January 10, 2022
Diet is an integral part of cancer treatment. It allows the patients to recover from the side effects of the previous treatment cycle and prepare the body for the next one. Therefore, patients should take a healthy diet rich in vitamins, minerals, proteins, healthy fats, carbohydrates and antioxidants.
Problems during Chemotherapy
Chemotherapy causes several problems in patients. Some of them are:
- Loss of Appetite : Loss of appetite is a common problem seen among cancer patients during their treatment. It may be due to anxiety, stress, depression, or even medications. During this time, patients must remain hydrated and increase their protein and fat intake.
- Constipation : Several cancer medicines result in constipation. Further, the site of cancer also causes constipation. Therefore, drinking adequate fluid and taking food rich in fibres is essential.
- Diarrhoea : Patients undergoing cancer treatment may also suffer from diarrhoea. It is because of the side effects of cancer treatment, such as radiation therapy or immunotherapy, which damages the lining of the gastrointestinal system.
- Dry mouth : Patients undergoing chemotherapy or radiation therapy also have dry mouth because of reduced saliva production, which, in turn, happens due to the damage caused to the salivary glands during cancer treatment.
- Other problems : Cancer treatment also causes several other issues. These may be because of the side effects of therapy, such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy or immunotherapy. These problems can also occur due to the location of the tumour. These problems are lactose intolerance, nausea, oral sores, difficulty swallowing, vomiting, weight loss and change in smell or taste.
10 Foods That You Should Eat During Your Cancer Treatment
Cancer treatment causes several eating problems. Most patients do not feel hungry. The reasons for this are many. However, it is essential to take a healthy, nutritious diet. Some of the foods that the patients should eat during their cancer treatment are:
Avocado helps manage several problems that the patients encounter during chemotherapy. It helps in managing constipation due to its high content of fibres. Further, its richness in monounsaturated fats also lowers the LDL level and increases HDL levels. A study has also reported the efficacy of avocados in managing leukaemia, a type of blood cancer. However, the patient should thoroughly wash avocado to prevent any contamination.
Eggs are a vital source of several nutrients. It provides proteins and fats, which provide the high energy necessary to prevent fatigue and weakness. Proteins also help in improving the body muscle mass. In addition, patients with mouth sores may primarily benefit from its soothing texture. However, the patients must take thoroughly cooked eggs to avoid any chance of food poisoning.
3. Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds are also an excellent source of protein and help in improving muscle mass. Further, it contains several types of B vitamins, such as folic acid, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid and thiamine. It also helps patients fight against the depression that may erupt due to cancer and its treatments. Pumpkin seeds also contain lignans, which help prevent the synthesis of estrogen. It is beneficial in patients with breast cancer. However, those patients with iron overload, which is caused due to frequent blood transfusions, should avoid consuming pumpkin seeds.
Oatmeal is an excellent source of several nutrients. Further, it is one of the foods of choice in patients suffering from side effects of cancer treatment, like mouth sores or dry mouth. It contains antioxidants, carbohydrates and proteins. It also helps in improving gut health by balancing the gut microbiome. In addition, oatmeal boosts immune health, increases appetite, reduces insulin resistance and lowers the level of bad cholesterol.
The patients may consider incorporating cruciferous vegetables in their diet. Some of them are broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower. All of them have an excellent nutritional profile. However, broccoli is more favourable due to a significant quantity of cancer-preventing substance, sulforaphane. It also prevents the healthy cells from being damaged due to chemotherapy. Broccoli is also rich in vitamin C that will improve the immune system.
6. Fresh Juice and Water
It is essential to remain hydrated during chemotherapy. After chemotherapy and radiotherapy sessions, a few patients do not feel like eating anything for a while. In such cases, fresh juices and water will help the patient get nutrition and hydration. Orange juice, carrot juice and beet juice are some of the healthy beverages that you can take during your cancer treatment.
7. Vitamin C-rich Foods
Vitamin C-rich foods are also helpful in enhancing the immune system and reducing oxidative stress. One of the side effects of cancer therapy is anaemia. Vitamin C helps in improving the absorption of iron from food. Further, a diet rich in vitamin C also helps in reducing the spread of cancer cells. Some of the vitamin C-rich foods that the patient should take are bananas, grapefruit, apple and lemon.
Nuts, such as cashews and almonds, are loaded with many vitamins, minerals, healthy fats and proteins. Nuts also contain potent antioxidants, such as superoxide dismutase, that help prevent cellular damage caused due to oxidative stress. If you cannot chew the nuts because of oral sores, you may opt for nut butter.
9. Pomegranates and Blueberries
The patients undergoing chemotherapy should also include pomegranates and blueberries in their diets. These are rich in vitamin C and fibres necessary for cancer patients during their cancer treatment. Further, they are also known to possess antioxidant properties that help the body fight cancer cells. Some researchers have also reported that intake of pomegranate during chemotherapy reduces bone pain, which is a side effect of cancer treatment.
Oral sores and having a bad taste in the mouth are two common problems in patients undergoing cancer treatment. Such patients should prefer smoothies. The caregiver may prepare smoothies at home according to the taste and requirements of the patient. The milk taken through smoothies helps reduce the side effects of chemotherapy. Further, the fruits present in smoothies help in improving the immune system, reducing oxidative stress and fighting against cancer cells.
These 10 foods, among many others, can help cancer patients show a better response to the treatment given and recuperate well in between their chemotherapy cycles.
Along with these foods, a carefully-planned nutritional intervention can positively impact the recovery and quality of life among cancer patients. At HCG, we have a highly-skilled team of onco-dieticians who are experts at devising clinical nutritional treatment plans that comprise healthier lifestyle choices meant for those undergoing cancer treatment. These nutrition treatment plans help strengthen the immune system, alleviate the symptoms of the disease, promote faster recovery and possibly promote longevity among patients.