There is much to gain by making the change to healthy foods. Not only will our risk of cancer be reduced, we look and feel better and have more energy. A wide variety and plenty of fresh foods in season will provide the essential nutrients.
Breast Cancer Network recommends the following:
Grow your own fruit and vegetables or look for certified organic food suppliers especially for fruit and vegetables, cereals, grains, bread and tea. Otherwise, buy the best quality and freshest produce you can afford. Many homes have room to grow a few fruit trees, seasonal vegetables and herbs in the garden or planters.
Eat at least 5 servings per day of fresh fruit and vegetables but aim for 9 plus. See our sample menu if you think this sounds impossible. A serving is a cupped handful – so children’s servings can be smaller. Home made salads are easy and nutritious. Dressings can be made with lemon juice or cider vinegar with olive oil and seasonings. Sauces can be made from high-nutrition vegetables such as tomatoes, mushrooms and onions with herbs and spices. Be sure to include highly coloured fruits and vegetables for their anti-oxidants and green leafy vegetables. Internet recipes abound and vegetarian cookbooks are helpful for ideas.
Meats, proteins and fats Restrict smoked foods and preserved meats which contain nitrates or nitrites such as bacon, corned meat, ham, sausages and deli items. Use organic chicken, fish, dried beans and lentils, free range or organic eggs, nuts and seeds, moderate use of dairy products and a moderate use of lean red meat. Oily fish are high in healthy but hard-to-get Omega 3 fatty acids. Choose a variety of cold-pressed oils which contain natural anti-oxidants. Be moderate with saturated fats found in meats, dairy foods and coconut. Avoid trans (hydrogenated) fats and oils. Trans fats are not always listed on labels but are found in margarine, manufactured foods, breakfast cereals or cereal products.
Fresh nuts and seeds are a rich source of protein and most have good fats. Brazil nuts are rich in selenium, an anti-oxidant that is deficient in NZ soils. Two per day will provide enough selenium. Seeds are rich in minerals such as zinc and magnesium. Never eat stale or rancid nuts.
Choose less-refined grains such as rolled oats, millet, plain cereal without additives, wholemeal or grainy breads, brown rice. Try to find organic versions where possible. Keep stone-ground and organic flours in the fridge to slow down the process of rancidity that develops from the oily, nutritious germ of the grain.
Moderate use of soy food may be beneficial, but soy has weak oestrogen properties and the evidence for overall safety is not entirely firm. Choose organic soy foods as GE soy products can contain high levels of glyphosate which has been implicated with the proliferation of breast cancer cells.
A “Mediterranean” diet appears to be protective against breast cancer. This includes olive oil, fish, tomatoes, aubergines, pulses and capsicums.
Reduce or eliminate sugary foods. Use organic, raw sugar, honey, stevia or maple syrup in preference to white sugar but keep use to a minimum. The controversial chemical sweeteners, aspartame and saccharine are best avoided.
Since our soils are often lacking in nutrients needed for human nutrition and our diets are not perfect, many people wish to supplement their food intake to get a balance of minerals and vitamins. Note, however, that a high intake of fresh vegetables, fruit, nuts and seed based foods is an excellent basis for good nutrition.
The needs of each individual will vary depending on age, health status, type of diet, genetic type and other factors. Since vitamins or minerals work in combination with others, if you wish to use supplements you are strongly advised to see a registered practitioner – an integrative medicine doctor, clinical nutritionist, naturopath or dietician for your unique needs to be assessed.
If you have been prescribed medications or treatment for cancer it is important to let your doctor know which supplements you are taking as some may interfere with pharmaceutical drugs.