I am frequently asked to advise what changes are necessary in a patient's diet to help to prevent breast cancer or at the time of a cancer diagnosis to improve treatment and survival. There are so many different diets and opinions that it can all become quite overwhelming.

Diet is very important and has been estimated to account for up to 80% of cancers of the colon, breast and prostate! The first practical observation is that most of us simply eat too much. Reducing the size of a helping and combining this with regular vigorous exercise would be an excellent starting point. If you are already a super fit gym bunny then the next paragraph does not apply - but for the rest of us - you might like to try the following:

Keep a log-book for 2 weeks listing all meals, drinks and exercise. You will be amazed at how different things look on paper compared to a quick guess at what you consume!

Now make some simple modifications. Fresh fruit and vegetables contain many beneficial vitamins, minerals, fibre and phyto-chemicals. It seems that many of these are better absorbed and metabolised when part of normal food rather than when taken as artificial supplements.

  • High fibre is good.
  • Reduce fatty food
  • Reduce red meat
  • Reduce sugar

Make sure that you choose lots of the following foods that potentially can fight cancer

  • Ginger
  • Garlic
  • Green tea which contains flavonoids
  • Turmeric
  • Cruciferous vegetables broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, and cabbage
  • Berries
  • Whole grains, wheat, rice, oats and barley
  • Linseeds
  • Tomatoes are rich in lycopene an anti-oxidant

Nuts and seeds rich in essential fatty acids and Selenium

Selenium is a trace element that is necessary for good health. New Zealand has some of the lowest levels in the world and also some of the highest cancer rates. It has been suggested that it would be a wise precaution to increase intake although we do not have any hard evidence as to whether this will really make a difference. This can be as simple as eating a couple of Brazil nuts daily.

Read more in the book Foods that Fight Cancer by Richard Beliveau and Denis Gingras

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