So far in this cancer support series, we have looked at the latest stats and facts around cancer and the diet debates surrounding the disease.
The reality is there isn’t a single diet to follow to avoid cancer nor to adopt if you’re diagnosed.
As cancer is really a collective of diseases it’s likely different nutrition interventions may be identified as helpful in the future.
Increasingly more research is highlighting the role of the human microbiome (community of organisms that live on and in us) as having an important role in preventing, triggering and controlling carcinogenic processes. The greatest majority of microbes are located in the digestive tract and diet influences the composition significantly.
Oral health and the microbiome of the mouth is also relevant.
Fusobacterium nucleatum, a bacteria that’s prevalent with gum disease and dental infections, is increasingly found colonised in breast, pancreatic and colorectal cancers. It’s hypothesised that chronic infection linked to this bacteria may lead to immune dysregulation and suppression that allows carcinogenic processes to occur.
It seems the future of cancer care may involve microbiome testing and subsequent modulation through diet, antibiotics, prebiotics and probiotics.
At the moment this is more under the remit of Nutritional Therapy and you can assess your oral, stool and vaginal microbiome with testing. It’s important to be guided through the results and work with testing companies that are using scientifically validated methods. I currently use Invivo Clinical with my clients.
Cancer Treatment: a Personalised Nutrition Plan is Optimal
With regards to implementing diet changes alongside cancer treatment, this will very much depend upon the type of treatment you’re prescribed, whether surgery is involved and an individuals’ current nutrition status and diet history.
Digestive health will play a fundamental role and the terrain of the gut will undoubtedly need some attention and support throughout treatment and beyond.
Ideally, each cancer patient would be allocated a nutritionist who is trained in evidence-based intervention and allocated an hour (at least) to consult with individuals and create a personalised bespoke plan.
Until this is offered by NHS, Nutritional Therapists trained in Cancer Care are an option and I’m sure we can definitely do better than some of the foods recommendations I’ve seen.
Before and during treatment it’s important to get calories in to mitigate weight loss and support recovery from surgical interventions. Low fibre options may be helpful for sensitive guts and a lack of appetite is common with treatments. All of this requires some working around and there’s a chance for certain periods only toast will do.
It’s still important to remember those links between ultra-processed foods and cancer and when possible incorporate a nutrient-dense, wholefoods diet template back into treatment plans.
Nutrition and Cancer: Want You CAN Do
There are four key nutrition components that have an application to cancer prevention and treatment, in fact, all chronic diseases.
- Optimal nutrient status
- Digestive health
- Inflammation control and immune balance
- Blood glucose regulation
Focusing on each will tackle many of the causes and drivers of cancer processes.
It should also be a team effort, a plan established by practitioner and patient/client that’s bespoke and realistic.
From the onset, Fitter Food has always advocated a nutrition template that supports all the above with an ancestral emphasis on nutrition. Our Fitter 365 membership site is packed with video resources and meal plans that detail the practical application of all the above. You can grab a 7 day free trial and try it out yourself.