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Integrative options for specific cancers
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Improving Sleep
Survivorship- What to do after treatments?
Exceptional Patients - Lessons For You
Recommended Books
Resources and links
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Ways to Improve Your Nutrition
 





It is possible to eat healthy meals and enjoy the food. In fact, enjoying your meal can
 be good for you! Absorption of nutrients in food is actually improved when you enjoy your meal.

Eating is a pleasure for most people, but our enjoyment of food is often reduced. Our fast-paced culture often encourages us to view food as “necessary fuel” during a busy day or a tempting treat that we may regret later. While we do gain energy and enjoyment from what we eat, we must remember that all foods will either feed the body or drag it down.
 
Research suggests that the level of nourishment of a person diagnosed with cancer can influence the effectiveness of their medical treatments and the way in which they cope with these treatments. A healthy eating plan will help to provide the body with sufficient levels of nutrients to ensure a good level of nourishment. It will also help guarantee intake of the vital nutrients required to support the body’s immune and repair functions, both of which can become weakened due to the cancer or its necessary medical treatments.
 
 
Try to adopt the following healthy food attitudes and behaviors:
·         Choose healthfully. View meal times as opportunities to fill your body with disease-fighting and health-promoting foods. Aim for at least half of your meal or snack to come from a plant source, such as fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and whole grains.
·         Pay attention to signs of feeling hungry and full. Listen to your body, allow it to guide your decisions about when and how much to eat, rather than eating the 
 first thing you see or being swayed by tempting advertisements 

An important aspect of improved nutrition is
Mindful Eating
 
·         Take pleasure in your food. Eating slowly will increase your enjoyment of foods and help prevent overeating.
·         Chew your food. As simple as that. Twenty chews per bite will vastly improve  digestion and absorption of essential nutrients.
·         Focus on your food. Avoid eating while driving or performing other activities since this may cause you to make unhealthy food choices and overeat.
 
 
Where to Begin?
 
A Plant Based Diet – The First Step
 
In general start by increasing your intake of fresh vegetables and fruit. Aim to have 50%-60% vegetables on your plate. Follow this with adding and increasing whole grains, legumes and nuts and seeds into your diet so that plant foods eventually comprise the bulk of your diet. Simultaneously minimize processed and "white foods" (white sugar, white flour, white rice) from your diet.
 
Eat a ’rainbow diet’ of vegetables and fruits. Many scientific studies have shown that a diet rich in vegetables and fruits is one of the best tools for preventing cancer. Similar studies show that vegetables, fruits and other plant foods can slow cancer growth and strengthen the immune system. A good way to ensure you are eating a wide variety of vegetables and fruit is to aim for a ‘rainbow diet’. A ’rainbow diet’ is diet with a range of richly colored foods. Not only will it insure a wide range of nutrients and phytochemicals but it will also make a meal more appetizing!
 
Buy fresh vegetables and fruit. Choose those that are in season and locally grown if possible. You should aim to have 7-11 servings per day. Try to achieve a 80:20 ratio of vegetable to fruit.
Eat some of these raw and either steam, cook or bake the rest.
 
 
The following table will help you eat the right serving sizes of fruits and vegetables.
 

Food
Serving Size
Looks Like
Raw vegetables
1 cup
(whole or coarsely chopped)
Size of one tennis ball
Cooked vegetables
½ cup
Half the size of a tennis ball
Raw fruit
1 cup
(whole or coarsely chopped)
Size of one tennis ball  
Dried fruit
2-4 tablespoon
(varies by fruit)
Size of half to one golf ball
Fruit or vegetable juice
4 ounces
Small juice glass

 


Choose from a variety of colors. Plants that are the same color often have the same healthy phytochemicals (disease-fighting substances found in plants).  A wide range of phytochemicals are essentially an arsenal of anticancer molecules acting as a powerful weapon against cancer.
Below are just a few examples of phytochemicals, organized by color. Try to eat every color daily.
 

Color Group
Foods
Phytochemical
Red
Tomatoes, watermelon, pink grapefruit
Lycopene
Red/Purple
Grapes, eggplant, plums
Anthocyanins
Orange
Sweet potato, carrots, apricot
Beta carotene
Orange/Yellow
Nectarine, orange, pineapple
Beta-cryptothanxin
Yellow/Green
Spinach, avocado, corn
Lutein
Green
Broccoli, cauliflower
Indole
White/Green
Garlic, onion, celery
Quercetin

 
Select bright colors. A general rule is more intensely colored plant foods have more nutrients. For example, dark leafy greens, berries and sweet potatoes all have very high nutrient and pytochemical contents.
 
Use different cooking methods. Some healthy properties of plant foods are enhanced with cooking, while others are destroyed. Include both raw and cooked (especially lightly steamed) plant foods.
 
Choose whole fruits and vegetables rather than juices. Whole forms of fruits and vegetables contain fiber. Juices, especially fruit juices, are high in calories and can make weight gain more likely.
 
Eat pulses regularly. Include a variety of cooked and sprouted beans, such as peas and lentils. These are excellent sources of fiber and protein, in addition to vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals.
 
Choose whole grains. Include whole grain foods and whole grain products in your diet on a regular basis. Common whole grains include oatmeal, whole wheat bread, brown rice, whole-wheat pasta and whole grain bread, which are all high in fiber. Also don’t be afraid to explore less common whole grains such as quinoa,millet, barley, buckwheat, and rye.
.
Increase "healthy fats". Fats play many roles in the body. Without fats, your body would not be able to produce hormones, absorb certain vitamins (vitamins A, D, E and K) and meet the need for essential fatty acids not produced by the body. Foods rich in "healthy fats" are:
 
·         High fat, cold water fish, such as salmon, herring, halibut, tuna and mackerel are rich in Omega-3 fatty-acids.
·         Flaxseed oils or ground flaxseed , also rich in omega-3 fatty-acids
·         Avocados, walnuts, and other nuts and seeds are good sources of proteins, essential fatty acids and provide some fiber.
 
 
Choose Healthy Fats
Fats play many roles in the body. Without fats, your body would not be able to:
·         Produce hormones
·         Absorb certain vitamins (vitamins A, D, E and K)
·         Meet the need for essential fatty acids not produced by the body
 
However, not all fats are created equal. Use the information below to help you eat less total fat and unhealthy fat, while eating moderate amounts of healthy fats.
 
Limit saturated fats. While our bodies need a small amount of saturated fat each day, too much increases the risk for stroke, high cholesterol, some cancers and infections during cancer treatment. Reduce the amount of whole and 2 percent milk, full fat cheeses and animal meats in your diet due to their high saturated fat content.
 
Eliminate trans fats and interesterified fats. These fats act like saturated fats in the body, but doctors believe the degree of their damage to the body is much worse. Be aware that foods can be labeled as having zero grams of trans fats if they contain less than 0.5 grams per serving.
 
To avoid trans and interesterified fats entirely, do not buy foods with “partially hydrogenated” or “hydrogenated” oils in the ingredient list on the nutrition label.
 
You can also reduce trans and interesterified fats in your diet by avoiding:
·         Shortening
·         Packaged snack foods and desserts
·         Fast foods, especially deep fried items
 
Include monounsaturated fats. These fats are found in plant foods and can help to decrease total and “bad” cholesterol levels (LDL) in the blood. Monounsaturated fats may also help fight off infection during cancer treatment.
 
Below is a list of foods rich in these healthy fats and the amount found per serving.
 

Food Item
Monounsaturated Fat Per Serving
Avocado 
6 grams per ¼ cup
Macadamia nuts
20 grams per ¼ cup
Olives
6 grams per ¼ cup
Olive and canola oils
10 grams per tablespoon
Pecans
11 grams per ¼ cup chopped nuts

 
 
 
 
 


Include omega-3 fatty acid.
Omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids are referred to as “essential” in the diet because the body is unable to produce them itself. It is reported that most Americans consume 10 to 20 times more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3. Ideally, you should eat balanced amounts of each fatty acid.
 
Try to eat less omega-6 fatty acids by not eating:
·         Fried foods
·         Stick margarine
·         Some vegetable oils (soybean, safflower, corn)
 
Try to eat more omega-3 fatty acids – at least 2 grams per day. You can do this by eating the following foods:
·         High fat, cold water fish, such as salmon, herring, halibut, tuna and mackerel
-        2.2 grams omega-3 fatty acid per 3 ounce portion of Atlantic salmon
-        Eating two to three servings of fish per week (3-4 ounce servings) is recommended. Lean fish is lower in total and saturated fats than most meats, making it a good choice when high fat fish is unavailable.
·         Flaxseed oils or ground flaxseed
-        7.2 grams omega-3 fatty acid per tablespoon flaxseed oil
-        1.6 grams omega-3 fatty acid per tablespoon ground flaxseeds
·         Walnuts, other nuts and seeds
-        2.7 grams omega-3 fatty acid per ¼ cup chopped walnuts

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