If you have been diagnosed with cancer and have been searching the Web for useful information regarding what you should and should not eat, you may have seen the widely discussed assertion that “sugar feeds cancer.”
The truth is that all cells, whether healthy or cancerous, run on sugar (glucose). Sure, this glucose can come from sweets and soda. However, our bodies can also make glucose from any carbohydrate-containing foods we eat, including nutrient-rich vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, legumes, and dairy products. Additionally, proteins consumed from food are also converted to glucose, as needed, when carbohydrate stores in the body are low.
In most cases, there is no reason to cut out carbohydrate-containing foods, especially those that are healthy, because of a concern about feeding cancerous cells.
If you are able to eat normal volumes of food and maintain your weight, it is best to eat as healthfully as possible. This includes lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, low-fat dairy, and some healthy oils. It also includes limiting sugary foods and soft drinks, fatty foods, and overly processed choices.
If your appetite is poor, it is important to ensure that you are getting enough calories and protein to keep your body as strong as possible during treatment. In this case, we ask that you not limit foods or caloric beverages that may be appealing to you. Additionally, it would be appropriate for you to choose an oral supplement drink that includes protein, fiber, and healthy fats rather than one that is a good source of protein but low in calories and carbohydrates.
During cancer treatment, it may be appropriate to relax your normal restrictions on consuming sugary foods and carbohydrates so that you can get enough calories to maintain your weight. In this case, it is recommended that you work with your physician to adjust and manage your medications to control blood sugar.
If you are a Virginia Cancer Specialists patient and have any questions at all regarding your eating or nutrition, call the main VCS Central Scheduling line to make an appointment to meet with one of our dietitians for an approach that is personalized to you.