Cancer And Cancer Treatments May Cause Malnutrition
Cancer and cancer treatments may affect taste, smell, appetite, and the ability to eat enough food or absorb the nutrients from food. This can cause malnutrition, which is a condition caused by a lack of key nutrients. Alcohol abuse and obesity may increase the risk of malnutrition.
Malnutrition can cause the patient to be weak, tired, and unable to fight infection or finish cancer treatment. Malnutrition may be made worse if the cancer grows or spreads.
Eating the right amount of protein and calories is important for healing, fighting infection, and having enough energy.
Sore Throat And Trouble Swallowing
The following may help cancer patients who have a sore throat or trouble swallowing:
- Eat soft foods that are easy to chew and swallow, such as milkshakes, scrambled eggs, oatmeal, or other cooked cereals.
- Eat foods and drinks that are high in protein and calories.
- Moisten food with gravy, sauces, broth, or yogurt.
- Stay away from the following foods and drinks that can burn or scratch your throat:
- Hot foods and drinks.
- Foods and juices that are high in acid.
- Sharp or crunchy foods.
Why Is Your Diet Important During Cancer Treatment
Since cancer treatment can lead to fluctuations in appetite and body weight, its important to pay close attention to your diet. In addition to helping you maintain a healthy weight, eating a balanced diet during chemotherapy or radiation therapy can:
- Help manage treatment side effects
- Increase energy
- Reduce inflammation
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Eating Well During Treatment
Try to eat well. A healthy diet helps your body function at its best. This is even more important if you have cancer. Youll go into treatment with reserves to help keep up your strength, your energy level, and your defenses against infection. A healthy diet can also prevent body tissue from breaking down and build new tissues. People who eat well are better able to cope with side effects of treatment. And you may even be able to handle higher doses of certain drugs. In fact, some cancer treatments work better in people who are well-nourished and are getting enough calories and protein. Try these tips:
- Dont be afraid to try new foods. Some things you never have liked before might taste good during treatment.
- Choose different plant-based foods. Try eating beans and peas instead of meat at a few meals each week.
- Try to eat more fruits and vegetables every day, including citrus fruits and dark-green and deep-yellow vegetables. Colorful vegetables and fruits and plant-based foods have many natural health-promoting substances.
- Try to stay at a healthy weight, and stay physically active. Small weight changes during treatment are normal.
- Limit the amount of salt-cured, smoked, and pickled foods you eat.
- Limit or avoid red or processed meats
Breast Cancer Food Guide
There is no specific diet that is recommended for people with breast cancer. Your nutrient needs may vary depending on many factors that include other medical diagnoses, your body weight, nutrient deficiencies, medications, and any symptoms that youre currently experiencing.
Your healthcare team, including a registered dietitian who specializes in oncology nutrition, can help you come up with an appropriate eating plan specific to your needs and overall health. The following foods are based on general recommendations to maintain overall health while living with breast cancer:
- whole, nutrient-dense foods like fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, protein sources like chicken and turkey, fatty fish like trout or salmon, and plant-based proteins sources like lentils and nuts
- foods high in healthy fats and protein. If you need to maintain or gain weight, incorporate sources of healthy fat like nuts and seeds, avocados, and olive oil as well as protein sources like eggs, chicken, lentils, and fish. Protein-rich foods are especially important for maintaining muscle mass.
- blended liquids such as milkshakes, smoothies, juices, or soups for those times when you dont feel like eating solid foods
- high fiber foods like whole grains, flax seeds, legumes, vegetables and fruits to treat constipation
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Include Fiber In Your Diet
Fiber is a part of plants that you can eat but cant be digested by your body. Fiber is good for your health and can help you:
- Keep your blood sugar at the right levels.
- Lower your cholesterol levels.
- Have regular bowel movements and prevent constipation .
- Feel more full and satisfied after a meal.
Most people should eat at least 25 to 35 grams of fiber per day. You can do this by eating about 2 ½ cups of vegetables or legumes, 2 cups of fruit, and 3 servings of whole grains every day.
Increasing the amount of fiber in your diet over a short period of time can cause gas and bloating. Add sources of fiber to your diet slowly and drink lots of water. This will help your body get used to the change.
Foods with fiber
High-fiber foods usually have at least 3 grams of fiber per serving. Vegetables, fruits, beans, and whole grains are usually high in fiber. They also have many vitamins and minerals. Whole grains include the entire grain seed. Theyre better for you than refined grains. Examples of whole grains are:
- Brown rice, black rice, and wild rice
- Whole wheat
Read the labels on your foods to find those that are high in fiber. Labels that list the word whole or whole grain before the first ingredient are good fiber sources. For example, look for whole wheat flour as the first ingredient in bread, not just wheat flour.
What Foods Should You Avoid During Cancer Treatment
Be aware of whats going into your body during cancer treatment. Read nutrition labels and prepare as much of your own food as you can. Its best to stay away from highly refined, processed food. You should also avoid fried foods that contain a lot of hydrogenated oils, which can increase inflammation.
Since people with cancer often have compromised immune systems, consider skipping foods that carry the risk of foodborne illnesses, including:
- Lightly cooked or raw fish, such as sushi
- Soft-cooked eggs or foods that contain raw eggs, such as homemade mayonnaise
- Unpasteurized cheeses and dairy products
- Unwashed fruits or vegetables
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Whats The Relationship Between Red Meat Processed Meat And Cancer
Research by the American Institute for Cancer Research shows that eating more than 18 ounces of red meat per week increases your risk of getting colorectal cancer . Beef, lamb and pork are all red meats. Eating any amount of processed meat regularly can also increase your risk of getting both stomach and colorectal cancers. Processed meats are meats that are preserved by smoking, salting, curing, or adding other preservatives. Examples of processed meats include sliced turkey and bologna deli meats, bacon, ham, and hot dogs.
Nutrition In Cancer Care Patient Version
On This Page
- Good nutrition is important for cancer patients.
- Healthy eating habits are important during and after cancer treatment.
- A registered dietitian is an important part of the healthcare team.
- Cancer and cancer treatments may cause side effects that affect nutrition.
- Cancer and cancer treatments may cause malnutrition.
- Anorexia and cachexia are common causes of malnutrition in cancer patients.
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Counseling And Diet Changes Are Made To Improve The Patients Nutrition
A registered dietitian can work with patients and their families to counsel them on ways to improve the patient’s nutrition. The registered dietitian gives care based on the patient’s nutrition and diet needs. Changes to the diet are made to help decrease symptoms from cancer or cancer treatment. These changes may be in the types and amount of food, how often a patient eats, and how food is eaten .
A registered dietitian works with other members of the healthcare team to check the patient’s nutritional health during cancer treatment and recovery. In addition to the dietitian, the healthcare team may include the following:
What Are The Best Foods For Someone Whose Appetite Is Suffering Because Of Chemotherapy
Lack of appetite and feeling full after a few bites are common challenges for people receiving chemotherapy. If you are struggling with this issue, focus on eating good sources of protein and nutrient-dense foods.
The following tips can help you cope with chemotherapy-associated lack of appetite:
- Eat five or six small meals and snacks rather than two or three larger meals.
- Bring food with you when you leave the house. If hunger strikes, you can take advantage of it immediately. Pack granola bars, nuts, dried fruit, an apple, or a banana in your purse, bag, or backpack.
- Eat by the clock. Dont wait to feel hungry. Instead, make it a priority to have a few bites of food every hour or so.
- Avoid water, tea, coffee, diet soda, or other non-caloric beverages with meals. They can fill you up and replace the food your body truly needs.
- Include protein foods, such as eggs, nuts or nut butter, tuna, or chicken with every meal and snack.
- Add cheese to soups, stews, and casseroles.
- Enjoy custard and pudding made with whole milk for dessert.
- Drizzle olive oil over vegetables.
- Add avocado, nuts, and nut butters to salads.
Treat food like medicine. While its not fun to eat when you have no appetite, your body needs fuel in the form of calories and protein. Eating well can help you recover from treatment and rebuild your immune system.
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What Is Healthy Eating
Healthy eating is about balancing your food intake to make sure you get plenty of healthy foods such as vegetables, fruit, wholegrain breads, and cereals. Its also about cutting back on the not-so-healthy foods like sugars, salt and saturated fats. With healthy eating, you can continue to enjoy treats in moderation.
In the long term, healthy eating combined with regular exercise can improve your overall health, quality of life and reduce your risk of developing other illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease.
You may hear about special diets for people diagnosed with cancer, however there is no scientific evidence that women diagnosed with breast cancer need to follow a special diet or eat particular foods to prevent the cancer returning. It is recommended that women with breast cancer follow the same dietary guidelines that are recommended for all Australian adults. These guidelines can be found in BCNAs Healthy eating and breast cancer booklet or at eatforhealth.gov.au.
Cancer Diet: Foods To Add And Avoid During Cancer Treatment
Cancer can affect every aspect of your health, including your appetite and diet. Selvi Rajagopal, M.D., a specialist in internal medicine at Johns Hopkins Medicine, explains why your diet is so important during cancer treatment, and provides tips on foods to add and avoid.
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Is Fasting During Chemotherapy A Good Idea
- Large meals that cause spikes in circulating insulin cause effects in the body that are essentially the opposite of fasting and are to be avoided. This includes meals heavy in refined carbohydrates and any meal that causes a feeling of extra fullness . It is better to eat whole fruits and vegetables than to consume juice or smoothies. Allow yourself to become hungry between meals.
- Gaining weight during chemotherapy is not uncommon and should be avoided. Weight gain during treatment is associated with increased risk of breast cancer recurrence and metastasis.
- Metformin is used to treat metabolic syndrome, pre-diabetes, and polycystic ovary syndrome in addition to type 2 diabetes. Women with these conditions can check with their physicians as to whether metformin is appropriate for them.
- Women with type 2 diabetes should keep their blood sugar under tight control, preferably through diet and metformin rather than insulin if at all possible. Lantus long-acting insulin in particular has been associated with increased risk of breast cancer and might increase risk of recurrence.
Below are links to recent studies on fasting or calorie restriction and chemotherapy. For a more complete list of studies, please click on the tag calorie restriction.Tags:
Some Cancer Patients Try Special Diets To Improve Their Prognosis
Cancer patients may try special diets to make their treatment work better, preventside effects from treatment, or to treat the cancer itself. However, for most of these special diets, there is no evidence that shows they work.
Vegetarian or vegan diet
It is not known if following a vegetarian or vegan diet can help side effects from cancer treatment or the patient’s prognosis. If the patient already follows a vegetarian or vegan diet, there is no evidence that shows they should switch to a different diet.
A macrobiotic diet is a high-carbohydrate, low-fat, plant-based diet. No studies have shown that this diet will help cancer patients.
A ketogenic diet limits carbohydrates and increases fat intake. The purpose of the diet is to decrease the amount of glucose the tumorcells can use to grow and reproduce. It is a hard diet to follow because exact amounts of fats, carbohydrates and proteins are needed. However, the diet is safe.
Several clinical trials are recruiting glioblastoma patients to study whether a ketogenic diet affects glioblastoma tumor activity. Patients with glioblastoma who want to start a ketogenic diet should talk to their doctor and work with a registered dietitian. However, it is not yet known how the diet will affect the tumor or its symptoms.
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The Goal Of Nutrition Therapy For Patients Who Have Advanced Cancer Depends On The Overall Plan Of Care
The goal of nutrition therapy in patients with advanced cancer is to give patients the best possible quality of life and control symptoms that cause distress.
Patients with advanced cancer may be treated with anticancer therapy and palliative care, palliative care alone, or may be in hospice care. Nutrition goals will be different for each patient. Some types of treatment may be stopped if they are not helping the patient.
As the focus of care goes from cancer treatment to hospice or end-of-life care, nutrition goals may become less aggressive, and a change to care meant to keep the patient as comfortable as possible.See the Nutrition Needs at End of Life section for more information on nutrition at the end of life.
Is There Any Amount Of Alcohol That Is Safe To Drink During Chemotherapy
Chemotherapy can be taxing on the liver. Alcohol is processed by the liver. For this reason, some oncologists recommend completely avoiding alcohol during treatment.
If you have a special occasion, party, or event and want to enjoy a glass of wine, a beer, or a cocktail, check with your oncologist to make sure its OK.
Suzanne Dixon is a registered dietitian, epidemiologist, and medical writer.
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Different Types Of Medicine May Be Used To Treat Loss Of Appetite And Weight Loss
Medicines that improve appetite and cause weight gain, such as prednisone and megestrol, may be used to treat loss of appetite and weight loss. Studies have shown that the effect of these medicines may not last long or there may be no effect. Treatment with a combination of medicines may work better than treatment with one medicine. Patients who are treated with a combination of medicines may have more side effects.
What To Eat Before Chemotherapy
Before chemotherapy begins, a person should eat a healthy diet and try to maintain a moderate weight. A healthy diet should include various fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, lean proteins, whole grains, and legumes. People should try to limit refined carbohydrates, added sugars, and ultra-processed foods in any healthy diet.
Eating a healthy diet before chemotherapy may help a person lower their risk of infection, cope with side effects better, and have a greater chance of receiving treatment without unplanned breaks.
During this time, a person can prepare for eating while going through chemotherapy. It can be helpful to stock the freezer, refrigerator, and cupboards with healthy foods that a person enjoys. Foods that require little or no cooking and preparation time, such as frozen dinners, can be helpful.
It might also be helpful to cook food ahead of time and freeze meals. A person should include items they know they can eat even when they feel unwell.
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Where To Find Help
If you have any questions or concerns about nutrition, you should talk to a doctor, nurse, or dietitian. A registered dietitian can be one of your best sources of information. If you are going to meet with a dietitian, be sure to write down your questions before your meeting so you wont forget anything. And be sure to ask the dietitian to repeat or explain anything thats not clear.
For more information or to find a registered dietitian, contact the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
A Healthy Diet Is Important At Each Step In The Cancer Journey
Eating problems like nausea or decreased appetite are common during cancer treatment. These problems can make it hard to feel well and eat healthy. How eating healthy helps:
- Can help with side effects like nausea, diarrhea, or taste changes.
- Can help maintain body weight and muscle mass.
- Can help give you more energy.
- Can help prevent delays or breaks in treatment.
- Can help prevent hospital stays or reduce the time you are in the hospital.
- Can help improve how well you respond to treatment.
- Can help improve how well treatment works.
For more information about diet and nutrition for cancer survivors, click here: Diet & Nutrition for Cancer Survivors
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