Nutrition: Essential Support for Cancer Patients

Response to Sunny Dinner Occasion

 Good nutrition plays a key role not only in the prevention of cancer, but also in the lives of those diagnosed with the disease. Healthy eating and other kinds of nutritional aids can ease recovery from surgery, mitigate the side effects of radiation and chemotherapy treatments, and support long-term health for cancer survivors. Guidelines from the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health offer suggestions for optimal nutrition at various stages of the cancer treatment and recovery process.

Surgery for cancer and other reasons stresses the body, and it needs extra nutritional support for recovery. Poor eating habits before and after surgery can contribute to slower healing and the likelihood of complications. Healthy, minimally processed foods that are calorie-dense and high in protein encourage wound healing and weight gain. Post-surgery fatigue and pain can affect the appetite, so eating numerous small meals, and adding nutritional drinks and vitamin supplements to the diet will help.

The side effects of chemotherapy include loss of appetite, fatigue and nausea, so good nutrition helps the body cope with treatment and improves emotional as well as physical well-being. Small, vitamin-rich meals of natural foods, as well as nutritional supplements, can help patients cope with the discomforts of treatment and lay the groundwork for long-term health. In some cases, enteric, or tube feedings can also add essential nutrition if eating is difficult or uncomfortable.

Depending on the location of the cancer radiation treatment can also make eating and digestion very difficult. Treatment of the throat and chest for cancers such as lung cancersor a rare cancer called mesothelioma can cause pain when swallowing, acid reflux and infections of the esophagus; so healthy eating may be compromised. Adding nutritional supplements and protein drinks, as well as choosing nutritionally dense foods, can offer support during therapy. Likewise, good nutrition is essential for stem cell transplant patients, who face a high risk of infection and may need the advice of a dietitian to create a supportive diet that avoids raw foods that may carry bacteria.

After treatment, cancer patients in remission can benefit from a healthy, nutritionally dense diet, which offers the body maximum support not just for recovery, but also for long-term health. One’s life expectancycan be improved tremendously by following solid nutritional guidelines. Beneficial dietary habits, including avoiding foods high in saturated fat and sugar, reduce stress and improve physical and emotional well being, not just for cancer survival but for a positive outlook on life in general.

Submitted By: David Haas 

David Haas is a young cancer advocate who wants to continue researching ways to better peoples lives whom have been touched by this awful disease. One of the ways Haas has learned is to pay better attention to nutrition. Haas believes this is a very important part to treatments and even when in remission. The right food can help keep the body healthy to combat this deadly disease.

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