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What is the best cancer starving diet?

Updated: Jun 6

Question posed by a patient - what is the best cancer starving diet?

This question came from one of our lovely community members. I am grateful they took the step to ask, as it allows us to explore a topic that many might have read about or be curious about, providing helpful insights for those seeking clarity and information.

While nutrition cannot single-handedly cure cancer, it plays a pivotal role in your well-being and treatment support. During cancer treatment, nourishing and nurturing your body is paramount as it strives to recover.

While the concept of 'starving' cancer cells might seem tempting, it is important to recognise that nourishing our bodies with a balanced diet is just one aspect of creating an environment that supports overall health and well-being during cancer treatment. Incorporating regular physical activity, practicing stress reduction techniques, ensuring adequate sleep, and adopting other healthy lifestyle habits are equally crucial. These factors collectively contribute to bolstering our resilience during treatment and aiding in recovery.

Additionally, it is vital to be compassionate with yourself during this time. Avoid adding undue stress by setting realistic goals and acknowledging that it’s okay to have difficult days. Embracing a kind and gentle approach towards your own well-being can significantly enhance your ability to cope with the challenges of treatment, fostering a more positive and nurturing healing process. How would you speak to a loved one going through a similar thing? Extend that same kindness and empathy towards yourself.


It is essential to recognise that healthy cells also require a spectrum of nutrients to function optimally, particularly amidst the challenges posed by treatments. As we navigate this topic, let's shift our focus from the notion of starving to a diet that 'optimises' and builds up strength, energy, supports our immune system, and aids in recovery.

Key Cancer Nutrition Insights:

  • Cancer cells possess altered metabolic pathways that enable them to utilise various nutrients, such as glucose (carbohydrate), amino acids (protein), and fatty acids (fat), much like healthy cells. If one nutrient source is restricted, they have the capability to switch to an alternate source. This complexity highlights that it's not as straightforward as simply cutting out specific foods or food groups. Cancer is a diverse disease, and different types of cancers have their own unique characteristics. More research is needed to better understand the metabolic characteristics of different cancer types and how they may respond to dietary factors. This variability emphasises the importance of personalised approaches to cancer treatment and dietary recommendations.

  • Glucose provides energy to our healthy cells, especially those in our brain and vital organs. When our blood sugar levels drop too low, our body has built-in systems to boost them back up. Our liver can release stored glucose from its storage called glycogen. It can also make new glucose from things like amino acids (the building blocks of proteins) and glycerol (a part of fats). This means that even if we don't consume glucose directly, our body will make it to keep our cells fuelled and our bodies functioning.

  • Excluding entire food groups can risk compromising essential nutrients. For instance, when we exclude carbohydrate-containing foods like fruits and starchy vegetables, we miss out on valuable sources of energy that fuel our daily activities and support brain function. Additionally, these foods play a crucial role in promoting gut health by serving as prebiotic foods that nourish beneficial gut bacteria. A diverse gut microbiome is linked to better health outcomes. These foods also provide essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals that are being studied for their potential cancer-fighting properties, and contribute to overall health.

  • Robust scientific studies have shown that eating well is incredibly important during cancer treatment. Without proper nutrition, it can lead to more challenges. You might be slower to heal after surgery, struggle more with your treatment, feel worse from side effects, take longer to recover, and get infections more often. Plus, you might not feel as strong or independent, and your overall quality of life could suffer. On the flip side, eating well can make a big difference. It helps your body handle treatment better, fight off infections, and heal faster. It's not just about getting through treatment – it's about staying as well as possible throughout. By nourishing your body properly, you're more likely to experience quicker recovery, shorter hospital stays, and fewer post-treatment complications. Paying attention to your diet during cancer treatment can significantly impact how you feel and how well you do.

  • Each person's cancer experience is highly individual, influenced by factors such as the specific type of cancer you're facing, your current treatment stage, as well as your unique health circumstances and individual preferences. This understanding reinforces that there isn't a one-size-fits-all dietary approach for those navigating cancer.

Here's a Snapshot of My Cancer Diet Approach:

My approach isn't about enforcing strict limitations. It's about leveraging my expertise to co-produce a personalised cancer nutrition plan that meets your unique needs and goals, with your input and preferences guiding every step of the way, while also enhancing your well-being through a variety of nutrient-rich foods.

  • Work on making your body stronger and better able to handle treatment. This can help you recover quicker and achieve the best possible outcome.

  • Nourishing healthy tissues, preserving lean body mass, and preventing muscle de-conditioning, all of which contribute to supporting a well-functioning immune system.

  • Proactively addressing nutrition-related symptoms e.g. digestive changes, fatigue, nausea, taste changes, reduced or increased appetite.

  • Ensuring your diet covers all essential nutrients by identifying and addressing potential gaps.

  • Considering beneficial nutritional supplements, when appropriate.

  • Embracing a holistic, anti-inflammatory diet and lifestyle that emphasises foods rich in nutrients and known for their potential to reduce inflammation in the body. This approach involves incorporating lean proteins, beneficial fats, a variety of whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and wholegrains. It is important to recognise that this approach might not be achievable or realistic for everyone, especially during times of illness. Dietary choices should be tailored to treatment side effects, specific nutritional needs, and individual preferences.

  • Supporting people who may struggle with eating and drinking, as well as those experiencing treatment side effects. I provide personalised guidance to help them nourish themselves, ensuring they receive the necessary nutrition even during difficult times.

If you are seeking clarity on the best way forward, please do not hesitate to get in touch for assistance and guidance that aligns with your needs. You are welcome to explore the information available in my collection of free blogs and recipes. Additionally, you can download the free immune system-supporting eBook for valuable insights.

Telephone: 020 8064 2865

Appointments: book here

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The content provided in this blog is for informational purposes only and should not be considered personalised nutrition, dietetic, or medical advice. Please consult your healthcare team for personalised advice and guidance regarding your specific medical condition or dietary needs.

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