Proper Nutrition and Cancer

By Jillian Mckee

Getting the proper nutrition is essential to good health. Nutrition is what fuels the body, makes it strong and helps it grow and heal. People who have been diagnosed with cancer need proper nutrition to help them prepare for treatment, succeed during treatment and stay healthy during remission.

Eating a healthy diet can be difficult for patients because of side effects that accompany treatments, such as those that occur as a result of mesothelioma treatments. Some patients may experience vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, dry mouth, sore throat, mouth sores or loss of appetite. These side effects may make it difficult to eat a proper diet, but a nutritionist or doctor can help patients create a healthy eating plan that is right for them.

Carbohydrates are an important component of good health for cancer patients. Carbs can help battle fatigue, give patients more energy and increase organ functioning. Patients should focus on consuming whole grains instead of obtaining carbohydrates from processed foods or those containing white flour. Great options include whole grain or whole wheat breads, brown rice, cereals, brown flour and whole grain crackers. Quinoa, barley and brown rice are also good options that are loaded with healthy carbs.

Protein helps the body repair tissues, grow and helps boost the immune system. Cancer patients often need more protein than others because the nutrient helps the body fight off infections and heal tissues that have been damaged by cancer. While many people think of meat as a prime source of protein, there are healthier ways to get this essential nutrient. Lentils, nuts, low-fat dairy products, beans, soy foods and eggs are all loaded with protein.

Contrary to popular belief, a healthy diet does indeed include fats. The healthy fats in avocados, nuts, oils, fish and seeds provide energy for the body, insulate the body's tissues and move vitamins through the bloodstream.

Water is another important component of a healthy diet. All of the body's cells require water to function, but the side effects of certain types of cancer and treatments can produce dehydration. Patients who experience vomiting or diarrhea should consume extra water each day to provide the body with the fluids it needs to function properly.

In addition to getting the proper amounts of these nutrients each day, the American Cancer Society recommends that patients limit their consumption of alcohol and red meats, decrease the amount of fat consumed and eat at least five to seven servings of vegetables and fruits each day.

These recommendations can help patients prepare for treatment and enjoy a healthier life during remission.