Nutrition Before During and After Cancer

Information on nutritional needs for cancer patients


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Summer fruits and their secret

Summer Fruit

The pits and seeds of many fruits contain amygdalin — a plant compound that your body converts to cyanide after eating. Symptoms of cyanide exposure include dizziness, headache, nausea, a rapid heart rate and convulsions.

Amygdalin stays safely in the pit unless you crack it open and eat the substance inside. The flesh of the fruit contains very little of the compound. Stay away from the contents of the pit and eat only the fruit.

What is Amygdalin

The pits of green plums have the highest amygdalin content, followed by apricots, black plums, peaches and red cherries and then Apple seeds.

Suumer Fuits

An adult who eats more than three small raw apricot kernels, or less than half of one large kernel, in one sitting can exceed safe levels of the cyanide-releasing chemical, per European Food Safety Authority.  For toddlers, even one small apricot kernel is risky.

You’d have to chew and eat the seeds of about 18 apples in one sitting to consume a lethal dose of cyanide.

If you just swallow an apple seed or cherry pit intact, the amygdalin shouldn’t get into your system, the shell is hard enough to pass through the digestive system intact.

Heat deactivates the cyanide, so seeds are safe if processed properly, which may involve soaking, drying, cooking, canning and roasting or perhaps fermenting.

People often eat the pits intentionally; some like the taste of apple seeds, while others believe the almond-like substance has health benefits.

Apricot kernels are the basis for laetrile, a purified form of amygdalin, and have been marketed as a cancer cure, but laetrile has shown little anti-cancer effect in studies, the National Cancer Institute noted.

The FDA recently warned more than a dozen companies to stop making claims about herbal products marketed to treat or prevent cancer. Eating apricot kernels poses risk of cyanide poisoning warns the European Food Safety Authority.

Normal fruit consumption of fruits is good for health so enjoy the flesh and skipping the pit.

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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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This Season think color

thanksgiving-dinner

Think colors! When you sit down to your Thanksgiving meal, take a look around. What colors do you see? Many traditional Thanksgiving foods are pretty bland in color – white, beige, cream, and ivory tend to be the norm at most holiday tables.

thanksgiving-dinner-1

This year, if you are the host, think about how you can make your dishes more naturally colorful. The easiest way to do this is by incorporating seasonal fruits and vegetables. If you aren’t the host, keep an eye out for color anyways. Aim for at least three different colors on your plate.

It is also important to watch your portions. Start first by choosing the foods you love. Not like, love. Then serve up your portions a little bit smaller than you normally would, odds are that you will still have plenty of food leftover if you need to go for seconds. Before grabbing extra servings though, be sure to give yourself sometime between plates to identify if you really need to eat more or simply want to eat more.

thanksgiving-veges

If you are hosting or cooking make simple substitutions to your menu and recipes. There are many ways to increase the health value of the foods you eat on Thanksgiving Day. From using more herbs and spices, to utilizing more fresh or frozen veggies, almost any dish can be made healthy.

Most guests will appreciate the effort that is if they notice. A few common recipe swaps include using applesauce or prunes in place of butter or margarine in baked goods, replacing heavy cream with evaporated milk or low-fat yogurt, and replacing those crunchy fried onions on top of green bean casserole with sliced almonds.

Eat your best and enjoy the day. It is possible to do both and your body will thank you for it. A healthy Thanksgiving doesn’t need to be complicated or full of saturated fat. Keep it simple and full of color. You’ll feel better after the meal and will start the holiday season off with a healthier perspective.


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Boost Your Energy with Healthy Snacks

Although the word snack brings up images of chips and candy bars but snacking can be a great opportunity to get healthy nutrients instead of relying on supplements. 

Small nutrient-rich snacks eaten throughout the day are a wonderful way to get enough vitamins and minerals such as vitamin D, calcium and potassium as well as dietary fiber. 

Foods over Supplements

AICR’s expert report found that the phytochemicals and nutrients in foods work together to protect your health, while in supplements they are isolated. “For snacks, foods that supply protein, fiber and a little fat are the best”.

snacks 

Super Snacks

Here are some tasty, satisfying snacks. Each provides 250 calories or fewer – less than a small bag of chips or a 1.5-ounce candy bar. These healthy snacks will keep your hunger at bay and provide long-lasting energy.

 fruit-dipped-in-yogurt

Dip your fruit: Create a yummy dip for fresh melon, peach, apple and mango chunks using 1/2 cup of plain Greek yogurt or low-fat cottage cheese or Labne, a tablespoon of peanut butter, a teaspoon of honey and a pinch of cinnamon.

 vege-bean-dip

Veggie bean dip: 2 Tbsp. chickpea spread (“hummus”) with carrot and celery sticks and strips of bell pepper, plus 1 6-inch whole-wheat pita bread toasted and cut into wedges.

 eggs-toast-and-tomatoes

A pick-me-up: 1 hard-boiled egg with a handful of cherry or grape tomatoes and 1 slice whole-wheat bread.

 swiss-cheesewhole-wheat-toastapple-slices

Say cheese: Pair a 1-ounce slice of low-fat Swiss cheese with a slice of whole-wheat toast and a sliced apple or pear.

 chicken-and-vegetable-soup

Soup it up: 1 cup of low-sodium broth-based soup with 1/2 cup frozen mixed veggies and 1/4 cup cooked chicken breast. Heat through and serve with a slice of whole-grain bread.

sweet-potato-dunk 

Sweet potato dunk: Half a steamed or boiled sweet potato that’s been chilled and cut into wedges, dipped in a mixture of 1 tsp. brown mustard, 1 tsp. honey and 2 Tbsp. of Greek yogurt or Labne’.

 baked-apple-with-yogurt

Bake an apple: Core an apple and slice it. Place on a microwave-safe dish. Top with a dash of cinnamon and 1 tsp. of orange juice, cover with damp paper towel and microwave 5 minutes; or bake on a pan, uncovered, at 350 degrees in conventional oven for 25-30 minutes. Top with low-fat vanilla Greek yogurt and enjoy.


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Are you eating enough fruits and vegetables each day?

 

fruits-and-vegetables01

Daily recommendation is of  7 to 10 servings of fruit and vegetables, this sounds like a lot, but a serving size isn’t that large – one medium sized fruit, half cup of berries, three apricots, half cup cooked or raw vegetables, six asparagus spears and one cup of salad greens all count as one serving. You might be eating two servings when you think you’re eating only one.

If you think you are eating less than the daily recommendation of fruit and vegetable, the key is incorporating fruit and/or vegetables into all meals and snacks. Ensure your breakfast includes one or two fruit servings, add at least two vegetable servings to lunch and dinner, and add whole or dried fruit for midday snacks. When you do eat vegetables, increase your portion size to get you closer to 7 to 10 daily servings.

If you find preparing fresh fruit and vegetables time consuming (e.g. washing, peeling, chopping), take advantage of convenient pre-prepared produce in the grocery store. You will find pre-washed salad greens, grated carrot, broccoli florets, chopped celery, chopped garlic, shredded cabbage, even cubed turnip and squash. For fruit, look for fresh fruit salad, peeled and cored fresh pineapple, canned fruit in its own juice and unsweetened applesauce.

Some tips to help you out:

Breakfast:

  • Toss chopped banana into a bowl of whole grain cereal.
  • Blend fresh or frozen berries with low fat milk or soy milk to make a fruit smoothie. Or make a green smoothie with kale or spinach.
  • Add dried cherries, currants, cranberries and blueberries to muffin mixes
  • Drink a small glass (1/2 cup) of citrus juice – the vitamin C enhances iron absorption from whole grains.
  • Fill half of a cantaloupe with low fat cottage cheese.
  • Add diced tomatoes, red pepper and baby spinach to an egg white omelet.

Half a cantaloupe with cottage cheesegreen-smoothiebanana-with-granola

Lunch:

  • Add sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, grated carrot, and spinach leaves to sandwiches and wraps.
  • Toss leftover grilled vegetables in a green salad.
  • Add shredded cabbage mixed with low fat coleslaw dressing to a sandwich.
  • Have a bowl of vegetable soup with your sandwich.
  • Drink low sodium vegetable or tomato juice with your meal.

sandwich-soupplateveg-sandwhich

Dinner:

  • Use dark green lettuces such as Romaine in salads (they’ve got more beta-carotene).
  • Add quick cooking greens such as spinach, kale, rapini or Swiss chard to soups.
  • Fortify pasta sauces and casseroles with grated zucchini and carrot.
  • Bake a sweet potato instead of a white potato – you’ll consume more beta-carotene and fiber.
  • Serve strawberries marinated in balsamic vinegar with a sprinkle of sugar for dessert.

romain-saladzucchini-pasta1

Snacks:

  • Carry fruit with you such as an apple, pear, plums or grapes.
  • Pack single-serve cans of unsweetened fruit or applesauce.
  • Prepare snack-size bags of dried apricots and nuts.
  • Have raw vegetables ready for snacking. Try carrot sticks, cherry tomatoes, bell pepper strips, broccoli florets and mushroom caps with hummus dip.
  • Eat slices of banana, apple, or pear with almond/peanut butter

apricots-and-nutsveggie-snacks

 


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Sugar in fruit

Fruits

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.


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Desirable Desserts

No celebration and family gatherings are ever complete without dessert. When planning your next party or get-together, follow this advice for some healthier and still delicious desserts.

Fruit Salad

Serve fresh fruit before the rest of the dessert The healthiest dessert around is a fresh fruit salad. Use an assortment of fruit, chopped into bite-size pieces. Create a more flavorful fruit salad by using in-season fruit and smaller pieces. Pair the fruit salad with some other whole food-based desserts, such as dates, figs, and nuts. Try making pitted dates stuffed with pecans—tastes like pecan pie!

Dates figs and nuts

These foods are all high in nutrients and fiber, so you will likely fill up faster when eating them compared to traditional desserts. After serving, wait 15 minutes before bringing out the rest of your dessert.

Buy fewer and pre-portioned higher-calories desserts If you want to offer a high-calorie dessert, such as brownies, cookies, pies, or cakes, only buy or make enough to give everyone a single (or maybe one-and-a-half) portion. Also, pre-portion the servings, so that everyone gets a piece, but is not tempted to take too large of a piece. Odds are that some people will not have their dessert, so those who really want seconds probably can have them anyway.

Brownies

Also, the fresh fruit, dates, and nuts provide other dessert options for those who are still hungry for something sweet.

Out of sight, out of mind We all often tend to eat too much dessert, because it sits on the table and we pick at it for the rest of the evening. Clear the desserts from the table about 30 minutes after serving. This gives guests enough time to get dessert, but not so much time that they go back for seconds that they did not really need.

Leaving fruit and beverages (and even some cut-up vegetables) out after the 30 minutes is a great way to provide some additional snacking options for those who want to stay longer.

Veg snacks

Fruit Mostarda

At a time of year when fresh fruit isn’t plentiful this dish features a medley of frozen peaches and cherries, fresh pears and grapes, and tart pomegranate juice. Sweet and savory with an unexpected flavor, this adds fiber-packed and phytochemical-rich fruit to your cancer preventive diet. Use either fresh or frozen fruits or a mix of both.

Fruit mostarda

Ingredients

  •        1 pkg. (10 oz.) frozen sliced peaches
  •        1 cup frozen dark cherries
  •        1 medium Bosc pear, peeled, cored and cut in 1-inch pieces
  •        1 cup large seedless red grapes, preferably globe variety
  •        4 (2-inch x 1-inch) strips orange zest
  •        1/4 cup pomegranate juice
  •        1/3 cup dry mustard powder
  •        3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  •        1/4 cup honey
  •        1/4 cup sugar

Directions

In mixing bowl, defrost peaches and cherries. Drain liquid from bowl into measuring cup. Transfer peaches and cherries to stainless steel or other non-reactive medium saucepan. Add pear, grapes and orange zest.

To measuring cup with peach and cherry liquid, add enough pomegranate juice to make 1/2 cup liquid, reserving extra pomegranate juice for another use. Place mustard powder in small mixing bowl. Pour in juice mixture and whisk to combine with mustard. Add mustard mixture to pot with fruits. Add vinegar, honey and sugar.

Over medium-high heat, bring liquid to boil. Using wooden spoon, gently stir to combine fruits with liquid and sweeteners. Boil gently until liquid is foamy, then reduce heat and boil gently until liquid is slightly thickened and fruits are tender but not falling apart, 20 minutes. Off heat, cool mostarda in pot to room temperature.

Using large spoon, transfer mostarda to jar or bowl, preferably glass, including liquid up to level of fruit. It keeps in the refrigerator for 3 days. If desired, use remaining liquid to make red cabbage slaw or salad dressings, adding lemon juice, salt, pepper, and olive oil to taste.

Makes 6 servings. Yield: about 2 1/2 cups. Per serving: 165 calories, 1 g total fat (0 g saturated fat), 40 g carbohydrate, 2 g protein, 2 g dietary fiber, 2 mg sodium.