After a cancer diagnosis many people are wondering what they can do to help improve their health. Cancer can make you feel as though you have lost all control over your body and health and so many patients want to do whatever they can to improve their health, fight cancer and ultimately beat cancer. While medications, chemotherapy, radiation and surgery are all can be seen as attacks on the body to help rid it of cancer nutrition is a way to nourish the body in the most healthful way. People who have been recently diagnosed with cancer or those who are undergoing chemotherapy treatment often wonder if they should be eating only organic food to help keep their bodies as healthy as possible. But, organic food is frequently more expensive than non-organic food so – is the expense and effort really worth it? Will it really help?
While eating organic foods is an ideal alternative to non-organic foods, it is not a magic bullet against cancer. Organic foods typically have reduced levels or contain no pesticides and chemicals that are usually present in non-organic foods. Avoiding chemicals and pesticides is certainly ideal no matter what your health status is, and, during chemotherapy it will definitely not hurt anything. But, there is currently no definitive research that says organic foods help improve outlook for chemotherapy patients. Organic food, when compared directly (for example, a non-organic apple compared to an organic apple) is no more nutritious than non-organic food but organic food helps individuals avoid unwanted chemicals and pesticides that may negatively impact health. If you can completely shift your diet to all organic food then it is a great health measure to take. If an all organic diet is more than your wallet can handle, do not fret! Instead, stick to what is known as the “Dirty Dozen. The “Dirty Dozen” is a list provided by the Environmental Working Group of the fruits and vegetables known to contain the highest amounts of chemicals and pesticides. For these “Dirty Dozen” it is best to stick to the organic option: apples, peaches, nectarines, strawberries, grapes, celery, spinach, sweet bell peppers, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, snap peas, potatoes, hot peppers, and kale/collard greens. Meanwhile, everything on the “Clean 15” list was tested and showed little to no trace of pesticides or chemicals: onions, avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, mangos, sweet peas, asparagus, kiwi, cabbage, eggplant, cantaloupe, watermelon, grapefruit, sweet potatoes, and sweet onions. With all fruits and vegetables it is important to thoroughly wash them before consumption to ensure that you are putting only the healthiest things inside of your body. Whether you choose organic or non-organic food options, it is important to make the most healthy and nutritious food choices possible, particularly when undergoing chemotherapy, to help your body fight the disease.