After a diagnosis of breast cancer, women tend to re-evaluate their nutrition and health practices. Many wonder what caused this cancer to occur and what lifestyle changes they should be making. Most women believe they must make significant dietary changes to ensure good outcomes following breast cancer treatment. However, a healthy diet is only one of several factors that can affect the immune system; exercise and stress management are just as important in improving your overall health and well being.
There are no food or dietary supplements that will act as “magic bullets” to prevent breast cancer from returning. National Cancer Institute guidelines for cancer prevention can be used to decrease the chance of a breast cancer recurrence. These guidelines include:
Fruits, vegetables and whole grains are known to contain phytochemicals with antioxidant, antiestrogen and chemopreventive properties that may prevent cancer. We recommend five or more servings of fruit and vegetables daily. Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage and brussels sprouts) are especially rich in phytochemicals. Extensive research has been conducted at Johns Hopkins Medicine regarding the nutritional value of broccoli sprouts.
Whole grains are unprocessed foods that are high in complex carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. High fiber intakes may have a positive benefit by altering hormonal actions of breast cancer and other hormonal-dependent cancers. Daily fiber intake should be 25 to 35 grams of insoluble and soluble fiber.
Wheat, rye, oats, rice, corn, bulgur, barley
Green leafy vegetables
Lettuce, spinach, swiss chard, endives, beet greens, romaine
Broccoli, cabbage, turnip, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kohlrabi, bok choy, watercress, collards, kale, mustard greens, rutabaga
Celery, parsley, fennel, carrots, parsnip
Garlic, onion, shallots, chives, leek
Soybeans, peas, chickpeas, lima beans, peanut, carob, dried beans (kidney, mung, pinto, black-eyed peas), lentils
Nightshade family: eggplant, tomatoes
Gourd family: pumpkin, squash, cucumber, muskmelon, watermelon
Mustard, horseradish, cruciferous vegetables
Garlic, green tea, soybeans, cereal grains, cruciferous, umbelliferous, solanaceous, cucurbitaceous vegetables, licorice root, flax seed
Most fruits and vegetables (cruciferous, garlic, citrus fruits, caraway seeds, umbelliferous, solanaceous, cucurbitaceous vegetables, sage, camphor, dill, basil, mint)
Garlic, onion, leeks, shallots, cruciferous vegetables
Soybeans, legumes, flax seed
Dark yellow/orange/green vegetables and fruits
Controversy exists on the role of dietary fat on the promotion of breast cancer. Some animal studies and epidemiological data have suggested that the type of fat consumed may initiate the development of breast cancer. We recommend that you:
How to calculate your ideal body weight and daily fat and calorie needs:
1. Calculate your ideal body weight (IBW) using your height in inches.
For example: A person is 5 foot, 4 1/2 inches tall
2. Account for your frame size:
3. Calculate your recommended daily calorie intake:
4. Calculate your daily fat needs
Obese women have higher levels of circulating estrogen than women at their ideal body weight. Many studies have demonstrated an association between body mass size and breast cancer in postmenopausal women. We recommend weight reduction through a healthy diet (five small meals; more fruits, vegetables and grains; less meat, dairy, fats and sugar) and exercise. We provide weight loss counseling that focuses on healthy eating tips and behavior modifications that will provide long term results.
Several studies have shown an association between alcohol consumption and breast cancer. Alcohol’s role in the development of breast cancer remains unclear. Dietary guidelines suggest that a woman consume no more than one drink per day. Women diagnosed with breast cancer may want to consider avoiding alcohol.
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