Nutrition Before During and After Cancer

Information on nutritional needs for cancer patients


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Vinegar and its story

Vinegar

Adding bacteria to diluted wine, ale, or fermented fruits or grains creates vinegar. Vinegar is made from nearly any food that contains natural sugars. The acetic acid is what gives vinegar its unique tangy flavor.

Generally unopened vinegars will keep for 1 to 2 years in a cool, dark place. Vinegar will keep for about 6 months once opened. Because of vinegar’s complex flavor and ability to accentuate a food’s other flavors, less salt or fat often is needed in recipes that contain vinegar.

Some varieties of vinegar

Apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar: This vinegar is made from fermented apples. It is inexpensive and quite tangy. It is best in complex-tasting dishes, such as stews or marinades, but it is not as good for more delicately flavored foods.

Balsamic vinegar

Balsamic vinegar: This vinegar has a sweet and fruity flavor and mild acidity. It is used in a wide variety of dishes, ranging from grilled meat and cheese plates to fruit salads. Balsamic vinegar is available in many different qualities and price ranges. Traditional balsamic vinegar is made in Modena, Italy, and must meet the standards set forth by the Consortium of Producers of the Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena. These vinegars will carry a seal advertising that they adhere to these guidelines.

Balsamic vinegar aged for 3 to 5 years is good for salad dressings, dipping sauces, sauces, and marinades. Balsamic vinegar aged for 6 to 11 years is great for a number of dishes, including for sauces, risotto, and pasta dishes, in marinades, and mixed with mayonnaise or sour cream on sandwiches. Balsamic vinegar aged from 12 to 150+ years is best when used to finish dishes that are already cooked and in mild foods, so that the flavor of the vinegar is prominent.

Homemade salad dressing

Champagne vinegar: This vinegar is so mild and sweet that it is most often used on salads or vegetables.

Distilled white vinegarDistilled white vinegar: Distilled white vinegar is most often used for pickling. It also is frequently used for cleaning and other household chores.

Fruit vinegar

Fruit vinegar: The most popular fruit vinegar is probably raspberry. These vinegars are good for making salad dressings and also add a nice flavor to meats, poultry, and fish.

Malt vinegar

Malt vinegar: This is made from malted barley. It is used  in the preparation of chutneys and is not a good choice for delicately flavored recipes.

Red wine vinegar

Red wine vinegar: This vinegar is frequently used in French cuisine, including in marinades, stews, and sauces. It is also good in fresh salsa.

Rice vinegar

Rice vinegar: Popular in Asian cuisine, rice vinegars are sweet and mild. They sometimes are referred to as “rice wine vinegars” in recipes. White rice vinegar is used in both Chinese and Japanese dishes. It is a key ingredient in sushi.

Vinegar has been receiving some attention lately for its possible role in lowering blood glucose levels after eating. While not much research has been done on this topic and the research that has been done is conflicting, a few studies have found that if people with diabetes or those at risk regularly drink a small amount of vinegar at the beginning of meals it may help lower blood glucose levels after eating.

The active ingredient in vinegar is acetic acid, and it is present in all types of vinegar. It is thought that acetic acid may influence blood glucose levels in several ways.

  • Delay how quickly the stomach empties after eating. Slowing digestion could cause the food to be digested more slowly and raise glucose less quickly.
  • Prevent the complete breakdown of starches, causing less to be digested and absorbed into your blood stream.
  • Help muscles use glucose more effectively.
  • Whether vinegar works the same on all types of carbohydrate-containing foods is unclear from the research.

How much do you need?

The research studies cited used between 2 teaspoons to 2 tablespoons of vinegar, mixed with at least 8 ounces of water.

Side Effects

  • Vinegar is high in acid, which can burn your mouth or esophagus, and damage tooth enamel if it is not properly diluted. Also, for some people with diabetes who have a complication called gastroparesis (slow stomach emptying), taking vinegar can worsen the condition and be dangerous.
  • Use caution if you take one or more glucose-lowering medications that can cause low blood glucose (hypoglycemia), especially insulin. If the vinegar lowers blood glucose, this can put you at risk for hypoglycemia.
  • Do not use vinegar as a substitute for your glucose-lowering medications. If you would like to use vinegar, discuss it first with your dietitian and healthcare provider to make sure you use it safely and minimize side effects.
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Food preservatives

Food Preservation

Food preservation was designed to prevent spoilage, the first food preservation practices were, salting of meat and fish, adding sugar in canned foods and pickling vegetables.

Food preservatives play a vital role in preventing deterioration of food, protecting against spoilage from mold, yeast, life-threatening botulism and other organisms that can cause food poisoning. Preservatives reduce food cost, improve convenience, lengthen shelf life and reduce food waste.

Functions, Names and Labeling

There are two modes of preservation: Physical and chemical.

Physical preservation refers to processes such as refrigeration or drying.

Chemical preservation is adding ingredients to a food for the purpose of preventing potential damage from oxidation, rancidity, microbial growth or other undesirable changes — and is considered a “direct additive.”

food-preservation

Per U.S. Food and Drug Administration, both natural preservatives, like lemon juice, salt and sugar and artificial preservatives are classified as “chemical preservatives.” While many common preservatives occur naturally, manufacturers often use synthetic versions of these chemicals.

All preservatives added to food products must be declared on the ingredient list on the food label using common names of ingredients. When no such name exists, synthetic forms can be listed. For example, synthetic vitamin B9 can be listed as “folic acid.” Preservative ingredients must either be identified as a preservative or the specific function must be given, such as “sorbic acid (to retain freshness).”

food label

Safety

According to the regulatory authorities, preservatives are generally recognized as safe, or GRAS, in the quantities in which they are allowed in individual food products. “Safe” for food additives is defined to mean “a reasonable certainty in the minds of competent scientists that the substance is not harmful under the intended conditions of use.” Still, there are some preservatives of concern.

Sodium nitrite/nitrate used in processed meats is an example of compounds that may increase the potential of these foods to cause cancer. Studies have linked eating large amounts of processed meats with an increased risk of colorectal cancer.

No Nitrites Label

Sodium benzoate and sulfites appear to be safe for most people, but may cause adverse reactions in others. A 2007 study published in The Lancet suggests sodium benzoate and artificial food colorings may exacerbate hyperactivity in young children.

Although butylated hydroxyanisole, or BHA, is listed by the National Toxicology Program as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen,” the FDA considers it a GRAS substance in minute quantities. Meanwhile, butylated hydroxytoulene, or BHT, has been banned in some countries but has not been shown conclusively to be carcinogenic.

A diet full of processed foods may contain excessive preservatives — both artificial and natural (salt and sugar) and should be limited. But preservatives within the context of an overall healthful diet help safeguard food and protect consumer health.

Removing preservatives compromises food safety, and there is no good scientific reason to avoid them. The risk of getting botulism from processed meats far outweighs the risk of the preservative especially when consumed in moderation.

Nonetheless, emerging technological innovations aimed at replacing traditional preservatives are in the works. Development of technologies, such as high pressure processing and ultrasonic preprocessing with pulsed light are promising and may yield additional benefits such as reduced water usage, energy efficiency and improved food quality.

High Pressure Processing

HPP-Process


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Your Digestion

Proponents of “food combining” argue that the body is unable to digest foods properly if they’re eaten in the wrong combinations, can lead to bloating, gas, heartburn, weight gain, malnutrition and even disease.

One of the tenets of food combining is that fruit should be eaten only on an empty stomach. Since fruit is digested more quickly than protein and starchy foods, you’ll realize its maximal nutritional value only if you eat it by itself. Eat it 30 to 60 minutes before a meal, or two to four hours after a meal. If you eat fruit in combination with other foods, though, it will get “trapped” in your stomach and start to “rot” before it can be digested and its nutrients absorbed. You’ll also feel digestive distress.

Another common food-combining rule: Avoid eating protein (e.g., meat, poultry, fish, eggs, tofu) and starchy foods (e.g., bread, pasta, grains, winter squash, potato) together in the same meal. The theory goes that since protein and carbohydrates require different enzymes to be broken down, enzymes that operate at different pH levels in the gut, eating them together will “cancel out” or neutralize their digestive enzymes and prevent proper digestion of either food.

The Real Story

The proposed rationale behind food combining goes against the physiology and biochemistry of human digestion. Our digestive tract is, in fact, very well equipped to effectively digest and absorb mixed meals.

Protein is partially digested in the acidic stomach and that carbohydrates are broken down into their building blocks in the alkaline environment of the small intestine. When food reaches the stomach – be it beef, fish, grains, fruits or vegetables (alone or in combination) – hydrochloric acid is released. The acidic environment of the stomach and its mechanical churning turns the food into a partially digested mass called chyme.

Hydrochloric acid also activates a protein-digesting enzyme called pepsin which degrades protein into smaller particles, which must then undergo further digestion in the small intestine.

When chyme enters the small intestine, the pancreas secretes different enzymes needed to digest protein (protease) into amino acids, carbohydrates (amylase) into glucose and fats (lipase) into fatty acids and glycerol. These small molecules are then absorbed into the bloodstream.

Pancreas releases all of these digestive enzymes regardless of what you eat, be it a steak with mashed potatoes and cauliflower or an apple with a cup of milk.

There’s no evidence that eating fruit with a meal, or eating brown rice with chicken, results in “gut rot.”, the harsh acidic conditions of the stomach keep it free of micro-organisms.

There are reasons, though, why some people don’t efficiently absorb nutrients from foods, including lack of stomach acid, prolonged antibiotic use, inflammatory bowel disease, pancreatic diseases and intestinal infections. But these factors are not related to improperly combined foods.

Reasons to combine foods

Eating protein and carbohydrates together, for instance, help keeps you feeling satisfied and energized longer after eating.

Combining fruit that’s high in vitamin C (e.g., strawberries, cantaloupe, etc.) with oatmeal will enhance your body’s ability to absorb iron from the cereal.

Adding calcium-rich milk or yogurt to a green smoothie can help bind oxalates from greens such as spinach, an important consideration for people with calcium oxalate kidney stones. Lentils, kidney beans, black beans and the like – are a combination of protein and carbohydrate.

Food-combining diet has been the subject of only one randomized controlled trial, which found no evidence that it improved weight loss or health above and beyond a balanced diet with controlled portions.


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Food Labels

In the last blog we learned a little bit about food labels, let’s take it a little further and figure out a few more details. Remember some numbers are in grams and others in milligrams.

Food Labels

Servings information

Serving size:

This is an amount of the food that is considered a single serving. The rest of the nutrition facts then provide information based on that amount. If the serving size says 1/2 cup, then the calories, fat, cholesterol, sodium, protein, carbohydrates, fiber and other nutrients shown are for 1/2 cup of that food.

Servings per container:

This number tells you how many servings there are in the whole package. So if a package has 7 servings and you eat the whole package, you’ll be eating 7 times the calories and other nutrients. Yes! They add up.

Calories:

The calories are the number of calories in one serving. Don’t forget this important fact. So if you eat more than one serving, you have to multiply the calories by how many servings you eat. If a package says 1/2 cup is a serving and you eat 1 cup, that’s two times the servings (1/2 cup x 2 = 1 cup).

Fat, Cholesterol, & Sodium

Total Fat:

This is the number of grams of fat in a single serving. In a 2,000 calorie daily diet, most people should aim for between 45 and 78 grams of total fat per day, mostly from sources like plant oils, avocados, seeds and nuts.

Saturated fat:

This fat is often called a bad fat, but a little saturated fat in the diet may not be harmful. Most people should aim for 7-10% or less of their calories from this fat or about 20 grams or fewer per day based on a 2,000 calories diet.

Trans fat:

This is a bad fat. If the label shows trans-fats, find another food. Even if it says 0 grams, it’s important to look at the ingredient list to see if the word “hydrogenated” is on the list.

Cholesterol:

Most people are advised to consume less than 300 mg of cholesterol each day. Take a look at the number and pick foods with low cholesterol so it doesn’t add up to more than 300mg at the end of the day.

Sodium:

Most people should aim not to exceed 1,500 mg of sodium daily, while some are advised that 2,300 mg is safe. The label will say how many milligrams of sodium are in a single serving. It will also list a DV (Daily Value) showing what percentage of 2,300 mg  is in one serving.

Fiber, Vitamins and Minerals

Fiber:

This is listed in grams on the package. Women are advised to get 25 grams or more daily, men are advised to reach 35 grams.

Vitamins and Minerals:

Nutrition Facts panels are required to list Vitamins A, C, E and the mineral Iron. They will be listed by percent only. The goal is to achieve 100% over the course of the day.

Protein, Carbohydrates and Sugars

Protein

This will be listed in grams. Protein can help with feeling satisfied. Protein needs vary for people with kidney disease and other illness, on an average we need about 0.9 g x with your weight in kilograms. Not all foods will have protein.

Carbohydrates and Sugars:

Carbohydrates are listed in grams and there are many forms of carbohydrates from complex whole grains, fruits and veggies to simple sugars like honey, cane sugar (table sugar), and maple syrup among others. While recommendations for individuals will vary, carbohydrate recommendations can generally go up to 300 grams per day in a 2,000 calorie diet.


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Inflammation and your diet

Anti-inflammatory refers to the property of a substance or treatment that reduces inflammation or swelling.

Inflammation is associated with a number of chronic conditions, such as cancer and cardiovascular disease, obesity, and insulin resistance. There also is evidence that chronic inflammation may be associated with depression and may predispose individuals to dementia. Reducing inflammation may help prevent or treat these conditions. Diet has been shown to modulate inflammation.

What are Anti-inflammatory foods?

Anti-inflammatory foods include most colorful fruits and vegetables, oily fish (which contain higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids), nuts, seeds, and certain spices, such as ginger, garlic and cayenne.

Anti Inflammation-Diet

Anti-Inflammatory Diet

Sweets 

  • Eat Sparingly
  • Unsweetened dried fruit, dark chocolate, fruit sorbet
  • Dark chocolate provides polyphenols with antioxidant activity. Choose dark chocolate with at least 70 percent pure cocoa and have an ounce a few times a week. Fruit sorbet is a better option than other frozen desserts.

Red Wine

red-wine

  • Optional, no more than 1-2 glasses per day
  • Any red wine
  • Red wine has beneficial antioxidant activity. Limit intake to no more than 1-2 servings per day. If you do not drink alcohol, do not start.

Tea

Tea

  • 2-4 cups per day
  • White, green, oolong teas
  • Tea is rich in catechins, antioxidant compounds that reduce inflammation. Purchase high-quality tea and learn how to correctly brew it for maximum taste and health benefits.

Herbs and Spices

Spices

Spices collection on spoons

  • Unlimited amounts
  • Turmeric, ginger and garlic (dried and fresh), chili peppers, basil, cinnamon, rosemary, thyme
  • Use these herbs and spices generously to season foods. Turmeric and ginger are powerful, natural anti-inflammatory agents.

Animal Protein

Dairy-products

  • 1-2 servings a week
  • Natural cheeses, organic, high-quality dairy, omega-3 enriched eggs, skinless poultry and lean meats.
  • In general, try to reduce consumption of animal foods.  If you eat chicken, choose organic, cage-free chicken and remove the skin and associated fat.  Use organic, high-quality dairy products. If you eat eggs, choose omega-3 enriched eggs (made by feeding hens a flax-meal-enriched diet), or eggs from free-range chickens.

Cooked Mushrooms

Cooked Mushrooms

  • Unlimited amounts
  • Shiitake, enokidake, maitake, oyster mushrooms (and wild mushrooms if available)
  • These mushrooms contain compounds that enhance immune function. Never eat mushrooms raw, and minimize consumption of common commercial button mushrooms (including crimini and portobello).

Whole Soy Foods

soy-products

  • 1-2 servings per day
  • Tofu, tempeh, edamame, soy nuts, soymilk
  • Soy foods contain isoflavones that have antioxidant activity and are protective against cancer.  Choose whole soy foods over fractionated foods like isolated soy protein powders and imitation meats made with soy isolate.

Fish and Seafood

Fish1

  • 2-6 servings per week
  • Wild Alaskan salmon (especially sockeye), herring, sardines, and black cod (sablefish)
  • These fish are rich in omega-3 fats, which are strongly anti-inflammatory. If you choose not to eat fish, take a molecularly distilled fish oil supplement, 2-3 grams per day.

Healthy Fats

Healthy Fats

  • 5-7 servings per day
  • Extra virgin olive oil, and expeller-pressed canola oil. Other sources of healthy fats include nuts (especially walnuts), avocados, and seeds – including hemp seeds and freshly ground flaxseed. Omega-3 fats are also found in cold water fish, omega-3 enriched eggs, and whole soy foods. High-oleic sunflower or safflower oils may also be used, as well as walnut and hazelnut oils in salads and dark roasted sesame oil as a flavoring for soups and stir-fries
  • Healthy fats are those rich in either monounsaturated or omega-3 fats.  Extra-virgin olive oil is rich in polyphenols with antioxidant activity and canola oil contains a small fraction of omega-3 fatty acids.

Grains

grains

  • 3-5 servings a day
  • Brown rice, basmati rice, wild rice, buckwheat, groats, barley, quinoa, steel-cut oats
  • Whole grains digest slowly, reducing frequency of spikes in blood sugar that promote inflammation. “Whole grains” means grains that are intact or in a few large pieces, not whole wheat bread or other products made from flour.

Pasta (al dente)

Pasta

  • 2-3 servings per week
  • Organic pasta, rice noodles, bean thread noodles, and part whole wheat and buckwheat noodles like Japanese udon and soba
  • Pasta cooked al dente (when it has “tooth” to it) has a lower glycemic index than fully-cooked pasta. Low-glycemic-load carbohydrates should be the bulk of your carbohydrate intake to help minimize spikes in blood glucose levels.

Beans and Legumes

Legumes

  • 1-2 servings per day
  • Beans like Anasazi, adzuki and black, as well as chickpeas, black-eyed peas and lentils.
  • Beans are rich in folic acid, magnesium, potassium and soluble fiber.  They are a low-glycemic-load food.  Eat them well-cooked either whole or pureed into spreads like hummus.

Vegetables

Green-Leafy-Vegetables

  • 4-5 servings per day minimum
  • Lightly cooked dark leafy greens (spinach, collard greens, kale, Swiss chard), cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale, bok choy and cauliflower), carrots, beets, onions, peas, squashes, sea vegetables and washed raw salad greens
  • Vegetables are rich in flavonoids and carotenoids with both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity.  Go for a wide range of colors, eat them both raw and cooked.

Fruits

fresh-fruits-vegetables-2419

  • 3-4 servings per day
  • Raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, peaches, nectarines, oranges, pink grapefruit, red grapes, plums, pomegranates, blackberries, cherries, apples, and pears – all lower in glycemic load than most tropical fruits.
  • Fruits are rich in flavonoids and carotenoids with both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity.  Go for a wide range of colors; choose fruit that is fresh in season or frozen.

Water

Water

  • Throughout the day
  • Water is the best choice if you must have something else then choose, beverages made with water, such as unsweetened tea, sparkling water, or water with a small amount of fruit juice for flavor
  • Water is vital for overall functioning of the body.

Anti Inflammatory


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Food trends to Explore

Currently there have been plenty of food trends just like fashion, and are ever changing, these can distract you from eating a daily balanced meal, some are even touted as cure all, nothing being further from the truth, but there are some trends like fashion worth exploring and choosing what appeals to you.

Hemp Seeds

Hemp Seeds

These nutty seeds have fiber, protein, and some ALA omega-3 fatty acids. Use them like you would other seeds – sprinkle on oatmeal and other cereals, or add to baked goods, yogurt or vegetables. You can also substitute hemp seeds for bread crumbs to make a crunchy crust on chicken or fish.

Ancient Grains

Ancient Grains

Explore new flavors and textures – something different from brown rice and whole wheat pasta. Try farro, red or black rice, quinoa, sorghum or millet. Whole grains are rich in fiber that can lower risk for colorectal cancer.

Home Delivery Meal Services

Home Deliver Meals

Getting ingredients or ready-to-assemble meals delivered straight to your door can be a convenient way to make healthy, home-cooked meals, especially for beginners.

To keep it budget-friendly, try it short-term to learn about portion sizes and healthy meal planning and preparation before you try to shop and prep on your own.

Sprouted Grains

sprouted-grains

Grains will germinate (sprout) with the right temperature and moisture. Sprouting may make vitamin C and some minerals more available for the body to use. Try them in homemade bread, stir fries, or pasta sauces.

Spiralized Veggies

Spiraled veges

Spiralizing is a great way to use colorful veggies in novel ways, adding interest to some of your go-to meals. Swap them for pasta, add them to salads, or stir-fry for an easy side dish.

Pulses and Legumes

Pulses and Legumes

Pulses include dry beans like kidney and pinto along with lentils, split peas and chickpeas. Pulses are high in protein and fiber and packed with vitamins and minerals. Substitute for meat and add to veggie dishes and salads.

Spice Stores

Spices

Beautiful, colorful and exotic spices catch, add amazing flavors that allow for the beginner and advanced cook to dress up simple dishes. Use spices to cut down on sodium, too. Boutique spice stores offer a huge variety along with recipes for how to use them.