What Should I Eat if I Have Cancer?

Posted on Mar 25, 2013 in Introduction to Integrative Oncology

Eat a rainbow of plants. Plants have a variety of cancer fighting compounds that target tumor stem cells, activate the self-destruct button on abnormal cells, balance sex hormones, and decrease inflammation. Plant fiber controls bad bacteria in the colon, so that you don’t recirculate cancer-stimulating “bad” estrogens.

Eat lots of spices. Herbs and spices are nature’s pharmacy. Plants make these as self-defense chemicals against sun exposure, infection, and predators. For humans, the spices are powerful tools against both cancer and infection. Spice up your food with a rainbow of flavor — turmeric, oregano, fennel, thyme, parsley, saffron, etc. Go easy on the salt. Too much sodium can imbalance potassium, and animal research suggests that this may stimulate tumor growth.

Eat the right amount of protein. You need protein to make immune system cells, repair tissue after cancer treatment, and prevent cachexia. Protein may need to be limited if you have advanced liver or kidney disease. Try to get more protein from plants and less from animals. If you are below your ideal weight or are going through cancer treatment, you may need protein support. Smoothies with a protein powder boost are a great choice.

Eat for a healthy body weight. While you need muscle to maintain strength, obesity increases the risk of cancer recurrence.

Take a break from sugar. While sugar itself doesn’t feed cancer, abnormal blood sugar does.

Drink to your health. Choose sparkling water with a splash of juice, “spa water” with slices of fruit, green or herbal tea, and veggie juice. Limit alcohol to 1 drink every other day for women, or 1 drink daily for men. ¬†Or, better yet, choose not to drink alcohol. Avoid soda pop. Limit coffee to 1 cup daily. If you have breast cancer, substitute skim milk or a plant milk for dairy creamer, and cut your risk of dying from breast cancer in half.

Eat foods that your great-grandmother would recognize as food. Say yes to apples and no thanks to apple poptarts.