Fighting Cancer: Ways to Make the Most of Your Diet
March 19, 2013
Cancer often causes people to rethink their diet, daily habits, and lifestyle; they aim to do their part in staying healthy. Nutritional supplements and juicing are two easy ways to keep your body fueled with the nutrients it needs after a cancer diagnosis. However, there are a few things you need to know before altering your diet.
Why should cancer patients juice?
Juicing can make it easier for your body to absorb nutrients from fruits and vegetables; it can also help boost your immune system, eliminate toxins from your body, aid digestion, and assist in weight loss. It is not proven that juicing is more healthy than consuming the regular fruits and vegetables, however if you want to get more creative with your diet, then juicing can add variety as well as make it easier to digest the nutrients that you need on a daily basis. Some people prefer juicing because they don’t like eating whole fruits and vegetables. For people with cancer, it specifically helps if your sense of taste has changed, you are experiencing dry mouth, or if you have trouble swallowing whole foods.
Is it possible to do too much juicing?
If you do begin juicing, beware that there is such a thing as “too much juicing”. Risks of overuse of juicing include diarrhea and too much sugar consumption for diabetics. As in all things, it is
important to do this in moderation. Juicing is best when paired with an overall healthy diet and should not be used in place of professional medical care.
How do I get started?
- It is preferable to use a juicer rather than a blender.
- Getting a juicer that keeps the peel and pulp in the juice is healthier because there are a lot of nutrients in the peel and pulp.
- Fresh juices are better than store-bought juices.
- Try to get produce without holes or bruises.
- Wash fruits and vegetables before juicing
- Drink right after juicing; the juices will not stay fresh and should not be stored in the refrigerator for more than a few hours.
What are the best fruits and vegetables to use?
The best fruits for juicing include apple, pineapple, papaya, berries, orange, cantaloupe, and grapes. Choose fruits full of antioxidants. The best vegetables for juicing include carrots, cabbage, broccoli, celery, parsley, kale, spinach, and beets. Carrots are especially good for juicing because they add a sweet taste, are full of nutrients, and have a high beta carotene, count which helps fight cancer. Don’t be afraid of juicing vegetables! The idea sounds strange at first, but with the right combinations, juiced vegetables can be surprisingly tasty.
If you have or have had cancer, it is likely that you have tried to supplement your diet with nutritional supplements. Nutritional and dietary supplements include vitamins, minerals, herbs, and amino acids. Here is some useful information on how to implement supplements into your diet.
The two main benefits of nutritional supplements are that they:
- Boost the immune system
- Help ease side effects of chemotherapy and radiation therapy
It is hard for the body’s immune system to recognize cancer cells as abnormal, so they often do not attack those cells. While nutritional supplements to do not replace medications prescribed by doctors, if you are able to help your body by strengthening your immune system, this will also help to fight infection. A key to using nutritional supplements is to keep your doctor informed.
Talk to Your Doctor
With all dietary changes, it is important to inform your doctor before you make any changes. You should gather all the information along with the type and amount of the supplements you plan on taking. This is vital to avoid any side effects of the supplements or risks involved with combining them with other medications.
There are mixed results of implementing vitamin D into your diet, however it is one of the most researched vitamins for cancer. In general, many people have a vitamin D deficiency; taking vitamin D interests cancer patients because of it’s role in cell development. Vitamin D supplements can compensate for spending time in the sun, something that people with cancer are not able to do a lot of.
One of the side effects of cancer treatments is fatigue. People experience this fatigue on many different levels; iron deficiency and anemia (caused by chemotherapy) can be a big factor. If you take vitamin C with meals, this may help your body absorb the iron that is in the food.
Garlic, Green tea, Antioxidants
Certain foods can help add things to your diet that work similarly to dietary supplements. Adding natural garlic to your diet has a chance of boosting your immune system and may have cancer preventing qualities. Green tea may be able to slow the development of blood vessels in tumors.
Antioxidants in fruits and vegetables can help fight cancer. Antioxidants include vitamins A, C, and E, selenium, and certain compounds in green tea and melatonin.
Myths about Supplements
A lot of people believe that since supplements are sold over-the-counter that they do not need to be careful when choosing what to take. They also believe, “the more the better”; this is not the case. Other misconceptions include, that if the bottle says “all natural” it is natural, that just because you have heard of it before that it is safe, that it will not interfere with your other medications, and that just because it is FDA approved that it is safe for you specifically. Be careful of these misconceptions.
There are benefits of researching nutritional supplements and making adjustments to your diet, however none of these changes should be implemented without consulting your doctor first.
American Cancer Society (ACS). Juicing. Accessed at www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/complementaryandalternativemedicine/dietandnutrition/juicing on February 6, 2013.
Fitness Blender. Best Juicing Recipes for Cancer Prevention. Accessed at www.fitnessblender.com/v/article-detail/Best-Juicing-Recipes-for-Cancer-Prevention-Juicing-Recipes-for-Health/ad/ on February 6, 2010.
Mayo Clinic. Nutrition and Healthy Eating. Accessed at www.mayoclinic.com/health/juicing/AN02107 on February 6, 2013.
MDAnderson. Juicing Fruits and Vegetables at Home. Accessed at www2.mdanderson.org/app/pe/index.cfm?pageName=opendoc&docid=2832 on February 6, 2013.
American Cancer Society (ACS). Dietary Supplements: How to Know What is Safe. Accessed at http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/complementaryandalternativemedicine/dietarysupplements/dietary-supplements-intro on February 6, 2013.
WebMD. Vitamins and Supplements Lifestyle Guide. Accessed at http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/lifestyle-guide-11/cancer-supplements?page=3 on February 6, 2013.
Last Updated: March 19, 2013