Polyphenols: Nutrition for Cancer Patients
Cancer is the second most common cause of death in the United States. With a disease that claims this many lives, doctors and researchers are studying it meticulously to see how they can best help their patients.
Medications, chemotherapy, and other medical treatments are constantly being adjusted to offer patients the best possible prognosis. However, sometimes the adjunctive therapies like diet and lifestyle changes help cancer patients the most.
Today we want to share some information about:
- Cancer cells: How they develop, how they multiply, and how they affect our healthy cells
- How to shut cancer cells down
- Polyphenols and their role in fighting cancer while promoting health
- Nutrition for cancer patients and what foods should be in their diet to improve their treatment
Cancer Cells: How they develop, how they multiply, and how they affect our healthy cells
Cancer is a genetic disease in which cells become abnormal or mutated and begin to alter their genes.
All cells go through a normal cellular lifecycle. They live their life, multiply through cell division, and then die when they become old or damaged.
Sometimes during this process alterations happen, causing the new cells to be abnormal. These abnormal or damaged cells then begin their own version of the replication process which often results in tumors — some benign and some cancerous.
Cancerous cells act differently from our normal cells. They’re able to grow, replicate, and recruit cells without any stimuli like our normal cells do. This allows the cancer cells to grow and move throughout our bodies as they please. This also means they don’t die off the way our normal cells do.
This is where it becomes a little difficult to treat cancer. Fortunately, researchers have found commonalities in all cancer cells regardless of what tissue type they’re infecting.
How to shut cancer cells down
Since we know how cancer cells work, figuring out how to stop that process is essential to stopping disease progression.
Some of the major contributing factors to cancer cells progressing include:
- Environmental contaminants
- Unprotected UV ray exposure
All of these things cause reactive oxygen species (ROS) to begin circulating in our bodies. This surplus of ROS is one of the main contributors to cancer cell growth within our bodies.
This is one method of attack when trying to shut down cancer cells — target and scavenge the ROS.
The second area of major concern is going to take us way back to high school. Do you remember the structures of a cell you learned in biology class? If you do, you’ll remember that your mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell. That means it has a major role in controlling the life and death of that particular cell — and cancer cells are no different.
Certain drugs (referred to as mitocans) that are used for cancer treatment actually target the cancer cell’s mitochondria. These drugs help to shut down the ROS aspects of the mitochondria, which stops tumor growth and mutation.
However, some people prefer natural ways to attack their cancer. Luckily, there are natural alternatives that can shut down these same pathways without the undesirable side effects.
Polyphenols and their role in fighting cancer (while promoting health)
Polyphenols are compounds that we get from eating or using plant products.
Polyphenols are often praised for their antioxidant capabilities and that is exactly what we are looking for when it comes to fighting cancer. ROS are excessive and dangerous oxygen species floating around in our bodies. This leads to all sorts of diseases — including cancer. So if we are able to control that, we can try to regress the disease.
Antioxidants help to balance the quantities as they scavenge the ROS by pairing with and absorbing them so there isn’t an abundance of unhealthy oxygen species.
Polyphenols are also able to disrupt the mitochondria of cancer cells.
Essentially, polyphenols come in and shut down the cause of cancer and the cancer cells themselves. So how can we get more polyphenols into our diets to help potentially prevent and treat cancer?
Nutrition for Cancer Patients: What foods should be in their diet to improve treatment?
Oftentimes cancer patients can lose their appetite and not want to eat. But it’s important to get essential nutrients into their diets to help support their bodies and fight off cancer. So when it’s time that a cancer patient isn’t overly nauseated or actually has an appetite, these are some good foods to keep on hand.
- Artichoke/artichoke extract — reduces cell growth and helps promote apoptosis (death) of cancer cells.
- Turmeric — the phytochemical curcumin from turmeric is found to stop cell growth, spreading, and metastasis, along with apoptosis and regulation of gene expression.
- Coffee—chlorogenic acid (CGA) is a compound found in coffee that appears to have antitumor effects on breast cancer. It causes apoptosis and stops the migration of cancer cells.
- Tea — Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG) is what makes tea so good for you. EGCG is what provides the tea with its cancer-fighting properties like preventing cell proliferation and migration while inducing apoptosis
- Ginseng — stops the mitochondrial pathway in cancer cells leading to apoptosis
- Peppermint — is often prescribed to deal with anorexia, nausea, vomiting, and other malaise felt in cancer patients, however, it actually helps induce cancer cell apoptosis as well
- Lemons (specifically the peel) — prevents the migration of cancer cells in gastric cancers
While this isn’t a complete list, these are some great examples of polyphenol-filled foods to incorporate into the diet of cancer patients. If they are too nauseous or unable to eat, look into different supplements that contain polyphenols.
Atrantil is a great example of a supplement that contains polyphenols. It’s a blend of horse chestnut, peppermint leaf, and quebracho colorado. This potent blend was created to help improve gut health through its prebiotics, postbiotics, and polyphenols. Check with your doctor if it might be right for you.
Check out some more of our articles on cancer and the microbiome:
Breaking News: Gut Microbes Improve Cancer Therapy Results
How Colorectal Cancer is Affected by the Microbiome
9 Proven Ways To Prevent Colon Cancer
Rectal Bleeding – Is It Colon Cancer?