In order to optimize your cancer treatment, your sense of well-being and your energy level, adopting healthy eating habits can be beneficial.
Indeed, a diet with high nutritional value can help you to better support the side effects of certain treatments, speed up recovery and recovery, and prevent the appearance of other chronic diseases during recovery.
There are many reasons to follow in the footsteps of healthy lifestyles!
Choose variety on the plate
To meet all your nutritional needs and regain your strength, eat 3 balanced meals a day and choose a variety of fresh and nutritious foods on the plate. To do this, make sure that each of these food groups fills one third (1/3) of your plate:
- Protein sources (meat, poultry, fish, tofu, legumes, eggs, etc.). As an essential component of all the cells in your body (skin, muscles, hair, blood), proteins are particularly important because they play a role in healing tissues and maintaining the immune system to fight infections.
- Carbohydrate sources (cereal products: bread, rice, pasta, couscous, quinoa, barley, etc.) Providing as much energy as protein, carbohydrates keep your body’s cells functioning properly.
- Vegetables in various colours (broccoli, carrots, celery, peppers, etc.) providing a wide range of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
Then, complete your meal with a dairy or substitute product (milk, fortified soy beverage, homemade pudding, yogurt, cheese, etc.) and/or a fruit.
Every cell in your body also needs water. So don’t forget to keep yourself well hydrated throughout the day by carrying a water bottle with you wherever you go. Are you not thirsty at times? Try homemade popsicles with juice, watermelon slices with 95% water, or make comforting soups on cold days. Success guaranteed!
With advances in science and improved treatments, the survival rate of people with breast cancer has improved significantly from 65% in 1960 to about 90% today. Some nutrients may also play a role in survival following a breast cancer diagnosis. However, the studies are too limited at this time to make specific recommendations. Here are some associations that the available studies have observed:
- Women who eat more dietary fibre and soy after diagnosis may have a lower risk of mortality from this cancer.
- Women who consume a diet high in fat and saturated fat before developing the disease may be at higher risk of mortality from this cancer.
All in all, more research is needed to determine whether these elements actually affect the survival of women with breast cancer.
Some breast cancer survivors are concerned about including soy in their diet for fear that this type of food will act in the same way as the estrogen hormone and may promote breast cancer recurrence. However, the current scientific literature suggests that moderate consumption of soybeans (up to 3 servings per day of tofu, tempeh, beverage or soy pudding) is probably not dangerous for these people. However, the Canadian Cancer Society recommends avoiding concentrated sources of soybeans (powders, supplements).
In addition, fat is essential to your overall health, providing energy, being essential building materials for all cells in the body and promoting the absorption of certain vitamins (A, D, E, K). However, some studies suggest that a low or moderate fat diet may reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence. A randomized controlled trial in 2,437 women with stage 1 or 2 breast cancer showed that the 5-year cancer-free survival rate was 24% higher among participants who reduced their fat intake to 20% of their daily caloric intake. However, observational studies show varying results in this regard.
This is explained by the fact that excess fat could contribute to the progression of cancer by promoting fat gain, chronic inflammation, altered hormone metabolism and gene expression. However, further research is needed to elucidate these potential mechanisms.
There is also some evidence that the development of obesity before or after diagnosis may decrease breast cancer survival rates and increase the risk of recurrence. Knowing that excessive fat intake can contribute to excess weight, it also reinforces the idea that fat should be consumed in moderation.
In addition, the type of fat ingested may also play a role in the risk of breast cancer recurrence. A clinical trial showed that the risk of cancer recurrence was 25% lower in women who consumed more omega-3s such as DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). However, the limited number of studies on the different types of fat does not allow clear recommendations to be made.
Here are some tips to reduce fat intake, especially saturated and trans fats:
- Choose low-fat dairy products or vegetable beverages: milk and yogurt at less than 2% m.f.m., cheese at less than 20% m.f.m., fortified soy beverage, rice, etc.
- Choose lean cuts of meat, fish or meat substitutes (lean or extra lean ground beef, pork, poultry, fish, seafood, tofu, tempeh, legumes, nuts, etc.) and limit the amount of red meat consumed to 3 servings per week.
- Choose fresh and cooked foods as much as possible and reduce your consumption of processed products, often high in sugars, saturated fat, trans fat and low in protein and fibre.
- Choose oils, nuts and seeds with unsaturated fats and replace the use of butter with non-hydrogenated margarine, where possible.
Would you like to boost your immune system? Beware of popular diets, cures and natural products!
When a cancer diagnosis occurs, many people start looking for the miracle solution to strengthen their immune system. Juice cures, miracle diets, antioxidant foods, natural supplements. Yet, the scientific literature shows that no single food, diet or supplement can stimulate your immune system or replace a healthy and balanced diet.
In addition, popular diets may exclude certain food groups (e.g. meat, milk, eggs, fruit, etc.) and thus not provide enough calories to meet the body’s needs for energy, protein or vitamins and minerals: all nutrients essential for healing and maintaining a natural weight.
Tempted to take natural health products? Attention! Some products and especially high doses can be harmful to your health, reduce the effectiveness of traditional treatments and cause certain side effects. Remember, just because a product is called “natural” does not mean it is necessarily good for your health!
In addition, some people may be tempted to adopt a vegetarian diet following a breast cancer diagnosis in order to increase their consumption of fruits and vegetables and dietary fibre, while reducing their consumption of saturated fat. While a diet that emphasizes plants (whole grains, fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, etc.) reduces the risk of developing cancer, there is currently no evidence that a vegetarian diet can increase survival rates in people with cancer.
In addition, since people who adopt this type of diet are at greater risk of developing certain dietary deficiencies (e.g., vitamin B12, calcium, etc.), consultation with a nutritionist is recommended before attempting the experiment.
After cancer: we stay on track towards healthy eating habits
Did you know that even after your cancer treatment, healthy eating habits have their share of health benefits? Indeed, since cancer survivors are at increased risk of certain diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and osteoporosis, eat fresh, varied, nutritious foods from all food groups is recommended. In addition, eating well will help your body produce new healthy cells, regain strength, maintain a high level of energy and maintain a healthy weight.