Cancer is a complicated sort as we all know. There are many different types of cancer, each causing different affects to the person they infect. Signs and symptoms become evident leading to an everyday, quickly altered by a severe diagnosis.
The medical world is exploring opportunities with treatment not only in effort to cure what we now know as the incurable, but to make the patient feel better. From chemotherapy, radiation to natural healing there are many ways to attack the killer. Some treatments cause the patient to feel very sick with nausea and vomiting, while others attempt to reduce additional pain caused by other treatments.
Eating certain foods is one concept used in both preventative measures and treatment that is currently being explored. A natural alternative is used consistently to improve overall wellbeing.
Feelings of sickness and pain are well associated with days of chemotherapy and radiation treatment. Loss of appetite can occur with these treatments regardless of the type of cancer. However sensory changes typically occur especially in cancers of the head and neck, where the mouth and throat are directly affected. Taste aversions or alterations of certain flavors typically take place. The sense of sweetness, salt and sour recognitions are apt to decrease. When this occurs it is advised to consume foods with additional sugar, salt and sour flavors. Bitter taste recognition increases causing some foods, specifically meat, to portray a rather bitter flavor. All taste aversions appear at different levels of individual intensity. The goal is to consume foods that maximize body’s needs and the pleasure of eating.
Favorite foods are not recommended in effort to reduce associations with treatment. Patients should be able to go back to eating favorite dishes, rather than be reminded of the treatment. Eating should be pleasurable, not painful. The goal is to consume foods to fulfill the body needs, while obtaining enjoyment in the process.
To maximize the inner ability to fight the disease there are a few concepts to keep in mind. Proper protein consumption is important for optimal health. When cancer is present there is a higher level of protein catabolism, or breakdown, specifically in skeletal muscle. The protein that enters the body in the form of food is rapidly used to repair muscles being broken down. A person with cancer typically requires more protein to be consumed because of the abnormal level of breakdown.
Fluid needs are also increased in addition to protein. The typical side affects of nausea and vomiting due to treatment can cause electrolyte imbalances and dehydration. Maintaining hydration, fluid and proper electrolyte balance becomes more important than the healthy individual. Multivitamins with mineral supplements are advised to ensure proper nutrition even at less than 100% of the DRI, or daily recommended intake because food consumption will account for a portion of the percentage.
Antioxidants are used as preventative and treatment measures in effort to fight free radicals from the body environment. Vitamins A, C, E, beta-carotene, Zinc, and Selenium can all be beneficial. It is important to consume adequate amounts of these nutrients, rather than high doses, as the cancer may benefit rather than the body if too much is available.
Here are the top food sources of the anti-oxidants:
Liver of beef or chicken, fortified milk, cheese, carrots, spinach, kale, cantaloupe and apricots
Guava, red and green pepper, kiwi, orange and its juice, strawberries, Brussels sprouts, cantaloupe, papaya
Fortified ready to eat cereals, sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnuts, sunflower, safflower and cottonseed oils, pine nuts, peanut butter
carrots, cantaloupe, apricots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, winter squash, mangos, collard greens, spinach, kale, broccoli
Oysters, beef, crab, chicken, pork, lobster, fortified cereals, cashews, yogurt, chickpeas, cheese, almonds, milk
Brazil nuts, beef, tuna, whole wheat products, oats, egg yolks
Inclusion of these antioxidants can be beneficial in addition to adequate protein, water, vitamins and minerals the body needs. The goal in food consumption with those who have cancer is to consume adequate nutrients while inducing minimal pain and maximizing the pleasure of eating.
You and your body have to enjoy life, wherever you may be in the journey.
Additional Helpful Sources:
National Cancer Institute, Antioxidants and Cancer Prevention
Eating Well, Healthy Antioxidant Rich Recipes and
Life Script, 7 Antioxidant Rich