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Nutrition Care for Breast Cancer

Content by: Erin Nugent, RD

Nutrition care is an important part of breast cancer treatment and recovery. Fueling your body with the nutrients it needs to heal is vital to fighting cancer of any kind. Utilizing nutrient dense foods will help to promote the growth of healthy cells within the body. Read on to find out which nutrients you should keep in mind. Talk to your doctor or RD to learn more!

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Proper nutrition is an important component of breast cancer treatment and recovery. Fueling your body with the nutrients it needs to heal is vital to fighting cancer of any kind. Utilizing nutrient dense foods will help to promote the growth of healthy cells within the body, and capitalizing on a balance of macronutrients while consuming an appropriate amount of calories will provide the energy your body needs while it is working in overdrive to fight this disease.

Keep in mind that nutrition is not one size fits all. A registered dietitian is an integral part of the oncology team. They can help to sort through likes/dislikes, lifestyle habits, specific symptoms, and many other considerations before developing a plan of nutrition care. An oncology RDN can also help the cancer patient to sort through the vast amount of information.

Things an RDN can assist with:
1. What evidence-based information is available on diet during cancer treatments.
2. How to choose the best plan of care for their recovery process.

Some key nutrients to talk about and keep in mind:

A. Phytonutrients (also called antioxidants). These are found in plant foods. There may be as many as 4,000 different phytonutrients and they can all do different things for the body. Consuming a wide variety of colorful fruits and vegetables, along with whole grains and legumes can ensure that the diet includes a variety of phytonutrients.

B. Plant proteins. Beans and legumes can pack a nutrient punch by combining dietary fiber and a good source of protein. Plant protein sources are also more affordable and quick to prepare as opposed to their animal protein counterparts. Some research indicates that consuming charred and processed red meat in excess can be linked to an increased cancer risk, so it is best to eat in moderation.

Recommendations:

1. Limit alcohol consumption.
Alcohol has been found to have virtually no health benefits. Research has linked alcohol consumption to an increased risk for several kinds of cancer. It is best to limit consumption to one drink per day for women, and two per day for men for best health outcomes.

2. Adequate calorie intake.
Weight loss or poor nutritional status may compromise the body’s ability to recover from cancer treatments. Talk with a registered dietitian to establish an appropriate daily calorie level and different ways to reach that daily goal.

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