What are effective but harmful diets

Cancer and nutrition

There is hardly any other topic as there are so many advice and recommendations as there are on nutrition and special diets. On the other hand, there is little that is clear about most of the ingredients in food. For this reason, it is important to advance research in this area, because a connection between diet and cancer development was seen as early as 1981 (Doll and Peto 1981). Scientists postulated that diet is responsible for up to a third of all malignant tumors. What may sound terrifying, on the other hand, also offers opportunities. If there are more beneficial and less good diets, then the question arises as to which food ingredients are beneficial for my health. Numerous examinations and studies in the last few decades have dealt with individual ingredients of food and their cancer-preventing or cancer-promoting effects. The problem here is that a food consists of a large number of components that can show different effects, but the studies have mostly only dealt with individual ingredients.
It is well known that the different diets in different countries have an influence on the development of cancer. In this way, various food components such as molds or curing salt could be identified as risk factors for certain types of cancer. In contrast, other forms of food such as the Mediterranean diet, which is characterized by a lot of vegetables, fruit and the use of olive oil as well as a moderate protein consumption through fish and poultry, appear to have a protective influence on the development of cancer. Here, however, the way of life appears to be inextricably linked with the type of diet and a transfer to other countries with different ways of life is not easily possible.

Can diet protect against cancer?

Are there diets that protect against cancer development? As stated above, it is possible to identify certain foods and food components such as aflatoxin B1 formed by mold or nitrosamines, which are formed from nitrite and secondary amines in the acidic gastric environment, as so-called carcinogens and, as a result, to identify them from the composition of the food to be excluded if possible.

The use of strictly monitored cold chains made an important contribution to this. As a rule, however, in the western world it is not just individual carcinogens that are responsible for the development of tumors, but an unhealthy lifestyle. In addition to insufficient physical activity and obesity in the area of ​​nutrition, this is mainly characterized by an excessive intake of animal fat, red meat, processed meat products, sugar and an insufficient intake of fruit and vegetables as well as fiber. Not to be underestimated is alcohol, which is consumed voluntarily as a stimulant but is one of the most important carcinogens. If alcoholic beverages are consumed, consumption should be limited to no more than two glasses per day for men and one glass for women.
General recommendations for a balanced and wholesome mixed diet are presented in the form of the food pyramid. The basis of the nutritional recommendation is the moderate consumption of meat, fat and sugar with plenty of vegetables and fruit. Carbohydrate foods such as bread, potatoes, rice and pasta serve as the basis. If possible, fruit and vegetable portions should be consumed five times a day (rule of five). These types of diet are not easily implemented by everyone, but targeted nutritional advice can achieve a great deal by making a small change in eating habits.


The ten rules of the DGE
  • Eat versatile
  • Cereal products - several times a day and plenty of potatoes
  • Vegetables and fruits- take 5 times a day
  • Milk and dairy products daily, fish once a week; Flesh; Sausages and eggs in moderation
  • Low fat and high fat foods
  • Sugar and salt in moderation
  • Plenty of fluid
  • Prepare tasty and nutrient-friendly
  • Take your time, enjoy your meal
  • Watch your weight - keep moving

A balanced and healthy mixed diet ensures the supply of minerals (indispensable, inorganic nutrients that humans have to ingest through their food and which they need for a variety of functions) and vitamins (vital, indispensable substances that are not or only insufficiently produced by the body can) ensured. There are indications that a diet rich in vitamins and minerals can protect against cancer, but the supply of vitamins in the form of food additives is not useful and in certain cases can even be harmful or carcinogenic. If # -carotene is taken as a dietary supplement, this can even lead to an increased risk of lung cancer in smokers, for example. Very one-sided diets are also not recommended, which, however, like most diets, are often not maintained for long to regulate weight. It should also be borne in mind that even the healthiest diet cannot undo the harmful effects of an unhealthy lifestyle. To put it bluntly, this means that the Greek salad is unable to neutralize the harmful effects of a pack of cigarettes and several schnapps consumed at the same time.


Diet as cancer therapy

Can you fight cancer with special diets? No, according to the current state of science, there is no form of nutrition that can specifically cure cancer! A search on the Internet reveals many promises of salvation through often very one-sided and harmful diets that do not stand up to an effectiveness test. Some of these diets involve only moderate changes in diet and therefore may only be a burden on the patient's wallet. Other diets must be warned against, as these have led to death or, through emaciation, accelerate the development of cancer. In particular, the Gerson diet and the Breuss total cancer cure cannot be recommended. The macrobiotic zen diet and the burger diet are also problematic. The starvation of the tumor based on the Warburg principle by reducing the carbohydrate intake is theoretically well-founded, but has yet to be investigated in controlled studies. Overall, it can be said that diets that are one-sided or associated with a propagated detoxification cannot be recommended. Before starting a diet with cancer, the attending physician should definitely be consulted. Diet can never replace cancer therapy!


Diet in cancer therapy

Do people with cancer have to eat different foods than healthy people? The latest report from the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) recommends that people with cancer should eat a diet similar to that of healthy people looking to prevent disease. A good nutritional status can have a beneficial effect on cancer therapy and should therefore be aimed for. However, every therapy affects the entire body and thus food intake. Maintaining food intake during cancer therapy is often a problem for tumor patients who have often already suffered weight loss. However, food intake can often be maintained through individual nutritional concepts. If digestive performance is impaired during chemotherapy or after an operation, not all foods are tolerated. The preparation of many small meals that are easy to digest and warmed can help here. Regular drinking in small portions helps against nausea. If you have a loss of appetite, it helps to eat regularly, especially in company and to avoid unpleasant food smells. Soups or an aperitif can also whet your appetite. Cola, pretzel sticks or sweet teas are old and still effective home remedies for diarrhea and nausea. Chewing and swallowing problems can be relieved by soups and soft foods such as mashed potatoes. If the diarrhea persists, finely grated, uncooked apples or bananas are recommended, but other fruits have a reinforcing effect. Meals should be as low in fiber and low in fat as possible. Here, too, soups in different combinations make sense. The perception of taste often changes with chemotherapy or radiation treatment. Here it can be helpful to drink small amounts more often to eliminate the bad taste. Bitter drinks and beverages with a lemon flavor, as well as candies or chewing gum stimulate the flow of saliva and help against a bad taste. If you don't like meat and sausage, this can be reimbursed with fish, milk preparations and dairy products. When constipated, food should contain fiber and fiber found in whole grains, legumes, vegetables, and fruits. However, the amount should be increased slowly and chewed well, otherwise there is a risk of gas and stomach pain. In order to enable the fiber to work properly, you should ensure you drink plenty of fluids. Lactose, bran and dried fruit can also be effective. If there is no improvement through diet, there are a number of medications for gentle removal.

If you lose weight you can try to fortify normal food with fats, the rule here is that everything can be eaten that the healthy population should avoid, e.g. ice cream, cream, cream yoghurt, fat soups, chocolate, etc. Special drinking foods can be a supplement in case of malnutrition to make normal food. If nutrition via the digestive tract is no longer possible, parenteral nutrition using a venous catheter (IV drip) may be necessary to bridge the gap or even permanently. However, this diet can also be carried out at home. Most patients prefer the nocturnal administration so as not to impair freedom of movement during the day.

What to do with specific nutritional disorders

Many patients with a neuroendocrine tumor suffer from impaired digestive performance of the pancreas (pancreatic insufficiency) or insufficient food intake from the intestine (short bowel syndrome) after the operation. In the case of pancreatic insufficiency, there is an intolerance of fats and proteins, which can be partially eliminated by the administration of pancreatic ferments in capsule form. The supply of fats can take place through the easily digestible medium-chain fatty acids (MCT), which are available in large supermarkets and health food stores.
In the case of the short intestine, the intestine should be gradually accustomed to food intake after the operation; if liquids and soups are tolerated, the diet can be expanded to include easily digestible and low-fat foods. Lean meat (e.g. poultry), lean fish and low-fat dairy products such as low-fat quark are particularly suitable sources of protein. As with pancreatic insufficiency, the supply of fats can be switched to MCT fats.

As you can see, most nutritional problems can be solved. Most patients quickly get used to changing their diet after therapy. Intolerances are noticed quickly after eating, and here too the principle is to only eat what you get. Sometimes you wish that the normal population would also adhere to this principle, then many fast food restaurants would have less turnover. Many of our patients have already changed their diet and have tested themselves to determine what is good for them and what is not. Since nutrition for patients with neuroendocrine tumors is a central point in maintaining quality of life, we are pleased that we will be able to offer you personal nutrition advice from January 2009. Ms. Dipl. Troph. Severina Haugvik will advise you on your individual problems and work out solutions together with you. For now, we wish you a Merry Christmas with delicious food, with this in mind

Yours Dieter Hörsch and Severina Haugvik
Clinic for Internal Medicine / Gastroenterology, Endocrinology and Oncology
Zentralklink Bad Berka GmbH

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