Most treatments for cancers like mesothelioma can be harsh and draining on your body, making nutrition a very important factor in keeping your strength up to fight the disease.
Getting the right nutrients, such as proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and herbs, is important – and it’s also important to get suitable amounts of the nutrients so that they don’t interfere with the efficacy of your treatment.
This article will look at the specific needs for maintaining strength during some common cancer treatments, and an overview of the variety of nutrients required.
Specific Needs for Maintaining Strength
Some of the diet-related side effects which the cancer patient may be facing are dry mouth, changes to smell or taste, nausea, anorexia, sore mouth or throat, dental and gum problems, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, depression and fatigue.
This can make eating difficult, which can result in weight loss. A nutrient rich diet is needed, as outlined in the next section, but some unusual recommendations can also help for someone in this state.
High-fat, high-calorie foods are sometimes recommended for boosting strength and increasing body weight, in order to give the necessary energy during treatment. Ice cream and milkshakes are cold and can help to ease the pain of eating with a sore mouth and throat.
Here is a more specific overview of the nutrients needed when undergoing treatment for cancer:
Protein is vital for growth, to repair body tissue, and for keeping the immune system strong. The body breaks down muscle when it’s not able to get sufficient protein from food, which weakens the body, making it harder to recover from illness and to resist or fight off infections.
People with cancer need more protein than normal, especially after surgery, chemotherapy or radiation therapy, when it is needed to heal tissues and help fight infections.
Poultry, fish, lean red meat, nuts, eggs, peas, lentils, low-fat dairy products, dried beans, and soy foods are great sources of protein.
Fats, composed of fatty acids, are a rich source of energy for the body. The body breaks down fats and uses them to store energy, insulate body tissues, and transport some types of vitamins through the blood.
Choose monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats over saturated fats or Trans fats, for beneficial effects on heart and cholesterol levels.
A major source of energy for the body is carbohydrates, which provide energy for physical activity and proper organ function.
Superior sources of carbohydrates, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains, also provide vitamins and minerals, fiber and phytonutrients to the body’s cells. Whole grains can be found in breads, cereals and flours, quinoa, brown rice and barley.
Vitamins and Minerals.
Most vitamins and minerals that the body needs in order to function can be found in natural foods. However, they also come packaged as supplements in pill and liquid form, and are designed to help the body use energy found in foods.
A person who eats a balanced diet with enough calories and protein usually gets enough of what they need, but it might be difficult to do so when you’re undergoing treatment for cancer – in this case,the doctor or dietitian might suggest a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement.
Antioxidants include vitamins A, C and E; selenium and zinc; and some enzymes that absorb and attach to free radicals, preventing them from attacking normal cells. Eating a large variety of fruits and vegetables ensures a good supply of antioxidants.
Taking large doses via supplements may not be recommended during chemotherapy or radiation therapy – be sure to check with your physician before taking any.
Herbs have been used for a long time in the treatment of diseases, to varying levels of effectiveness. Today, herbs can be taken in many forms such as pills, tea, ointments, and liquid extracts.
Many do not pose any risk, but others can have adverse side effects. Some may even interfere with proven cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy radiation therapy and recovery from surgery. Talk to your oncologist or nurse before beginning any herbal supplements.
Most importantly, you should always eat with the intention of nourishing your body so that it has the strength and stamina to fight off cancer. The information contained here is of course just guidelines, you should always consult with your doctor to determine what is best for you when considering any nutrition plan. With careful planning and consultation with your doctor, it’s possible to preserve stamina and energy during treatment by contemplating these nutrition concerns for cancer patients.