Role Of Nutrition In Cancer Care
Quality nutrition is crucial for cancer patients, and it plays an important role in cancer treatment. If the patients are well-nourished and have a good nutritional status, it helps the patients to deal with the effects of cancer and cancer treatment, and, also, their rate of recovery is faster than those who are malnourished or undernourished. Having quality nutrition helps cancer patients to lead a quality life. So, it is very important to focus on having the right kind of foods during and after different kinds of cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and surgery.
Eating well will help you to fight the disease, maintain your energy levels, tolerate the side-effects of the cancer treatments, maintain your weight, and will help to heal and prevent or lowers the risk of infections.
Some of the side-effects of cancer & cancer treatment are a loss of appetite, mouth sores, a dry mouth, difficulty in swallowing, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation. So, including certain foods and avoiding some foods will help to combat these side-effects and also improve the general quality of life of the cancer patient.
Foods That a Cancer Patient Should Avoid Particularly During and After Chemotherapy:
- Avoid hot, spicy foods (hot pepper, curry, Cajun spice mix), and acidic foods.
- Avoid high-fat foods, such as fried and greasy foods.
- Avoid very sweet, sugary foods, as it is known that cancer cells grow faster in the presence of sugar. Cancer cells depend on blood sugar for energy, so it is better to stop the consumption of sugar completely or at least limit its intake.
- Avoid foods with strong smells.
- Avoid drinking beverages with meals.
- Avoid taking foods with extremes of temperature, such as too cold or too hot foods. Choose foods at room temperature.
- Refrain from having preserved foods, such as pickles jams, etc., as they contain carcinogenic nitrites.
- Avoid eating grilled, deep-fried meats since subjecting animal protein to high heat releases carcinogenic heterocyclic amines. We, at Life Force, recommend our patients to go completely vegan or to limit the consumption of red meats, particularly those high in fats and processed and eventually completely go off the meat and non-vegetarian dishes. We emphasis on plant-based foods.
- Beverages containing caffeine (coffee, strong tea, soda, and chocolate) need to be avoided.
- Avoid milk. As per a few studies, the milk has been known to promote cancer. The protein in the milk is known to promote the proliferation of cancer cells. There is research conducted by NCBI according to which milk and dairy products contain micronutrients and bioactive constituents that may influence the cancer risk and it’s a progression, so avoid milk and milk products. The other reason to avoid the milk is that, nowadays, the hormonal injections are given to increase milk production, so it is better to avoid the milk. Yes, if it is possible to get pure organic milk then you can have milk but in a limited quantity.
- Avoid eating rough or scratchy foods
- Alcoholic beverages should not be consumed.
- Smoking and tobacco in any form should be stopped completely.
- For oral cancer patients, use straws to drink soups or any other drinks.
- Avoid taking large meals and eating or drinking quickly.
- Avoid lying down after a meal.
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Foods That Help to Fight Cancer:
- Plant-Based Foods: We encourage our patients to eat plant-based food that is anything that comes from plants. Fruits and vegetables are rich in cancer-fighting nutrients. The rainbow diet is recommended that is a diet full of different vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and fruits of different colors. The more the color the more the nutrients they contain. To eat five or more servings of a variety of fresh vegetables & fruits every day.
- Whole Grains: Choose whole grains over the processed or refined grains, as refined grains are milled and the refining removes many nutrients including fiber. So, for instance, choose brown rice over white rice because the fiber is intact, but cooking brown rice may take time, so here you can soak the brown rice for some time and then cook.
- Pulses/Dals: Each day, have different dal. For instance, one day eat skinned moong dal, then chana dal, the next day masoor dal, and so on so that you get all amino acids.
- Beans: Beans contain several phytochemicals that help to fight cancer.
- Vegetables: Here are some fresh vegetables which can help you combat cancer.
- Cruciferous vegetables: Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and kale that is cruciferous vegetables help to convert bad estrogen into good estrogen that helps prevent the chances or relapses of cancers, such as endometrial cancer, breast cancer, and ovarian cancer. Also, cruciferous vegetables contain sulforaphane which has anti-cancer properties and inhibits the growth of cancer cells.
- Tomatoes are particularly good for prostate cancer. Also, according to studies, the tomato puree and sauce increase the cancer-fighting potential.
- Carrots: Carrots contain beta-carotene which helps to boost the immune system.
- Dark green leafy vegetables: They have a lot of fiber, carotenoids that may help to protect against cancer. Also, green leafy vegetables are rich in iron and calcium.
- Bitter gourd helps to lower the blood sugar levels.
- Fruits: Here are some fresh fruits that can help you combat cancer.
- Grapes: It contains resveratrol which has strong anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidant properties.
- Figs, prunes, raisins, and apricots provide you energy.
- Strawberries: It contains ellagic acid which is a powerful antioxidant and helps to fight cancer.
- Green tea: In some studies of NCBI, green tea has shown cancer-fighting properties helps to slow down the disease process.
- Spices: Turmeric is the Indian spice which has cancer-fighting properties. It helps to control the overgrowth of the cells.
A Few Handy Tips For Cancer Patients To Follow:
- Avoid using non-stick cookware (Teflon coated) aluminum utensils, instead, you can use steel, copper, brass, or mud utensils.
- Avoid plastic containers and water bottles.
- Try to use herbal shampoos, soaps, and detergents to be chemical-free.
- Try to get to close to nature as much as possible. Stick to organic foods and drinks.
- Eat 5-6 small meals per day (this helps to sneak in extra calories and proteins.)
The above-shared information is not to replace the advice of your treating doctor. The general guidelines have been shared regarding the foods to avoid and to eat, however, for a complete diet plan in terms of quantity and diet strictly related to a particular type of cancer; a registered dietician can be one of the best sources of information to guide you about the same.
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