There’s no specific food or food group that cures cancer. However, eating a nutritious diet is important for mesothelioma patients. During treatment, patients may find they have to make a concerted effort to maintain proper nutrition. Because of treatment side effects, mesothelioma patients tend to lack protein and calories, which aid in recovery, immunity, and energy.
For some, the side effects of cancer treatment like chemotherapy can reduce appetite, or even make it difficult to eat. The body needs plenty of fat, protein, carbohydrates, and water to support the immune system. Without these types of foods, treatment can be even more challenging.
If you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma, it may be challenging to know what to eat during your treatment. Malnutrition and muscle loss from lack of healthy food can affect cancer patients, impacting health and survival. Here are five simple ways mesothelioma patients can improve their nutrition:
Stick With a Balanced Diet
When it comes to eating meals, patients may find some days are more challenging than others. It’s important for mesothelioma patients to maintain a healthy weight and sustain their energy, to help fight off infection, and manage side effects of treatment. A balanced diet helps the body stay healthy.
Most mesothelioma patients need to increase protein intake and decrease whole grains. Protein can help boost your immune system and rebuild tissues damaged by mesothelioma. High-protein foods include chicken, fish, eggs, beans, nuts, seeds, and cheese.
Fruits and vegetables are part of a healthy diet. Vitamins in fruits and vegetables may help restore the body. Starchy vegetables like potatoes and sweet potatoes are good options for cancer patients. To maintain your weight during treatment, consume healthy fats like olive oil, nuts, avocado, and seafood to supply the body with energy.
Proper hydration also plays a role, so it’s important to drink enough water to help the body function properly. Dehydration can be common among cancer patients. Try to drink at least eight glasses of water each day to stay hydrated.
Eat Cancer-Fighting Foods
Scientists believe that certain foods can fight cancer. Research shows that a high intake of fruit and vegetables may reduce the risk of cancer.
Some studies have linked higher consumption of vegetables with a lower risk of disease. Antioxidants and phytochemicals in vegetables and fruit may help fight cancer. Antioxidants prevent cell damage. They are found in broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, tomatoes, corn, carrots, mangoes, sweet potatoes, soybeans, cantaloupe, oranges, spinach, nuts, lettuce, celery, liver, fish oil, seeds, grains, kale, beets, red peppers, blueberries, strawberries, and black and green tea.
Phytochemicals are chemical compounds produced by plants that help fight against pathogens. Foods rich in phytochemicals include apples, apricots, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, garlic, legumes, onions, red peppers, soybeans, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes.
Flaxseeds and spices like turmeric have anti-inflammatory properties, and may also slow the spread of cancer cells.
It’s best to start incorporating healthy foods before, during, and after treatment, as some treatments may make you sensitive to food.
Limit The Sugar Intake
Researchers linked higher cancer risk with spiked blood glucose levels. Try to avoid eating foods that contain an excessive amount of processed sugar.
Avoid sugary drinks and processed or packaged foods. About 75% of packaged food in the United States contains added sugar. Instead, try to eat healthier snacks and check nutrition labels for sugar or sweeteners.
You may run into a lot of added sugar when dining out. Gravy, dressings, and sauces all have hidden sugar in them. Ask for them on the side.
Avoid foods high in refined carbs like white bread, regular pasta, white rice, and sugary breakfast cereals. Instead, try to eat whole-grain carbohydrates like brown rice, sweet potatoes, and whole-wheat bread and pasta.
Manage Side Effects
Due to the side effects of treatment, some patients may lose their appetite. Even the thought of eating might be hard. Your diet may help you overcome some of the most common side effects.
For nausea and vomiting, avoid greasy, spicy, or high-fat foods. Instead, try eating dry foods like crackers or toast. Broths and sports drinks soothe mouth or throat problems that arise from vomiting.
For diarrhea, rehydrate your body by drinking lots of liquids and cutting back on high-fiber foods like whole grains and vegetables. Be open to new foods, as some treatments can affect your sense of taste.
Talk To Your Doctor
Consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet. Some mesothelioma treatments may require patients to avoid certain foods.
As a mesothelioma patient, it can be helpful for you to speak with a dietitian to create a nutrition plan to meet your needs. This person can explain what foods are helpful or possibly harmful during treatment.
Your oncologist may recommend certain dietitians that have experience working with cancer patients.