A dear relative of mine was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. She asked me for this information, so I thought I would share it with everyone, in case you or someone you know is also battling breast cancer.
Breast Cancer-Fighting Diet Tips
- Aim for 5-9 colorful servings of fruits and vegetables. Fruits and veggies are loaded with healthful nutrients, fiber and antioxidants. Be sure to include bright orange, dark green, and deep red fruits and vegetables.
- Include 3-6 servings of whole grains each day. Whole grain foods also contain important cancer-fighting nutrients. Replace refined grains (white bread, white rice, etc.) with a variety of whole grain foods like brown rice, whole wheat bread/pasta, and popcorn.
- Use garlic, curry, and other herbs and spices liberally when cooking. These foods pack a cancer-fighting phytochemical punch!
- Aim for a diet that is overall low in fat. Especially limit fat intake from processed foods, high-fat dairy and red meat. Include some healthy unsaturated fats from fish, nuts, flaxseed, olive oil and/or avocado.
- Avoid alcohol or limit to 1 drink per day, max. Alcohol has a role in promoting estrogen receptor-positive tumors.
- Reduce the amount of sugary and refined carbohydrate foods you eat, like soda, candy, and dessert-like breads. These types of foods fuel cancer cells.
- Avoid supplements. Get your nutrients naturally from food. Supplements contain concentrated ingredients which may actually promote cancer. A daily, regular multivitamin is probably okay.
- Soy intake has been found to be protective of breast cancer in younger women. Soy intake is controversial in women with estrogen-positive breast cancer. Considering all the evidence, I recommend avoiding soy supplements (e.g. protein bars and powders made from soy protein) but including up to 1-2 daily servings of whole soy foods (e.g. edamame or tofu) for women who are currently cancer-free.
Note: If you are currently undergoing cancer treatment, the most important thing to avoid is losing lean body mass. You may experience changes in appetite and taste. Try to a healthful meal, but if you are struggling, eat whatever you can or try nutritional supplements.
For additional information, check out these wonderful resources:
- A Dietitian’s Cancer Story: Diana Dyer is a Registered Dietitian and breast cancer survivor. Check out her article on a breast cancer-fighting diet, or even better, her book.
- Breast Cancer Diet and Nutrition Manual. HealthCastle is a reputable website run by dietitians, and this page is packed with great information.
- WebMD Breast Cancer Guide: Eating Right During Cancer Treatment
Escott-Stump, Sylvia. Nutrition and Diagnosis-Related Care, Sixth Edition. Baltimore Maryland: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. 2008.