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A Few Additions and Subtractions for a Much Healthier Diet
Itâ€™s always a good idea to eat well. Healthy eating is particularly important during and after breast cancer treatment. Maintaining a healthy, balanced diet can help reduce your fatigue, increase your energy level and help you lose the weight you may have gained during treatments. If you get into healthy eating habits now, you can also protect your body from other illnesses like diabetes and heart disease in the future.
Maintaining a healthy, balanced diet can help reduce your fatigue, increase your energy level and help you lose the weight you may have gained during treatments.
Remember: thereâ€™s no scientifically proven food or diet that can cure or prevent cancer. However, there are foods that promote overall health and others that should be minimized or eliminated from your diet.
Itâ€™s easy to eat healthier: All you have to know is which foods to eat more of and which to avoid. This list will start you off in the right direction.
Fruits and Vegetables
If you only want to make one easy change in your diet, it should be this: Eat more fruits and vegetables. Some experts recommend as many as 10 daily servings of fruits and vegetables for cancer patients. Why?
Another very simple way to improve your diet is to drink lots of waterâ€”aim for about 8 cups a day. Why?
High-Fiber Foods (whole grains, cereals, beans, fruits and vegetables)
Eating more fiber from whole foods is a good idea not because it cures cancer, but because it helps digestion and can help decrease your risk for heart disease.
There is no scientific proof that a vegetarian diet helps to prevent or cure cancer. So you donâ€™t have to eliminate meat from your diet. Still, itâ€™s a good idea to eat less of it because meat has a lot of saturated fat that can increase your risk for heart disease. Eat more chicken and fish and less beef and pork.
Saturated Fat (found in whole milk products, oils and meat)
Eating less saturated fat may not prevent the recurrence of cancer (thereâ€™s no proof that it does) but it can reduce your risk of heart disease. During cancer treatments, you may actually want to eat more whole milk products to increase your calorie intake, but you should return to a low-fat diet once the treatments are over.
There are no proven benefits to cancer patients from alcohol and there is some evidence that it may increase the risk for breast cancer. Try to drink as little of it as possible.
Refined Sugar (white or brown)
Refined sugar is the kind thatâ€™s added to almost all processed foods. It hasnâ€™t been shown to affect cancer in any way but it has almost no nutritional value and can make you feel tired by causing quick changes in your blood sugar level. If you eat a lot of sugar youâ€™ll feel less hungry for healthy foods, so try to minimize it in your diet.
References and Resources
Much of the information for this article was found in â€śNutrition During and After Cancer Treatment: A Guide for Informed Choices by Cancer Survivors,â€ť as presented on the American Cancer Societyâ€™s Web site. For a full text of the article, visit www.cancer.org
Another excellent resource for information on diet and nutrition is the Mayo Clinicâ€™s Food and Nutrition Center at www.mayoclinic.com.