Links seen between diet, disease

MIAMI - Sherina Tiberia was diagnosed with cancer in January 2007.

"All of my family came to say goodbye. The doctor said get your financials in order," she said. "I did. I made a will."

After surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation, the tumors in her left lung had spread to her right lung.

Tiberia called holistic health coach Donna Haybarger, who focused started focusing on diet after her mother died from lung cancer.

"I did a tremendous amount of research and I found the body has an amazing way of healing itself," said Haybarger.

Haybarger learned how ancient cultures used food as medicine to prevent and cure illnesses.

"I can certainly help people with cancer and different afflictions, but I want to prevent it before it gets there," she said.

Haybarger said eating animal protein, refined sugar, and empty carbohydrates creates stress on the body and raises cortisol levels.

"Nearly 50 percent of the stress that people deal with comes from diet," said Haybarger.

Studies have shown that a low-fat plant-based diet can have the opposite effect. A Women's Intervention Nutrition study found that changing to a plant-based diet reduced the risk of breast cancer recurrence by 25 percent.

Dr. Dean Ornish also found that a low-fat, vegan diet helped prostate cancer patients.

"Once you get used to eating these foods, that's what you'll crave," said Haybarger. "You'll not crave what you used to eat."

When conventional cancer therapy started making Tiberia sick, she stopped taking the drugs and started following Haybarger's advice.

"Changing your diet changes everything, your outlook on life, and for me, I'm sure that's what got rid of these tumors," she said.

Research has shown that some illnesses aren't affected by diet.

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