Good nutrition is necessary for cancer patients, both during the treatment process and once they are in remission. This means that the patient is eating a balanced diet made up of foods and drinks that contain the right amount of the nutrients the body needs to stay strong and healthy. A healthy, balanced diet for cancer patients provides both physical and mental benefits.
A balanced diet includes foods and drinks that provide minerals, proteins, fats, carbohydrates and vitamins. It also keeps the body fully hydrated. Many cancer patients find themselves with little appetite, but it is important for them to eat enough of the foods that contain all these nutrients to receive the benefits they provide. Ingesting enough of these foods and drinks helps patients before, during and after cancer treatment, maintain a healthy weight, remain physically strong, maintain healthy body tissue and fight any infections that might develop.
This guide points out that for many cancer patients eating right might be a challenge because different types of cancers and their treatments can actually affect the way the body uses and processes some nutrients like fat and proteins. Even if the patient seems to be eating the right amount of food, the body might not be receiving the right amount of nutrients. Surgery, chemotherapy and immunotherapy are some of the treatments that can affect nutrition. Many patients who are either going through treatment or have completed their treatment find it hard to get enough proteins and calories in their diet, which are vital to remain strong, heal faster and fight infections.
The impact of good nutrition for cancer patients, however, is not limited to just the physical. Mentally, a patient that is eating and drinking a balanced diet feels better about himself and can maintain a positive outlook and higher spirits to deal with the challenges of cancer, its treatment and even the remission process. Additionally, good nutrition can help improve a cancer patient’s quality of life, and particularly for those in remission, following good nutritional guidelines and making other healthy lifestyle choices can help with preventing the cancer from returning or make the late effects of treatment better.
Cancer patients should use the guidance of nutritional counseling to create a nutritional plan that works for them and takes into account the effects and challenges of their particular form of cancer and treatments. For example, a patient with a mesothelioma prognosis who is receiving aggressive chemotherapy can expect nausea and vomiting as side effects from the treatment. Other side effects these patients might experience include both constipation and diarrhea. All of these can affect nutrition. In order to continue being physically strong during treatment, physically and spiritually, however, the patient needs to persevere through the uncomfortable side effects. Patients need to learn when it is best to eat and when to take advantage of feeling better to choose the foods that can most benefit them. For example, it is not really a good idea to eat when feeling nauseous since it will probably lead to vomiting. However, on good days, a patient can choose foods high in the most necessary vitamins and proteins. Eating small meals throughout the day, instead of three large meals, can also help patients with nutrition.
The nutritional needs of cancer patients are different than those of otherwise healthy people. While the diet needs to remain balanced, it will often be necessary to include extra portions of fats and proteins to keep up strength, which can mean needing extra servings of milk, eggs or cheese or for those with trouble swallowing, there might be a need for gravies and creamy sauces. It can also mean that depending on the patient’s individual needs, they temporarily require a diet low in fiber. A healthy balanced diet, of course, still needs to include a variety of vegetables and fruits, which can provide valuable antioxidants and many different vitamins.
There is no one set diet for all cancer patients. However, all patients must eat a diet that is tailored to their particular needs to keep strong, healthy and in good spirits. This will help them deal with the process of a cancer diagnosis and the challenges brought on by treatment, as well as the lifestyle changes that must be made during and after treatment.