General

Does sugar feed cancer?

This is a common question and an important one. Sugar, in its most simplest form, glucose does feed cancer cells just as it does all cells, healthy or not. It is the fuel needed for our body. To stop eating all foods containing sugar would not only be impractical ( as most foods are broken down in the body to glucose) but would also limit this fuel needed to power our healthy cells, including our brain.

When we eat food high in simple sugars, our body releases insulin, a growth hormone that takes care of the excess glucose in our body. It is believed that excess insulin may promote the growth of cancer cells and therefore our goal is to stabilize our glucose levels that will in turn, stabilize our insulin levels. How do we do this?

Essentially, we want to follow a diabetic diet. Eat small, frequent meals and snacks every 3 hours or so and avoid excess simple, processed sugars such as sodas, candy, cookies and cakes. We also want to eat more complex carbohydrates, i.e. whole grains. A meal containing protein, fat and/or fiber will help to slow down sugar absorption resulting in a slow rise in blood glucose levels and therefore a slow rise in insulin levels.

For more information or to clarify anything in this article, don’t hesitate to contact your Healthy Living Dietitian, Tejal Parekh, MS, RD/LDN.  Tejal provides services related to healthy eating for Cancer Patients, as well as, for people with heart disease, and other serious illnesses.