By nutritionist, Dr Carol Granger
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in the UK and for those diagnosed, a better-quality diet and being physically active have been linked to longer survival.
After a cancer diagnosis, people often have questions about diet. You may wonder if there are foods that you should avoid or particular foods that may help.
I am a nutritional adviser at Curve.life, a new online service which gives patients access to evidence-based information about how their lifestyle choices can affect both their quality of life and outcomes. At Curve, we consider food to be a key element in your armoury against cancer following diagnosis, whatever your stage, and always alongside conventional treatment.
So, here, I will share the best foods to eat if you have had a diagnosis and tell you the one food you should eat every day.
Plant foods are excellent as they provide an array of vitamins and minerals. They also provide phytonutrients - botanical compounds found in certain foods. They are especially valuable because the coloured pigments they contain support several functions of the immune system and also help cell regulation. Some of the most important foods to eat are green cruciferous (brassica) vegetables, red and orange vegetables such as tomatoes and sweet potatoes, and dark berries such as blueberries. Garlic and mushrooms (which are delicious together!) both support immunity. The fibre in plant foods also helps keep the digestion healthy.
Flaxseeds are another good food to eat as they provide fibre which supports the elimination of cancer-causing compounds, and also natural compounds that can help support healthy hormonal balance. Plus they contribute to other aspects of your health and wellbeing.
A much-cited myth is that dairy is off the menu if you are undergoing cancer treatment. However, whilst eating high amounts of saturated dairy fats from sources such as cheese and milk, may increase risk, one dairy food is actually excellent at supporting good gut health. That food is yoghurt.
Live yoghurt provides good bacteria for your digestive system. These help your immunity and may even help the body to respond to some treatments. Often cancer treatment includes the use of anti-biotics which extinguishes the good bacteria in your body so eating yoghurt every day helps counteract this. Live yoghurt, kefir and other fermented foods are great to eat on a daily basis and have been shown to support good gut health.
For women living with breast cancer, there’s no single food that’s a miracle. However, there is enough evidence to suggest that some food choices can be of real benefit. This is not just in how patients feel, but also in maximising your health while living with the disease, helping to prevent recurrence, or living better (and possibly longer) in a palliative situation.
Eating well can help your body at all stages of the cancer journey from diagnosis, treatment and recovery, and for people living with and beyond cancer.
Tagged in Breast Cancer