Nutrition during cancer treatment
For more healthy eating advice please visit my website http://www.nutrition-coach.co.uk/
On Wednesday 25th March I appeared on Verity Cowlely’s show at BBC Radio Nottingham to talk about nutrition for those going through cancer. You can listen to two excerpts of the interview.
7 minutes long
4 ½ minutes long
More information about healthy eating can be found on some of my previous blog posts
healthy lifestyle, what is a healthy balanced diet, high calorie foods
Eating the right kinds of foods before, during, and after treatment can help you feel better and stay stronger.
Eating well while you are being treated for cancer might help you:
- Feel better.
- Keep up your strength and energy.
- Maintain your weight and your body’s store of nutrients.
- Better tolerate treatment related side effects.
- Lower your risk of infection.
- Heal and recover faster.
Eating well means eating a variety of foods that will give your body the nutrients needed to help fight the effects of your cancer treatment. These nutrients include protein, carbohydrates, fat, water, vitamins, and minerals.
If you have a poor appetite eat little and often, have a fortified drink (Complan or something similar) or go for nutrient dense food (see my blog high calorie foods that I created after being asked whilst at Maggie’s Nottingham) like fats, nuts, seeds, peanuts, nut butters, avocados, hummus and oils are great sources of healthy fats loaded with nutrients and are very calorie dense. Try to enrich your favourite foods with dried milk powder, cream or cheese. If you are struggling with the quantity then blend the food to make a fortified soup
Protein is especially important as its needed to heal tissue and fight infection – beans, pulses, eggs, chicken, fish, tofu quinoa are all great sources
Ginger can help with nausea – have it as a tea, drinks, biscuits or grated into food
If your taste buds change eat foods you like or have strong flavours. lemon, mint, cumin, turmeric, black pepper, ginger
If you feel tired and the thought of cooking is too much then the occasional ready meals are fine or on your good days cook extra and freeze
Don’t serve large portions it can be overwhelming
Sometimes the smell of food can be off putting so have food served warm or at room temperature
The more trauma a body has undergone the more energy it needs to recover and repair. And the best source is carbohydrates and fats.
Having sufficient amounts of carbohydrates means that protein will not be converted in to energy and can be utilised for cell repair – wholemeal pasta, rice, bread are good examples
Veg and fruit are also good carb sources and have lots of vitamins, antioxidants (A,C,E,Zinc etc) and fibre – needed for a healthy digestion
Using fats for energy again allows protein to be used for cell regeneration. They also have a key role in the structure of cell walls, reducing inflammation and aiding clotting.
Healthy fats to eat are olive oil, rapeseed oil, sunflower oil and those found in avocados and oily fish like mackerel, salmon, sardines and trout
Some people may develop anaemia (as chemo lowers red blood cells) – dark green leafy vegetables, iron-fortified bread and cereals, beans, nuts, meat, apricots, prunes, raisins are all valuable sources of iron. Eat foods high in Vitamin C at same time as non meat Iron to help with absorption. so a red pepper with your green leafy veg for instance
It is important to increase your fluid intake, as dehydrated skin is less elastic, more fragile and more susceptible to tears. You may also experience a sore or dry mouth, drinking or sucking on an ice cube may help
Be careful about taking lots of supplements – you could have too many and be ill, so try and get all you need from the food you eat
Low immunity- avoid foods that may contain harmful bacteria like paté, raw eggs, live bacterial yoghurt, cheeses made from unpasteurised milk, such as Brie and blue-veined cheeses and raw or undercooked shellfish.
Have good personal and food hygiene to reduce risk of food poisioning
Factor in some gentle exercise, like a walk in the fresh air – can improve your appetite, boost energy levels, get Vitamin D (wear sunscreen as chemo can make you more light sensitive), socialise, change of scene, lift your mood
If you have any issues about food or your diet during your cancer treatment first of all speak to your oncology team, or Maggie’s Nottingham or contact me