Can Diet and Exercise Reverse Cancer?

Nutrition and exercise are two integral entities of our lifestyle that if not entirely, do ascertain our state of health to a great extent. Given their importance in health, these two aspects have to be given utmost importance in a diseased state. While the awareness of diet and exercise has grown exponentially since the last few decades, several stigmas still continue to haunt the cancer patients and survivors.

We have come up with a set of do’s and don’ts for you.

A healthful nutrition and lifestyle is a prerequisite for the prevention of cancer. So, if you are a cancer survivor, or you have a loved one dealing with cancer, you might want to read further. But even if you have nothing to do with cancer, following these guidelines may save you from facing the brunt of cancer in future.


  • Include a majority of plant based foods in your dietPlant based foods are the primary sources of carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, minerals as well as fibre. Have at least 8 – 10 servings of fruits (such as apples, bananas, pomegranate, kiwi) and vegetables (such as greenpeas, corn, lettuce, spinach, kale) per day. This will not only ensure your daily nutrient intake but also limit the cravings for processed foods and sugars. beans, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and fruits.
  • Limit sugar intakeSugar is often associated with an increased risk of cancer. This is due to the fact that excess sugar leads to a proportional increase in insulin (hormone that regulates sugar in the blood) that increases the cancerous activity in the body. Also, sugar can lead to weight gain and obesity and increase the risk of heart diseases, diabetes mellitus and increased cholesterol levels. Sugar is to be obtained from healthful sources such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, and whole grains.
  • Avoid alcohol consumptionVarious studies have suggested that alcohol can increase the risk of various cancers such as oral, oesophageal, liver, stomach and breast cancer to name a few. Though no direct connection has been found between alcohol intake and cancer but excessive alcohol intake can hamper liver functioning. Liver being a vital organ of the body, thus its damage can hamper the health status of an individual to a great extent.
  • Spend time in the sunVarious research studies have suggested a correlation between Vitamin D and lowered risk of cancer especially colorectal cancer. Vitamin D is an essential micronutrient with major role in calcium metabolism, bone health and immune function. Your skin will be able to synthesise Vitamin D after an adequate exposure in the sun.
  • Go easy on dairy products


Do not take supplements to replenish your nutrient requirements

It is not appropriate to stock on various types of supplements to ensure optimum nutrient intake. Rather, go for natural food products such as fruits, vegetables, and nuts, legumes that contain ample amount of antioxidants, polyphenols and micronutrients required for a healthy you. Even if you are planning to take some supplements, always consult your physician before taking them.Do not consume refined grains, flours and sugars

Several studies have suggested that an intake of refined grains and flours is associated with cancer recurrence and less survival rate. The reason for the same is that these are devoid of the vitamins and minerals that are present in the unrefined grains. The nutritional content of refined grains is almost nil making them a non viable option especially for cancer patients.Do not replace whole foods with juices

Juices can be included as a part of our dietary regime if you are already having 8 – 9 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Juice cannot replace the whole foods as they limit the fibre intake that is extremely important. Soluble fibres present in oats lower the cholesterol level, thereby lowering the risk of heart diseases whereas as insoluble fibre (cellulose) present in various fruits & vegetables ease the bowel function.Do not overeat forcefully

There is a common tendency for the family to force the patients to eat even when they have nausea or severe loss of appetite. In such cases, take small portions of nutrient dense foods that would furnish the nutrient needs. There are some fortified foods available that can also be considered. It is always wise to take a nutrition consultation for an appropriate guidance.

Though these are general guidelines for a cancer patient but as every patient is different, the dietary needs may also tend to differ. It is recommended to consult a nutritionist in order to obtain the individualized dietary recommendations. Likewise, not every person dealing with cancer can indulge in regular exercise or physical activity. These tips might prove useful:

  • If you are unable to swallow solids comfortably, go ahead and blend in that mixture of vegetables.
  • Opt for light meals at regular intervals spread throughout the day instead of heavy meals at one time.
  • If you are unable to exercise, take a walk. If even that is not possible, do the maximum physical activity you can do. Push your limit every day.
  • Make sure to consume more protein (milk, cheese and eggs) as it is important when you have cancer.

Even if you are on a cancer treatment or are too weak to follow every guideline judiciously, do not worry. The key is to stick to the basics and avoid the food products that can hamper your health. A simple walk once a day is also sufficient. You and your physician have to work as a team and customize your health plan according to your needs and physical status.

Keep yourself motivated, there is always hope for better days ahead.

After all, your health is in your hands.Do not just overcome cancer, defeat cancer with all your might!

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