Late last fall I received a “wake up” call when I was diagnosed with melanoma.

I’m very fortunate to be in good health overall.  I’ve been eating a whole food diet for over four years.  I’ve learned to manage stress.  I get some exercise most days doing chores on our farm.

The initial comment from the medical providers I received care from, after taking an initial history was, “You are in excellent health”.  Yet, I still developed melanoma.  Being in good health is not a guarantee we won’t get sick.

My initial response to receiving the diagnosis was to make an appointment with a ND (naturopathic doctor)  We discussed my typical diet and daily routine, health history, how much I exercise (farm chores did not meet her definition of brisk exercise).  She commented “You are in excellent health”.  Her suggestions were I needed to adjust what I was eating and add several supplements. And I should be walking briskly 45 minutes at least 5 days every week.

My treatment plan focuses on food. And supplements for when food isn’t enough.

Why is food so important?

Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine is often quoted as saying, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine thy food.”  

Food is medicine!

Here are three reasons why what you eat matters:

1. Food is more than calories.

Calorie “a unit equivalent to the large calorie expressing heat-producing or energy-producing value in food when oxidized in the body”.  We get most of our calories from fats, protein, and carbohydrates.  Fat has 9 calories/gram, protein and carbohydrates have 4 calories/gram.  Alcohol has 7 calories/gram.  Our body needs more than just calories. Food, especially plants, also contains vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients.

2. Food is information. 

Plants contain phytonutrients and antioxidants. Phytonutrients and antioxidants are bioactive compounds in plants that turn on and off epigenetic switches.  This means that just because everyone in your family develops a disease, like diabetes, does NOT mean you will.  The food you choose turns these switches off and on.

3. Food either builds your body up or breaks it down.

Whole food builds our body up.  They provide energy and nutrients to support growth and health.  Processed foods cause inflammation which leads to chronic dis-ease in the body.  While processed foods do provide calories, they are often void of the nutrients necessary to repair cell damage.


Due to the size of the melanoma on my leg I required surgery.  Additional tissue was removed to assure clean margins.  This left a large wound, which required a skin graft to facilitate healing.  And to determine if the melanoma had spread I had a procedure called lymphoscentigraphy.  At my initial meeting with the surgeon she commented, “You are in excellent health”.  Because I started this journey in excellent health I have healed well, and more quickly than expected.


Yes, it matters what you eat.  For cancer, or any chronic disease, eating a whole food diet provides the nutrition necessary for the body to repair damage.  This does not guarantee you won’t get sick.  It does increase the odds of a quicker and less eventful recovery.

If you would like to hear, “You are in excellent health”, from your health care provider contact me today and lets talk about how I can support you in reaching your goals for better health in 2017!


Schedule your free 20 minute wellness consultation today!

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Karen Hunter is a certified health coach. She supports individuals who are ready to learn how food is medicine and powerful for restoring health.  She focuses on the foundational aspects of health and wellness: whole food nutrition, safe movement, restorative sleep, stress management and having fun.