Right from the day of the diagnosis, cancer is a roller-coaster ride for both the mind and body. Although the number of people detected with cancer is increasing by the day, there still remains a lot of unawareness about how to care for them. Many cancer patients and their loved ones have very little information on what’s the best diet during treatment.
Especially for those who are undergoing chemotherapy, the side-effects like loss of appetite, nausea, sickness and dry mouth leave them unable to savor food. This is a time when caregivers have to be extremely understanding. The right foods and preparation techniques can ensure that the patient is well-nourished.1
Diet And Nutrition Tips For A Cancer Patient
Cancer treatment takes a huge toll on the digestive system. This leads to improper digestion, absorption, and excretion. During this time, it’s essential that the person is eating right to have the strength to tolerate therapy. Here are 5 ways to ensure that.
1. Have Small Portions At Regular Intervals
Since your digestion won’t be performing at its peak efficiency, it’s better to eat 5 to 6 times a day. It doesn’t matter what you eat, as long as you eat healthily. You can have fruit and vegetable salads, porridges and sandwiches. In between, if you feel hungry, you can snack on healthy nuts and seeds.
If you are intolerant to gluten or lactose, ensure that you don’t have wheat and dairy as your condition could worsen. Most cancer patients experience a metallic taste in their mouth. You can avoid this by eating from non-metallic cutlery.
2. Eat A Balanced Diet As Much As Possible
You are more prone to losing weight during cancer therapy. Therefore, it’s important that you eat a lesser amount of carbs and more proteins for muscle mass. Fruits and vegetables should be consumed in plentiful amounts so that you derive immunity boosting vitamins and minerals.
Fiber intake should not be compromised or else constipation can set in. Your relationship with food is most likely to keep yo-yo ing. On days you don’t feel like eating much, you must have essential nourishment in the form of smoothies, yogurts, and porridges.
3. Avoid All Kinds Of Junk And Processed Foods
Having foods that are salty, sugary and fried are the worst especially when your body is undergoing chemotherapy. Junk and processed foods are devoid of nutrients and loaded with chemical preservatives that can wreak havoc with your health. Several scientific studies have found that added sugar in blood promotes the growth of cancer cells.2
4. Increase Intake Of Cancer-Fighting Foods
Curcumin in turmeric has been hailed for centuries as an effective tumor-fighting agent. Make it a part of your daily diet. Vitamin D also has a distinct ability to fight cancer cells. You can get enough of it by being in the sun for at least 30 minutes a day or by consuming foods like salmon.3
EGCG is a very potent polyphenol in green tea that has been proven to fight cancer. Have at least 4 cups a day. Quercetin found in apples, berries, and cruciferous vegetables also have the ability to fight cancer cells.
5. Don’t Take Vitamin Supplements Without Medical Advice
Many a time we resort to consuming vitamin supplements injudiciously to compensate for our reduced food intake. Remember that over-zealous consumption of supplements can reduce the efficiency of chemotherapy. Moreover, it’s always recommended to have dietary sources of nutrients instead of synthetic forms. Before you start taking them, consult your oncologist.4
Caregivers would often find it hard that their loved one who is fighting cancer isn’t eating enough. Rather than finding fault, you have to be extremely considerate of their needs. It could be a challenging time for everyone involved but a lot of love and support can make things easier.
|↑1||Holmes, Susan. “Food avoidance in patients undergoing cancer chemotherapy.” Supportive Care in Cancer 1, no. 6 (1993): 326-330.|
|↑2||MOERMAN, CLARA J., H. BAS DE MESQUITA, and SYTSKE RUNIA. “Dietary sugar intake in the aetiology of biliary tract cancer.” International journal of epidemiology 22, no. 2 (1993): 207-214.|
|↑3||Gullett, Norleena P., ARM Ruhul Amin, Soley Bayraktar, John M. Pezzuto, Dong M. Shin, Fadlo R. Khuri, Bharat B. Aggarwal, Young-Joon Surh, and Omer Kucuk. “Cancer prevention with natural compounds.” In Seminars in oncology, vol. 37, no. 3, pp. 258-281. WB Saunders, 2010.|
|↑4||Guallar, Eliseo, Saverio Stranges, Cynthia Mulrow, Lawrence J. Appel, and Edgar R. Miller. “Enough is enough: stop wasting money on vitamin and mineral supplements.” Annals of internal medicine 159, no. 12 (2013): 850-851.|