[Guest Blogger – Jillian McKee] Essential Benefits of the Vegetarian Diet for Cancer Patients

The following is an article by Jillian McKee. She has worked as the Complementary Medicine Advocate at the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance since June of 2009. Jillian spends most her time on outreach efforts and spreading information about the integration of complementary and alternative medicine when used in conjunction with traditional cancer treatment. You can read more about Jillian here.

This article below is specially written by Jillian about the benefits of eating healthy during and after a diagnosis of any kind of cancer. Each different cancer has its limitations, but if one can keep a healthy body, they can have a better chance to overcome this awful disease.

Do email Jillian at jmckee@mesothelioma.com if you have any queries.


Cancer is an abnormal growth of cells within the body. There are at least 100 types of cancer and can affect anyone at any time. Symptoms for cancer can vary greatly depending upon the type of cancer affecting you. Mesothelioma is a very aggressive form of cancer, associated with exposure to asbestos. Other cancers include colon, bone, lymphoma, lung, and skin cancer. Most treatment options include surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. If you are a cancer patient that has just been diagnosed, are going through treatment, or are in remission, diet and nutrition can have a positive effect on your life and recovery process.

A cancer patient can sometimes have difficulty eating proper nutrition because taste buds and appetite may change. You may not even care for some of the foods that once appealed to you. You are now at risk for a lack in nourishment and proper nutrition. For a healthier you, the vegetarian diet has a multitude of benefits for a cancer patient, despite the stage of the disease, which can provide you with necessary protein, nutrients, carbohydrates, vitamins, and healthy fats.

Vegetarianism is a term used to describe a way of eating foods that are predominantly from plant sources, such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and whole grains. It has been found that fruits and vegetables are high in antioxidants and phytochemicals and show positive for anti-cancer properties.

There are various types of vegetarian diets. Some people will not eat any type of animal products on a vegan diet while others eat poultry, fish, eggs and other dairy products. It is extremely important that you do get ample sources of Vitamin B12, iron, and calcium into your diet.

Whether you eat animal products or not, there are other sources of protein such as legumes, soy, beans and meatless products. Protein is highly important for your immune system as it helps to repair body tissues, fights fatigue, stops infection, and provides healthy muscle mass. Protein powders can help if you are unable to consumer certain other proteins that cause you pain. Powder can be added to soft foods such as mashed potatoes to provide the much needed protein in the body.

Vegetarianism has many benefits in patients with cancer, as well as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. The diet provides more fiber, vitamins and minerals and consists of plant-based foods, which are all high in nutrients. It contains less cholesterol, protein and saturated fats than a customary animal-based diet. Because cancer robs the body of its energy, you need a maximum amount of nutrients to build up strength and vigor. Cancer and its treatments create a challenge in fulfilling all your nutritional needs. However, research has shown that eating several portions of meat weekly greatly increases the risk of cancer. A vegetarian diet reduces that risk considerably and has a generally healthy outcome.

Antioxidants in the fruits and vegetables work to neutralize cancer-causing radicals in the body. Fiber works as well to cleanse the body. With such a diet, you are also getting necessary amino acids and low amounts of saturated fats. As a result, concentration and sleep will improve. In fact, some studies have shown that a vegan or vegetarian diet can help speed up the recovery of certain cancers. With proper nourishment and nutrition found in a vegan diet, your cancer treatment is more effective.

Eat five to nine fruits and vegetables daily, at least 40 grams of fiber, healthy non-animal proteins, and limit your intake of vegetable oils. Keep yourself hydrated with plenty of water and engage in some type of physical activity. Remember the importance of vitamin supplements, including B12.

A plant-based diet can help you to feel better. You can heal quicker and experience elevated moods and energy. Fill your diet with non-animal proteins to keep up your immunity and build healthier tissues within the body.  As a result you can enjoy a better life and wellbeing. For your vegetarian plan to be most effective for you, eat a variety of foods on a daily basis. A special dietician may need to work with you to create a plan that works specifically for your needs.