So cancer cells need sugar to grow, just like healthy cells. It helps to remember that there is nothing particular about sugar that “feeds” cancer cells any more than sugar feeds all cells in our body. So sugar doesn’t exactly just“feed” cancer cells. It is a good idea to limit the amount of simple sugar you eat because when you eat a lot of sugar, your body produces a lot of insulin.
Insulin is a natural substance made by the body which can tell cells to grow. In simple terms, insulin can “rev up” cell growth. For healthy cells, this is a good thing. This is because the cells in your body grow, divide, die, and are replaced as part of the natural process of living. However, cancer cells behave differently and can be encouraged to grow more, too, when our bodies produce too much insulin. So while some insulin in the body is normal, excess insulin may encourage cancer cells to grow more, which is not a good thing.
We need insulin in our bodies to function, but when it’s levels are high that is when it is unhealthy if we make too much of it. So sugar does not “feed” cancer cells. However, a lot of sugar can cause our bodies to produce too much insulin. For someone like me with cancer as my immune system has a problem killing cancer cells by eating too much sugar I am encouraging those cancer cells to grow.
For an example of how this works, think about fruit and fruit juice. The amount of insulin your body makes after you eat a piece of fruit is much lower than the amount of insulin produced when you drink fruit juice. Whole fruit contains fibre and that fibre helps balance out the sugar in fruit.
For another example, think about eating specific foods together to get a healthier snack or meal. Instead of having two pieces of fruit as a snack, try having one piece of fruit and a small handful of nuts. The nuts contain protein, fat, and fibre. These three things help your body keep insulin in balance.
The most important point is that sugar itself is not bad. However, too much sugar, without enough protein, fat, and fibre to balance it out, can cause our bodies to make too much insulin. It is not the sugar, but rather the insulin that may be a problem for spurring cancer cell growth . To prevent this, you should RESTRICT the simple sugar in your diet. There is no need to follow a stringent diet and swear off every single dessert. The key is moderation. Use the following tips to help yourself find a healthy balance with your food choices:
- Stick with naturally occurring sugar, such as the sugar that is found in fruit. This is a much healthier option than processed sugar that is found in cake, desserts, pie, and baked goods.
- Avoid concentrated sources of sugar, such as fizzy drinks and fruit drinks. It is OK to have 100 percent fruit juice in moderation but avoid fruit drinks that don’t contain any real fruit juice.
- Restrict your “treats,” such as dessert. Special occasions only and then only a very small portion.
- Focus on whole, healthy, unprocessed food, including vegetables, fruit, whole grains, legumes (beans, lentils, and peas), nuts, and seeds.
I am discovering that there is a whole new world of recipes that exclude sugar which I have been experimenting with. There have been some great successes and others are too awful to subject myself to again! Let alone friends and Neil!
I started off with some recipes from Penny Brohn Cancer Care. Their "Mug Loaf" which is like a fruit loaf with dried fruit,small amount of honey, spelt flour, porridge oats and oat milk and has become a firm favourite.
|Freshly made mug loaf|
This is a delicious treat with a cup of green tea about 4.00 pm on a wintry afternoon. The coconut and seed flapjacks were a disaster but made a very good topping on my morning porridge - so I found a use for them.
And this weekend Colin gets to meet these two known as the "Doodles"!Wish him and us luck!