Colon cancer patients experience a host of side effects that can make food unappealing. When left untreated, patients may experience rapid weight loss, which is detrimental to their health and recovery.
Breakfast is an opportunity to introduce creative but nutritious foods that will not only help patients recover to a healthy weight but also bolster their immunity to help fight colon cancer.
So, what are the best breakfast options for colon cancer patients? Breakfast foods like cereal and toast are often high in fiber, which is one of the key dietary associations with a decreased risk of developing colon cancer. Incorporating whole grain foods such as quinoa, brown rice, and oatmeal is also beneficial for colon cancer patients.
In this article, we talk about the top breakfast options for colon cancer patients, as well as those you should avoid during treatment.
Breakfast and Colon Cancer
We all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It turns out its significance goes beyond fueling the body: it might in fact be beneficial in preventing colon cancer altogether.
A UK study wanted to understand the relationship between food consumption and increased risk of colon cancer. They found that participants who had consumed 76 g of red meat a day or more had a 20% increased risk. Those who consumed 10 g of alcohol per day resulted in an 8% risk.
Interestingly, the study showed that breakfast eaters, particularly those who ate cereal and bread, had a 14% lower risk of developing colon cancer thanks to the fiber from these breakfast staples.
Eating breakfast has also been linked with lower instances of obesity, which is a known factor of developing colon cancer. All in all, eating breakfast is as crucial to healthy individuals as it is to patients undergoing therapy.
Why Does Food Matter?
The colon plays a crucial role when it comes to digestion and the absorption of nutrients. Patients with colon cancer have a difficult time processing food and nutrients needed to fuel the body. As a result, patients have a hard time metabolizing calories and protein they get from food, leading to lethargy, weakness, and even weight loss.
Loss of appetite, nausea, and weight loss are among the common side effects of colon cancer. These side effects inevitably affect a patient’s relationship with food and have an impact on their overall health.
A well-constructed diet plan will help patients get back on their feet. By striking a balance between what they like and what’s good for the body, patients can go back to a healthy weight and resume the strength to continue with treatments in no time.
Aside from weight maintenance, a proper diet is important for cancer patients because it helps with recovery. Cancer treatments can be hard on the body as it is. As a patient battles colon cancer, they will need to regain strength to proceed with the treatment.
More importantly, a smart diet plan will boost the patient’s immunity and improve their ability to properly fight colon cancer.
The Value of Good Calories
Not all foods are created equally. It’s not enough that you’re helping a patient eat – it’s also important that you’re mindful of every single bite they take. While it’s necessary to increase the amount of calories colon cancer patients eat in a day, the quality of the calories they take in also contributes to their overall well-being.
2,000 calories from a milkshake loaded with syrup and ice cream isn’t the same as 2,000 calories from a milkshake made of leafy greens and protein powder.
When we talk about good calories, we simply refer to nutritious, protein-heavy, fiber-rich foods that are suitable for colon cancer patients. These good calorie food groups include:
- Foods rich in fiber: A high-fiber diet is known to aid in digestion. Similarly, patients who incorporate high-fiber foods in their diet have healthier colons that are less prone to blockage.
- Whole grain foods: Processed grains such as white bread and white rice have high glycemic indices that aren’t ideal for colon cancer patients. On the other hand, whole grain foods such as quinoa, barley, brown rice, and oatmeal often have high-fiber content and have naturally occurring nutrients that can be metabolized by the body to create pure energy.
- Healthy fats from tree nuts: Studies suggest that a diet rich in tree nuts such as hazelnuts, pistachios, cashews, and walnuts reduce the risk of recurrence for colon cancer patients.
- Foods rich in antioxidants: Fruits and vegetables are a key part of any healthy diet. Colon cancer patients should look into incorporating foods like berries and spinach in their regular meals. These are foods rich in fiber and contain antioxidants and flavonoids that help fight cancer.
The opposite of “good calories” aren’t exactly detrimental to your health. Sugar and fat are essential to any person’s diet, but should only be taken in moderate amounts. These foods have little to no nutritional value, and prioritizing this over other food groups means missing out on key nutrients that are actually needed by the body.
Remember that a high-calorie diet doesn’t always meat high fat or high sugar. You can still create a meal plan that reaches 4,000 to 5,000 calories a day just by relying on clean foods and cooking techniques.
Breakfast Option for Colon Cancer Patients
The best part about this protein powerhouse is that they’re already a breakfast staple. A serving of medium sized egg has about 13 grams of protein.
In order to reduce the risk of cholesterol without skipping out on the protein, we recommend cooking 1 to 2 eggs with a cup of egg whites for an additional serving of 8 grams of protein. Eggs can be served fried with oven baked potatoes or frittata style loaded with spinach, cheese, and tomatoes.
2. Spinach or Kale
Studies suggest that compounds found in spinach and kale are able to suppress tumor growth and fight cancer cells with antioxidants. Blend these as a main ingredient of a green smoothie or mix them in an omelet or breakfast burrito to supercharge your breakfast.
3. Low-fat Cheese
Cheese on a bagel or toast is a great breakfast option. To really get the full health benefits of your breakfast cheese, swap out high-fat cheeses with a low-fat cheese option. This also applies to your full fat greek yogurt. When it comes to dairy, always look for low-fat alternatives.
4. Oatmeal and Muesli
Oatmeal is another breakfast staple that’s loaded with fiber and antioxidants. It improves blood sugar control and protects your heart from cholesterol.
Alternatively, muesli is another breakfast dish made out of rolled oats and nuts, seeds, and fresh fruits – all of which are high in antioxidants and cancer-fighting properties. These two breakfast dishes can be customized to fit the patient’s taste and preferences.
5. Banana and Blueberry
Bananas and blueberries are common breakfast fruits that are especially beneficial to colon cancer patients. Banana contains a relatively high amount of fiber for fruits and boasts various nutrients such as Vitamin C and Vitamin B6.
Blueberries are also rich in fiber, Vitamin C, and vitamin K. A 148 gram serving contains 4 grams of fiber. Blueberry also contains antioxidants that prevent DNA damage, which plays an important role in colon cancer development.
6. Whole Wheat Tortillas
Who said colon cancer-friendly foods weren’t appetizing? Use whole wheat tortillas to make delicious breakfast tortillas. Swap out the meat with mushrooms or vegetarian meat to get the full flavor. Serve with a slice of avocado and a heaping of salsa to enjoy.
7. Protein Pancake and Waffle
Upgrade your standard pancake and waffle batter by adding a cup or two of protein powder. A cup of protein powder usually has 25 to 32 g of protein, depending on the brand. Increased protein intake is beneficial for rebuilding muscle and tissues, as well as improving overall energy and strength.
How to Make Breakfast Exciting
Dietary restrictions can be hard on the appetite. Instead of making breakfast a chore, here are some ways you could make breakfast exciting, which could improve the patient’s relationship with food:
Alternate Between “Good” and “Bad” Calories
Milkshakes are high in calories and easy to swallow, making it a perfect breakfast option for colon cancer patients. On the other hand, a diet based mostly on milkshakes might help the patient take in some much needed calories upfront, but it won’t improve their strength in the long run.
Instead of focusing on just one type of food, cycle between good and bad calories to prevent fatigue. Serve a hearty milkshake made up of peanut butter and ice cream on one day, and serve up a healthier version with fruits and protein powder the next day.
Prepare Multiple Options a Week
The rule of cycling and variety also applies to food options. Instead of serving the same breakfast meal every single day, make sure to have various options available during the week. This way, the patient has always something to look forward to during breakfast, which can help meal time more exciting.
Plan Breakfasts Together
Top nutritionists always recommend involving the patient with meal planning. By doing so, you can take into account their preferences and prioritize foods they like. Does your patient prefer oatmeal-based breakfasts over french toast? By knowing this, you can plan different oatmeal options during the week and serve food your patient will actually eat and enjoy.
Top 4 Breakfast Foods to Avoid
1. Processed Meat
Hotdog, bacon, and sausages are among the favorite breakfast staples for most Americans. Unfortunately, eating processed meats has been linked with an increased risk of developing colon cancer, and should be avoided even by patients undergoing therapy.
A study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology found that eating processed meat four or more times a week can result in a 20% increase risk of developing colon cancer. According to the publishers, the risk increases 19%A for every 25-gram daily serving of processed meat.
2. Sugary Foods
From cereals to juices, there are tons of processed breakfast options that contain an obscene amount of sugar. The worst part is that these foods look inconspicuous on shelves, making them easy to overlook. When shopping for colon cancer-friendly breakfast items, don’t just look at the label. Also make sure to take a look at the nutritional values posted on the label to fully understand what goes into a specific product.
A rule of thumb is to always go for the simpler version of foods. Between your standard whole wheat cereal and high-sugar, fruit-flavored cereal, it’s easy to see which one is loaded with unnecessary sugar and which one has the least amount of preservatives.
3. High-fat Foods
Processed meats aren’t the only breakfast items that are high in fat. Cream, butter, and other dairy products could be increasing your saturated fat intake without you knowing about it.
The next time you top waffles or pancakes, rethink the whip cream and try to swap it out with a healthier source of fat such as cottage cheese.
Minimize consumption of saturated fats by focusing on the good fats. Hit two birds with one stone by swapping out milk products with plant-based milk in order to lower fat content and increase protein consumption.
4. Fried Foods
Fried foods are exactly what makes breakfast exciting. Unfortunately, loading up on oily foods is a surefire way to impede recovery. Fats can clog up the colon, which can lead to discomfort, indigestion, and loss of appetite.
If you can’t avoid having fried foods on the menu, we suggest looking into alternative cooking options like baking or air frying. Patients can still enjoy the crunchy texture of foods, without consuming a high amount of unhealthy fats for breakfast.
Caring for You From Start to Finish
Getting a colonoscopy is the first step to preventing colon cancer. At Gastro Center NJ, we implement proactive measures and solve health problems before they even happen. Your health is our top priority and we want to make sure you’re on the right track.
Schedule a colonoscopy today and get on top of your colon health. Colon cancer screening is the number one way of preventing colon cancer. Schedule yours today.