Mrs. Mason, a breast cancer survivor, says:
“When I learned that I had breast cancer, I could not sleep and did not stop thinking. The next morning I was convinced that I would live this experience against my will, but I would make it a challenge, and I would not allow the disease to take hold of my body and soul. Despite that, the experience was cruel.”
Do you know the link between nutrition and breast cancer? If you do not know, follow along with us in this article to learn more about the role of food in combating breast cancer and helping to overcome it.
In this Article
Breast Cancer Risk Factors
Before talking about the link between nutrition and breast cancer, we will talk a little about the people who are at the highest risk of developing it. There are factors that make a person more susceptible to infection, including factors that can be controlled and others that cannot be controlled:
Uncontrollable Risk Factors
Here are some of the factors that cannot be controlled:
- Women are more susceptible to breast cancer.
- Girls who reach menstruation early.
- Increasing age makes you more susceptible to disease.
- Genes (DNA).
Controllable Risk Factors
Here are some examples of controllable risk factors:
- Excess weight at any stage of life.
- Lethargy and laziness.
Balancing Nutrition and Breast Cancer
Now you may be wondering how can I balance food, nutrition and breast cancer? Here comes the role of adopting a balanced diet, and in order to achieve a balance between food, breast cancer and exercise, it is necessary to adhere to:
- Eat according to the amounts and portions.
- Not to eat while watching TV or during the time we spend on smart screens.
- Keep your body hydrated by drinking 8 cups of fluids daily.
- Sufficient with one cup of juice per day. I advise you to eat whole fruits and not be satisfied with juices.
Veganism and Breast Cancer
Make vegan foods two-thirds (or more) of your meal size, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes, and be careful to choose non-starchy vegetables.
Here are examples of vegan foods that help with breast cancer:
- Green leafy vegetables such as spinach, lettuce, kale, and bok choy.
- Summer squash.
Other Healthy Vegan Foods
- Whole grains such as brown rice, whole wheat pasta, quinoa and barley.
- Starchy vegetables such as potatoes, corn, squash, and peas.
- Whole fruits such as berries, apples, pears, kiwis and oranges.
Animal Protein in Nutrition and Breast Cancer
Allocate one-third of the remaining amount of your meal for animal protein and from the following sources:
- Fish such as canned sardines, canned salmon, and fresh fish.
- Fat-free or low-fat dairy products, such as skim yogurt.
- Poultry such as chicken and turkey.
You are allowed to eat red meat once or twice a week, such as beef or lamb, but if you are a vegetarian, eat legumes, nuts and tofu to compensate for the animal protein.
Also read: What If We Replaced Animal Milk with Vegan?
Restricting Sugar Intake
Attention should be paid to restricting and reducing the amount of sugar in the event of breast cancer, as it is one of the unwanted ingredients at all.
I advise you to read food labels to learn about the amount of added sugar in foods and drinks, and remember that sugar is sugar after all, whether it is raw, brown, organic, or powdered sugar.
If you have other health problems such as diabetes, prediabetes, insulin resistance or obesity, consult a nutritionist to help you control your sugar intake.
Fiber and Breast Cancer
We got acquainted with fiber in previous nutrition articles, and we knew that it is not completely digested, and it is healthy for a breast cancer patient because it:
- Helps you maintain a regulated blood sugar.
- Helps you lower cholesterol levels.
- It facilitates regular bowel movement and prevents constipation.
- You feel full quickly.
It is healthy and beneficial for everyone when consuming at least 25 to 35 grams of fiber per day.
Now let’s learn about foods rich in fiber:
We say about a food that it is rich in fiber if it contains at least 3 grams of fiber per food portion. Vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains are richer in fiber as well as rich in vitamins and minerals, and we mention whole grains and whole grain seeds, and these are better than ground grains, Examples of whole grains include:
- Brown rice, black rice, and wild rice.
- Back wheat.
- Whole wheat.
And when you read labels on foods, choose the ones that say “whole” or “whole grain“, for example contain “whole wheat flour” instead of “wheat flour”.
Some foods, such as yogurt and snack foods, may contain added fibers such as inulin. But there is not enough evidence that these added fibers have the same health benefits as the fibers found naturally in foods and thus contribute to nutrition and breast cancer.
Fat and Breast Cancer
It is important to include foods that contain fats in the diet of breast cancer patients. You may wonder when it is advisable to eat fats for a breast cancer patient and what types are allowed to be eaten?
Fat contains high calories (every 1 gram of fat contains 9 calories) compared to carbohydrates or protein (every 1 gram contains 4 calories). Therefore it is generally not recommended to eat too much fat, whether for sick or healthy people, especially when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight, in addition to what is related to nutrition and breast cancer. There are two types of fat that we recognize:
Saturated and Trans Fats
They are natural fats. The following foods contain a lot of saturated fat:
- Meat such as beef and lamb.
- Full-fat dairy products such as cheese and butter.
- Coconuts such as coconut oil and coconut milk.
- Palm oil.
Most of the saturated fats enter our bodies from foods such as burgers, sandwiches, pizza and sweets.
It is not a natural fat, and it is harmful to health. We may find it in:
- Coffee creamers.
- Fried foods.
- Some types of industrial margarine.
- Microwave popcorn.
- Cookies, chips, processed or packaged crackers.
Mono and Polyunsaturated Fats
Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are healthier for you and are mostly found in plant foods, fish and other seafood. Here is a list of excellent sources of healthy fats:
- Fish and other seafood, such as:
Salmon – Halibut – Mussels – Cod – Herring
- Nuts, seeds and oils such as:
Almonds – Olive Oil – Walnuts – Canola Oil – Pumpkin Seeds – Cottonseed Oil
- Vegetables and fruits, such as:
Avocado – Brussels sprouts – Chinese cabbage – seaweed
Also read: Animal or Vegetable Fats? Which is Better?
Soy Foods and Breast Cancer
Breast cancer cells can use estrogen and other hormones to grow, which is why many people ask questions related to soy foods and breast cancer.
There is not enough evidence that “Eating soy foods has an effect by increasing the risk of breast cancer”, as it will not increase the condition of cancer or give survivors the possibility of recurrence of breast cancer again. Despite much talk about the health benefits of eating soy food, this has not been proven by an evidence cutter.
And when you do eat soy foods, choose whole foods, not soy ingredients that have been processed.
Examples of Whole Soy Foods
Whole soy foods contain important nutrients such as protein, iron, and calcium. Here are some examples of whole soy foods:
- Soy milk
You may also find soy ingredients in many foods, such as:
- Soy lecithin
- Soy oil
- Soy sauce
These ingredients are safe for everyone and do not increase the risk of cancer. Thus benefiting from the interest in nutrition and breast cancer.
Organic Food and Breast Cancer
When do we say that this food is organic?
The USDA says about food as “organic” that farms and facilities have grown or produced the food according to certain rules, including:
- Growing organic plant foods without synthetic pesticides or herbicides (substances used to kill pests and weeds).
- Organic animal products are made from animals that have not been fed hormones or antibiotics (substances given to animals to make them grow faster or fight disease).
- These animals are fed organic foods and should not be fed foods made from other animals.
- Organic foods are not considered GMO, which means that their genetic material has not been altered in any way before it is grown.
Don’t bother yourself or your partner by looking for organic food, because it’s not certain that it can protect you from breast cancer. And it’s more expensive and harder to find in some environments.
Remember that you must eat large amounts of different fruits and vegetables to achieve good conditions in terms of nutrition and breast cancer. It does not matter whether they are organic or non-organic.
Amounts and Servings in Nutrition and Breast Cancer
It is important to adhere to the sizes of food portions when thinking about the amount of food that will be eaten. Here are examples that determine the amounts of food portions for some foods:
- Meal – the amount of one meal.
- Bread, cereal, rice and pasta bread – 1 slice.
- Cooked oatmeal – ½ cup.
- Cereal – ½ cup.
- Pasta – ½ cup.
- Rice – ½ cup.
- Vegetables, cooked or raw, chopped – ½ cup.
- Juice – ¼ cup.
- Dried fruits – ¼ cup.
- Milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, or yogurt – 1 cup.
- Minimally processed cheeses such as mozzarella, swiss, muenster, or cheddar – 1 1/2 oz.
- Red meat, poultry, fish, legumes, eggs, nuts, cooked legumes – ½ cup.
- Cooked meat or fish – 3 ounces.
- Eggs – 1 egg.
- Nuts – ⅓ cup.
- Peanut butter – two tablespoons.
Keep a food diary
Write down what you ate and drank in a daily food diary. This helps you to be aware of your choices.
It can also improve your thinking and awareness of what foods, when, and why you eat them, so you can reconcile your nutrition diet with breast cancer.
You can use a small notepad or software on your smartphone to take notes on it.
Planning Nutrition and Breast Cancer
Here are the guidelines for planning a healthy diet:
- Pay attention to the amount of calories your food contains.
- Stick to an appropriate portion of protein.
- Don’t eat until you’re hungry, and if you eat, don’t fill your stomach.
- Avoid snacks.
- Stay away from sweetened drinks such as soda and soft drinks.
- Eat plant-based foods.
- Focus on vegetables, fruits, and other whole plant foods in your diet.
- Allocate 3 cups of fresh vegetables and fruits daily.
- Stay away from sugar and its derivatives.
- Rely on the natural sugars found in fruits and milk in moderate amounts.
Supplements and Breast Cancer
There are many nutritional supplements that you can take when you need them, and they come in many forms such as tablets, liquids, and powders.
There is no doubt that the best healthy way is to obtain nutrients from food directly, as most people get the required nutrients through eating a balanced diet that depends mostly on plant foods. However, some may need to obtain nutrients through nutritional supplements. You may need supplements if you:
- Infected with some diseases.
- You follow a special diet.
- Vegan (do not eat any animal products).
- You are 65 years of age or older.
- You want to conceive or are waiting for good news about the upcoming baby.
- Your medical tests showed a deficiency of some elements in your body.
Safety Measures Regarding Dietary Supplements:
You should pay attention to the nutritional supplements that you take, as some nutritional supplements may:
- They interact with medications or with each other, including chemotherapy and endocrine (hormonal) therapy.
- It has serious side effects.
- The product is not subject to medical standards.
It is important to tell your doctor about all the nutritional supplements you are taking.
Healthy Weight and Breast Cancer
It is important to maintain a healthy weight in order to prevent certain diseases, including certain types of cancer, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
Research suggests that being overweight during or after breast cancer treatment is a risk factor.
- What are the reasons that make a breast cancer patient gain weight during treatment and maybe after that?
- Eating in excess, which stores more calories in the body.
- When a woman reaches menopause, her period stops, and this is normal. But when it happens early, it may gain her extra weight.
- Psychological trauma and subsequent depression.
- Treatment and medication.
- It may increase the patient’s desire for food to get rid of the stress and anxiety of the patient.
- The side effects of treatment, such as stress, fatigue, and nausea, may lead us to eat more meals.
Because getting the weight back to normal is more difficult than gaining it, be careful not to gain weight.
- How to maintain an appropriate weight after breast cancer and during treatment:
There are many treatments for breast cancer, and it is important to eat well during treatment. Eating healthy food during breast cancer treatment can give you:
- More power.
- Energy level up.
- Reducing side effects.
- Reduce weight gain or loss.
- Getting the right nutrients.
- Reducing the risk of foodborne illness (food poisoning).
- Drought resistance.
- Quick recovery after surgery.
Alcohol and Breast Cancer
It is important to reduce alcohol consumption for breast cancer patients, as some research says that there is a link between drinking alcohol and an increased risk of breast cancer. The risk increases with the amount of alcohol that is consumed. Excessive alcohol consumption may also increase the risk of breast cancer in men.
Also, excessive drinking is always associated with other health problems such as:
- Liver diseases.
- Cancer of the mouth, throat and esophagus.
- Irritation of the stomach and pancreas (blood sugar levels).
Eating Directions during Chemotherapy
One of the effects left by taking chemotherapy doses is the risk of infection with some food-borne diseases, as the nature of this treatment reduces the number of white blood cells, and we know the function of these cells in fighting bacteria and germs. Therefore, breast cancer patients should choose foods prepared in healthy ways in preparation and storage. You can talk to the seller about the benefits of these foods, making sure to read the labels carefully.
Control Body Weight
During chemotherapy, the patient may gain weight, while others may lose weight. It is important to maintain a healthy body weight and avoid any possible weight gain or loss during treatment.
I give you some tips to regain your appetite if you are losing weight due to chemotherapy, or a cancer patient may have lost his appetite as a result of stress, fatigue, fear, anxiety, and depression, you should take these measures:
- Don’t stop yourself ftom eating your favorite food
- When you eat your main meals or snacks, stick to a schedule and times that are suitable for them.
- You need to eat collectively to bring you out of isolation and anorexia.
- Add healthy fats such as olive oil, avocados, and nuts to your meals and snacks.
- Ask for help buying and making food.
- Music may help you eat more appetizingly.
- Write in your diary if you forget meals.
- Have smoothies made at home with nutrient-rich ingredients such as fruits, vegetables, and nuts.
- Don’t force yourself to eat a large amount of food, yet don’t skip meals entirely.
Not drinking enough fluids may cause the following symptoms:
- Urinary tract infection (UTI).
Maintain Your Energy
The patient may develop fatigue, which is a common side effect during chemotherapy, and this fatigue may increase over time. Although we cannot name a single food to prevent or reduce fatigue, eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and sleeping enough can support energy conservation. With a diet and breast cancer.
Breast Cancer and Men
Men also get breast cancer, but at lower rates. So they have to follow most of the guidelines and recommendations for diet and breast cancer.
Finally, we hope you liked the article. And you learned about the most important ideas related to nutrition and breast cancer, and about the link between them. Do not forget to follow Farashti magazine, which cares about your health and gives you the best tips for your beauty and fitness. Stay safe.
Frequently Asked Questions about Nutrition and Breast Cancer
Does milk activate cancer cells?
A German professor says that drinking milk increases the risk of cancer, because it gives a signal to the body to grow constantly, while a German institute denied this theory and described it as unprovable.
Does cutting out sugar help treat cancer?
All types of cells, including cancerous ones, depend on blood sugar (glucose) for energy.
But giving more sugar to cancer cells doesn’t make them grow faster. Likewise, depriving cancer cells of sugar does not make them grow slower.
Does anxiety lead to breast cancer?
Stress does not cause you to get cancer, as there is no scientific evidence to prove it.
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