A nutritious cancer diet is essential for all people that are undergoing cancer care procedures , suffering from cancer or for those that are recovering from cancer. The exact nature of the diet will vary considerably as a nutritionist can tailor-make the diet to suit the nutritional need of each patient.
Cancer Diet Guidelines
Chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments in cancer can have a range of side effects like loss of appetite, nausea, loss of taste, loss of saliva, dry mouth, impaired absorption etc which can make eating difficult for the patient. However, it is very necessary for cancer patients to eat as nutritionally as possible to boost their immune system. The loss of appetite could result in a depleted store of body nutrients and excessive weight loss that can impair recovery. The American Cancer Society and the American Institute for Cancer Research has set out detailed guidelines on an effective diet for cancer recovery patients.
The main points of the diet include a pre-treatment plan, a peri-treatment plan and a post-treatment plan.
- Pre-treatment plan for the Cancer Diet recommends a routine by which cancer patients can boost their immunity before their treatment procedures begin as they have been diagnosed with cancer. The diet will boost the strength of the patient by improving the health status of the patient to prepare for the intensive cancer care regimen and it will also try to educate the patient on the side effects that will be experienced during treatment.
- Peri-treatment plan for the Cancer Diet can be the most vital and patients have to deal with the side effects of the medication and treamtne procedures. Doctors usually encourage a larger intake of clear liquids like gelatin, sports drinks, juices, and soups along with soft bland food like crackers, cereal, canned and peeled fruits, fish and chicken, white rice, bland rice pudding and custards etc.
Post-treatment plan will focus on improving the nutritional state of the patient, minimizing food related discomfort, and improve the well being of the patient
- Diet has to be combined with exercise to ensure that the body weight is maintained
- High protein foods are an integral part of the diet to help the patient gain weight that was lost during surgery and treatment. Recommended daily intake of protein for women is suggested to be 70g per day in the form of boiled eggs, fish or a protein supplement.
- A plant based diet with colored fruits and vegetables is essential. At least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day are recommended.
- Use meat substitutes like tofu, soya beans, and tempeh are perfect
- Limit alcohol to one drink for women and two for men.
- Eat plenty of high fiber foods like whole wheat grains and legumes
- Patients that have recovered from cancer are also recommended a diet that will help them cope with the side effects of treatement and prevent recurrence of the cancer. Most patients will find that side effects like nausea and lack of appetite may persist for a few months after treatement. Simple guidelines include increasing the fruits and vegetables in the diet, limiting fat to 45g per day, increasing the levels of sea food and fiber in the diet and sticking to simple recipes. A few studies have also indicated that increasing the levels of antioxidants, calcium, flax, green tea, carotene, vitamins and soya in food can protect the body but the studies are not definitive.
A trained dietician who specializes in oncology nutrition can help monitor nutrient intake and food alternatives in case of problems.
A Diet to Prevent Cancer
According to the Harvard Report on Cancer Prevention, one-third of all cancer deaths are related to a high protein or animal meat based diet. Cutting down on processed animal based products could help to reduce the risk of cancers. Persons who want to maintain optimum health while reducing their risk for cancer can follow a low fat, high fruit and vegetable diet that is also called as the Anti Cancer Diet. Basic Guidelines for preventing cancer occurence include:
- Focussing on plant based foods by boosting the level of vegetables and fruits in the diet. As a general rule, envision a plate that is filled two-thirds with vegetables, fruits, beans or a salad to hit the right balance
- Increase fiber intake boosting the consumption of brown breads, unprocessed whole wheat products, and fresh baked products
- Intake of meat especailly processed meats like sausages that can develop carcinogenic compounds inside the body is reduced.
- Cancer fighting foods that are rich in antioxidants like fruits rich in beta carotene and multivitamons are to be had more.
- Immune-boosting spices like ginger, basil, rosemary and coriander are preferably included more in the day to day diet
- Water intake is increased to flush toxins and poisonous compounds out of the body
- Iintake of sugar and salt is reduced.
- Consumption of organic foods low in chemicals is to be increased.