Food Myths Debunked
Tips to stay on top of rumors, research and resources
contributed by Nancy Burke, R.D., Danielle Karsies, M.S., R.D., and Melissa Shannon-Hagen, R.D., CSO, U-M Rogel Cancer Center Symptom Management and Supportive Care Program
Every time you turn on the news, browse the web or reach for a magazine, there is a new study about what foods are good (or bad) for your health. Many are focused on foods that prevent cancer, cause cancer or fuel cancer. It is easy to become confused. Striving for the perfect anti-cancer diet can be stressful. We say SIMPLIFY. Fueling your body during cancer treatment is crucial, but not complex. And, no single food is going to dramatically change your path to wellness.
THE MYTH: SUGAR FEEDS CANCER
Our Take: All cells, including cancer cells, get energy from sugar. A more immediate concern is how sugar affects the body. Straight-up soda or sugary snacks cause insulin to spike, which is not good for maintaining weight or for stopping cancer. The best anti-cancer diet is to keep blood sugar from spiking. How? Eat a variety of foods and not just sugary foods. For example, eat whole grain toast with peanut butter for added protein to result in a slower release of sugar to the blood.
THE MYTH: ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS CAUSE CANCER
Our Take: Studies have NOT found carcinogenic effects in humans. Artificial sweeteners ARE shown to increase cravings for sweets. This can lead to gaining weight. Controlling your weight is the No. 1 factor aside from smoking to prevent cancer.
THE MYTH: TOO MUCH DAIRY IS BAD FOR CANCER PATIENTS
Our Take: It depends on your cancer type so ask your doctor. A general rule is to limit dairy to two servings per day. Low fat is best, as saturated fats have an inflammatory effect in the body. For additional calcium, eat foods like green, leafy vegetables and legumes.
THE MYTH: HERBAL SUPPLEMENTS HELP FIGHT CANCER
Our Take: Be careful. Supplements contain mega doses. Like anything, too much can be a bad thing. Side effects are possible. And, herbal supplements can interfere with cancer medication. We do not recommend them during treatment.
SIMPLE SOLUTION: THE PLATE METHOD
Divide your plate into four quarters and fill it with:
- 1/2 fruits and vegetables
- 1/4 carbs
- 1/4 lean protein
Don’t stress about a perfect diet. Stress causes inflammation.
Continue reading the Spring, 2018 issue of Thrive.
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