As part of a programme of care and treatment for people suffering from cancer, the Bristol diet plan is part of review of leading weight loss programs.
Developed at the Cancer Help Centre in Bristol it has become perhaps one of the best known alternative diets in the UK and it's emphasis is on wholefoods, fresh fruit and vegetables, raw cereals and organic fish, poultry and eggs.
The Bristol diet plan encourages people to think positively about their diet and to eat whole foods, preferably organic, that are low in protein and fat with little or no salt, sugar or stimulants such as caffeine or alcohol.
Following the Bristol diet means avoiding red meat, caffeine (for example in tea, coffee and carbonated cola soft drinks) and most dairy produce such as milk, cheese and yoghurt.
Interest in a dairy free-diet as a way of preventing breast cancer arose when scientists observed that the number of cases are low in countries such as China where the traditional diet is low in dairy products. However, research is still at an early stage and it can't be assumed that this one factor can be singled out as the main cause. It is possible that other aspects of lifestyle or environment are equally or even more important.
While on one level this seems to a sensible eating plan - even if is not an actual therapy in itself as some supporters would claim - many doctors have serious concerns. First and foremost is that some important sources of calories and proteins are excluded but there is also the psychological impact on cancer patients.
As salt and sugar are cut out or severely reduced, food becomes less tempting just at a time when appetites may need encouraging. Depression can result if food becomes a worrying chore rather than an enjoyable experience and as the diet places a lot of emphasis on helping people to heal themselves, some patients will feel that they are to blame for their health problems if they can't stick to it.