Nutrition for Cancer Survivors
A combination of foods consumed in a mostly plant-based diet plays an important role in keeping us healthy. Variety is the spice of life!
Focus on your overall dietary pattern. No single food, vitamin, mineral, spice, herb or supplement can prevent or cure cancer.
Eating can improve our health and make us feel great!
Diet is just one part of a healthy lifestyle – don’t forget about getting physical activity, adequate sleep, minimizing stress, and not smoking.
Healthy Nutrition to Decrease Risk of Cancer Recurrence
Control Body Weight
- The risk of certain cancers increases with higher body fat
- Excess body fat also increases risk of other health problems such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes
- If you are overweight, any reduction in body fat can reduce risk. Losing only 5-10% of body weight can result in a significant improvement in health.
- What can you do? Watch portion sizes, eat more fruits and vegetables, and cut down on high-fat and sugary foods to help lower weight.
Add Fruits and Vegetables
- Eat a variety year round
- Include cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, kale, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and bok choy. These contain phytonutrients that have been shown to lower cancer risk.
- Eat whole foods versus juices or supplements.
- All fruits and vegetables are high in fiber, antioxidants and other cancer-fighting chemicals.
What counts as a serving?
- 1/2 cup fruit or vegetable
- 1 cup raw leafy greens
- 1/4 cup dried fruit or vegetable
- 4-6 ounces juice
Recommended intake: Aim for at least 5 servings a day (preferably 8-10)
Move towards a plant-based diet
- You don’t need to become a vegetarian (unless you want to!) but have most of the foods you eat come from plant sources.
- These foods provide dietary fiber, complex carbohydrates, some protein and important B vitamins and minerals.
- Beans are a great alternative to meat.
- Choose breads, rice and cereals made with whole grains.
- Look for “whole grain” on nutrition food labels as one of the first ingredients.
Goal: 20-30 grams a day
- High fiber foods can help you feel full and reduce risk or certain cancers.
- Increase fiber intake gradually and be sure to drink plenty of fluids.
- Tips to increase fiber in your diet:
- Sprinkle a high fiber cereal on top of yogurt
- Add beans and vegetables to casseroles, soups and salads
- Choose whole grain breads and pastas instead of white bread and pasta
- Snack onwhole fruits, raw vegetables or whole grain cereal bars
Consume healthy fats
- Limit animal fats and avoid hydrogenated fats
- Use olive oil, canola oil or nut oils (monounsaturated fats)
- Increase omega-3 fatty acid intake from fish, seeds and nuts
Sources: American Cancer Society, American Institute for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute