Question asked by: 
Attendee at Being Together Plymouth
Date asked: 
Oct 2015

Is there any specific diet /food that you’d advise to avoid or increase intake of?

Is there any specific diet /food that you’d advise to avoid or increase intake of?
There isn’t a superfood, and the advice will always be, until we have got some proof as to what helps, that you eat normal healthy diets and take regular exercise, and when we do know there is something else that has benefits, we’ll tell you
Response by Guest experts from Being Together Plymouth

I think, perhaps, those questions come from media, like superfoods, coconut and turmeric. There’s no doubt there is maybe some links with cancers and food, and they’re pretty well-publicised for bowel cancers and particularly having our five fruit and veg a day. We have a whole range of people who have eaten really healthy diets all their lives and still sadly get the disease. So I think there isn’t a superfood, and the advice will always be, until we have got some proof as to what helps, that you all eat normal healthy diets and regular exercise, and when we do know there is something that has benefits, we’ll tell them about it. 

I did speak to our dietician before I came today, and she has said exactly everything you’ve said. Definitely need five a day, keep fluid intake up, but interestingly, 65% of patients in the trial she looked at were malnourished and dehydrated and that’s probably, given the symptoms, feeling bloated, nauseous, appetite depression. So just important to keep as hydrated as possible. Even if you can eat small nourishing meals, fortified things, particularly if you’re having a course of treatment. At your local cancer centres they will have booklets available to you with recipes and a little chart for people who are nauseous or who have reduced appetite or sore mouths from having chemo, there are specific recipes for you to use.  Also build up diets, so ideas to fortify meals if you are feeling nauseous. 

Women who are having chemotherapy, their immune system is suppressed, so their food needs to be well-cooked and best to avoid blue cheeses and that kind of thing. The second is a little controversial as there's no specific evidence, but I don’t like oestrogen exposure to patients with ovarian cancer. We often use anti-oestrogens as treatment. Soya particularly contains a lot of oestrogen, so it’s best to avoid a soya diet.