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plant based eating

Understanding a plant-based approach to eating

Jennifer W. Gerson, MD, radiation oncologist with OHC, Blogs, 0 comments
December 28, 2018


It’s common knowledge that a healthy diet and regular exercise can have a significant impact on our overall health. It’s also proven to be beneficial for patients with heart disease. The experts at OHC know this pertains to cancer patients as well.

More than 15 years ago, Dean Ornish, MD, a well-known American physician and researcher, demonstrated that narrowing of coronary arteries due to plaque can be reversed. He later demonstrated the same can stabilize PSA levels in men with prostate cancer who elect active surveillance. In a study in Iowa, women with a history of breast cancer who consumer three or more servings of red meat weekly were 30 percent more likely to die of their disease than those who ate less than one serving per week. Similar findings have been noted in colon cancer survivors as well.

Study after study has demonstrated what we now know and recommend to our OHC patients – the benefits of a plant-based diet extend to cancer patients as well.

When we suggest a plant-based diet to our patients, it means they should focus on foods primarily from plants. This includes fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. It doesn’t mean you must become a vegetarian or vegan. It means you’re choosing more foods from plant sources than you are meat, dairy and other sources.

Guidelines for eating a more plant-based diet:

  • Choose nature-made food, not boxed processed food
  • Look for fresh vegetables such as asparagus, peppers, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, cucumbers, and green beans
  • Fresh fruit options include apples, grapes, berries, fresh figs, kiwis, mango, melons, nectarines, oranges, and peaches
  • Look for organic, home-grown produce
  • Don’t forget your fiber: whole grains, fruits, and vegetables are excellent sources. Whole grains include barley, buckwheat, oats, quinoa, beans, whole grain or rye bread, and whole wheat pasta
  • Eat red meat sparingly: 1-2 servings per week maximum. Consider more chicken
  • Eat more fish: Salmon, tuna, mackerel, and herring are good options
  • Eat less dairy: Look for organic milk or hormone-free milk
  • Drink plenty of water, filtered if possible
  • Spice up your diet: garlic, cinnamon, oregano, ginger, and turmeric all have anticancer and anti-inflammatory benefits
  • Drink alcohol in moderation
  • Eat good fats: extra virgin olive oil, avocados, nuts and nut butter (almond, cashew, peanut, and walnut), olives, seeds (flax, sesame/tahini and sunflower are great choices)
  • Rotate your food; make sure you are eating a balance and variety of foods

It’ll be easier to move to a plant based diet if you take it slowly. Start by eating plant-based foods you are already eating like cereal and beans and rice. Slowly change the portions on your plate to less meat and more plant-based foods. Look for recipes and talk with others, like your OHC doctors and care team, for more tips on how to eat better. We can help you strengthen you both during your treatment and after you’ve beat cancer. For more information, ask your OHC doctor or care team member about the benefits of a plant-based diet or call OHC at 1-888-649-4800.


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