When you are battling breast cancer, good nutrition and healthy habits can help you stay strong and improve your overall well-being.
During breast cancer treatment, it is important that you take the best possible care of your body. A nutritious diet and healthy lifestyle habits can play a big role in improving your immune system and maintaining your strength.
The best diet for breast cancer patients is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins. Eating five or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day along with adequate protein will rev up your immune system, improve your strength and reduce fatigue. Some examples include:
To help make mealtime easier, many diet plans for breast cancer patients suggest filling one-third of your plate with lean proteins and the rest of your plate with a mix of with fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
If you are experiencing nausea, appetite loss, food aversions or taste changes caused by chemotherapy or another treatment, you should focus on eating as many whole foods as possible and getting as close as you can to your daily serving target. Food for chemo patients who are experiencing nausea should be easy on the stomach and may include:
Because you may have difficulty maintaining your appetite during chemo treatment, you should try to avoid junk food in order to make the most of the calories you are able to consume.
Good nutrition for breast cancer patients means cutting back or eliminating certain foods from your diet. You should decrease your fat intake to less than 30 percent (approximately 50 gm daily) of your total calories and limit your intake of beef, lamb and organ meats to three 3-ounce servings per week. You should also limit your intake of dairy products, including cheese, cream, butter and ice cream.
Because studies suggest that the type of fat consumed can contribute to the development of breast cancer, you should also avoid foods that contain trans-fatty acids, including commercially prepared baked goods, crackers and margarine. It is also a good idea to minimize your intake of cured, pickled and smoked foods, such as pickles, ham and lunchmeat.
Read food labels carefully. Avoid foods containing high quantities of sugars, trans fats and sodium.
Studies have shown that certain foods have properties that may help prevent cancer. The best diet plan for breast cancer patients should include plenty of cancer-fighting foods, such as:
Although it is fine for breast cancer patients to take a daily multivitamin, you should not take any over-the-counter herbs or dietary supplements during your treatment. Because over-the-counter herbs and supplements are not well-regulated, they may contain potentially harmful ingredients that could interfere with your treatment.
If you are receiving chemotherapy, you should not consume alcohol during breast cancer treatment. Beer, wine and liquor can worsen symptoms such as nausea, dry mouth, diarrhea, sore throat and fatigue and may react with certain medications. If you are having surgery or radiation treatment, you may be able to consume small amounts of alcohol with your doctor’s permission.
It is very common to gain weight as a result of breast cancer treatment. Medications such as steroids and hormones can cause weight gain that may go away after you stop taking the medication. Chemotherapy can bring on premature menopause, which results in a slowed metabolism and increased body fat. Lack of exercise along with food cravings for sweets and carbohydrates during treatment can also cause weight gain. A nutritious diet and healthy habits during treatment can help you limit weight gain—and will lay the foundation for you to return to your ideal body weight after your treatment is complete.
Although you may not be feeling your best, exercise during breast cancer treatment is generally safe. When combined with a healthy diet plan, light exercise can help limit weight gain, relieve symptoms such as constipation, and boost your immune system. It can also improve your mood and reduce stress.
You should check with your doctor to make sure that exercise is safe for you. If you are new to exercise, be sure to start slowly with light, low-impact exercise, such as walking around the block. If you are already active, you should be careful to avoid exhaustion by listening to your body and only doing exercises that feel comfortable to you.
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