health & nutrition
Recently, clinical research has suggested the role nutrition plays in cancer prevention, treatment, recurrence and quality of life for cancer patients. Most researchers will concur that a diet high in vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes, and low in red meat, saturated fats and alcohol, paired with daily physical activity is ideal for health and longevity.
The general rules of thumb are to eat a diet rich in fresh ingredients, including a wide variety of colorful vegetables and fruits, whole grains, along with healthful plant based fats such as olive oil, nuts, flax seeds/oil, avocados and canola. Cold-water fish is also a great option, due to its high Omega-3 content (good fat), and may provide a great source of calories for those undergoing chemotherapy, who may be having a hard time keeping weight on. Foods should be prepared from scratch when possible, and seasoned with fresh or dried herbs, as salt intake should be minimized. Intake of saturated fats, found primarily in red meat and dairy should be limited, as should refined flours and sugars, along with any processed foods such as snack chips, crackers, cookies and sugary drinks like soda, sport drinks and even fruit juice. Copious amounts of water should be consumed to keep the body sufficiently hydrated.
The following are resources for information on cancer nutrition, which may include informational hotlines, recipes, and detailed information on different foods:
- The American Institute for Cancer Research ( www.aicr.org ) states that finding “synergy” in one’s diet, meaning the proper combination of minerals, vitamins and phytochemicals in a predominantly plant-based diet can actually interact in the body to provide extra cancer protection. Their Foods that Fight Cancer weblink provides a wealth of information on recent clinical studies, quick tips on different foods, and recipes. http://www.aicr.org/site/PageServer?pagename=dc_foods_home
- The Women’s Healthy Eating and Living (WHEL) Study, conducted by the Moore’s UCSD Cancer Center, evaluated the effects of a healthful diet in preventing or reducing the risk of breast cancer recurrence. The study included 3000 breast cancer patients from seven clinical sites in four states, and was conducted over a 10-year period from 1997 to 2007. Data collected from the study has resulted in several scientific publications, which can be found at www.cancer.ucsd.edu/whelpubs/.
The program also resulted in a cookbook full of healthful eating tips and recipes called Food for Thought: Healing Foods to Savor; Copyright 2006 Regents of the University of California. This book, along with sample recipes and nutritional tips can be found at www.healthyeating.ucsd.edu
- Useful Tips from the Book In Defense of Food; by Michael Pollan:
- Shop the perimeter of the supermarket.
- Avoid food products containing ingredients that are:
- Or more than 5 in number
- Pay more; eat less (quality over quantity)
- Consult your gut
- Eat Slowly
- Cook your own food (don’t buy it in a package)
- The following books include the most recent cancer nutrition research and are a fantastic resource for different recipes and food options:
- The following 2 books also include research on the power of the healing properties of the mind. They both stress the importance of exercise and/or meditation as a healing tool, in addition to proper nutrition. The Spectrum by Dr. Dean Ornish is not catered specifically to cancer, however it includes many healthful recipes, and comes with a bonus Meditation CD: