Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States. According to the National Cancer Institute, in 2019 about 1.8 million people were diagnosed with some type of cancer whether it be breast cancer, prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer, and so forth.
Cancer is a disease where cells divide and grow at a rate faster than they normally should. This excess cell growth destroys body tissue and forms a tumor. Cancer is thought to happen in three stages: initiation, promotion, and progression. Diet is a powerful tool that can help to slow or even reverse the promotion and progression stages.
Nutrition and Cancer
Nutrition is an important factor in cancer treatment and prevention. While your diet won’t make you immune to developing cancer, it can certainly help to lower your odds.
Scientific research conducted by medical professionals such as Dr. T. Colin Campbell, Dr. John McDougall, and Dr. Dean Ornish suggests a diet which maximizes whole plant-based foods can be beneficial in helping fight cancer. This means eating lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds daily. You don’t have to eat a diet exclusive to plants, but it’s a good idea to make them the main star of the show.
5 Tips for incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your diet:
1. At breakfast, top cereal, pancakes or oatmeal with fresh berries, bananas or peaches.
2. Pre-washed and pre-cut fruits or vegetables makes for a great easy, fast and healthy snack.
3. Incorporating more salads into your diet is a great way to get in a lot of vegetables.
4. Make your plate colorful, incorporating three different vegetables with protein (i.e. spinach, carrots, and beets).
5. Fruit salad or baked fruit is a great alternative for dessert.
5 Tips for incorporating more whole grains into your diet:
1. Instead of white bread, white pasta, or white rice, try whole wheat or whole grain bread, whole wheat pasta, or brown rice as a healthier alternative.
2. Use whole grains as side dishes such as pilafs, barley or quinoa.
3. For breakfast, try whole grain cereals, whole wheat pancake and waffle mixes, or whole grain hot cereals.
4. Enjoy whole grain crackers as a snack.
5. Choose alternatives to processed and red meats:
– Fresh roasted turkey or chicken makes a good substitute for red meat.
– Tofu or tempeh can be used in almost any recipe as a substitute for meat.
– Choosing turkey sausage or turkey bacon with breakfast is a better option than beef sausage.
– Egg salad or hummus is a good substitute for lunch meats.
If you are undergoing chemotherapy treatment for your cancer, it’s possible you are experiencing a loss of appetite or change in taste preferences. Foods may taste metallic or perhaps you experience nausea. This certainly makes eating and proper nutrition a challenge. Unfortunately, eating less food in this situation can lead to malnutrition. This is why it’s important for you to eat enough nutritious food, so your body has the energy it needs to heal and fight infections.
Some strategies you can test out to get through this difficult time include minimizing cooking odors, eating high calorie, high protein foods, small frequent meals, and sip only small amounts of liquids during meals. If you continue to have issues with food, talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian for more help.
We can fight cancer with the foods we have on the end of our forks. Listen to your body and eat what makes you feel good.