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Cancer Diet

Discover diets for cancer recovery

Cancer is one of the top three killers in America—at least one in five people will develop some kind of cancer in their lifetimes. This scary statistic is encouraging people to take better care of their health, and proper eating is a large part of it. In fact, eating a balanced diet can help lower your risk of getting cancer. If you already have this disease, a cancer diet can play a part in helping you feel better and helping your body recover from the effects of chemotherapy and radiation.

Preventing cancer using diet

In order to help prevent cancer, you should follow eight steps to maintain a healthy lifestyle. They include:

  • Aiming for a body mass index of 21-23. The lower your weight is (within the healthy range for your height), the healthier your body will be.
  • Staying active. Get moderate exercise for at least 60 minutes a day.
  • Avoiding high-calorie foods and sugary drinks.
  • Eating plant-based foods like legumes and whole-grain bread and pasta. Eat at least five servings of non-starchy veggies per day.
  • Limiting red meat and processed meat.
  • Restricting alcohol consumption. Men should not have more than two drinks a day; women should limit themselves to one a day.
  • Limiting salty foods.
  • Cutting back on dietary supplements and eating the real thing instead. Some supplements may have cancer-causing chemicals in them.

Diet for cancer recovery

If you already have cancer, you may be feeling the effects of chemotherapy and radiation. These treatments are extremely hard on the body, stripping away nutrients and damaging the body's organs and processes. Sometimes, a chemo diet can help with the crippling nausea and exhaustion, and by helping your body in this small way, you can better recover from these necessary but harsh cancer treatments.

A diet for cancer patients should address the common cancer problems, such as loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, sore mouth and tongue, dry mouth, taste changes, bowel problems, weight loss and exhaustion. Eat small meals through the day and don't force yourself to eat more if you don't feel like it. Have ready-to-go snacks that are high carb and high protein foods, such as hard-boiled eggs, cheese, yogurt, crackers, granola bars, muffins and nuts. These will help you build back your energy and address your appetite issues without overwhelming your body.

If you have nausea, eat foods that won't upset your stomach. Bland soups and soothing foods such as chicken, potatoes and crackers can help keep your stomach steady. Eat the BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce and toast) to deal with vomiting and bowel issues like diarrhea. If you are constipated, talk to your doctor about natural laxatives like prunes, spinach and other high fiber foods.

One of the biggest diet problems a cancer patient can experience is changes in taste. Foods that tasted good before can taste awful during or after treatment. Combat this by creating a cancer diet plan that includes tart-tasting foods like cranberry juice, lemonade and citrus fruits. These foods should be avoided, however, if you have a sore mouth or throat. Some meats may carry a metallic taste. Eat other sources of protein, like legumes and peanut butter, to get your protein in.

Always speak to your doctor before trying any new diet, especially if you are suffering from cancer. With help, you can feel better and help your body heal better, too.