Benefits of Good Nutrition for Cancer Patients

Guest Post by Jillian McKee

Learn more about Complementary Medicine Advocate Jillian McKee.

Nutrition is an important aspect of life and a healthy, well-balanced diet is necessary to maintain a healthy life.  Eating a nutritious diet can help alleviate common health problems as well as continue to keep a person healthy.  Nutrition is vital for everyone, but especially important for someone who has been diagnosed with cancer.

What a person eats plays a big part in how they will feel afterword.  For example, if you have a piece of candy for a snack versus an apple, you may end up feeling more hungry after eating the candy and not feel so great, whereas after eating an apple you may feel refreshed.  While a snack here and there is ok, keep in mind that a nutritious and balanced diet when diagnosed with cancer, during the treatment, or in remission can help you tolerate any effects of treatment, decrease the risk of infection, and recover quickly.

According to the American Cancer Society, cancer and cancer treatments can affect the way your body tolerates certain foods and uses nutrients so it is important to have good nutrition because both the illness and its treatments can change the way you eat.

Eating a healthy diet includes eating a variety of foods to give your body the nutrients it needs.  A nutrition and balanced diet includes eating and drinking enough of the foods that have important nutrients such as protein, carbohydrates, fat, water, vitamins, and minerals.  A balanced diet will make you feel better, you will feel more energized, able to maintain weight, lower the risk of infection, and heal and recover faster.

The many vitamins, minerals, and nutrients needed for a balanced diet are healthy options for everyone, but most essential to one who has cancer.  Protein is an essential nutrient needed to build and repair the body’s cells and to help maintain a healthy immune system.  People in cancer treatment often need more protein than normal to recover from treatment and fight infections.   Fat helps to build new cells, and it is also a good source of energy.  Carbohydrates such as those in fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grain breads and cereals are used for providing your body with the fuel it needs for quick energy and proper organ function.

In addition to the above nutrients, be certain to get enough fluids.  Water and fluids from broth, fruits, vegetables, and juices will help to keep your body hydrated.  Staying hydrated can prevent fatigue, dizziness, and help control nausea.

According to the National Cancer Institute, at least thirty-five percent of all cancer cases are related to poor nutrition.  Numerous studies have conducted to determine what best aids in the fight and prevention of cancer, including mesothelioma. Some of the most healthy, prevalent suggestions are berries such as blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, and cranberries.  Berries are shown to be high in fiber, vitamin C, and have excellent sources of antioxidants and phytochemicals.  Eat berries fresh whenever possible to get the most benefit.

Next for the healthiest suggestions are dark, green leafy vegetables.  These are good sources of vitamins A, C, K, and folate.  Dark, leafy greens are also a great source of iron, fiber, and calcium.  In addition to the above they contain healthy antioxidants that fight off free radicals in the body, which can damage and destroy the good cells.  Some examples of green, leafy vegetables are kale, broccoli, collard greens, swiss chard, and romaine lettuce.

In addition the above nutrients, flax and flaxseed oil have been shown to reduce the speed and growth of cancer cells.  Flax seed is loaded with fiber and Omega-3 healthy fats.  Flax seed can be added to salads, oatmeal, cottage cheese, or anything that you desire and extra crunch.

Healthy eating habits have been shown to help patients deal with the effects of cancer and its treatment.  Some treatments work better when a patient has eaten a variety of healthy foods.  As stated above, eating a healthy, balanced diet can help someone with cancer get the nutrients he or she needs to maintain their weight.  Some treatments during cancer can affect a person’s taste, smell, appetite, and the ability to eat enough food or absorb the nutrients in food.  There are medications to counter these side effects to get you back on track and fighting infections.

Food has nutrients that are needed to maintain life and to heal and repair your body.  While eating healthy is not a cure for cancer, including the nutrients: protein, carbohydrates, fat, water, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals in your diet it can assist to lower the risk of infection, increase energy, and help to heal and recover faster.

Written by Jillian McKee

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