For a cancer patient, the diet plays an important role in speeding up the recovery process. While undergoing cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy, along with the malignant cells, a large number of healthy cells of the body are destroyed. In addition, conventional cancer treatments produce some adverse side effects such as loss of appetite, nausea, fatigue, diarrhea and constipation. While providing the essential nutrients, which the body needs for the growth and repair of damaged cells, diet for cancer patients should also reduce the side effects of the cancer treatments.
Diet for preventing malnutrition
Cancer patients often suffer from severe nutrient deficiency. To prevent malnutrition and to speed up recovery, a balanced nutritious diet is necessary for cancer patients. They should have at least five servings of fresh foods and vegetables, whole grain products and moderate amounts of lean meat and dairy products.
Leafy green vegetables, beta carotene rich yellow and orange colored vegetables and citrus fruits are beneficial for cancer patients. They should avoid trans fats and saturated fats. Processed, charred or smoked meat should be avoided by cancer patients.
Reducing side effects of treatment
Cancer treatment might cause loss of appetite. To deal with appetite loss, you should divide large meals into several small meals. Eat appetizing, yet nutritious, foods such as eggs, nuts, muffins, cheese, yogurt and granola bars. Instead of drinking skim milk, you can drink low fat milk. Try to have your meals in a relaxed and friendly ambiance. People undergoing cancer treatment could experience a metallic taste in their mouth. To tackle this problem consume citrus fruits, juices, and pickles.
Replace red meat with lean portions of chicken, eggs, peanut butter, seeds, nuts and seafood. Cancer patients should drink at least eight glasses of water and fluid. This could prevent constipation. Although, high fiber foods are known to reduce constipation, certain cancer medications could worsen constipation with increase in dietary fiber intake.
If cancer treatment causes diarrhea, cancer patients should limit intake of dietary fiber, caffeine, milk and milk products and fats. If you are suffering from flatulence, try limiting gas-forming foods such as carbonated beverages, cauliflowers, broccoli, dried beans and peas and chewing gum. After the symptoms of cancer treatment have subsided, cancer patients could resume their normal diet.