Everyone, not just cancer patients, can benefit from an anti-inflammatory diet rich in low-fat proteins, Omega-3 fatty acids and fruits and vegetables.
That’s the advice of Jenny Hagendorf, a registered dietician and board-certified nutrition specialist in oncology at the UT Health San Antonio MD Anderson Cancer Center.
“By decreasing inflammation in the body, we can all live healthier lives,” asserts Hagendorf. “Inflammation increases the chances of heart disease, high blood pressure and other diseases, such as diabetes.”
High amounts of sugars, saturated fats and processed foods are the enemies of an anti-inflammatory diet. Hagendorf recommends avoiding these foods and substituting fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, spices and whole grains in your diet.
A good strategy for determining which foods are processed is to follow a simple rule: read the ingredients on the label, she advises. If you can readily identify every ingredient as having come from a plant or animal, then it is healthier. The key is to integrate as many whole foods as we possibly can into our daily intake, according to Hagendorf.
Hagendorf stresses that optimal nutrition using an anti-inflammatory approach helps improve treatment outcomes for cancer patients and often reduces their time in treatment. Eating the right kind of food during and after treatment helps patients feel better and remain stronger.
“A healthy, balanced diet strengthens the immune system and assists patients in getting through treatment,” Hagendorf explains. “All patients, but particularly those with breast cancer, benefit from anti-inflammatory diets and a lean body mass index.”
A study of breast cancer survivors is now underway at the Cancer Center, funded by Susan G. Komen. Subjects will help test the effectiveness of different cancer nutrition tools, including the influence of dietary choices on inflammation.
Hagendorf encourages those who are overweight to invest in a good exercise program and a healthy diet. Losing just 10 percent of a body weight has shown to improve a person’s health, she notes.
“Studies have shown there is a link between obesity and breast cancer,” she point outs. The evidence shows that “excess fat tissue promotes higher estrogen levels, potentially leading to more rapid growth of estrogen-responsive breast tumors in post-menopausal women.”
Hagendorf, the only outpatient practicing, board-certified nutrition specialist in oncology in San Antonio, offers cooking classes for patients as well as anyone with a desire to improve their diet. Persons interested in the classes may call 450-5577 for more information.
Look for Jenny Hagendorf’s recipe for Mint Prawns with Cashews and Lime which includes anti-inflammatory ingredients.