Nutrition and Cancer
Some studies suggest that nutrition and cancer are connected and that simple lifestyle changes, like having a healthy and balanced diet, can help prevent 30-50% of all cancers. Nutrition is vital, since eating too much of certain foods or being overweight can increase the risk for cancer. Therefore, the relationship between nutrition and cancer may be a preventive factor in some cases.
What are the Benefits of Good Nutrition and Cancer?
When being treated for cancer, good nutrition is especially important because cancer and treatment can affect appetite and the way the body handles and uses certain foods and nutrients. Some patients may need to change their diet to build up strength in order to be better prepared for the effects that the cancer and treatment may have on the body. Eating well in general might help you feel better, stay strong and energized, have a lower risk of infection, recover faster, tolerate treatment side effects and maintain the body’s nutrient storage.
Factors to consider when deciding on the best overall diet involves knowing the type of cancer, treatment and side effects that may be impacted by nutrition.
What Nutrients are Ideal for Cancer Nutrition?
A variety of foods are recommended in order to provide the body with the proper nutrients needed to fight cancer. These include:
- Proteins that are helpful in growth, repairing body tissue and keeping the immune system healthy. A lack of protein can lead to a breakdown of the muscle. Extra protein after surgery, chemotherapy or radiation therapy can help heal tissues and fight infections.
- Fats that are important in order to provide the body with enough energy, because the body breaks down these fats in order to use them as energy, insulate body tissue, and transport certain vitamins through blood. Monosaturated and polyunsaturated fats are the better options, since saturated and trans fats can increase heart disease risk and cholesterol
- Carbohydrates that are the major source of the body’s energy; therefore, they are important for physical activity and adequate organ function.
- Water is essential to health, because all body cells need it in order to function. If certain treatment or cancer side effects are happening such as diarrhea or vomiting that may cause dehydration, drinking more water is important.
- Vitamins and minerals that are needed for the body to function properly and utilize the energy that comes from food. Certain vitamins and minerals can boost the immune system or even fight cancer cells, which is beneficial during treatment. However, when considering supplements you should always consult your doctor first.
- Antioxidants that absorb and attach to destructive molecules in order to prevent them from attacking normal cells, which is also beneficial when battling cancer.
- Phytonutrients that are plant compounds which have health protecting qualities and are usually found in any foods made from plants.
Make sure to always consult with your doctor about the best nutrition plan for your specific case based on your treatment, cancer type and specific side effects.