I’ve been blind-sided in recent weeks by news that a family member has secondary cancer. We’re keeping everything crossed but it’s tough news to hear.
This, and the cancer treatment that a close friend’s mum is undergoing, has made me keen to know more about the advice given to cancer patients, and their carers, on good nutrition.
The briefest Google search will produce wonderful blogs and websites that suggest an extremely healthy diet can help cancer sufferers fight the fight. But there seems to be little standardised advice from the medical profession about good nutrition during, and after, cancer treatment. What’s clear is that during intensive chemo and radiotherapy, just being able to keep something down is a bonus and the most easily digestible, calorific foods – like custard and cake – are recommended.
But what about after the initial effects of treatment wear off? What does the medical profession recommend then? This BBC blog is a couple of years old now, but extremely interesting – http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/0/22567354 – it raises the point that during cancer treatment nutritional research in the area of cancer care is often overlooked by health care professionals.
There are some great blogs out there, like The Crushing Cancer Kitchen, the Anti-Cancer Project and Kris Carr (she’s Ella Woodward’s inspiration for Deliciously Ella) that write well, and thoroughly, on the role of good nutrition during cancer care. But is the NHS giving this kind of advice? It seems not, or not always. I’d be really interested to hear from readers who have experienced this themselves or for a loved one.
The BBC article quotes nutritionist Conner Middelmann-Whitney, who specialises in the impact of diet on cancer prevention and who recommends the Mediterranean Diet to reduce cancer risk and aid recovery from the disease. At Kale & Cocoa, we love the Mediterranean Diet (we’ve written about it here and here) so this is no surprise. And we’re always interesting to know more about WHY it works. Research published in the last week or so offers further explanation – revealing that the oils in the nuts and, of course, the olives, so frequently teamed with greens and salads in the Medi Diet help the body absorb nutrients from the vegetables. So you get more nutrients from a salad topped with a few toasted nuts, or dressed with olive oil than you would if you ate the salad on its own. And, while we’re talking nuts, research released yesterday revealed that eating half a handful of nuts everyday reduces the risk of early death http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-33076815 A 10-year study at Maastricht University found that those who ate 10g of nuts a day were less likely to die from major diseases including respiratory diseases, cardiovascular diseases and – the dreaded word – cancer.
This week’s recipes are a few simple salad dressings to stash in the fridge to see you through summer. So mix one through some salad leaves or vegetables, top with some toasted nuts and enjoy. All recipes serve at least four.
FAIL-SAFE, SPICED-UP MUSTARD MAPLE VINAIGRETTE
- 1 clove garlic, peeled
- 2 tbs red wine vinegar
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 2 tsp maple syrup
- 4 tbs olive oil
- 1 tsp harissa
- Pinch of salt
Put all the ingredients into a jar with a tight lid and shake well. Try not to let the garlic fall in your salad! This is great with leafy green salads –just don’t overdress the leaves.
- 1 garlic clove, peeled
- 1 tsp crushed ginger
- 1 tsp dark miso paste
- 2 tbs tahini
- 2 tsp maple syrup
- Juice of half a lemon
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tbs water
- 1 tbs chopped coriander
Put all the ingredients into a blender or the small bowl of a food processor and blitz. Add more water to thin it if you prefer. This is a more robust dressing and is great drizzled over roasted veg or sauted greens
- 1 small garlic clove, peeled and minced
- 1 tsp crushed ginger
- Juice of 2 limes
- 1 tbs rice wine vinegar
- 1 tbs maple syrup
- 1 tbs toasted sesame oil
Put all the ingredients in a jar and give them a good shake. This is great on raw vegetables like grated carrot and shredded cabbage – especially with a few toasted sesame seeds on top.