As the popular phrase says, “we are what we eat.” The food we consume plays a huge part in building our cells, skin, hair, muscles, fat, and every other tissue. The nutrients are also absorbed into every cell tissue, which gives us our unique characteristics and abilities. The right nutrients in adequate proportions will help you build a strong immune system and will help defend against free radicals. A healthy lifestyle comprises various factors such as a balanced diet, proper exercise, adequate rest, with low-stress levels.
While there are genetic and hereditary factors that can influence the development of cancer, it is not entirely within our control. However, the foods that we choose to consume are indeed within our control.
The majority of individuals now depend upon packaged foods, fast food and snacks as meals as it is more convenient for their busy lifestyles. We consume various foods every day, which can increase the risk of developing cancer. The increased consumption of processed and packaged foods, red meat, fried foods, and sugar-rich foods can contribute to the risk of developing cancer. Any meat can release certain chemicals when cooked at a high temperature, which can also cause cancer. Hence it is necessary to follow a well-balanced diet to avoid the onset of diseases like cancer.
Common Questions Patients Ask
- What is an anti-cancer diet?
An anti-cancer diet is designed according to the calorie and nutritional requirements of each individual to reduce the inflammation. The foods prescribed in this diet will help the individual meet the protein and energy requirements. This will not only help reduce the risk of cancer but also help in boosting the immunity and improve the general well-being.
- How to incorporate a healthy diet in a budget?
A healthy diet does not necessarily have to be expensive. Make small changes to your diet by replacing wheat and wheat products with millets, quinoa or brown & red rice. Focusing on a plant-based diet along with seasonal fruits and vegetables can ensure the consumption of essential nutrients. You may opt for healthier options such as herbs to boost immunity, spices such as turmeric and pepper.
- Does a vegetarian diet decrease the risk of cancer?
Vegetarians have been associated with a lower risk of cancer. This is because plant-based foods are rich in phytochemicals and fiber, which can reduce the risk of cancer. However, simply being a vegetarian does not reduce the risk of cancer if the diet does not contain the adequate nutrients. If a non-vegetarian person follows a balanced diet, that person might have less chance of developing cancer than a vegetarian.
- What are the common mistakes that people tend to make in dietary habits during cancer?
Most people are unaware of the impact of diet on cancer. And so most people give less importance to the diet during treatments which can in turn, impact the overall health and decrease the efficiency of the treatment. However, a good cancer diet will include appropriate macronutrients, micronutrients and calories as well.
- How to differentiate good fats and bad fats?
There is always good fats the patients can include in their diet. However, animal meat is mostly rich in trans fats which must be avoided. Highly saturated fats are also unhealthy fats. The good fats which are healthy are generally found in fatty fish such as tuna, salmon, and sardines are sources of Omega 3 fatty acids.
In order to build an anti-cancer diet, there is no need for exotic fruits and vegetables. There will always be certain region-specific foods that can also be beneficial to people. It is crucial to consume a balanced diet with foods high in anti-inflammatories and antioxidants. Most people overlook dehydration during the treatments. But it is important to keep track of the daily water intake. Each individual shall have a different condition, so the diet suitable for each individual shall also vary. Patients with advanced cancer or diabetes might require a different diet than others. Here are some general tips for cancer patients:
- Include more green leafy vegetables and nuts.
- Use cold-pressed oils instead of refined oils, as it can retain nutrients.
- Increase your fluid intake to healthy smoothies and buttermilk
- Have small, frequent meals throughout the day.
- It should also be rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes.
Snippets from a Cancer Survivor
Alka Bhatnagar was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013 and immediately underwent surgery, chemotherapy and immunotherapy. However, she faced several side effects from treatments, such as nausea and hair fall. And so Alka was very particular about following a proper diet and maintaining hygiene and safety.
“I did not allow anyone to enter my room as my body was very vulnerable and could easily catch infections, which could delay and decrease the efficiency of the treatments. My taste buds had become sour, and I lost my appetite and taste. And so, my diet was structured accordingly:
- Added more vegetables and fruits
- Increased iron consumption to increase hemoglobin
- Increased protein-rich food
- Fiber-rich food to combat constipation
- Had green tea regularly
- I had lots of fluids in the form of soups and healthy fruit juices
- Used to have 1-liter water every hour
- I was also advised to have lots of curd”
Alka was able to control the side effects of her treatments with the help of the right safety precautions and a healthy diet.
ZenOnco.io’s Role in Cancer prevention diet
Diet has a tremendous impact on our health and our general well-being. However, most people overlook a balanced diet for convenience due to their busy lifestyle. Adopting a healthy diet and lifestyle can significantly reduce your risk of developing some of the most common cancers. Many of the chronic conditions that increase your risk of cancer can be avoided with a healthy diet.