Eating well (low GI of course) to combat cancer.
The side effects of cancer and cancer treatments – a marked decrease in appetite, nausea, and a strong aversion to food (even foods once very much enjoyed) – make it more difficult for people with cancer to maintain a healthy diet, let alone get enough food to eat. In fact, according to the National Cancer Institute, 20–40% of cancer patients die from causes related to malnutrition, not from the cancer itself, and 80% of cancer patients develop some form of clinical malnutrition. Unfortunately, conventional medical advice suggesting a patient eat whatever they want, can actually feed the patient’s cancer, promote their malnutrition and contribute to the patient’s inability to tolerate treatment. In addition, if the malnutrition is not addressed, it can lead to a condition called ‘cachexia’, defined as a wasting syndrome that results in compromised immunity, weakness, and a loss of weight, fat, and muscle.
‘The current scientific consensus is that cancer cachexia results primarily from an underlying metabolic imbalance induced by the cancer, causing the body’s metabolism to speed up,’ explains Dr Keith Block . ‘The malignancy generates the production of low-grade inflammatory molecules that breakdown lean muscle, and can disrupt immune functioning. The heavy consumption of fats, refined flours and sugars found in the traditional American diet can increase this inflammation, contributing to a lack of appetite, more debilitating weight loss and actually promote the very disease the patient is trying to fight.’
Dr David Katz
It isn’t just severe malnutrition that will impact a cancer patient’s health. Even a relatively small degree of under-nutrition can be associated with a marked increased risk of hospital admissions and death. ‘Cancer may kill, in part, by causing starvation and conventional therapies may actually exacerbate this aspect of the disease,’ says Dr David Katz. ‘While these treatments can effectively attack the cancer, they also take a toll on the patient. There is thus a need to combine effective assaults on cancer, with effective nurturing, and nourishing, of the body. Optimizing nutrition during and following cancer therapy is unquestionably a vital element in overcoming the disease, and reclaiming good health.’
To fight malnutrition and help a people with cancer combat their disease Drs Block and Katz suggest shifting eating patterns to coincide with appetite. For example, eat the biggest meal of the day in the morning, if that’s what you are most inclined to do. At the same time it’s important to cut back on (or cut out) sugary beverages and high GI cookies, cakes, pastries, white bread, crackers and refined-flour baked goods and eat:
- Plenty of fruits and vegetables.
- Healthy low GI starchy carbs (see 7 tips for reducing the GI of your diet above) and lean protein foods.
- Energy dense/nutrient dense good polyunsaturated (especially omega-3) or monounsaturated fats and oils such as canola, flaxseed (linseed), peanut and olive oil and foods like avocados, nuts/ nut butters and soy products. At the same time, reduce saturated fats and eliminate trans fats.
Safe fasting during Ramadan.
Ramadan is the holy month for Muslims, falling in the ninth lunar month in the Islamic calendar year. It is a period of worship, self-discipline, austerity and charity. The most important significance of Ramadan is that Muslims are required to observe fasting during daylight hours. During this month foods and fluids are only allowed at night so fasting extends from dawn to sunset. Despite being exempt, people with diabetes often wish to fast because of the status of Ramadan.
Most people with type 2 diabetes whose diabetes was well-controlled before Ramadan can safely observe Ramadan fasting is the finding of recent study. UK dietitian Azmina Govindji agrees. ‘It is possible to fast safely if you are careful about managing your diabetes,’ she says. ‘The reason why you need to take care is that some drugs used to treat type 2 diabetes (sulphonylureas) and insulin can make your blood glucose level drop too low when you are not eating. Not drinking enough water can also make you dehydrated. Often the evening meal, Iftar, contains lots of carbs (starches and sugars) and perhaps sugary drinks. Because this is a time when families eat together to break the fast, the food is richer than you may be eating normally. And you may feel having fasted all day long you have an excuse to reward yourself. You need to be particularly strong willed at this time.’
- Seek the advice of your healthcare team before starting and at the end of the fast, since they may advice you to change the times or amount of medication you take.
- Do not stop taking your medication.
- Avoid eating lots of unhealthy foods as a reward! Try and maintain a healthy eating pattern after you break the fast. Make sure that you have lots of fruit and vegetables and dal as these are slowly digested and help your blood glucose to rise more slowly too. Remember to drink plenty of fluids.
- Divide your daily food intake into two equal portions, one to be taken at Sehri and one at Iftar
- Remember to check your glucose level regularly, at least once a day at different times of the day.
- After the period of Ramadan, it is essential that you visit your doctor to make sure that your blood glucose is being managed adequately and also to check whether your medication needs to be adjusted.
Healthy eating advice for new Mums can help cut child obesity.
Teaching new Mums about healthy eating and active play can help cut the risk of their child being overweight or obese, a study published on bmj.com finds. The study authors looked at 667 first-time mothers and their infants in Sydney (Australia). Specially trained community nurses visited the Mums eight times and the timing of visits was designed to coincide with early childhood developmental milestones. They looked at the children’s BMI, feeding habits and television viewing time. Nurses taught the Mums healthy eating and exercise habits for their babies and toddlers using key messages such as:
- Breast is best.
- No solids until six months.
- I eat a variety of fruit and vegetables everyday.
- Only water in my cup.
- I am part of an active family.
This study found that the first few years of a child’s development are crucial in setting the foundation for lifelong learning, behaviour and health outcomes.
Eat to Beat Cholesterol
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