Should Cancer Patients Follow a Macrobiotic Diet?

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A macrobiotic diet usually consists of cooked vegetables, cereals, beans and whole grains, focusing on foods typically lacking in the diet of most Americans. Adopting such diet is difficult because it involves a major lifestyle change, so it must be done slowly, by incorporating a few concepts.

Some nutritionists have advocated macrobiotics as a treatment for cancer or as preventive. While the macrobiotic diet can be highly beneficial for those who want to lose weight or lead a healthy lifestyle, there is no scientific evidence to support the fact that this type of diet is effective in curing cancer. However, there is evidence to support the fact that a diet rich in vegetables and whole grains and low in preserved meat products, red meat and saturated fat can prevent this type of disease.

A macrobiotic diet is associated with many general health benefits and can lower the risk for several diseases such as breast cancer, heart disease and diabetes. An early limited version of this diet that involved eating only brown rice and drinking water can actually pose a danger to health and has been linked to severe nutritional deficiencies. Recommendations from the American Cancer Society involves eating a balanced diet with more serving a day of fruit, whole grains, instead of over processed food and vegetables, while limiting the ingestion of animal fats and red meats.

Furthermore, medical health professionals do not consider the macrobiotic diet as a cure for cancer, because there is no evidence to support this. Cancer Research UK does not support the use of this dietary plan for cancer patients and the American Cancer Society strongly advices people not to use it as an exclusive or primary treatment for cancer. The Dutch national newspaper Trouw published an article in 1998 about Roel Van Duijn’s wife who had died because of the advice given by a macrobiotic counselor to follow this diet instead of conventional medical treatments for cancer.

Due to the fact that a strict macrobiotic diet includes no animal products, cancer patient with increased caloric and nutritional requirement may face unwanted weight loss and nutritional deficiencies. Moreover, macrobiotic dietary plans have not been tested in women who are breast-feeding or pregnant. It is a a possibility that some versions do not include some nutrients required for the normal development of the fetus. Children can also experience nutritional deficiencies from this type of diet. Although a carefully planned macrobiotic diet is a healthful way of eating, relying on this type of treatment alone, delaying or avoiding medical treatment can have serious consequences on cancer patients.

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