Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States. According to the National Cancer Institute, in 2019 around 1.8 million people were diagnosed with some type of cancer, be it breast cancer, prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer, etc.
Cancer is a disease in which cells divide and grow at a faster rate than normal. This excess cell growth destroys body tissue and forms a tumor. Cancer is believed to occur in three stages: initiation, promotion, and progression. Diet is a powerful tool that can help slow or even reverse the promotion and progression stages.
Nutrition and cancer
Nutrition is an important factor in the treatment and prevention of cancer. While your diet won’t make you immune to developing cancer, it can certainly help lower your chances.
Scientific research by medical professionals such as Dr. T. Colin Campbell, Dr. John McDougall, and Dr. Dean Ornish suggests that a diet that maximizes whole, plant-based foods may be beneficial in helping to fight cancer. This means eating lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds every day. You don’t need to be on a diet exclusively of plants, but it’s a good idea to make them the main star of the show.
5 tips to add more fruits and vegetables to 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 make a great easy, quick, and healthy snack.
3. Incorporating more salads into your diet is a great way to eat lots of vegetables.
4. Make your plate colorful by incorporating three different protein vegetables (ie, spinach, carrots, and beets).
5. Fruit salad or baked fruit is an excellent 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 bread or whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta or brown rice as a healthier alternative.
2. Use whole grains as garnishes like pilafs, barley, or quinoa.
3. For breakfast, try whole grains, whole grain pancake mixes and waffles, or hot whole grains.
4. Enjoy whole grain crackers as a snack.
5. Choose alternatives to red and processed meats:
– Fresh roast turkey or chicken is 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 or hummus salad is a good substitute for cold meats.
If you are undergoing chemotherapy treatment for your cancer, you may be experiencing a loss of appetite or a change in taste preferences. Food may taste metallic or you may experience nausea. This certainly makes eating and proper nutrition a challenge. Unfortunately, eating less food in this situation can lead to malnutrition. That is why it is important that you eat enough nutritious food so that your body has the energy it needs to heal itself and fight infection.
Some strategies you can try to get through this difficult time include minimizing kitchen odors, eating foods high in calories and protein, frequent small meals, and drinking only small amounts of fluids during meals. If you continue to have problems with eating, talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian for further help.
We can fight cancer with the food we have at the end of our forks. Listen to your body and eat what makes you feel good.