Nutrition for Breast Cancer Patients
A healthy and a balanced diet is all the more essential if you are undergoing breast cancer treatment. This is because your body is fighting the cancer and also repairing the damaged cells resulting from the treatment. But the treatment side effects, such as loss of appetite or change in taste, may make you stay away from food. And that, you know, is not the solution. Try eating number of small portions during the day instead of the regular meals. Eat the foods you enjoy the most and eat with your family and friends if possible.
Here are some nutrition guidelines:
- Eat enough protein to strengthen your immune system and repair the damaged cells. Meats, fish, and pulses are of course protein rich food, but non-fat dairy products, beans, and peanut butter too are a good source of protein. Avoid tofu and soy products because isoflavones in soy may stimulate the estrogen receptors of cancer cells and make them grow. Weight management may become an issue with too much protein intake. Ask your doctor for suggestions regarding which proteins to take and how much
- Opt for low-fat diet. Your fat intake should be less than 30 percent of the total calories consumed. Data from a randomized clinical trial reported a 24% improved relapse-free survival over five years among post-menopausal breast cancer patients following a low-fat diet
- Include lot of fiber in your diet. Being in bed for a long time and anti-cancer medications may cause constipation. But again, don’t go overboard with fibers. Ask your doctor to chalk out a diet plan customized for your needs
- Vitamins, especially vitamin C, and minerals help raise your immunity level. Include plenty of fresh fruits and veggies. Tomato, lemon, and oranges are full of vitamin C and useful minerals. Do not take iron supplements if undergoing chemotherapy as high amount of free iron in cells prompts cancer to be more aggressive. Go cautious on multi-vitamins and herbal supplements such as St. John’s wort since they may interfere with cancer treatment. Always consult your doctor before starting on supplements and vitamins
- Breast cancer treatment tends to dehydrate the body. Remember to take enough fluids. Drinking water is best, but during treatment even water may taste revolting. In that case you might like to re-hydrate yourself with soups, juices, and herbal teas
- Organic fruits, vegetables and meats are good enough to limit consumption of pesticide and harmful chemicals but there is no scientific evidence that consumption of non-organic foods increase risk of breast cancer
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