Proper Diet and Exercise for Cancer Patients with Amy Hendel

By Amy Hendel
WebMD Live Events Transcript

Amy Hendel will discuss how with proper diet and exercise, cancer patients can lengthen their life and help their own bodies fight cancer.

The opinions expressed herein are the guests' alone and have not been reviewed by a WebMD physician. If you have questions about your health, you should consult your personal physician. This event is meant for informational purposes only.

Moderator: Welcome to WebMD Live. Today we are discussing Proper Diet and Exercise for Cancer Patients with Amy Hendel.

Amy Hendel is the founder of One on One Fitness and Body Jam. Amy is a personal trainer, fitness expert and nutritionist with a background as a physician's assistant. Her mother died of breast cancer, so she works extensively with cancer patients to make sure they eat a healthy diet and have proper exercise.

Does lifestyle really impact the prevention of cancer?

Hendel: I would venture to say that lifestyle is probably one of the most modifiable aspects to cancer prevention that we can currently impact. I believe that many dietary factors can affect cancer risk, and I'd even go so far as to break them down into the types of food we eat, food preparation methods, portion sizes, food variety, and overall calories. I think that most AmericanS do not engage in healthy eating practices, and it's quite obvious that we are developing cancers that specifically reflect that problem. I think its really interesting that four major groups -- The American Dietetic Association, American Society for Nutritional Science, The American Society for Clinical Nutrition, and the Institute of Food Technologists have gotten together to call themselves, FANSA. They all have come together in agreement that if we eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, plenty of whole grains and beans, and if we avoid empty calories, exercise regularly, and if we limit or abstain from alcohol, we can have a major impact on the statistics of cancer. I think that's a pretty profound and manageable statement they're making, and we better wake up and realize that food can be enjoyable but also needs to be approached in a healthful fashion.

Moderator: Are there diets or eating programs specifically for specific cancers?

Hendel: There is a great book out on the market, and it's called The Ultimate Consumers Guide to Diet and Nutrition, the author is James Marti. And he takes a section of his book and discusses 3 cancer diets that are out there in the mainstream, which he believes are quite healthful. The names for the diets are:

Nixon Diet -- this particular one deals with cancer treatment and prevention. It has a number of recommendations for eliminating certain foods called "restrictive" foods, and encourages the eating of high fiber, low fat, particular fat foods, like the monosaturated fats and Omega 3 acids, and Nixon believes that even particularly with colon cancer, fiber fat and calcium have a profound impact on that development. He questions whether diet plays a role in breast cancer, but his recommendations are moderate and manageable.

Simone Diet -- created by Charles Simone, and he's a physician. He wrote a ten point plan on how to approach prevention of cancer, and he makes a pretty standard recommendation of maintaining ideal body weight, decreasing the number of daily calories, eating plenty of fiber, using the supplementation of vitamins and minerals, eliminating salt and food additives, avoiding caffeine.

Bruning Diet -- Nancy Bruning wrote Coping With Chemotherapy Diet, and I think it's extremely helpful for the average cancer patient who has to go through chemotherapy or radiation therapy, because her suggestions help you cope with the deterioration factors that occur when you're undergoing a severe treatment.

Additionally, Andrew Weil has come to the forefront now. He's a Harvard med school grad, who went into botany and plants, and he wrote Spontaneous Healing, and he also lays out an almost 8 week program of slowly changing your lifestyle so you can optimize a healing program. He makes dietary recommendations, and explains how to decrease exposure to toxins. I think his book is an extremely helpful book to anybody who has a strong family history for cancer, or who's undergoing some therapy or who's been diagnosed with cancer. The book covers all those points. Those diets have really specific plans you can follow.

What I find interesting is that if you look across the board at most cancer-recommendation institutes, almost point for point they're in agreement. They want you to stay closer to a plant-based food diet, eat lots of fruits and vegetables, maintain healthy weight and be active, drink alcohol in moderation, stay low even in the good fats, don't want to see heavy use of salt, and want foods prepared freshly. That's out of the American Cancer Society, American Cancer Institute, and many more famous centers around the world.