a nurse I know a cancer patient who had failed three bouts of chemo and was failing fast. Upon questioning her, I found she was drinking grapefruit juice, which interferes the effectiveness of some forms of chemotherapy. “I thought it was healthy,” she said. She stopped drinking it, the last round of chemo was a success, and she was well on her way to remission when last we spoke.
- Most Important … TAKE CHARGE OF YOUR OWN HEALING! I could use myself as an example … I’ve totally changed my life with diet, supplements, and a positive mindset. I’m 76 years-young, work sixty to seventy hours a week, exercise, eat well, lead a full life … and still love what I do. I’ve also expressed to my doctors how they fit into my health regime. And they don’t overstep it, i.e., my dentist bends over backwards to NOT prescribe antibiotics as he knows how I feel about them. In other words, I respect the expertise of my doctors. And they respect my health wishes. I work WITH them for ultimate healing and don’t give my power away to them. But now I’d like to tell you my most dramatic life-change story … and something that I’m enormously proud of participating in. In walked a woman to my office at BIOS with a bandanna on her almost-hair-bare head. She had a diagnosis of breast cancer that had spread to the lungs, liver, and bone … usually a very painful death sentence. What she said next surprised me! “My husband thinks I should lose weight.” Here was a woman who was looking death in the face, and she was considering a downright deplorable request from her husband? Yes … I’m a professional … but I kinda lost it! Especially when she went on about the fact that her kids totally ignored her condition and wanted her to do for them like she always did. “Tell them all to go to H — -! (Actually … I used stronger language, but decorum does not permit.),” I said. And explained that she needed to share with them that she might die, that she was going to put herself first and heal, and that they’d now have to fend for themselves. I gave her my cancer diet and sent her on her way … not expecting anything. Three months later, she waltzed back into my office … new growth of hair, somewhat slimmer, and said, “I told them all to go to H — -!” And she was in total remission from her cancer! To me a testimonial not only to lifestyle change (she had totally changed her diet and started taking some supplements that I recommended to repair and replenish her body) but mind and soul change too. To me it’s not only the ultimate example of take-charge healing. But also a total-approach Functional Medicine triumph!
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
Again, I am PASSIONATE about good gut awareness. I have worked with thousands of people during my more-than-25-year healing career and saw that most human dysfunction comes from having a leaky gut caused by our toxic environment, our toxic lifestyles, and … quite frankly … the toxicity of some of our medicines.
So, the movement I would create would be about people taking charge of their own body, mind, and soul health rather than giving all their power away to doctors. Increasingly, doctors spend less and less time with patients and more and more time just giving a medicine for a symptom.
But we have health problems today that far surpass that type of medicine. And only one way of treatment is accepted (and paid for) today … doctors that give pills for symptoms and more pills for side effects.
It’s time for another way of thinking! More and more research points to the fact that the root cause of illness begins in the gut … and may even be worsening our current pandemic. It’s time we change the way we think about our health!
Have we forgotten that … more than 2000 years ago … Hippocrates … the father of modern medicine … said,” All disease begins in the gut!” He also said, “The natural healing force within each one of us is the greatest force in getting well.” Time to remember that THAT force is still with us!
How can our readers further follow your work online?
I would encourage you to join me in my Facebook Good Gut Group. I do a daily “Good Gut Show” there that also streams to my YouTube Channel and on LinkedIn at Dietitian Jill Place.
Thank you so much for these insights! This was very inspirational and we wish you continued success in your great work.
About The Interviewer: Savio P. Clemente helps cancer survivors overcome the confusion and gain the clarity needed to get busy living in mind, body, and spirit. He inspires health and wellness seekers to find meaning in the “why” and to cultivate resilience in their mindset. Savio is a Board Certified wellness coach (NBC-HWC, ACC), stage 3 cancer survivor, podcaster, writer, and founder of The Human Resolve LLC.
Savio pens a weekly newsletter at thehumanresolve.com where he delves into secrets from living smarter to feeding your “three brains” — head 🧠, heart 💓, and gut 🤰 — in hopes of connecting the dots to those sticky parts in our nature that matter.
He has been featured on Fox News, and has collaborated with Food Network, WW, Bloomberg, Amazon, and Facebook. His mission is to offer clients, listeners, and viewers alike tangible takeaways in living a truly healthy, wealthy, and wise lifestyle.
Savio lives in the suburbs of Westchester County, New York and continues to follow his boundless curiosity. He hopes to one day live out a childhood fantasy and explore outer space.