FAQs – Diet
The Gerson diet is entirely organic and vegetarian. The diet is naturally high in vitamins, minerals, enzymes, micro-nutrients, and extremely low in sodium, fats, and proteins. Check out this page, which has the full list of the foods that are allowed and prohibited on the Gerson Therapy:
You can also look at the following sample menu, to give you an example of what a Gerson patient might eat on an average day.
Berries and pineapples contain aromatic acids, compounds that Dr. Gerson found interfered with the healing process in some people. To be safe, he prohibited the intake of these fruits while someone is on the Gerson Therapy.
Nuts and seeds are too high in both fats and proteins to be included in the Gerson diet, and avocados are too high in fat. While these are normally healthy foods, they are simply not compatible with the strict diet that the Gerson Therapy entails.
Though salt is to be avoided and eliminated at all costs, sodium is naturally present in many foods. You do want to restrict those foods which naturally contain high amounts of sodium, but it’s not possible to avoid all sources of sodium altogether.
Celery may be eaten, but should never be used in the juices. Remember to always follow the correct recipe for the Gerson green juice, and not to make any additions or substitutions. Cucumbers are not permitted to be eaten. In part, this is due to their high sodium content, but also because cucumbers are difficult to digest, particularly in conjunction with the green juices. Cucumbers can cause gas and indigestion, and often stay in the stomach without moving.
The most important reason is that soy is high in protein. Protein consumption is reduced to a minimum on the Gerson Therapy. Beans and legumes are not allowed as a source of protein in most instances until at least 9 months, and only on a limited basis in certain cases as determined by the Gerson doctor.
In addition to this, dietary use of soy is very controversial. It does contain enzyme inhibitors which may cause interference with proper digestion and phytates which can interfere with absorption of minerals. Soy also containes phytoestrogens which may not be appropriate for many people.
Dr. Gerson realized the need for the right type of essential fatty acids. He experimented with many types of oils and found that in all cases, fats other than flax seed oil stimulated tumor growth and even the regrowth of tumors that had resolved.
Flax seed oil is an omega 3 fatty acid containing linolenic and linoleic acids that inhibit the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines and lipid mediators and thus reduces inflammatory responses in the body. It attracts oxygen at the cell membrane assisting in transport of oxygen into the cell. It also helps carry vitamin A through the blood stream. Lignans come from part of the fiber of the seed and are high in protein. Although they can provide health benefits for certain conditions, high lignan flax oil is not allowed on the Gerson Therapy as it introduces too much protein.
Seeds, including flax seeds, have an important substance in them called an enzyme inhibitor that keeps them dormant until they are in the right environment to sprout. This enzyme inhibitor can also inhibit human digestive enzymes and interfere with good digestion.
Sources and prices of organic produce vary with location and season. It is almost always better for a patient to find a local source of organic produce at a food co-op or health food store than to have it shipped in from across the country.
Local farmer’s markets and co-ops are often excellent sources for organic produce. Today more and more major supermarkets carry organic produce, and while they may not have what a patient needs in the quantities needed, they may be able to special order items on a regular basis. Also, there are some health-food oriented supermarkets that regularly stock organic produce. These include: Whole Foods, co-ops, Wild Oats, Bread and Circus, Trader Joe’s, Sprouts and Jimbo’s.
If you live in the United States, we highly recommend that you check the website www.localharvest.org. Simply enter your zip code to find organic suppliers in your area.
Finally, there are several companies that ship organic produce across the country, but they are generally very expensive: Diamond Organics Freedom, CA 1-800-922-2396, Timber Creek Farms Yorkville, IL (708) 553-1119, Jaffe Bros., Inc. Valley Center, CA (619) 749-1133.
There is not a simple answer to this question. It is not a easy thing to know when there has been a complete restoration and recovery from a condition. In Dr. Gerson’s day, he assumed a general time for healing and rebuilding the body, including restoring the liver and essential organs to full function to be about 18 months to 2 years. We now find that it takes much longer due to the body being more toxic and depleted.
If a patient is working with their Gerson clinic doctor, they will be slowly decreasing the protocol of juices, enemas and supplements over time based on the results of blood work, diagnostic imaging and general presentation. If these changes do not create new problems and the patient continues in good condition, this is a good sign. If any new symptoms appear, the patient should immediately return to the full Therapy for at least a month or two. ( See page 197 of Healing the Gerson Way for a general annual schedule for a cancer patient.)
The best thing to remember in making any changes in diet and lifestyle is not to make a number of changes all at once. This will allow you to know which modifications may cause trouble. In general, after a recovery from cancer or other serious illness, the diet should remain 90% of original diet with only 10% of added new healthy foods.
Salt-free rye bread is allowed on the Gerson diet, but must only be used as a complement to the other foods in the diet, not as a replacement for the other foods. It is a common misconception among those new to the Gerson Therapy that the rye bread is an essential part of the diet. This is not the case at all. The rye bread is permitted because it does not directly interfere with the diet, but it does not add much in the way of nutritional value to a meal. Some Gerson patients enjoy rye bread as a treat, no more than two small slices per day, and to be occasionally used in dishes that are enhanced by the bread.
At this time, there are very few suppliers that carry a suitable organic, salt-free rye bread to the Gerson specifications. If you do not have access to a supplier of the rye bread, you could try inquiring with a local bakery, to see if they could bake it for you with the proper organic ingredients. We have provided the recipe for the rye bread, so that you can prepare it at home yourself. Keep in mind that it does take time to bake, and as the Gerson Therapy already requires a great deal of time cooking and in the kitchen, we recommend only making it for special occasions.