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Glycemic Advantage & Good Carbs - Cancer Prevention and Treatment Support

Glycemic Advantage & Good Carbs - Cancer Prevention and Treatment Support

Glycemic Advantage & Good Carbs - Cancer Prevention and Treatment Support
By Steven Vasilev MD

The Glycemic Index is a concept recognized by the World Health Organization. It measures the type of carbohydrates you eat and how that affects your blood sugar levels. Complex carbohydrates that break down slowly rate well or "low" on the Glycemic Index. On the other hand, simple carbohydrates (like common sugar) rate higher because they break down too quickly and cause your insulin levels to rise quickly. This leads to increased fat storage while also leaving you hungry soon after a meal. It's the difference between "good" carbs and "bad" carbs. Recent medical publications support the idea that a high glycemic index diet increases risk for at least endometrial, ovarian and colorectal cancers. Is monitoring your diet for Low Glycemic Index important during treatment as well?

First of all a low glycemic, "good carbs", low fat diet combined with optimal amounts of protein and fiber is generally regarded as a healthy diet which is at the very least "heart healthy". Based on complementary medicine evidence it is also the optimal immune potentiating combination of foods. In that regard, although it is not a substitute or alternative treatment for ANY cancer, this Low Glycemic Index dietary approach is certainly a very reasonable complementary strategy during treatment or recovery. Thus in addition to a "preventive" strategy for cancer, the idea can be applied to prevention of recurrence as well.

There are several points regarding a Low Glycemic Index diet and cancer that are important to discuss. First of all, the concept that sugar preferentially "feeds" cancer is more of a myth than reality. Sugar "feeds" all of our cells, so it does not discriminate, although there are some alternative viewpoints out there that tie high glycemic index foods and insulin response to worse outcomes. This is a grey area as far as solid evidence is concerned. However, a very important point is that some people may confuse "carbohydrates" with "sugar" and cut out ALL carbohydrates from their diet. This is a BIG mistake!! It is true that sugar is a simple carbohydrate, and one that has a high glycemic index. But complex carbohydrates such as legumes, vegetables, whole grains and fruits are generally low glycemic index foods rich in nutrients that are extremely important in nutritional support. Think of this as being similar to "bad fats" and "good fats". Everyone needs some good fats to maintain normal physiology. Similarly, good carbs are also critical.

There are numerous books and papers on this topic. If you do not have time to look all the details up regarding what to eat or what to avoid, consider some name brand reputable companies that have made a science of combining the right foods to create a low glycemic diet that is healthy and very palatable. Find out more by visiting

As always, any substantial dietary modifications should be discussed with your treating physician(s)!!

Steven A. Vasilev MD,MBA,FACOG,FACS is a fellowship trained and board certified gynecologic oncologist, which means he is specially trained and certified to take care of women with gynecologic cancers using a broad spectrum of skills. He has practiced at academic as well as private centers, has been on the faculty of three universities and continues to be involved in research and education. You can visit to learn more about screening, prevention and treatment of gynecologic cancers. You can also visit a one-of-a-kind site devoted to life, love and intimacy after cancer

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