Healthy eating and cancer
The food you put inside your body can make
a big difference to how well you feel during,
and after treatment.
A healthy, balanced diet contains a variety
of foods from different food groups.
Aim to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables,
as well as carbohydrates.
Ideally these should be
the wholegrain varieties,
because of their
but if you’re struggling
with your digestion, you may find the white
Have a smaller amount of protein
And a small amount of good oils
such as olive oil and butter.
Currently, there isn’t enough information
for us to say whether you should eat certain
foods to reduce the risk of cancer returning.
What we do know is that following a nourishing,
healthy, balanced diet is the best way to keep
your whole body healthy.
Keeping as fit as you can
by taking regular exercise and maintaining
a healthy weight, can also help to reduce
the risk of cancer coming back.
The short answer is yes!
Freezing doesn’t make foods less healthy.
In fact, freezing preserves many of
their vitamins and minerals.
It can help make healthy eating more economical
Adding frozen vegetables to soup,
or making a pesto with frozen broad beans,
to go with pasta, can be a quick and easy way of
boosting your five-a-day.
Frozen berries are wonderful
to add to smoothies, or to make a quick crumble
with a whole grain oaty topping.
For most people, a balanced diet provides
all the nutrients they need.
If you find this difficult, you may
benefit from a specific mineral
or vitamin supplement.
If you doctor or dietician thinks you are lacking
in certain minerals or vitamins,
they will suggest which
supplement may be best for you to take.
Please note, that some supplements interfere
with cancer treatments,
making them less effective.
Always get advice from your cancer specialist
before taking supplements.
And bear in mind that taking supplements does
not reduce the risk of cancer.
Research has not yet shown that an organic
diet is more effective than non-organic
at stopping cancer coming back.
Some people may worry that pesticides used
in farming could cause cancer. In the UK,
a pesticide can only be used once it has been
tested for safety, and laws ensure that they
are used within a safe level.
Current advice is to wash fruit
and vegetables before you use them.
This removes pesticides, as well as harmful
Studies have shown that eating lots of red,
and processed meat may increase the risk of
The risk seems to be highest
if you eat two or more portions of red or
processed meat a day.
Your risk is lowest
if you eat less than two portions a week.
If you eat a lot of red meat, you may need
to reduce the amount. But it is fine to have
a small amount, as part of your balanced diet,
as it’s a good source of protein.
Processed meats have less nutrients and can
be high in fat and salt, so it’s best to
choose unprocessed meat instead.
There have been conflicting stories in the
news about whether it’s safe to eat dairy
when you have cancer.
Research studies have
found no clear links between diets high in
dairy and cancer. So, for now, there’s no
reason not to include it in your diet
as dairy is a brilliant source of protein, calcium
But it’s important to remember that dairy
can be high in fat
So you may want to opt for some of the lower fat options
such as skimmed milk instead of full cream,
or ricotta cheese instead of cream cheese.
If you choose a dairy free diet
you need to make sure you
have enough calcium
from other foods in your diet.
Sugar does not directly increase the risk
of cancer or encourage it to grow.
However, it’s best to limit sugar, as too much can
lead to weight gain
and other health conditions, such as diabetes.
Sugar can be a useful source of energy, but
it doesn’t contain beneficial nutrients.
You can usually get the energy you need from
healthier foods and delicious sweetness from
our amazing fresh fruits.
Some people may worry whether coffee increases
the risk of developing cancer. But there is
not enough evidence to support this.
However, some people may find that tea and
coffee upsets their stomach whilst having
treatment. It might be best just to have a
couple of cups a day, and instead try herbal
infusions such as fresh mint or a chamomile
tea, which can be gentler on the gut. Also
think about what time of day works best for
you for you to enjoy your coffee.