Almost every day, I have at least one conversation about diet. There is so much discussed and published about nutrition and so much less that it really known or proven. I am especially irritated by all the articles that suggest that eating one way or another will protect our health. There is even a book called the Breast Cancer Prevention Diet. Don't you think that, if there were such a diet, we would all be on it?
The bottom line is that, during treatment, we need to pay attention to drinking enough (water, juice, soup, tea, does not much matter what) and to eating enough protein. Chemotherapy and radiation kill healthy cells along with the cancer ones, and our bodies need protein to replace them (the good ones). Beyond that, most of us eat whatever our own definition is of comfort foods. There is a long-standing joke about the ideal chemotherapy meal being mashed potatoes, stuffing, and mac and cheese.
At any rate, this is a brief article from Cancer Net, the patient information site of ASCO (American Society of Clinical Oncology). It is filled with common sense information about nutrition, basically what you already know and what your mother probably told you.
ASCO | ASCO Cancer Foundation | Journal of Clinical Oncology | Journal of Oncology Practice
Oncologist-approved cancer information from the American Society of Clinical Oncology
Home All About Cancer Risk Factors and Prevention Diet and Nutrition General Nutrition
General Nutrition Recommendations
Last Updated: November 25, 2009
This section has been reviewed and approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 11/09
Maintaining a healthy body weight, increasing physical activity, and eating a balanced diet that includes vegetables, fruits, and whole grains may help lower the risk of developing cancer. These recommendations agree with dietary guidelines published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to promote good health and reduce risk of chronic diseases.
Recommendations for fruits and vegetables
Fruits and vegetables contain many essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber that the body needs. Fiber is important for a healthy digestive system and for lowering cholesterol. Plus, vegetables and fruits keep you feeling full, so eating more of them may help you eat fewer calories overall. Recommendations include:
Eat a variety of healthy foods that mostly come foods from plants.
Eat five or more servings of a variety of fruits and vegetables each day. This equals about two to three cups of vegetables and 1.5 to two cups of fruit.
Choose colorful fruits and vegetables, including dark green and orange vegetables.
Tips for including more vegetables and fruit in your diet
Here are helpful tips for buying, cooking, and eating more vegetables and fruits.
Include vegetables and fruits at every meal and for snacks.
Microwave or steam vegetables and fruits when cooking them. These methods allow the vegetables and fruits to keep their nutrients.
Add vegetables to other foods such as pasta and rice dishes, pizza, sandwiches, soup, and salads.
Add fruits to cereal, breads, and muffins.
Keep prewashed, ready-to-eat vegetables and fruits (such as packaged baby carrots or pineapple chunks) on hand for easy snacks throughout the day.
When possible, eat whole fruit instead of drinking juice. This adds more fiber and fewer calories to your diet. When drinking fruit juice, make sure it is 100% fruit juice, rather than a fruit drink.
Whole grains are an important source of fiber and contain phytochemicals (plant chemicals). Refined grains, which include white flour, white bread, and white rice, are not as healthy because they usually provide less fiber and phytochemicals. Keep in mind that darkness of bread does not reflect whole-grain status or nutrient or fiber content. Always read food labels, and look for "whole grain" or "whole wheat"listed as one of the first ingredients. The recommendations for whole grains include the following:
Choose whole grains rather than processed (refined) grains and sugars.
When eating grains each day, at least half of them (3 ounces or more) should be whole grains.
Eat whole-grain rice, bread, pasta, and cereals, such as whole wheat bread, oatmeal, and brown rice.
Limit the amount of pastries, sweetened cereals, soft drinks, and sugars you eat and drink. Sugar intake has not been shown to increase cancer risk or growth, but high amounts of sugar can add calories, promote weight gain, and might replace healthier foods.
Meats, fish, and poultry
Meat and meat products are a major source of saturated fat. It is recommended that people reduce saturated fat intake to lower their risk of cancer, heart disease, and other diseases. In addition, eating large amounts of red meat (such as beef, pork, and lamb) may raise the risk of colon cancer. The recommendations for meat, fish, and poultry include:
Limit the amount of red meat, especially processed and high-fat red meat.
Eat fish, beans, nuts, eggs, and low-fat dairy foods, which are good alternative sources of protein to meat.
Choose lean cuts of meat and trim all visible fat before cooking. Boneless, skinless chicken and turkey are good lean poultry choices.
Broil, grill, roast, poach, or boil meat, pork, or poultry. Avoid frying meat.