Nutrition Before During and After Cancer

Information on nutritional needs for cancer patients

Sugar in fruit


Insulin does not spike if the fruit in question is whole fruit. Unlike honey, cane sugar, high-fructose corn syrup and other forms of sugar that are added to many processed foods, the sugar naturally found in fruit is consumed in the company of fiber, which helps your body absorb the sugar more slowly.

When you consume a food or beverage that contains carbohydrates, your digestive system breaks the carbs down into a type of sugar called glucose, which enters the bloodstream. When blood sugar levels rise, the pancreas produces the hormone insulin, a signal to your cells to absorb the glucose so it can be used immediately as energy or stored in the liver and muscles for later use. Repeatedly eating foods that cause surges in blood sugar makes the pancreas work harder. Over time, that can lead to insulin resistance and an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes.

Fruit juices

Refined grain products like white bread, crackers, and cookies, which tend to be low in fiber, deliver large amounts of carbohydrates per serving and are digested very quickly, raising blood sugar and insulin levels. Sugars enter into the bloodstream especially rapidly when you consume carbohydrates in liquid form, such as in sugary sodas, juices.

Starchy foods

But it’s not as simple as adding fiber to starchy foods or soda — the quality and physical form of carbohydrates are critical, which means favoring whole foods over processed foods and added sugars. That includes favoring whole fruit over fruit juice: Fruit juices can contain fiber, but some of that fiber is broken down in the juicing process, reducing the metabolic benefit compared with intact fruit.

Whole fruit

To minimize spikes in insulin, it’s best to eat fruit whole. That’s because with whole fruit the cell walls remain intact, this is how fiber can offer the greatest benefit, because the sugars are effectively sequestered within the fiber scaffolding of the cells, and it takes time for the digestive tract to break down those cells. Four apples may contain the same amount of sugar as 24 ounces of soda, but the slow rate of absorption minimizes the blood sugar surge.


That Sweetness…


The World Health Organization is dropping its sugar intake recommendations from 10 percent of our daily calorie intake to 5 percent.

Many people don’t realize that much of the sugars they take in, are “hidden” in processed foods, according to WHO. A can of soda may contain up to 10 teaspoons or 40 grams of sugar. A tablespoon of ketchup has 1 teaspoon of sugar.

The suggested limits on intake of sugars in the WHO draft guideline apply to all monosaccharides (such as glucose, fructose) and disaccharides (such as sucrose or table sugar) that are added to food by the manufacturer, the cook or the consumer, as well as sugars that are naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit concentrates.

The American Heart Association recommends limiting sugar intake for women to no more than 6 teaspoons and for men no more than 9 teaspoons per day.

Simple sugar-reduction steps 


Nearly 40 percent of the added sugar in American diets comes from sugary beverages like soda, sweet tea, lemonade, and fruit punch. Just one 12-ounce can of regular soda contains about 140 calories, all from added sugar. Kick the habit, and replace sweet drinks with good, old-fashioned water, flavor it with lemon, lime, fresh mint, cucumber, or a few slices of any fruit.

Look for hidden sources of sugar

Sugar hides in dozens of foods. Unfortunately, there’s no way to look at a Nutrition Facts label and tell how many calories come from added sugar. And even the grams of sugar can be deceiving, because there’s no distinction between naturally occurring sugar versus sugar that has been added. 


Buy plain foods and sweeten them yourself

Buy unsweetened goods, like Greek yogurt, oatmeal, and almond milk instead of sweetened vanilla almond milk.

If you need a little sweetness, add it yourself to control the amount and type you use, such as, organic honey, maple syrup or pureed fruit into yogurt or oatmeal at breakfast, both of which provide some nutrients and antioxidants, rather than buying pre-sweetened versions made with more refined sweeteners

Replace sweetened foods with natural fruit

In place of strawberry jam on toast, use warmed up frozen strawberries. Just one level tablespoon of jam has 50 calories and is typically made with high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, and sugar. A half cup of frozen strawberries warmed and seasoned with a little cinnamon and ginger, contains less than 25 calories with no added sugar, and has vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants. Fruit be it, fresh, baked, grilled, or pureed-makes a great replacement for sugar in lots of dishes.

Limit sugary treats to once a week

Setting some limits on how often you indulge in sugar-rich foods is important. Pick a day, to enjoy your favorite treats like candy, baked goods, or ice cream. Just knowing that you have a pre-planned treat to look forward to can help you avoid giving into temptation more often, and can result in lowering your overall sugar intake.

Determine your daily sugar intake.Try the sugar calculator designed by Dr. Deb Kennedy of