Brain Cancer

Eating for Brain Health

Dr Evangeline Mantzioris is the Program Director of the Nutrition and Food Sciences Degree at the University of South Australia. She is an accredited dietitian and Sports Dietitian with vast experience in clinical dietetics, clinical teaching and private practice. She is also an Associate Editor of the Journal, Nutrition and Dietetics.

Here, she shares her thoughts on eating for wellness for brain tumour patients. To hear her speak in person, please attend the NRF Brain Cancer Impact Forum on Tuesday 25th May 2021. Find out more here.

Eating during treatment

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle during treatment is important, you need to ensure that you are eating a healthy diet, exercising and sleeping well. Eating a healthy well-balanced diet is important as it supplies you with all the nutrients that you need to fight the cancer, support tissue growth and recovery, and maintain your energy levels. It is important that your diet is high in a variety of fruit and vegetable, breads and cereals, dairy and protein foods (including eggs, fish, chicken, meat, pulses, legumes and nuts). Be sure to also include some of your favorite feel-good meals that you enjoy sharing with your family and friends while recovering. There is no evidence to support the use of any type of supplements during treatment, in some cases it could make the prognosis worse. The exception is of course if you are prescribed a supplement by your treating healthcare team.

Eating during treatment can be difficult due to the different side effects of medications and treatment. Speak to your healthcare team and ask them about the potential impact that they may have during treatment. Side effects could include decreased appetite, nausea, bloating constipation or trouble swallowing. You will need to speak to a dietitian if the side effects are impacting on your eating and especially if you are experiencing weight loss.

Eating after recovery

Healthy lifestyles are equally important after recovery, so once again make sure you are exercising, sleeping and eating healthy food. Healthy diets are those that are high in plant foods such as fruit, vegetables, gains, cereals, nuts and legumes. The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating recommends, based on strong evidence, what we should consume for the best optimal health. We need to be eating 5 serves of vegetables, 2 serves of fruit and 5-6 serves of breads, cereals and grains, 3 serves of dairy or equivalents and 2 serves of protein foods. While there have been no direct studies looking at the best types of diets for people that are recovering from brain cancer, we can get hints from other studies that have looked at best diets for cognitive health. What we repeatedly see from the evidence is that diets that are balanced across all the food groups and high in plant foods (fruit, vegetables, nuts, legumes, grains and cereals) with high quality protein foods (beans, legumes, fish, unprocessed meats) and olive oil provide the best outcomes.

One dietary pattern, the Mediterranean Diet has been extensively studied and shown to have excellent cognitive health outcomes as well as reduce the risk of many chronic diseases. The MedDiet is very high in plant foods with only little bit of animal-based food in it. Unprocessed meat is consumed only 2-3 times per week, and processed meats such as ham and salami are rarely or never consumed. Some of the key components of the MedDiet is the use of EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) and lots of leafy greens as well as using sofrito-based recipes. Sofrito is a tomato and onion sauce that is cooked with EVOO, which makes it an ideal basis for cooking vegetables, pasta, rice and small amounts of meta in it, and of course adding herbs and spices that are common in the MedDiet. The MedDiet is also rich in wholegrain cereals (think wholegrain bread and cereals) and nuts and legumes (think lentils, kidney and fava beans as well as nuts).

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Dr Lisa Ebert - Supercharging the immune system to beat brain cancer

Dr Lisa Ebert discusses her brain cancer research which she presented at the NRF Researcher Presentations event on Wednesday 23 September 2020.

Dr Lisa Ebert is a Research Associate at the Centre for Cancer Biology - University of South Australia/SA Pathology. Here she is speaking at the NeuroSurgical Research Foundation's Annual Research presentations event, which was held on Wednesday 23 September 2020.
Her research is focused on supercharging the immune system to beat brain cancer.
"CAR-T cell therapy is a new type of cancer treatment based on ‘supercharging’ a patient’s own immune system. It has shown great success in the treatment of certain blood cancers, and our team is now adapting this approach for the treatment of adult and childhood brain cancer. I will present some highlights from our pre-clinical research program and give an overview of our upcoming clinical trials," Dr Ebert said.
Watch the video now.

Did you catch Carrie's Beanies 4 Brain Cancer on The Project recently?

The video below provides a great insight into the world of brain tumour research.
We are proud to be a funding partner for the Australian Brain Cancer Mission.
The NRF is currently funding world-leading brain tumour research right here in Adelaide. Together, we can make a difference to people living with brain cancer, now and in the future.

RIP Mark Naley

Sadly, another great South Australian has lost his battle with Brain Cancer. One of the State's most dynamic football players, Mark Naley, has died aged 59 after a long battle with the illness. Tributes have poured in for the former South Adelaide and Carlton star who was ‘hard as Nales’.
We shared this article back in March which profiles how he fought against the disease with the help of Neurosurgeon Dr Amal Abou-Hamden. Rest in Peace Mark.
The NRF funds brain cancer research right here in South Australia, please visit our website to find out more about our current projects.

On July 2nd, 2020 the NRF made it to front page of The Advertiser!

The article is focused on how Adelaide researchers are working towards clinical trials of a new therapy they hope can genetically modify our cells to teach them how to seek out and then destroy damaged ones.
Thank you to journalist Clare Peddie for a well-researched article, researcher Dr Tessa Gargett from the Centre for Cancer Biology and brain cancer patient Pete Cutting and his wife Liz.

The Blood-Brain Barrier

The Blood-Brain Barrier (BBB) is a complex structure that prevents many drugs from entering into the brain (and brain tumours) from the bloodstream. Unfortunately, the BBB is also a major impediment in the treatment of brain tumours.
The NRF is funding research into the BBB.
Dr Briony Gliddon, Dr Melinda Tea & Prof Stuart Pitson at the Centre for Cancer Biology (University of South Australia/SA Pathology) are investigating if a newly identified drug can open the BBB to allow entry of anti-cancer drugs to brain tumours.
Thank you to Dr Gliddon for putting together this research snapshot to share with our community - it is much appreciated.
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