Foods Can Help Fight Cancer
Foods can literally prevent disease in our bodies or help them heal. Check out how your nutrition can help you fight cancer, not to mention live an overall healthier life!
Help fight cancer with food
Cancer and its treatments, including chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, immunotherapy, and stem cell transplant, can change the way you eat. Cancer affecting your head, neck, esophagus, stomach, or intestines can make it hard to take in enough nutrients.
Furthermore, cancer and cancer treatments can affect your senses of taste and smell, suppress your appetite, reduce the amount of food you can eat in a sitting, and prevent your body from absorbing nutrients from food.
Some foods can reduce your risk of developing cancer while others can help you fight cancer.
Choosing the right foods during your fight with cancer can increase your appetite, help you digest food, strengthen your immune system, and make you feel better.
Cancer and Your Immune System
A healthy immune system helps your body fight cancer and eating certain foods can boost your immune system. White blood cells and other parts of the immune system can detect and destroy abnormal cells associated with cancer. Chemotherapy, radiation and other types of cancer treatments also detect and destroy cancer cells.
While cancer treatments are effective, they can weaken your immune system because, in addition to destroying cancer cells, they kill the immune system’s normal white blood cells. Treatment may also slow the production of white blood cells in bone marrow, weakening your immune system and leaving you vulnerable to infection.
Chemotherapy is the most likely to weaken the immune system, according to BreastCancer.org. Chemotherapy can work because cancer cells cannot repair themselves very well — whereas your body can repair your white blood cells after you finish treatment.
Good nutrition gives your body the reserves it needs to help keep up your strength, prevent the breakdown of body tissue, rebuild body tissue, and maintain your immune defenses against infection.
Eating well can also help you cope with the side effects of treatment, according to the American Cancer Society, and allow you to endure stronger doses of anti-cancer treatments.
Side effects of cancer or its treatment that affect nutrition may include:
- Loss of appetite
- Mouth sores
- Dry mouth
- Difficulty swallowing
- Nausea and vomiting
- Constipation or diarrhea
Foods That Prevent Cancer: Healthy Choices
While no cancer prevention diet is 100 percent effective, you can incorporate cancer-fighting foods into every meal. Kale, broccoli, and cauliflower fight cancer naturally.
According to the National Cancer Institute, following certain dietary guidelines can help prevent cancer. These dietary guidelines include:
- Eating a plant-based diet featuring a wide variety of fruits and vegetables
- Consuming low-fat foods
- Eating foods low in salt
- Reducing alcohol consumption or abstaining altogether
- Eating soy may decrease the risk for breast cancer
Anti-Cancer Dietary Guidelines
Everyday Health lists several anti-cancer foods and nutrients, including:
- Vitamin D
- B vitamins
- Green tea
- Fish oil
- Beta carotene
Each nutrient works in a different way to reduce the risk for cancer or slow the progression of cancer. Some vitamins keep you healthy. Other vitamins help your body during cancer treatment. Curcumin found in the spice turmeric, for example, may prevent colon, stomach, and skin cancers. Vitamin B12 may reduce the risk for breast cancer when combined with folate and B6.
People with higher levels of vitamin D in their blood have a lower risk of some types of cancers, according to the National Cancer Institute.
Research on cancer cells and mice show that vitamin D has several activities that may slow or prevent the development of cancer, promote the proper growth and maturation of healthy cells, decrease cancer cell growth, stimulate the timely death of cells, and reduce the formation of blood vessels that feed cancer cells.
Many people get vitamin D from the sun, but cancer may prevent you from getting the nutrients from the sun you need.
IV Vitamin Therapy
Vitamin cancer treatments are emerging as a viable approach to cancer care. Intravenous (IV) therapy provides essential vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that bolster your immune system during cancer therapy.
Therapies include vitamin B17 cancer treatment and vitamin C cancer treatment. High-dose vitamin C treatments can slow the growth and spread of prostate, pancreatic, liver, colon, and other types of cancer cells. Vitamin B17, otherwise known as laetrile, is found in pits of many fruits, raw nuts, and plants.
Trained medical professionals can provide information about the appropriate use of these treatments.
Nutrition experts can help you understand the link between nutrition and cancer, and can help you find other common cancer-preventing foods.
They can also help you make informed nutritional choices before, during, and after cancer treatment.