Nutrition Before During and After Cancer

Information on nutritional needs for cancer patients


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Survive and Thrive after Cancer

cancer survivor

You are fortunate enough to survive cancer, but now living a healthy lifestyle is very important. While studies are ongoing, there is definitive research showing certain behaviors and foods can help improve long-term health after cancer.people_exercising

Exercise is beneficial for cancer survivors; it helps reduce the risk of a recurrence. It improves mood, increases stamina, decreases anxiety and, also helps with recovery from your treatment. Exercise can also help you achieve a desirable body weight, depending on if you gained or lost weight during treatment.

The American Cancer Society recommends exercising five or more days a week, 30 minutes per session, if there is weight loss during treatment let that not discourage you, start small. Every minute of activity will improve strength and endurance.

Dining Out1

After treatment stops return to normal eating patterns .Food safety at every meal is still important since; infection is a big concern among survivors. When dining out, avoid sushi, salad bars, rare meats, fish and shellfish, poultry and eggs, since these items have a greater prevalence of germs. At home, scrub fruit and vegetables well; avoid raw honey and raw juices, selecting pasteurized varieties instead; cook meats thoroughly; and keep your refrigerator and all utensils, cutting boards and counters clean, replacing sponges weekly, just as you did during the treatment.

Dark-Leafy-Greens

Eating five servings daily of fruit and vegetables should become routine. Dark green, leafy vegetables like Swiss chard, spinach, kale and beet greens are good choices, especially when prepared with garlic and turmeric.

Herbs

Fresh herbs such as rosemary, mint, thyme, oregano and basil should be used regularly since they have documented medicinal properties related to the terpines in their essential oils.

grains

Whole grains such as bulgur, barley, oats and brown rice are a good source of saponins, a water and fat-soluble plant compound that acts like an antibiotic.

Fish1

Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, herring, cod and sardines are good protein sources. They have the added benefit of being rich sources of healthy, omega-3 fatty acids, which play a vital role in boosting immunity.

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Eliminating Carbs?

Low Carb

The popularity of low-carb, ketogenic and other Atkins-style diets are fueling an intense fascination around Carbohydrates. As a dietitian I feel it’s my duty to deepen our understanding of this topic.

The world’s staples are carb-heavy; these include cassava, corn, plantain, potato, rice, sorghum, soybean, sweet potato, wheat and yam. Fruits and vegetables, the foundation of a well-balanced diet, also contain carbohydrates. Even dairy contains milk sugar, which is a carb.

Importance of carbohydrates

carbohydrates-food

Carbohydrates supply glucose, the fuel source that our bodies use. Our body runs on calories, and it gets those calories by metabolizing carbohydrates, fat and protein from our food. Since our body spares protein for rebuilding and repairing tissue, carbohydrates and fat are by far the fuel of choice. While every cell is capable of burning glucose for energy, the same is not true for fat.

Certain organs and tissues require glucose. Our brain and red blood cells rely on the plentiful glucose in carbohydrates. Through gradual adaptation, the brain can learn to use fat in the form of ketone bodies, but our blood cells will always rely on glucose. In fact, our body fights really hard to keep our blood glucose levels within a narrow window. Once you dip below 20mg glucose/dL of blood you risk slipping into coma or having a seizure. This biological fact is partly what drives the daily recommendations for carbohydrates.

Carbohydrate Recommendations

Carb Chart

The National Academy of Medicine sets the recommended dietary allowance at 130 grams per day. This is the minimum amount of carbohydrates needed to provide enough glucose for the brain and red blood cells from carbohydrates.

The  Dietary Guidelines for Americans set macronutrient distribution for carbohydrates at 45–65% of total daily calories. For someone who eats a typical 2,000-calorie diet, this is 225–325 grams of carbs per day.

The World Health Organization and Food and Agriculture Organization recommend that 55% of total calories come from carbohydrates per day.

Can we function without carbs?

Protein and fat can provide glucose. The healthy human body is fully capable of reforming the amino acids from protein into glucose. Even the breakdown of fat for energy yields a bit of glucose. If an individual is eating enough calories, even if those calories are mostly from fat or protein, that person can still satisfy the glucose needs of their brain and blood cells and maintain their blood glucose at a normal level.

There is no such thing as “carbohydrate deficiency”. Nutrition science defines a nutrient as “essential” if we must get it from the diet because our body can’t make enough of it to meet our needs, so that we may not end up with an impairment or disease. This is not the case with carbohydrates.

The Atkins diet advocates followers eat as little as 20 grams of carbohydrates per day! To give you an idea of what this means: 20 grams is the amount of carbs in 1 small (6-inch) banana.

The classic ketogenic diet is 80–90% fat. It was originally used as a therapy for epilepsy but is now gaining popularity for use in weight loss.

The traditional Inuit diet, which is what the natives of northern Canada subsisted on for many years, is empty of refined sugar and grains. Instead, there’s plenty of fresh seal, walrus and other marine life on the menu. The diet on average has 23% calories from protein, 39% calories from fat and 38% calories from carbohydrates.

When it comes to choosing how low-carb you should go, keep in mind that:

  • Everyone responds differently to varying levels of carbohydrates. Our bodies are unique, so what works for one person may not work for another. The key is to do some research, and then experiment to figure out what works best for you. Enlisting expert guidance from a dietitian can make this process easier.
  • The best diet is one that can be followed over time. Consistency is the key to a healthy lifestyle. Setting yourself up with a plan that allows 20 grams of carbs per day may not be the best way to achieve this. A balanced diet is one that allows flexibility for you to fit in foods you enjoy regardless of carbohydrate content.
  • “Low-carb” can be a healthy lifestyle. Most low-carb diets don’t go as low as you may think, hovering around 35–40% of calories from carbohydrates. For many, the term “low-carb” has become synonymous with eating less refined carbs and added sugar and eating more fruits and vegetables.

Vitamin-B6

 


Meet a Registered Dietitian this year

RD

New Year brings with it a lot of hopes, promises and resolutions, one of those promises that you make should be about watching what and how much you eat.

The daily promises about curative powers of everything from pet ownership to meditation. And various doctors discussing another superfood, it’s easy to see why most of us get confused about what we ought to be eating, taking or doing to optimize our health and when to seek advice from a Registered dietitian to learn the truth rather than listen to fluff.

RDN

The National Center for Health Statistics reports that 18 percent of Americans use herbal supplements. That’s more than twice the rate of the next-most-popular complementary medicines, chiropractic and osteopathic manipulation (8.5 percent) and yoga (8.4 percent).In addition, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health says that 92 percent of Americans believe massage therapy is an effective treatment for reducing pain.

People are highly motivated now to try to stay healthy by taking vitamins, herbs and nutraceuticals, or by seeking out complementary and alternative medical treatments. People need to discuss these with their doctors and dietitian.

Vitamins, herbs and supplements

Traditional medicine, unfortunately, does focus on treating disease. Treating the whole person rather than just the symptoms of illness is becoming more mainstream and even conventional physicians are increasingly likely to discuss the nutraceuticals and wellness therapies patients have already prescribed for themselves.

Personal touch

Registered dietitians provide nutritional counseling, answer food/diet related questions, to become healthy and stay healthy, rather than just looking for Diet when sick.


Gut Microbiome the Hidden Metabolic Organ

The human microbiome consists of trillions of bacterial cells that live and flourish throughout the body in places such as the skin, lungs, mouth, and urogenital and digestive tracts. Depending on their location in the body, these beneficial bacterial cells have different characteristics and roles in maintaining health.

Microbiome

The gut is home to over 1 000 different species of microbes, with an estimated 100 million to one trillion cells per milliliter, located in the large intestine alone. These microbes contain at least 100 times more genes than are found in the human genome. It has long been known that the bacteria and microbes in the gut are involved in several important functions including:

  • Participating in the synthesis of vitamins B12 and K, folate, and biotin
  • Enhancing the immune system
  • Providing a physical barrier to harmful pathogens
  • Producing short-chain fatty acids that provide energy for colonic cells through fermentation of nondigestible carbohydrates

Unlike the human genome, which is determined at conception, the gut microbiome coevolves with the individual over time and appears to be dependent on a multitude of factors, including: age, long-term dietary habits, lifestyle, environmental exposures, and stress.

Dysbiosis, or disruption of the healthy microbiota, is thought to be a trigger for many diseases. This can be caused by antibiotic use or it may also be a result of stress, or result of the quality and composition of one’s diet. Studies have found that those who eat typical Western diets, high in fat and protein from animal products, and low in plant foods, have less diversity in their gastrointestinal bacteria. Higher fiber diets, and especially those which contain a wide variety of plant foods, appear to promote a greater variety and numbers of healthy bacteria.

There is evidence of an association between the gut microbiome and the following diseases:

  • Irritable bowel syndrome: A lack of bacterial diversity may facilitate adhesion of pathogens to the bowel wall.

IBS

  • Inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis): While IBD has a strong genetic component, studies have also identified an over abundance of certain types of bacteria, which causes chronic inflammation and ulceration of the colon lining.

IBD

  • Colorectal cancer: Cancerous changes in the colon may be due to chronic inflammation caused by dysbiosis, and in turn, the cancerous tissue appears more likely to harbor an overabundance of Fusobacterium, a pathogenic bacterium.
  • Obesity: Obese individuals appear to have differences in the gut microbiome as compared to lean individuals. Consuming excess calories over and above what is needed for weight maintenance can alter the gut microbiota, regardless of the quality of the diet.

Obesity

  • Allergy: Certain allergic diseases such as atopic eczema, asthma, rhinitis, and some food allergies may be linked to dysbiosis, especially in infants. In many cases, those affected have less bacterial diversity, possibly due to the “hygiene hypothesis”—a high level of hygiene during the neonatal period that likely reduces exposure to microbes.

Allergies

  • Diabetes and insulin resistance: As in the case of obesity, individuals with diabetes appear to have similarities in their gut microbiome.

Insulin Resistance

Although research on the association between disease and the gut microbiome is still emerging, there appears to be significant evidence that diet plays an important role in developing and maintaining a healthy gut microbiome, which in turn may promote wellness, and/or help to manage numerous diseases.

Diet

Consume a high fiber, plant-based diet that includes a variety of fiber sources, to increase the diversity of the gut microbiome.

fiber

Limit excess energy consumption, regardless of the composition of the diet.

Consume probiotic rich foods such as kefir, yogurt, and fermented vegetables, with live and active cultures.

Be aware that probiotic supplements may contain varying strains of bacteria, which may target different disorders.

Look for ways to reduce stress, especially if it results in unhealthy eating habits, and/or constipation or diarrhea.


Benefits of plant based diet

While there is no known cure for certain disease, researchers have identified several lifestyle factors, including diet and exercise, which appear to affect not only the risk of developing Alzheimer’s, but also the progression of the disease. A recently published study called Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay (MIND) determined that following an eating pattern that has components of the DASH and Mediterranean diets could reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by 53%. Also encouraging is their finding that even for those with just moderate adherence to the diet, the reduction in risk is still 35%.

dash-diet

Both the DASH and Mediterranean diets are rich in plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, as well as healthy fats. The MIND study identified ten food groups that appear to be beneficial to brain health, and five others that are harmful to the brain, but the guidelines for the MIND diet are fairly general. With the exception of berries, which the research identified as a very potent brain-protecting fruit, regular consumption of any types of leafy green or other vegetables, all types of nuts, and any whole grains reduced the risk of Alzheimer’s, as did eating any type of fish or poultry. The length of time the MIND diet is followed also appears to be important. Those who ate the brain-healthy foods for longer periods of time appeared to have the most benefit.

Mediterranean Diet

Mediterranean diet 1

The 10 good MIND food groups

  • Beans
  • Berries (especially blueberries and strawberries)
  • Fish
  • Green, leafy vegetables (spinach, kale, arugula, Swiss chard, etc)
  • Nuts
  • Olive oil
  • Other vegetables (carrots, broccoli, green beans, cauliflower, etc)
  • Poultry
  • Whole grains (brown rice, farro, quinoa, oats, etc)
  • Wine

The 5 food groups to limit or avoid

  • Butter and stick margarine
  • Cheese
  • Fried or fast food
  • Pastries and sweets
  • Red meats

Tips to incorporate the diet The MIND diet is more about a consistent eating pattern rather than eating specific foods and quantities each day. Researchers identified the following dietary patterns in those with the lowest risk:

  • At least three servings of whole grains a day (e.g, oats, 100% whole-wheat bread, brown rice, or quinoa)
  • A salad and one other vegetable a day
  • A glass of wine a day
  • A serving of nuts a day (usually as a snack)
  • Beans every other day
  • Poultry and berries at least twice a week
  • Fish at least once a week

mind-diet-plan


The Good news

It’s not difficult to eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables every day is an important part of a healthy, active lifestyle. 

It promotes good health and may help lower the chances of getting high blood pressure, types 2 diabetes, heart disease and some types of cancer. 

Everyone has the power to make choices to improve their health. The good news is that eating more fruits and vegetables is one of the easiest things you can do. 

Alkaline

What’s in fruits and Vegetables?

Fruits and vegetables are a great source of many vitamins, minerals and fiber the body needs. They are packed with all naturally occurring substances like phytochemicals that help protect against many diseases. 

Why eating fruits and vegetables is important?

Help manage weight, Lower chances for some cancers, Lower heart disease and stroke risk, reduced risk of High blood pressure as well as lower chances for diabetes. 

How much of fruits and vegetables do adults need?

Eating your fruits and vegetables is a lot easier than you might think. One cup- equivalent of most fruits and vegetables is the amount that would fit in a cup if chopped, or about 2 handfuls. The exceptions are raw leafy greens (2 cups count as 1 cup) or dried fruits (½ cup counts as 1 cup).

The Good News