You find yourself in the doctor’s office after having a biopsy completed. Your significant other is right by your side. The doctor tells you that you have early-stage breast cancer. The fear, shock and anxiety is tremendous. The doctor recommends surgery and chemotherapy. After a lumpectomy, you begin your first rounds of chemo. You’ve decided to do all you can to survive the disease and come out on top. What are the first steps you should take?  How can you be sure to stay as healthy as possible during breast cancer treatment?

One nutritionist from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute recommends following a plant-based diet filled with vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Also, instead of choosing fatty and processed meats, the expert suggests incorporating leans meats in your diet along with healthy fats like olive oil and avocados.

Johns Hopkins Medicine outlines specific foods that breast cancer patients could consume to improve their health. Cruciferous vegetables, for example, are filled with phytochemicals that could prevent cancer growth. During a typical day, a breast cancer patient should consider adding wheat, lettuce, spinach, broccoli, garlic, onions, and chickpeas to their diet. Eggplants, tomatoes, pumpkins, squash, and citrus fruits are also recommended.

Studies have found that cancer patients who have five or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day as well as add a 30-minute walk six days per week tend to have higher survival rates.

Exercise can benefit you as many cancer patients find that they feel better after taking part in some light physical activities. Walking anywhere from three to five hours per week is encouraged since it was found to reduce the chance of breast cancer recurrence by as much as 40 percent. Simply walking can help breast cancer patients by reducing anxiety, depression, and fatigue, according to the Dana-Farber nutritionist.

Some other important points to remember when attempting to stay as healthy as possible during cancer treatment involve avoiding most alcohol intake, according to the American Cancer Society. Additionally, if you are undergoing chemotherapy treatment or radiation therapy, oncologists advise you to avoid antioxidant supplements. If you are looking to increase your antioxidant intake, it is better to get these vitamins through nutritious foods.

Additionally, breast cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy will have much lower immune system functioning, which means they will be at higher risk of infection and additional diseases. As such, it is recommended to wash hands before eating or preparing a meal. Fruits and vegetables need to be washed extremely well while all utensils, cutting boards, and countertops need to be spotless. Meat should be cooked to well-done temperatures and food needs to be stored in the refrigerator immediately after returning from the grocery store.

Breast cancer patients who follow this advice are more likely to come out on the other end cancer-free with lower risks of recurrence.

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