Nutrition and Cancer

Food is part of the fabric of everyday life. Nourishing, sustaining, comforting, it is also something we tend to take for granted. Yet food can also be a powerful part of good health.

Eating well is especially important for people with cancer. Regardless of cancer type, eating a diet rich in good foods can boost your immunity, strength and health.

More people are living well after cancer treatment than ever before – either being disease-free or living with cancer. Eating well plays a vital role in good health beyond diagnosis. In Nutrition and Cancer we will explore some of the ways that food is known to have an impact on cancer and well-being.

Why is a good food important to me now?

There are very specific reasons why a healthy diet is good for you during treatment and beyond.

* Helps you feel better – physically, emotionally and mentally

* Supplies the body with the vital nutrients you need

* Provides energy, strength and stamina

* Helps you to heal and recover more quickly

* Keeps the immune system and body functioning as best it can

* Provides nutrients that may slow cancer growth and help prevent recurrence

* Helps the body cope with treatments and the side-effects of treatments

* Enables you to keep up a healthy weight

* Can help with low mood and depression

What difference might cancer make to the way I eat?

When someone has cancer, there are often changes in the way their body uses food for energy. Many of these changes are to do with cancer itself. For some people with certain types of cancer, or at latter stages of cancer, there is a much greater need for calories and foods that build up your body and give you energy. Almost everyone with a diagnosis of cancer will need to maintain or even increase their daily calorie intake. It is important to try and keep at your same weight while you undergo active treatment, even if you are overweight. Your treatment team is best placed to advise you on your needs.

It can take a bit of effort and planning to eat well. If you are having treatment-related eating problems such as fatigue, poor appetite or nausea, the best thing is to eat and drink whatever you feel able to, when you are able to.  Don’t worry if you can’t go for your ‘five-a-day’ fruits and vegetables right now.

A diagnosis of cancer often motivates people to look at the way they live their lives. Even if lifestyle is not a direct factor in their cancer, some people decide to make changes that may help the way they recover from or live with cancer. Quite often people change what, and how much, they eat.

Making decisions about what to eat can be difficult. A lot is written about how certain foods may cause, or prevent, cancer. Because we eat such a variety of foods it is very difficult to separate out the effect of any individual food on cancer risk. However, research strongly suggests that eating a healthy diet, being the right weight and committing to regular exercise may help in preventing cancer recurrence. These strategies may also help your quality of life if you are living with advanced cancer or other chronic illnesses.

Recommended Reading: American Institute for Cancer Research “Living with Cancer” online resource – for during treatment and post-treatment guidance

This section is a work in progress. I will gradually add tips, documents and opinion(ated) articles that relate to cancer prevention, treatment, recovery and living with cancer. Stay tuned!


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10 thoughts on “Nutrition and Cancer

    • If your Poppa has had surgery recently he may need to follow a low-fibre diet for a wee bit, until everything heals. I have a page on that if you look at the top bar and click ‘cancer and nutrition’. I hope he is doing well. I am sure you are helping to keep him well fed! Give him my very best. If you have any questions about his diet please don’t hesitate to write to me at ksfanderson@gmail.com.

  1. I just graduated college, where I had to complete a senior paper Capstone. I did mine on Harry Potter theme parks, but one team did theirs as a menu design for Breast/Prostate cancer patients. They had cancer patients taste the food which had the required nutrients, and use the results to develop meal plans. This blog essentially does that, but with a lot (hundreds) less pages

    • Thanks for commenting. I hope I can subtly get a cancer prevention message across, as well as give ideas to those going through active cancer treatment. I’m glad mine doesn’t seem as long-winded as your friends’ approach!

  2. hi,
    food is so important for health, i’ve changed my diet-style very recently. I a m trying to convince my family that we can play an active role in preventing cancer by eating healthy, but it seems like they don’t believe me LOL.
    Thank you for your recipe :-)

  3. Hi Kellie
    My sister was diagnosed with cervical cancer stage 4, spread to liver. Went through chemotherapy, just yesterday found it has spread to the bones causing backaches. I’m glad to come across your site today. Will forward her your useful information. God Bless!
    Esther

  4. The treatment for throat cancer is awful.My husband is having radiotherapy and chemo (2nd time around as it has returned) and finding suitably slippery foods which are still appealing and tasty is quite a challenge. Thank you for your delicious ideas and recipes

    • I am glad that these recipes have given you some more options. Best wishes to your husband with his treatment. It is a rough one but hopefully he will begin to improve soon. All best wishes, Kellie

    • I did a Masters at the university of Edinburgh School of medicine and then on the job nutrition and dietetic training at a local hospital. I’m not a dietitian however as I want to stay more holistic as a health educator, interested in health beyond pure dietetics.I’ve been working with cancer patients for about 10 years.

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