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Nutrition and Cancer – Food as Medicine

by Jeanette on July 22, 2012 · 2 Comments
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Jillian McKee Today, I am pleased to present some very important information on Nutrition and Cancer by Jillian McKee. Jillian serves as the Complementary Medicine Advocate at the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance, where she helps spread the word about integrating complementary and alternative medicine with traditional cancer treatment.

As many of you know, I am passionate about Food as Medicine, so I am thrilled to have Jillian share this information on the importance of eating healthy to help prevent cancer and to remain healthy throughout cancer treatment. Take it away Jillian!

Nutrition and Cancer

As researchers learn more about cancer, the role of healthy eating in the prevention and care of cancer becomes increasingly obvious. While dietary needs vary among individuals, some common factors apply to everybody.

Nutritious eating increases energy, improves immunity, and increases alertness, and it is especially important for people who have cancer, whether breast cancer or mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer. Because they often suffer from side effects of treatment, symptoms of the illness itself, or aversions to particular foods, cancer patients sometimes have trouble maintaining a healthy body weight. Both the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute advocate similar guidelines.

Healthy Eating for People Living with Cancer

•            Vegetables and fruits contain phytonutrients that help to detoxify the body and fight cancer. Among these are leafy green vegetables, such as collard greens and spinach; cruciferous veggies, such as cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower; high-protein beans; berries and tomatoes. Studies show that resveratrol, a phytochemical found in grape skins and red wine, also keeps cancer from spreading.

•            Whole grains contain fiber and antioxidants, both of which fight cancer. These include barley, oatmeal, brown rice and whole-wheat pasta and breads.

•            Herbs and spices, such as turmeric and green tea, have shown promise in inhibiting the growth of cancer cells in some clinical trials. While more study is needed, there is also some research and anecdotal evidence that other spices and herbs serve as antioxidants, as well.

•            Nuts, seeds and oily fish, sources of Omega-3 oils, provide essential fatty acids needed for brain function and cellular growth. Guidelines recommend the use of cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil to replace salad dressings and the limited use of high-fat cheese and butter. Tuna, salmon, and halibut are high in Omega-3.

•            Protein is necessary for developing and maintaining muscle mass, fighting immune disorders, and strengthening the heart and respiratory system.  Meat, fish, poultry, eggs, and dairy products are good sources of whole protein. Anyone who avoids these foods should include a wide variety of other protein sources in their daily food intake. Fruit, vegetables, grains, and nuts may not necessarily contain whole proteins.

•            Some cancer patients need high-calorie diets, such as peanut butter, meat and dairy products, to prevent muscle loss and support weight gain during treatment. When necessary, fruit products provide a high-calorie alternative to empty fat and sugar calories.

Meeting individual health needs while eating as healthy diet as possible should be the goal of every person who has cancer.

Thank you Jillian! Check out these anti-cancer recipes on Jeanette’s Healthy Living.

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  1. What a fabulously informative and consise post. Thank you both.

    • Jeanette Jeanette says:

      Thanks Jill – my hope is to help inform people about Food as Medicine, so I thank Jillian for helping me with this post.

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