For cancer patients undergoing treatment, nutritional problems are an inevitable consequence. Even with strict dietary procedures carried out to achieve proper cancer nutrition, some problems persist. The aggressive chemotherapeutic indications are often too strong for the digestive system to offset.
Outlined below are the symptoms that a typical cancer patient has to face, followed by nutritional recommendations to battle each problem:
Low protein and calorie intake: Cancer Nutrition
As a cancer patient, you may feel that you have no appetite. The disease itself eats up all your nutritional reserves. Hence, you need to have plenty of proteins and calories to stay energized and strong and to ward off infections. Also, studies have suggested that keeping yourself nourished will increase your chances of recovering from the disease because your body is better equipped to handle all the medications given to you.
Specifically, the following are high-calorie and high-protein foods that you should include in your diet:
- Avocado and beans
- Seeds, nuts, and dried fruit
- Non-fat milk and cheese
- Olives and canola oil
Moreover, it is important to cut back on low-calorie drinks and opt for:
- Smoothie Shakes
- High-protein drink supplements
- Fruit juices.
However, you should limit the amount of milk you drink because the medications may make you lactose intolerant, causing gas, bloating, diarrhea, and cramping.
Nausea and Vomiting
These symptoms are usually the adverse effects of chemotherapy. To decrease the sensation of nausea and to prevent it from occurring, it is wise to:
- Drink at least ten glasses of water a day, since dehydration makes you feel nauseous.
- Add lemon extract to warm water and drink this twice a day to get rid of vomiting sensations.
- Try taking encapsulated ginger, ginger candy or fresh ginger to counter nausea.
- Eat small frequent meals every few hours, whether or not you are hungry.
It is another common side effect that you may get from cancer treatments, especially when taking oral medications. To alleviate the discomfort associated with mouth sores, it is advisable to:
- Avoid salty, spicy and acidic foods because these will aggravate your oral pain.
- Try to eat more soft and blended food like pudding, milk, porridge, custard rice and soups.
Loss of Appetite (Anorexia) and Depression
It is normal to have an altered preference for food due to cancer treatment medications. You may also feel weak and tired most of the day. To combat these problems, you may try to:
- Exercise lightly through swimming, yoga, cycling and brisk walking.
- Eat with friends and family, and improve the mood of your surroundings with music, good food and plenty of light.
- Cancer may be a very difficult illness to deal with, but by following these practical dietary tips, proper nutrition can be achieved. In the long run, even the adverse effects of chemotherapy can be countered.
Vanquish Constipation and Drive away Diarrhea:
Constipation and diarrhea are another discomforting side effects of cancer treatment that can overcome with proper cancer nutrition.
Patients with constipation should:
- Drink lots of water
- Eat high fiber food like beans, lentils, vegetables
- Fresh fruits
- Dried fruit
Similarly, patients with diarrhea should:
- Follow a bland diet like banana, rice, and apples
- Drink lots of water and other liquids to stay hydrated
Modified Diets: Cancer nutrition
The proper diet plan is the ultimate reply to chemotherapy complications that worsen due to improper diet and side effects of cancer treatments. Here is a summary of what should be followed by a properly modified diet in cancer treatment:
- Clear liquids: It may include, fruit juices, gelatin, broth, fruit ice coffee, tea, and popsicles. It is normally recommended for bowel rest with diarrhea and vomiting
- Full Liquids: It clearly includes plenty of water, milk, ice creams, yogurt, milk shakes, cereal, creamed soups, commercial supplements, custard, pudding and commercial supplements. It is a progression from clear liquids. It is a recommended diet plan for those who have difficulty eatingor their esophagus is narrow or suffering with mouth pain.
- Soft/ Low Fibre Diet: As the name suggests it avoids raw veggies, fruits and foods with skins, seeds, and nuts, etc. It includes white potatoes and fruit juices. It is meant for all those patients with mild to severe bowel obstruction.
- Low Lactose: Lactose is a naturally occurring milk sugar. It is indicated in patients experiencing bloating, lactose intolerance or diarrhea after eating any food containing lactose or following cancer treatment.
Cancer patients should take at least five meals of fruits and vegetables a day. It may include dark leafy greens and also berries. Eat whole grains foods that involve high fiber bread and cereals, brown rice, barley, oats, etc. And avoid refined foods like muffins, donuts, white bread or all those food high in sugar content as we know that cancer cells feed on sugar.
Limit red and processed meat. Stick to poultry, fish, and tofu. Food other than supplements are the best sources of minerals and vitamins. As there is no fine proof that they give same anti-cancer benefit as the fruits and vegetables.
To maintain a proper healthy diet is a very important step towards healthy living in a cancer treatment. The guide mentioned in this article would help the cancer patients towards a livelihood. In a nutshell, stay hydrated and eat nutritious food. Avoid processed foods and supplements.
Image Credits: Flickr