Feeling Beautiful recommends the following nutritional guidelines that have been employed by hundreds-of-thousands of cancer survivors.
Make nutritional shifts toward a diet that emphasizes:
- Whole foods
- Low fat, salt and sugar
- Fresh vegetables, fresh fruits and whole grains.
The single major dietary shift cancer patients make is consuming foods that are less processed. If it is boxed or bottled or canned or packaged, the food comes under immediate scrutiny.
Prepared foods, even when enriched, tend to deliver calories with less nutrition than their fresh counterparts.
As a result, cancer survivors spend most of their grocery shopping time in the produce section of their local market.
“Whole food” means:
Fresh vegetables, fresh fruits, whole grains, whole grain pastas, brown rice, raw nuts, sprouted breads and the like. See the Cancer Recovery Shopping List that follows.
Low fat, salt and sugar means:
Good fats like unsaturated fats often classified into two groups; the Omega-3’s and the Omega-6’s. They come from extra-virgin olive oil, sesame oil, seeds—especially flaxseed—and fatty fish.
Low salt means the right salt—sea salt or liquid aminos.
Low sugar means no added sugar. Sugar should come exclusively from whole food sources like fruits and then only in moderation.
Special note: avoid refined sugar. The scientists call sugar an “obligate glucose metabolizer.” Loosely translated that means a “feeder.” There exists significant evidence-based research pointing to sugar as doing two things that stand in the way of cancer recovery. The first is sugar suppresses immune function and second it feeds the cancer cells.
Diets high in sugar, and foods that turn into sugar when digested, cause blood sugar levels to rise. Once this spike is triggered, the body releases a hormone called insulin in an effort to bring the blood sugar levels back to normal.
Understand this next key point: one of insulin’s multiple functions is to promote cell growth—be that normal healthy cells or malignant cells. Therefore, the more insulin circulating in the body, the more opportunity for cancer cells to be fed, grow and divide.
Here’s an easy-to-remember dietary guideline: “Whites out. Colors in.”
“Whites out” mean no:
All of these are simple carbohydrates that turn directly into sugar once ingested. Whites out! The days of a couple of teaspoons of sugar into your coffee or onto your cereal are over. Stop eating refined sugar.
“Colors in” means to add:
Fresh vegetables of many colors including broccoli, kale, parsley, cabbage, romaine and leaf lettuce, spinach, peppers, cauliflower, beets, leeks, sweet potatoes and more.
Fresh fruits of many colors including tomatoes (they are a fruit), apples, lemons, grapes, blueberries and more. Just consume fruits in lesser quantities than vegetables because the sugar content in fruit is comparatively high.
There has never been a more important time in your life to eat well. Whole foods, low in fat, salt and sugar while emphasizing fresh fruits and vegetables is your new nutritional program.
EAT NUTRIENT-DENSE FOODS
The purpose of this section is to communicate in a clear, practical and useful manner the best food choices. Feeling Beautiful created a shopping list to choose wisely. All nutritional education is useless unless and until it is applied. A shopping list is a very good way to apply this knowledge.
The foods on this shopping list “pass the test.” The passing grade is based on an analysis of the food’s nutrient density. Nutrient density is a factor of vitamin, mineral, protein, fiber, healthy fats content plus glycemic index and calories.
The “Do Shop” list:
___Peppers ___Red Grapefruit
___Leaf lettuce ___Cherries
___Squash ___Red Grapes
Fish & Meat Whole Grains & Breads
___Salmon (wild) ___Brown Rice
___Tuna ___Flax seed
___Mahi-mahi ___Spelt wheat
___Skinless Chicken Breast ___Pita bread
___Turkey breast ___Wheat germ
___Black beans ___Garlic
___Garbanzo beans ___Ginger
___Kidney beans ___Cinnamon
___Navy beans ___Cayenne
___Pinto beans ___Stevia
___Lentils ___Green tea
___Split peas ___Curry
Non-fat Dairy Oils
___Yogurt ___Extra Virgin Olive Oil
___Cottage cheese ___Sesame Oil
___Soy milk ___Non-fat vegetable spray
The “No-Shop” List
On the opposite end of the spectrum, there are several foods that clearly do not receive a passing grade. They deliver calories with few nutrients. This is the “No-Shop” list. During the cancer journey, do not put these foods in your shopping cart.
___Hydrogenated fats ___Soft drinks, regular
___Lard ___Soft drinks, diet
___Margarine ___Ice cream
___Hot dogs ___Doughnuts
___Sausage ___Boxed cereal
___Smoked ham ___Mayonnaise
Cancer patients take note. These lists do not mean you can never have another piece of pizza in your life. The lists do indicate that this is the time in your life to “eat clean,” meaning whole foods that are nutrient-dense, low in fat, salt and sugar with the clear emphasis on fresh vegetables, fresh fruits, and whole grains.
The good news is that there is an endless combination of menus based on these nutrient-dense foods. So be creative. Experiment with your menus. You will be contributing to your health and well-being in a major way.
Are you looking for a simple action that will vastly increase your opportunity for survival and recovery? Here it is: Drink the equivalent of eight cups of water each and every day! Not coffee. Not Soda. Not juice. Water.
It is an almost universal truth—people with cancer are dehydrated. Lack of water inhibits immune function, the most potent defense you have against cancer. The environment your cells live in is not blood, it is fluid. The lymph system, a key component of your immune system, is a fluid system requiring adequate water to function at its highest capacity.
Through natural elimination, perspiration, and even breathing, your body loses water daily. Fluid must be continually replaced in appropriate quantities for you to be optimally wall.
Give preference to water with no chlorine or fluorides. This is difficult to obtain from most municipal water systems. Even bottled water, especially if contained in plastic, is not a sure answer. Some research indicates that sunlight starts a chemical reaction in the plastic bottle that can result in carcinogens in the water.
How can you get pure water? Feeling Beautiful recommends a water purification system I your home or certified, chemical-free, spring-fed bottled water in glass containers.
Important: Drink eight, 8-ounce glasses of water each day.
KNOW WHY YOU’RE EATING
Long-term dietary changes require more than shifts in our menus. Our food preferences are a factor of culture and habit. Our enjoyment of food is so much a part of our lives that any permanent change must involve not only what we eat but also why we eat.
On countless occasions we allow our frame of mind, rather than our bodies, to determine our food choices. Comfort foods to satisfy our emotions, to soothe our anger, frustration, worry, boredom, or guilt, are most often the culprit. Relief from emotional distress is easily accomplished by eating. When this happens we have linked diet to emotional fulfillment. This is dangerous territory.
We need a heightened awareness of why we eat. Many patients who embark on the cancer recovery journey develop an attitude that changing their diet is something they have to do, which is too bad.
Feeling Beautiful suggests you embrace an outlook that reflects that a change in diet is something you get to do!
Eating with awareness is easily accomplished with the help of these proven practices:
- Don’t keep any high-fat snack foods around the house where they will be a serious temptation.
- Make a rule of not eating in front of the television, where you don’t pay attention to what or how much you eat.
- Don’t eat so quickly that you can’t enjoy your food. It takes about twenty minutes for our brains to realize that our stomachs are full. Slow down. Take a break mid-meal.
- Reward appropriate eating behavior, but don’t use comfort foods as the reward. If you’ve had a good week or have reached a wellness goal, treat yourself to a movie, a concert, or a new outfit. Don’t punish imperfection, just don’t reward yourself. Try again next week.
- Make each meal a pleasant experience. Stop eating on the run or while standing at the kitchen counter. Take time to put out a place setting. Offer a short affirmation or prayer of gratitude for each meal. You’ll then be nurturing yourself emotionally and spiritually as well as physically.
Distinguish between a food craving, which is a psychological need, and hunger, which is the body’s need for nourishment. Check your urge to eat the next time you see a food advertisement. A craving diminishes when we take on another activity. Go for a walk. Call a friend. Read a book. Then evaluate. Were you feeling a craving or hunger? Honor your hunger, not your craving. Eat with awareness!
DETERMINE YOUR NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENT PROGRAM
Fact: most cancer survivors believe in and use vitamin and mineral supplements.
Fiction: Vitamins are totally ineffective and should be avoided during cancer treatment.
These guidelines, along with the whole foods, low fat/salt/sugar, fresh vegetable and fresh fruit dietary strategy, form the basis for Feeling Beautiful’ s approach to nutrition. They are designed to guide and support people in ways to maximize strengthening the body and promoting an optimally functioning immune system.
We recommend people take vitamin and mineral supplements. Exhaustive and credible research shows that the right levels of nutrients are both protective against developing many cancers as well as supportive of health and healing following a diagnosis.
Ideally we should receive all our nutrients from food. But even with the best diet this may not be possible. Intensive farming practices have led to a demonstrated decline in the nutritional value of certain foods. The result is it may not be possible to receive all the nutrients you need in the right amounts all of the time.
In addition, increasing evidence of the negative impact of the wide range of chemicals we are exposed to in everyday life, even in our fresh as well as prepared foods, is significant. This calls for an even greater need for nutrients to help with detoxification and protection of the body’s organs.
These guidelines contain information about vitamins, minerals and other nutritional supplements, that are thought to be specifically supportive for people who have had a cancer diagnosis.
In conjunction with Cancer Recovery Foundation International, Feeling Beautiful developed this program to provide a full range of essential nutrients with an emphasis on obtaining maximum absorption and bioavailability.
For those people who wish to promote their general health and help prevent cancer, these guidelines are also be helpful.
Research suggests that vitamins and minerals work best when combined in a way that they all work together, the action of one enhancing the action of others. A high quality multivitamin and mineral supplement will contain a wide range of vitamins and minerals in levels that allow them to work effectively together.
Antioxidants are the starting point. An antioxidant is a substance that prevents damage caused by excess free radicals in your body. Free radicals are highly reactive chemicals that can damage the DNA in our cells. DNA damage is known to be involved in the development of cancer.
Unless otherwise stated on the label, supplements are best taken with food. This helps maximize absorption.
Taking supplements during cancer treatment is a subject of debate within the cancer community. Feeling Beautiful monitors research internationally on this subject, constantly updating our recommendations. Following consultation with your oncologist, we recommend:
- If you are on a chemotherapy regimen:
- Suspend your supplement program two days (48 hours) prior to receiving treatment.
- Re-commence your supplement program three days (72 hours) following receiving treatment.
- If you are on a continuous infusion treatment protocol, do not take supplements during your treatment.
- If you are on a radiation therapy or hormonal therapy regimen, continue to take supplements during treatment.
Will you still need supplements following treatment? It is clear that all people with a personal history of cancer take supplements the balance of their life. Evidence is overwhelming that proper nutrient levels translate to maximizing health and maintaining healing.
Some cancer patients have difficulty swallowing tablets. In fact, “pill burden” is experienced by approximately 15-percent of patients. Simple techniques resolve nearly all these difficulties. Large tablets can be crushed. Capsules can be pierced (Please note: lycopene products may stain the teeth.) Many vitamin and minerals can be obtained in liquid and powder form. If your concern is complete absorption of the nutrients, choose sublingual products which are designed to be absorbed under the tongue.
MORE INFORMATION ON NUTRIENTS AND CANCER
All essential nutrients are important for rebuilding and maintaining health. Research shows the following to be particularly beneficial to people with cancer.
Vitamins C, E and beta-carotine (a precursor of Vitamin A) work best in combination. They are especially beneficial in combating the effects of free radical damage to DNA. Selenium is an essential mineral which is an important part of antioxidant activity. Coenzyme Q10 is an antioxidant compound made naturally by the body and used by cells to produce controlled cell growth and maintenance. However, when the body’s immune function is compromised, the body’s natural ability to produce CoQ10 is often impaired.
This is a class of natural pigments found principally in plants, algae and certain bacteria. Carotenoids have antioxidant activity and some, such as beta-carotine, are converted to Vitamin A by the body. Lycopene is also a particularly beneficial carotenoid for the prevention and natural treatment for cancer. Fresh organic tomatoes are a rich source of lycopene. In order to maximize absorption, tomatoes are best eaten lightly cooked, then pureed and topped with a splash of extra virgin olive oil.
Like carotenoids, flavonoids are one of the groups of plant nutrients with powerful antioxidant characteristics as well as other cancer-fighting properties.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Three fatty acids—ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid)—are essential to good health. For cancer patients, the fats are particularly important because they support immune function and hormone balance. The best source of the Omega 3’s is from oily fish including wild salmon, tuna, mackerel and sardines. For people unable or choosing not to eat fish, flaxseed (linseed) oil can be a good source. However, flaxseed oil does not contain DHA or EPA. Some brands now add DHA from a plant source.
This is a supplement of beneficial bacteria which promotes gastro-intestinal balance. One example is lactobacillus acidophilus. Many cancer treatments are notorious for causing nausea and diahhrea. Most patients can be find relief by re-balancing the intestinal tract with probiotics to maintain digestive health.
Do your homework. Contact a professional nutritionist. Then make your own decisions regarding nutritional supplements.
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