This week, TMBL is very pleased to welcome guest blogger Jillian McKee.
Jillian is the Complementary Medicine Advocate at the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance, and brings us her thoughts on nutrition for cancer patients.
Fighting cancer with good nutrition
For cancer patients, a healthy and nutritious diet is a key component in combating the disease’s adverse effects, and helping them feel better.
Nutrition is extremely important in keeping a patient’s strength and weight up and, in some cases, cancer treatments are more effective when an individual is eating a healthy diet with the correct amount of calories and protein.
It is possible to attain a better prognosis and improved life quality through correct nutrition.
Cancer treatments such as radiation, surgery, chemotherapy and stem cell transplants can cause difficulty eating and loss of appetite.
Treatments for mesothelioma, head, neck, and stomach cancers make it harder for the patients to ingest enough nutrients to stay healthy. The side effects include nausea, difficulty swallowing, diarrhea, vomiting, dry mouth, pain, and constipation.
Cancer and its treatments can also affect the senses of taste and smell which, in turn, lead a patient to desire less food. This can lead to malnutrition, which adversely affects patients by making them fatigued, weak, and unable to fight infection. If the disease spreads, the condition may worsen.
Poor nutrient uptake
In some cases, cancerous tumors produce chemicals that affect the way the body utilizes some nutrients.
The absorption of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins could be affected, especially with tumors that are located in the stomach and intestines.
Even though the patient may have a proper caloric intake, their body cannot utilize the nutrients they are consuming.
More calories and protein
Increasing the ability to fight infection and keeping tissues in a healthy state, requires a diet that differs from those usually recommended. A diet that is high in calories and protein can be beneficial for patients with nutritional issues that compromise their ability to handle treatment and heal.
Nutritional therapy before, during, and post treatment is essential. This therapy includes ongoing assessments in regard to a patient’s changing nutritional needs.
Patients should follow diets that are specifically designed for their nutritional needs. This may change during the course of treatment or stages of the disease.
According to the National Cancer Institute, if a patient is well nourished during the cancer process, it could lead to a prognosis that is more positive.
A caregiver could aid the patient by offering them high calorie foods they enjoy, and cooking foods which smell good, to entice them to eat.
Add calories to the diet with fats such as butter or sour cream, and include eggs and peanut butter as these are a good source of protein.
Supplemental drinks are a convenient way to add nutrients and calories to a diet and can be taken anywhere.
A registered dietitian is a good resource to help in developing a menu that is beneficial to the patient. In addition, medicine may be prescribed by a physician to increase the patient’s appetite.
If you’d like to hear more from Jillian, follow her blog here.
Interested in submitting a guest post? Please contact me at thingsmybellylikes ‘at’ yahoo.com.