Improving health and wellness is commonly encouraged during cancer recovery, but how important is it to eat right?
Countless professionals and organizations in both traditional and alternative medical fields profess the benefits of optimal nutrition for recovering cancer survivors. The importance of eating healthy can’t be understated for anyone facing or recovering from cancer, including the beginning phase of a cancer prognosis.
According to a widely regarded study titled “Nutrition During and After Cancer Treatment: A Guide for Informed Choices by Cancer Survivors,” proper food intake and exercise are critical to the cancer recovery process.
Study researchers report:
During this phase, survivors need a nutritionally balanced diet sufficient in caloric intake and sufficiently varied to provide adequate micronutrients.
These guidelines are what many vegan cancer survivors are getting from their plant-based diets: nutritionally dense foods filled with diverse, healing compounds such as phytonutrients and micronutrients.
Researchers have also discovered that the benefits of eating fruits and vegetables is likely greater than the individual effects of any of the vitamins they hold. Some hypothesize that the diverse vitamins, minerals and phyto-chemicals in whole foods act together to decrease cancer risk.
Cancer survivors should follow a diet for cancer prevention to avoid recurrence, second primary cancer and nutrition-related disease (such as diabetes or heart disease). Vegan and plant-based diets are currently showing the most promise for cancer prevention. The above referenced study reports that research is “most compelling for breast cancer, where the risk of recurrence might be increased by obesity and by diets high in fat and low in fruits and vegetables. Prostate cancer recurrence might also be increased by high saturated fat intake, or reduced by micronutrient supplementation.”
Here are a few nutritional tips to keep in mind during recovery from cancer:
- Eat mainly a plant-based diet.
- Consume high ratios of raw living produce, wheat grass, sea vegetables, leafy greens and sprouts.
- Opt for organic foods.
- Drink appropriate amounts of water for increased fiber intake.
- Integrate appealing mind-body therapies (like meditation, yoga or Qigong) to make dietary transitions easier.
The recovery process also benefits from gentle to moderate physical activity to restore muscle strength. Activities such as walking, biking, swimming, yoga and tai chi are appropriate for cancer survivors during recovery. Reaching out to plant-based nutritionists, physical therapists, physical trainers and other health professionals like those found at the Hippocrates Health Institute will make the recovery process easier and likely more effective.
Author bio: Michelle Whitmer has been a medical writer and editor for The Mesothelioma Center since 2008. Focused on the benefits of natural and holistic medicine for cancer patients, Michelle is a certified yoga instructor and earned her B.A. in Environmental Studies from Rollins College in Florida.
Brown, J., Byers, T., Thompson, K., Eldridge, B., Doyle, C., & Williams, A.M. (2008). Nutrition During and After Cancer Treatment: A Guide for Informed Choices by Cancer Survivors. CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, 51, 153-181. DOI: 10.3322/canjclin.51.3.153