After years of seeing his patients’ nutritional needs deteriorate due to chemotherapy and radiation, Dr. Luis Pineda decided to enroll in culinary school to combine his knowledge of medicine with the art of cooking. His motivation was his patients, and his desire to provide an alternative nutritional option through re-stimulating their affected taste buds. We asked him some questions about his program, Cooking with Cancer, as well as his philosophy on integrative medicine. Dr. Pineda is a practicing oncologist and multi-disciplined in Internal Medicine, Hematology, Oncology, and Psychiatry.
What does an integrative approach to fighting cancer mean to you?
The human body is a needy and complicated system – and an integrative approach to medicine means combining regular medicine with the idea of physical, mental and nutritional well-being.
And although American medicine has become increasingly divided into sectors – cardiology, rheumatology, hematology, etc. – more humanistic specialties like psychiatry have begun a trend towards a more holistic approach to medicine. “Holistic” meaning, an approach that considers the body, the mind, the environment, the family, and even what you eat.
Are there foods we can eat that help ward off cancer?
I do not think there is such a thing as a “magic formula” to avoid cancer. Instead, there are preventative life changes that can be made. First and foremost, there’s a need for more physical activity. This is the center of the cancer universe and is crucial to a balanced body metabolism. In fact, it is almost parallel to the kind and amount of food you are eating. Just as low caloric intake can lead to malnutrition, excess caloric intake can lead to obesity. So secondly, what you eat plays an enormous role in overall health. I stress to my patients the importance of eating natural, minimally processed whole foods, that are deep rich colors (the deeper the color, the higher the antioxidants). Outside of that, when it comes to starches and carbohydrates, the lower the glycemic index the better.
Tell us about your program, Cooking with Cancer.
Cooking with Cancer was born from multiple years of observation on what happens to cancer sufferers – whether from the cancer itself or what we do to treat it. Patients’ nutritional needs deteriorate during chemotherapy and radiation and I was interested in providing alternative nutritional options through re-stimulating their affected taste buds. Cooking with Cancer, Inc, aims to offer better quality of life to those afflicted by cancer, and we do it through good food.
Do you have a favorite recipe that patients rave about?
Our recipe for Jalapeno Pepper Soup invigorates the taste buds and warms the belly.
You obviously take a conventional and holistic approach to curing/fighting cancer. Can you talk about what that looks like?
The practice of medicine in the United States is becoming a very standardized endeavor. I try to see each one of my patients as a unique and special human entity. We deliver individual care, education and resources on food (and the pleasure that comes with eating it), as well as addressing outside factors that affect treatment, including emotional issues and financial challenges.
What is your favorite patient success story, the one that gets you out of the bed every day?
I couldn’t name one, but in general, I strive to understand my patient’s, and educate them so they in turn better understand what they are dealing with. I reflect on my father’s advice. He says, “if God gave me two eyes (to see better), two ears (to hear better) and even two nostrils (now we know how important smell is to the perception of flavor); why do you think I only got one mouth?” Which I take to mean, I better listen better and talk less, to be wiser. It really works.
Are there any medical journals or articles that you direct patients to when they want to learn more about integrative oncology?
There is a new generation of patients that are very interested in obtaining as much information as possible; and the more you know the better, so I recommend these sites for additional information:
- American Society of Hematology, www.blood.org
- American Society of Clinical Oncology, www.asco.com
with Dr. Luis Pineda
Dr. Pineda lives in Birmingham with his wife and family. They have four children and two grandchildren. He currently practices medicine full time in Vestavia Hills and continues his fight for patients with cancer. For more information on Luis F. Pineda, M.D. and Cooking with Cancer, Inc,. go to: www.drpineda.com or www.cookingwithcancer.org
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