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Foods to avoid this festive season if diagnosed with diabetes and cancer

<div><span style="font-family: helvetica;">The holiday season is a special time to gather with friends and family and take some time out for merry making. First and foremost in keeping up with the festivities remember to enjoy yourself. It can also be a stressful time for people who are on management for diabetes, and those on treatment for cancer or as a result of the effects of its treatment.</span> 

</div><div><span style="font-family: helvetica;">When planning to attend a party there is certainly no reason why you should not let the host know of any dietary restrictions you may have in advance. Most people appreciate knowing if there are any specific dietary needs so that they can make their guests more comfortable. It may be something as simple as setting out an artificial sweetener with the coffee.

</span><span style="font-family: helvetica;"><span style="font-size: 16px;"><strong>Foods to avoid

</strong></span></span><span style="font-family: helvetica;"><strong>Excess Proteins
</strong></span></div><div><span style="font-family: helvetica;">The body&#39;s organs, muscles and immune system consist of proteins which help the body build, maintain and replace tissues. The body can also break protein down into sugar but this process is less efficient than breaking down carbohydrates. A person should choose their protein sources with care especially if they have diabetes.
</span></div><div><span style="font-family: helvetica;">Eating excess red meat such as beef, pork, and lamb may increase the risk of elevated sugar levels even at low levels of consumption. 

</span></div><div><span style="font-family: helvetica;"><strong>Excess Carbohydrates</strong>
</span></div><div><span style="font-family: helvetica;">Carbohydrates are an important source of energy, but a person with diabetes should be careful when choosing which carbs to eat and how to spread them evenly throughout the day. When people with diabetes consume too many carbs at a time, their blood sugar levels can rise to dangerously high levels.
Maintaining a low carb intake can help prevent blood sugar spikes and greatly reduce the risk of diabetes complications. Steer clear of unhealthy fats, liquid sugars, processed grains and other foods that contain refined carbs such as sweets, baked goods made of processed white flour, or white bread.</span></div><div><span style="font-family: helvetica;">On the other hand, higher carbohydrate intake could provide the glucose necessary to support the unique metabolism of cancer cells. Increased carbohydrate intake may also stimulate insulin secretion which not only accelerates glucose uptake by cancer cells but also stimulates the rapid reproduction of cancer cells.

</span><span style="font-family: helvetica;"><strong>Dairy foods</strong>
</span></div><div><span style="font-family: helvetica;">Dairy foods provide calcium, protein and vitamins. They also contain a sugar called lactose. People with diabetes can consume dairy products such as milk, yogurt and cheese every day.
Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes often occurs alongside obesity. For this reason it is best to opt for low fat dairy foods. Full fat foods can increase the levels of cholesterol in the blood and lead to a higher risk of heart disease than lower-fat options.

</span><span style="font-family: helvetica;"><strong>Raw food</strong>
</span></div><div><span style="font-family: helvetica;">Proper cooking destroys bacteria which can start to grow on cooked food if not refrigerated causing food poisoning. Paying attention to food safety rules and being extra careful when handling, preparing and storing food is definitely important.
Patients receiving, or have recently finished cancer treatment should avoid some foods entirely even if they may have eaten them with no problems in the past. Some of the foods include sushi, raw milk, smoked fish, or under cooked meat and unwashed fruits and vegetables among others. With this knowledge you are able to prepare a mental note before attending any party.

</span></div><div><span style="font-family: helvetica;"><strong>Processed foods</strong>
</span></div><div><span style="font-family: helvetica;">Prepackaged, processed foods are typically high in fat, salt and sugar making it even more challenging to put down a cookie, or resist a frozen dinner.
The World Health Organization has classified processed meats including ham, bacon, salami and frankfurters as a Group 1 carcinogen, known to cause cancer, which means that there is strong evidence that processed meats cause cancer. Eating processed meat increases your risk of bowel and stomach cancer.

</span><span style="font-family: helvetica;"><strong>Deep fried foods </strong>
</span></div><div><span style="font-family: helvetica;">Eating deep fried foods away from home, where frying oil may not be fresh, poses a great risk. This is due to the fact that with each reuse oil becomes more degraded and easily absorbed into food. This contributes to weight gain, higher cholesterol and higher blood pressure which are all risk factors for type 2 diabetes.
Regular consumption of deep fried foods such as fried chicken and doughnuts is associated with an increased risk of cancer and the effect appears to be slightly stronger with regard to more aggressive forms of the disease.

</span><span style="font-family: helvetica;"><strong>Watch your alcohol intake</strong>
</span></div><div><span style="font-family: helvetica;">Moderate alcohol intake can have a blood sugar lowering effect hence advised not to drink on an empty stomach. The amounts of calories and sugars vary significantly among alcoholic beverages making it useful to search nutrition information about your favorite drinks. Recommendations for alcohol for those with diabetes are no more than one drink per day for women and no more than two per day for men.
For people living with cancer after alcohol consumption the body breaks it down into a chemical called acetaldehyde which damages DNA in cells. DNA is considered as the cell’s instruction manual that controls normal growth and function. Once damaged this in turn prevents the body from repairing it. When it is impaired cells can begin growing out of control and result into a cancerous tumor.

</span><span style="font-family: helvetica;"><strong>Conclusion</strong>
</span></div><div><span style="font-family: helvetica;"><div>The key to healthy eating for everyone this festive season including people with diabetes is to eat a variety of healthy foods from each of the food groups. Calories and nutrients from healthy foods and proteins help prevent loss of muscle from weight loss. Many patients can follow a normal healthy diet if they do not have nutrition related side effects from their treatment that may limit their ability to eat, or digest food.

<em><strong>Dr Margarita Mwai, Consultant Family Physician at Aga Khan University Hospital</strong></em>

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