Community Program Coordinator
It is essential for cancer patients to maintain a strong immune system. Cancer treatments can be destructive to the body and can leave the body even more susceptible to diseases, infections, and germs. One of the best ways to supplement your immune system during cancer treatment is to eat a well-balanced diet rich in immune-boosting superfoods.
1. Ellagic Acid
There are a variety of fruits that contain important nutrients for cancer patients. A balanced diet should include at least five servings of fruits and vegetables. This includes antioxidant rich fruits like oranges, blueberries, and mangoes. Cancer fighting red fruits and berries such as grapes, raspberries and strawberries contain a phytochemical called ellagic acid. Ellagic acid has been shown to stimulate the immune system to fight cancer cells and also aids in cell death of cancer cells. One way to help you get your daily intake of fruit, despite having a decreased appetite or nausea from cancer treatments, is to make smoothies. The coolness of a smoothie can feel good on your mouth, and the smell is not overwhelming.
Garlic, the vegetable used to enhance food flavors, has the ability to build up the immune system. Studies have shown that garlic stimulates enzymes that stop the growth of cancers such as certain forms of breast, digestive tract, and lung cancer. Garlic contains allyl sulfur compounds, which are compounds that play a major role in the natural death of cancer cells. If garlic is making your nausea worse, you may want to consider garlic supplements.
Another important vegetable to boost the immune system is broccoli. Studies show that cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, kale, and cauliflower are rich in phytonutrients and may have anti-cancer properties. Cruciferous vegetables are outstanding sources of vitamins, A, K, and C, and they contain compounds that work together to produce a powerful immunity-boosting agent. Some cancer patients find that they are able to tolerate cooked vegetables as opposed to raw vegetables. Try out different vegetables both cooked and raw and see what works best for you!
Dairy is also important in a well-balanced diet. Yogurt boosts your immunity by making B vitamins and vitamin K. Probiotic cultures are an important part of the digestive system. They increase the amount of friendly bacteria in your digestive tract, which is good for digestion and immunity.
Lastly, grains such as oats and barley are a key component in keeping your immune system working well. Oats and barley contain beta-glucan, which is a type of fiber that studies have shown is stronger than Echinacea. This helps to speed up the healing process, and bolster immunity. In addition, foods such as oatmeal are nutritious and easy on the digestive system. Consider adding whole grain barley to a soup or stew for a delicious, high fiber meal.
Eating a well-balanced diet is important for everyone but becomes more important when going through cancer treatment. These five superfoods are just a few healthy options that could help boost your immune system and help fight disease.