Wednesday, December 24, 2014

A Triple-Negative Breast Cancer Diet

What to eat to reduce your risk of recurrence of triple-negative and other forms of hormone-negative breast cancer.
So, the doc has scared the wind (or whatever) out of you, told you that your cancer—triple-negative, or some form of hormone-negative—is highly aggressive yet has fewer treatment options than hormone-positive. Been there, done that. Tamoxifen or aromatase inhibitors offer no benefit. What now?
After researching this disease for the three and a half years since my diagnosis, I have learned a great deal about how diet reacts to hormone-negative forms of cancer. Below is the diet that I follow. So far, so good. I am past the magic three-year mark and I feel darn good. Elsewhere in this blog are specific posts that offer research details on each of these dietary choices.
Fruits and vegetables. This is a huge key. Aim for five servings a day. My approach:
• A breakfast smoothie with blueberries (antioxidants), flaxseeds (cancer-fighting fighting fiber)), bananas, black cherry (more antioxidant) juice, and yogurt (bone-building and cancer-fighting calcium). I figure this gives me 2.5 servings of fruits and one serving of calcium.
• Juiced veggies every evening. This includes 3-4 carrots, 1-2 leaves of kale, 1/8 cabbage, 1 bunch parsley, 1 stalk celery, ¼ apple, ¼ lemon. My super-juicing husband uses a Champion juicer, which takes the pulp out and leaves only the juice. This gives me 2- 3 servings of veggies and is heavy on cancer-fighting cruciferous vegetables—kale and cabbage. The lemon, apple, and celery really help the taste.
• Spinach, broccoli, asparagus, green beans, romaine and other dark greens throughout the day as side dishes. I have found that it is true that the more you eat something, the more you will like it. I used to only tolerate broccoli if it came smothered in cheese. Now I eat it raw and unadorned.
Low fat
I avoid fried foods, use healthy fats such as olive oil instead of butter and cream, and go mainly vegetarian. I use oil and vinegar on my salad, lemon oil on veggies, and olive or flax oil on my whole grain bread. For treats, I have nuts, air-popped popcorn, whole grain crackers, and low-fat cheese.
I limit my processed carbohydrates—sugar, white bread and pasta—and eat 1-2 servings of whole grains a day. Look for the word “whole” on the label. Multigrain breads are not whole grain unless they include whole wheat, rice, oats, or other grains, so watch out for trick labels. A good serving of whole grains will have 3 grams of fiber per serving.
Vitamins and Minerals
I try to get as many of my goodies in my diet, but I find I need some supplements to assure I get everything I need. I take:
• 1000-2000 IU of vitamin D. It would be great to get this through the sun, but I live in Iowa, so that’s not going to happen for a good portion of the year.
• Folic acid—800 mg daily. This is especially important if I have alcohol.
• Calcium—1200 mg. I figure I get at least half of this with yogurt and cheese during the day, so I take 600 mg daily in supplement form. Make sure you take a calcium supplement with magnesium, as this helps calcium enter the system and keeps calcium from causing constipation.
• Omega 3 fatty acids. I take this in the form of fish oil, 450-500 mg per day of combined EPA/DHA.
• A multi-vitamin, to assure I get enough vitamin A, B, C, and E, plus minerals.
I buy organic milk and cheese to avoid the added hormones and antibiotics in conventional dairy products even though my disease was hormone-negative. Why mess with unnatural additives?I buy organic versions of the Environmental Working Group's Dirty Dozen —a list of fruits and vegetables that are high in pesticides, when I can. I seldom eat meat.
Calorie limits
I am 5’9”, so I can have 1500-1800 or so calories a day. I also exercise at least 30 minutes six days a week, so I can occasionally afford a few more calories without gaining weight.
Even though research shows that alcohol is most dangerous for hormone-positive disease, I choose not to take a chance. I have my beloved martini once or twice a week. I have wine, perhaps, on a third day.
I drink decaf tea and coffee, and keep the coffee to a cup a day, as even decaf has caffeine.
Choose your partner well