Colleen Seung

Colleen Seung

Question: Does sugar feeds cancerous tumors, does soy cause cancer, and it is safe to exercise during treatment?

Let’s start with the common misconception that sugar feeds cancer. The truth is, sugar feeds all cells, including cancer cells. If you don’t eat sugar, your cancer cells with find something else to feed on, like protein. Sugar from carbohydrates provides valuable energy to your healthy cells. Quality carbohydrates like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and beans also contain fiber and other important vitamins and minerals. Focus on feeding your healthy cells with high quality carbohydrates. Leave it to your doctor to focus on killing the bad cells.

You may have also heard that juicing is an important part of a cancer-fighting diet. While juice offers a number of vitamins and minerals, it is lacking in fiber. A smoothie is recommended instead — you still get your fruits and veggies but the added benefit of fiber, plus, you can add a boost like protein powder.

There is also talk that soy needs to be avoided if you have hormone-related cancer like estrogen receptor positive breast cancer. This, however, is not the case. Soy foods do not contain estrogen. Soy foods contain phytoestrogen, and while the chemical structure may look similar to estrogen found in the human body, it is different. Soy foods like tofu, tempeh, and edamame are actually very nutritious, contain all the essential amino acids, and are a great source of fiber which is a cancer-fighter.

Furthermore, you may be afraid that exercising during cancer treatment is unsafe. Contrary to popular belief, however, exercising during cancer treatment has many benefits. While you may feel tired, exercise can actually combat fatigue and improve sleep. Exercise can also improve quality of life by boosting your immune system and the ability to do daily activities. Generally it is recommended to do 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity per week and 2 days a week of strength training. If you were not exercising prior to starting treatment, build up slowly. Work with your healthcare team to determine an exercise regimen that is safe.

The role of a Registered Dietitian is to help you navigate the issues related to managing side effects and provide healthful tips on preparing meals and eating well. Please feel free to call Mission Hope’s Registered Dietitian Colleen Seung at 805-346-3403 for any concerns or to set up an appointment. Also, join Colleen and John Malinowski, Cancer Exercise Trainer, on ZOOM for our upcoming Healthy Eating and Activity for Living (HEAL) Classes. On Tuesday, Jan. 12 at 2 p.m. the topic will be “The Power of Protein” with guest speaker Dr. Joshi. On Tuesday, Feb. 9 at 2 p.m. the topic will be “Myths and Facts about Diet and Exercise During Cancer Treatment”. Please call Colleen at 805-346-3403 to make a reservation.

HAVE A QUESTION? This weekly column produced by Marian Cancer Care invites you to submit your questions to “Your Cancer Answers” at the following email address mariancancercare@dignityhealth.org

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