According to Dr. Dawn Mussallem, an integrative health specialist at Mayo Clinic, there isn’t a specific single food or diet that is superior for cancer patients. Instead, it’s about adopting a dietary pattern that focuses on a plant-based diet rich in fiber. Currently, about 97% of Americans don’t get enough fiber in their diets.
The recommended dietary pattern by organizations like the American Institute for Cancer Research and the American Cancer Society emphasizes a plant-predominant approach with a focus on whole foods. This entails consuming a variety of fresh vegetables and fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds, while avoiding ultraprocessed foods and limiting or excluding red and processed meats. The safety threshold for consumption of red and processed meats in relation to cancer risk remains unclear.
Processed meat is categorized as a carcinogen, and Dr. Mussallem suggests replacing some of the red meat with protein-rich pulses like legumes, beans, lentils, and peas, which also provide valuable fiber.
Studies have shown that increasing fiber intake by 10 grams in the diet can lead to a 13% improvement in survival after a cancer diagnosis, as per the American Institute for Cancer Research.