What to Eat When You Have Cancer

It’s no secret that good health starts with good nutrition. This is especially true after a cancer diagnosis. Your upcoming treatment will push you to the limits – both physically and emotionally. The better your overall health, the better you’ll be able to manage your therapy.

Diet has been known to be partly responsible for about 30-40% of all cancers. While no food can prevent you from getting cancer, there are foods that can boost your immune system and, as obesity is considered a risk factor, potentially lower your risk for recurrence.

Some guidelines for healthy eating include:

  • Eating five or more servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Fruits and vegetables have a low fat content and high fiber content. Additionally, fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants which have been shown to prevent types of free radical damage associated with cancer development. They also contain phytochemicals, which have been known to have cancer-fighting qualities.
     
  • Choosing whole grains instead of refined grain products. Increasing your carbohydrate intake will give you more energy. Whole grains are high in complex carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins and minerals. Limit your intake of refined foods, such as pastries, candy and other high-sugar foods.
     
  • Limiting your fat intake. Substitute your bad fats (saturated and trans fats) with good fats (mono and polyunsaturated fats).  Eat more avocado, olives and walnuts. Consume more liquid vegetable oils (soybean, canola and olive) and eat less butter, cream, cheese and other dairy products made from whole or 2% milk.
     
  • Increasing your intake of lean protein. Good protein sources include poultry, fish and beans. Some research has suggested a link between red meat and cancer, so avoid processed meats and beef that has been given extra hormones and antibiotics.

Some other helpful tips:

  • Drink plenty of water. Stay hydrated.
  • Bake or broil your food.
  • Eat more fiber.
  • Eat small meals throughout the day, instead of three larger meals.
  • Consider buying organic, whenever possible.
  • Limit your alcohol intake.
  • Stay active.

More research is needed to understand diet and cancer. However, it is clear that eating healthy will help keep up your energy during cancer treatment, which can make the process seem less overwhelming.