Friday, April 26, 2013

Guest Post on Cancer & Diet by David Haas

Below is a guest blog post from David Haas who has a special interest in healthy eating for those battling cancer. For any questions regarding the post, please contact David directly at:

Nutrition and Cancer: Eating Well with Eating Challenges

From surgery to chemotherapy to radiation, cancer treatments are harsh and aggressive. They are designed to kill hostile cancer cells. In the process, they also damage healthy cells. This produces unpleasant side effects that can cause eating problems.

Good nutrition is extremely important for cancer patients, whether they are facing a mesothelioma diagnosis or breast cancer surgery. Cancer nutrition looks different than traditional healthy eating, though. People with cancer have different dietary needs, and their meals contain other than normal, healthy foods.

For most people, healthy eating means fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and limited meat, dairy, fats, sugars and salt. People with cancer eat to keep up their strength. It is the only way to deal treatment symptoms. However, since this includes eating problems, good nutrition is challenging for most cancer patients.

Common Eating Problems During Cancer Treatment

Appetite loss is a common problem during cancer treatment. Nausea is another common side effect. They make it nearly impossible to eat enough food to stay healthy. Vomiting and diarrhea complicate things because they cause dehydration.

Some cancer treatments cause dry mouth, sore mouth, sore throat and swallowing problems. This can make it hard to eat certain types of food. Most patients are also concerned with weight maintenance since treatments can cause severe weight loss or gain.

Common Nutritional Needs During Cancer Treatment

Cancer patients require extra calories and protein. This applies to people with breast cancer, mesothelioma symptoms and other complications. They may need to add more eggs, milk and cheese to their diets. Unfortunately, lactose intolerance is a common treatment symptoms, so dairy foods are not always advisable.

People with mouth and throat problems often benefit from gravies, sauces and other soft, wet foods. Those who struggle with diarrhea may need to exchange their fiber-rich foods for low-fiber alternatives. Dietitians and nutritionists can help cancer patients make appropriate changes to their diets.

Vitamins, Minerals and Other Nutritional Supplements

Some cancer patients may require supplementation to get the nutrients they need for good health. Taking vitamins, minerals, herbs and other supplements are a common practice in holistic medicine. No studies prove that these products prevent, cure or treat cancer. However, they may be good complementary therapy for some patients.

Herbs and nutritional supplements may interact with cancer drugs and prescription medications. In some cases, they may actually change the way certain cancer treatments work. Therefore, they should only be used under doctor supervision.  



Jackie Crawford said...

This is wonderful! So much great and helpful information. There is a cookbook out that I'd love to also recommend. It's called “Kicking Cancer in the Kitchen” by Annette Ramke & Kendall Scott. Obviously specially directed at those fighting cancer. My sister was diagnosed not long ago and aquired this cookbook; she loves it. We have a family meal every Sunday and on her nights to cook she uses recipes from this cookbook, and they are really delicious! If you check out their website, you'll be able to find more info about the cookbook and cancer in general. Thank you again for this wonderful post!

Savor Health said...

Great insights. Have you heard of Savor Health? They have a staff of oncology dietitians who assist cancer patients and their care givers get high quality nutrition when they need it most.

Quality nutrition, as a preventive and survival strategy, is crucial in the fight against cancer. As part of a survival strategy, it can mean the difference between suffering the tough side effects of cancer therapies (e.g., chemo, radiation, or surgery) and having such side effects be minimal to none. Focused, quality nutrition could also be a catalyst to ushering in a permanent remission of some cancers. As part of a preventative strategy, it would be valuable to consult an oncology dietitian because they are in the best and most unique position to educate on the power of certain nutrients. Savor Health (a company founded by a woman who watched two loved ones suffer with brutal cancers) created a solution to help overwhelmed patients and care givers get high quality nutrition to patients to aid their healing.