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Nancy Deville

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Eating for Chemo and Radiation

Posted: 02/24/2012 5:38 pm

Three people I care about are going through chemo and radiation. Being treated for cancer is a consuming experience that can be draining, scary and lonely no matter how many caring people you have around you. It's not a time for people to shower you with advice. My M.O. is to keep my opinions to myself, unless asked. One of my friends is losing too much weight and asked me to help him with his diet. This is for my friends and anyone out there who needs a little help with their diet right now.

During chemo and radiation, your body is assaulted with free radicals, which damage DNA (cellular "blueprints" that contain vital instructions) and mitochondria (energy factories in your cells). Don't add to the destruction by eating factory-produced food products, which are dead of nutrition, contain synthetic nutrients added in arbitrary amounts and are adulterated with hormones, chemicals, GMO residues and other toxins. Instead eat real, whole living food to provide your immune system with the materials to both neutralize free radicals and inhibit the growth, invasion and metastasis of cancers that already exist.

Consume antioxidants in food to bulk up your arsenal of defense against free radical damage. (You can also get antioxidants from supplements, but we're going to stay focused on food here.) Veggies are antimugenic -- they help your body fight cancer mutation, and they contain antioxidants that ameliorate the free radical damage of the chemo and radiation. Try to drink three eight-ounce glasses of green vegetable juice every day. By juicing green veggies, you can consume A LOT more vegetables than if you had to chew them, and equally important, the nutrition in green veggies (locked behind hard cellular walls) is released when you liquefy them in a blender-type juicer.

I am always stunned when I hear people say that their doctors told them to eat cakes, cookies, pies and so on to keep their weight up during chemo and radiation. Sugar is well known to feed cancer cells. Insulin, which is secreted when you eat sugar, is also a growth factor for cancer cells. Moreover, the "weight" you gain from sugar will be stored fat, because sugar does not make lean body mass (muscle and bone).

To gain lean body mass, eat complex carbs along with fats and proteins in balanced meals and snacks. Eating balanced meals will build muscle and bone mass and bolster your endocrine and immune systems.

If you start losing weight even though you're eating, and/or you experience heartburn, you may have some absorption problems. Most people over the age of 40 have problems absorbing nutrients. Ask your nutritionist about taking Betaine Hydrochloride (HCL) with Pepsin with your meals. You also might want to take some papaya too to aid in digestion. If your GI tract shuts down, which happens a lot when taking prescription drugs or painkillers, take 500 milligrams of magnesium citrate, then inch up or down progressively to see what dose works for you. Avoid laxatives, as they are abrasive and contain all kinds of bad things. More than ever, you want to protect and pamper your GI tract because that is where all of your nutrition is absorbed. You can buy supplements at any health food store.

The basics of eating for chemo/radiation

  • Eat only real, whole, living food
  • Eat only organic food
  • Eat frequent, small, nutrient-dense meals. A few bites are better than going without for hours.
  • Switch from coffee to tea, or quit caffeine if you can
  • Green tea is preferable to black tea as it contains the anticancer flavonoid catechin
  • Stay hydrated by drinking only purified water
  • Drink three eight-ounce glasses of green vegetable juice every day

What to avoid completely

  • Processed or otherwise industrialized food
  • Alcohol
  • Any type of sugar (including honey). Stevia is allowed
  • Sodas, regular or diet
  • Artificial sweeteners (aspartame, Splenda)
  • Soy (it contains fluoride and phytoestrogen -- see "protein" below)
  • Seared, flame-cooked or barbecued foods

Get started before you begin treatments

  • Purchase a juicer -- I use the Vitamix 5002 juicer -- online, or at a store such as Costco or Whole Foods (the prices are now competitive)
  • Purchase a portable water filter, order bottled water delivery, or have a filtration installed

Nonstarchy vegetables

  • Vegetables are best juiced to release nutrition, however you can them raw and cooked as well
  • Eat unlimited amounts of nonstarchy vegetables every day
  • Vary the types of vegetables you consume
  • Deeply colored vegetables have the greatest anticancer effectiveness

The vegetables that have the strongest antimugenic effects are in bold.

Arugula
Asparagus
Bean sprouts
Broadbeans
Broccoli
Brussels sprouts
Cabbage
Carrots (are non-starchy if raw)
Cauliflower
Celery
Chicory greens
Chives
Collard greens
Coriander
Crookneck squash
Cucumber
Dandelion greens
Eggplant
Endive
Fennel
Gardencress
Garlic
Ginger root
Green beans
Green Peppers
Horseradish
Jaicama
Jalapeno peppers
Kale
Lettuce
Mushrooms
Mustard greens
Onions
Parsley
Radicchio
Radishes
Red peppers
Rhubarb
Scallop squash
Scallop squash
Shallots
Snap beans
Snow peas
Spaghetti squash
Spaghetti squash
Spinach
Summer squash
Swiss chard
Turnip greens
Watercress
Yellow peppers
Zucchini squash

Herbs and Spices

  • Herbs and spices contain antioxidants and many herbs have antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and anticancer effects.
  • Especially beneficial are rosemary, sage and turmeric, which are anticancer, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antibacterial flavonoid. It can be dissolved into a tablespoon of olive oil and taken as a supplement.

The spices that have strongest antimugenic effects are in bold.

Allspice
Anise seed
Basil
Bay leaf
Caraway seed
Cardamom
Cayenne pepper
Celery seed
Chervil
Chili powder
Cinnamon
Cloves
Coriander
Cumin seed
Curry powder
Dill seed/weed
Fennel seed
Fenugreek seed
Ginger
Lemon peel
Mace
Marjoram
Mustard seed
Nutmeg
Oregano
Paprika
Parsley
Pepper
Peppermint
Poppy seed
Rosemary
Saffron
Sage
Savory
Spearmint
Tarragon
Thyme
Turmeric (curcumin)

Fats to cook with and eat at room temperature

Extra virgin olive oil
Butter
Coconut oil

Therapeutic fats to keep in the refrigerator -- never heat these oils

  • DHA extracted from algae (supplemental form)
  • Gamma linolenic acid (GLA), in cod liver oil (buy the flavored brands)
  • Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), can be taken as a supplement, and is found in the eggs, meat and whole dairy from grass fed chickens and animals
  • Medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) from coconut or red palm oils
  • Activator X (aka X Factor) is the butter from grass fed cows which contains Vitamin K, believed by some to be an anti-cancer agent

Protein

  • Eat smaller fish, as larger fish contain higher levels of mercury
  • Remove skin from poultry if it is not organic, free-range
  • Eat only fresh animal and fish proteins, two-day old protein in the refrigerator has already begun to oxidize and contains free radicals
  • There are those who believe in the anti-cancer properties of soy. There are many, myself included, who feel that the research demonstrates that soy actually promotes cancer. It's up to you to decide. It's my opinion that sticking with historically eaten food is the most prudent approach.
  • Chicken and the skin if organic
  • Eggs
  • Meat and the fat
  • Fish
  • Turkey
  • Whole organic dairy

Starchy Vegetables

The vegetables that have the strongest antimugenic effects are in bold.

Acorn squash
Artichokes
Beets (consume cooked as they are high sugar when juiced)
Butternut squash
Carrots
Corn
Green peas
Leeks
Lima beans
Okra
Parsnip
Potato
Rutabagas
Sweet potato or yam
Turnips

Legumes

Adzuki beans
Black beans
Garbanzo beans
Chickpeas
Blackeyed peas
French beans
Great Northern beans
Hominy
Kidney beans
Lentils
Mung beans
Navy beans
Pinto beans
Pumpkin
Split peas
White beans
Yellow beans

Grains

Barley
Brown rice
Buckwheat
Kasha
Tabbouleh
Corn bran
Corn grits
Couscous
Durum wheat
Millet
Oats
Polenta
Quinoa
Rye
Semolina
Whole grain wheat
Wheat bran
Wheat germ
Wild rice

Whole gain flour and meals to bake your own bread

Acorn flour
Almond meal
Brown rice flour
Buckwheat flour
Cornmeal
Oat bran flour
Potato flour
Rye flour
Semolina flour
Sesame flour
Whole wheat flour

Fruit

  • Eat only 1/2 cup of fruit per day (fruit is high in sugar)
  • The fruits that most protect DNA from damage are in bold
  • Deeply colored fruits have the greatest anticancer effectiveness.

The fruits that have the strongest antimugenic effects are in bold.

Apple (best: MacIntosh)
Applesauce
Apricots
Avocados
Bananas
Black & red currents
Blackberries
Blueberries
Boysenberries
Breadfruit
Cantaloupe
Casaba
Cherries
Crabapples
Cranberries
Dates
Elderberries
Figs
Gooseberries
Grapefruit
Grapes
Guavas
Honeydew
Kiwi
Kumquats
Lemons
Limes
Mangos
Nectarines
Oranges
Papayas
Peaches
Pears
Persimmons
Pineapple
Plantains
Plums
Pomegranates
Prickly pears
Quinces
Raspberries
Rhubarb
Strawberries
Sun-dried tomatoes
Tamarinds
Tangerines
Tomatillos
Tomatoes
Watermelon

Some ideas for muscle and bone building meals

Breakfast

  • Bacon and eggs with whole grain raisin toast, or whole grain pancakes lathered in butter
  • Eggs Benedict with lots of hollandaise
  • Chorizo scrambled eggs smothered in sour cream and quacomole, served with salsa with corn tortilla
  • Steak and eggs with breakfast potatoes sautéed in coconut oil
  • Steel cut oats with lots of cream and butter along with eggs scrambled with cream cheese, and parmesan cheese

Lunch and dinner

  • Cream soups
  • Chicken and tuna salad with mayo
  • Grilled cheese sandwiches lathered in butter and use tons of cheese
  • Steak with the fat, with baked potato, sour cream and butter
  • Mix in cheese, butter and sour cream whenever possible
  • Use lots of olive oil and coconut oil
Snacks
  • Nuts, especially almonds
  • Popcorn: Make in air popper (to avoid damaged fats), then drizzle on melted organic butter and sea salt
  • Berries with whipped cream made with stevia

Protein Smoothies

Drink protein smoothies between meals to keep the nutrition flowing in. But don't just drink protein drinks as your body needs whole solid food. Drink protein shakes to "supplement" your diet.

Peanut Butter Cocoa Smoothie

1 cup heavy whipping cream
4 ice cubes or 1 frozen banana (cut up)
3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
3 to 4 tablespoons organic chocolate syrup or powdered cocoa
Stevia to taste

Blend in blender.

Coconut Cheesecake Smoothie

1 can whole coconut milk
1 tablespoon melted coconut oil
2 tablespoons whole cream cheese
1 cup frozen pineapple
½ frozen banana
Squeeze of fresh lime
Stevia to taste

Blend in blender.

Apple Pie Smoothie

1 peeled MacIntosh apple, cubed
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons whole cream cheese
1 tablespoon vanilla
Dash of cinnamon
Stevia to taste

Blend in blender.

During chemo and radiation, your diet is more important than it's ever been in your life. Cancer treatments can kill your taste for food. You may get to the point where you don't have an appetite. If you stop eating, your brain will release opiates (pain killers) in response to the state of famine and you may feel a little "high," which reinforces not eating. It's crucial for you to be your own adult and use discipline and fortitude. Begin psyching yourself up before your treatments start.

For more by Nancy Deville, click here.

For more on cancer, click here.

For more on diet and nutrition, click here.

 
 
 

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