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Cancer Diet For Diabetic Patients

Cancer Diet For Diabetic Patients

How are Cancer and Diabetes linked?

For patients with cancer, diabetes management usually takes a backseat, while cancer treatment comes first. Studies show that 8% to 18% of cancer patients have diabetes. While managing the blood sugar levels may not seem like a priority, taking care of it can improve the overall health of the patient and reduce the impact it has on the other organs, contributing to the strengthening of the patient, especially when diabetes causes symptoms like dehydration, which is also a side effect to chemotherapy. 

Research also shows that people with Type II diabetes are more likely to be diagnosed with cancer than people without diabetes, so it is vital to maintain blood sugar levels. Maintaining a diabetic-friendly diet, along with a healthy weight, will ensure that diabetes doesn’t stand in the way of cancer treatment and more effective results.

Food to be avoided by cancer patients with diabetes

Amongst all the food groups, carbohydrates are known to be the most harmful for people with diabetes. The reason behind this is that carbohydrates get broken down into glucose which gets directly absorbed in the bloodstream. Of the three types of carbohydrates, sugar and starch are known to increase blood sugar levels drastically. Fibre, on the other hand, doesn’t have this effect and is known as the healthier type. 

Maintaining a low carbohydrate diet and avoiding foods like sugary, aerated drinks, fried foods like chips and fries, and cakes and muffins that contain starch can help in controlling sudden spikes in blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of complications related to diabetes.  

Dietary fibre for diabetic cancer patients

Including fibre in the diet could be helpful for diabetic patients since it doesn’t aggravate blood sugar levels. The required fibre intake for an average adult is 25-30 grams a day, and there are a lot of healthy and nutritious foods like oats, peas, apples, beans, citrus fruit, Whole wheat flour, nuts and vegetables that are rich in fibre that cancer patients can take. 

Although fibre is an excellent alternative to carbohydrates, too much fibre can aggravate symptoms like loose motion and patients with stomach cancer may not be able to consume it. 

Ideal food types for cancer patients with diabetes

Understanding the glycemic index of food will help in understanding which food is suitable for consumption for patients. The Glycemic index is a value assigned to food based on how fastly or slowly a food can increase a person’s blood sugar levels. Food with a low glycemic index scores less than 55 and takes relatively longer to improve blood sugar levels.  

Egg

There are a lot of benefits to consuming eggs for cancer patients with diabetes. Eggs are rich in protein and have a low glycemic index while also being the source of 9 amino acids that the human body can’t produce. Eggs are also a good source of potassium which will 

help in hair regrowth after chemotherapy. 

Egg yolks also have high cholesterol content, so diabetic patients are advised to consume eggs only thrice a week, but consumption of egg whites is allowed.

Fruits, vegetables and dairy products

While fruits usually contain minimal carbohydrates and are highly nutritious, they also have high sugar content. It is safer for diabetic patients to consume Fruits like apples, cherries, grapes, kiwi fruits, oranges, plums, and moderately ripe bananas that have a low glycemic index. 

For the most part, vegetables have a low glycemic index except for vegetables like potato and yam. Some examples of vegetables suitable for consumption are cabbage, green peas, onions, lettuce, green beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, broccoli etc.

Although dairy products play an essential role in maintaining a balanced diet, it is not a suitable choice for diabetic patients due to their high carbohydrate count. Yoghurt, curd and buttermilk can be consumed in moderation for some balance in the diet. 

Non-vegetarian food options

 When it comes to the consumption of meat, lean meat is advised because they are low in trans and saturated fat and are extremely good for cancer patients. Chicken without skin, turkey, fish and other seafood are suitable for consumption on a daily basis to meet the protein requirements of the patient. This is especially beneficial for cancer patients. 

General guidelines to be followed by diabetic cancer patients

Based on the type of cancer, the person’s health condition and the type of diabetes they have, the amount and type of food a person should consume differs. Breaking down daily food into smaller and more frequent meals throughout the day can help diabetic patients to maintain a steadier blood sugar level. Beverages like tea and coffee are known to contain caffeine that reduces the body’s ability to consume insulin, and diabetic patients are generally advised to avoid them. 

Apart from these dietary factors, a person’s blood sugar level may not decrease even though they strictly follow their diet. This may be because the blood sugar levels are influenced by factors other than food, such as stress due to treatment, medications and therapies that are prescribed as part of the process etc. Enquiring about doubts that the patient may have about their blood sugar levels to their nutritionist based on their personal health records will help in having a clearer idea about their health and aid in a more wholesome recovery.

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