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Good nutrition during cancer treatment

22 June 2022
Nutrition during cancer treatment and medication plays an undeniably significant role in the body’s ability to fight cancer and can often be the difference between life and death. Good nutrition can help patients increase their quality of life and reduce symptoms that cause distress.

Cancer Treatments generally cause nausea, vomiting, trouble swallowing, pain while swallowing, choking by changes in the oesophagus, changes in the way food tastes, etc, which make it hard to stay consistent with a good nutritious diet and lead to a loss of appetite. Chemotherapy and radiation given before stem cell transplant and other cancer therapies kill white blood cells needed for immunity and this can cause infections (GVHD). It is important to have proper care and nutrition to avoid such infections and to generally maintain a healthy lifestyle during cancer.

Here are a couple of ways you can maintain a healthy diet during your cancer treatment at Radon:

Dealing with appetite loss and cachexia

Appetite loss and cachexia (severe appetite loss) can be caused due to various reasons during cancer:
  • Changes in metabolism
  • Ascites (the build-up of protein fluid inside the abdomen which causes a sense of fullness)
  • Abdominal cancer and intestinal cancer can irritate and hence result in appetite loss
  • Liver or spleen enlargement pushes the stomach and causes the sense of fullness
  • Medications, immunotherapy, chemotherapy, and stem cell transplant have side effects which include appetite loss, fatigue, weakness, and muscle loss.

It is important to know the nature and symptoms of the given cancer treatment to deal with appetite loss. Every treatment comes with its own set of symptoms or side effects, and having a registered dietitian to guide you through the palliative process is imperative.

Appetite loss can be managed by consuming proteins, calories, and fibers over small meals, 5 to 6 meals instead of three big meals. Your diet can include eggs, broth, dried fruits (mostly almonds and nuts), milkshakes, ice cream, yogurt, cheeses, pudding, and protein bars. The primary thing to keep in mind is to determine what you feel like eating and what makes you nauseous. Try new recipes and cuisines that suit your palate during your treatment. You can carry a snack bag with your favorite treats approved by your dietitian, to munch on during the day, whenever you feel hungry. Eat as much as you can whenever you feel the hungriest.

Listen to what your body’s telling you

During your treatment, listen to your body and alter your diet according to what it is telling you. Your treatment’s diet may include replacing for a tasteless diet or adding lots of appetizing foods to your meals. Communicate with your doctor if you start to experience any side effects from your cancer therapy. You may find only some foods enticing on a given day. Be flexible and make modifications to the foods you eat during your cancer treatment.

The food you should avoid

Now that we’re aware of what we should do to increase our appetite, we must know how to safely ingest the nutrition we require. Many a time our palate craves certain food, it takes over and we get sick due to the infections they cause during cancer treatment. Here’s a list of things you can avoid during your treatment to stay healthy and prevent treatment delays:
The goal of cancer treatment vaccines is to treat cancer or keep it from coming back after your treatment. These vaccines get to the immune system and attack cancer cells in the body as opposed to vaccines that target a particular virus that may cause cancer. Getting vaccinated can save you from a multitude of risks and is among the most preventive measures for cancer yet. It is up to you to keep your body healthy and free from cancer by following simple healthy behaviours and avoiding risks as much as you can.
  • Try avoiding frozen foods or anything with a lot of preservatives
  • If you’re eating something from the day before, make sure it’s made hot,
    boiling before you eat it
  • Avoid drinking and eating unpasteurized dairy products
  • Avoid undercooked meat, make sure it’s fully cooked
Get in touch with radon for more information on maintaining a healthy diet during your cancer treatment

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RadOn Oncology Pvt. Ltd. was founded in 2012 to work towards providing quality and comprehensive cancer care to the society.

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