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Merits Of A Nutritious Diet In Cancer Care
Merits Of A Nutritious Diet In Cancer Care
Posted On July 18, 2023
It can be overwhelming to listen to pieces of advice when we don’t know who or what to follow. We are bound to feel confused about important aspects of care. In this article, we talk about the aspect of food and nutrition.
Merits of a Balanced Diet in cancer care
While it is essential to comply with the various modalities of cancer treatment, consuming a balanced diet is equally important. Your nutrient intake determines your tolerance and recovery speed.
A significant number of cancer patient suffer from malnutrition. It happens due to altered sense of taste and loss of appetite, which can be attributed to both the disease and the unfortunate side effects of chemotherapy. One-third of patients already suffer from malnutrition at diagnosis.
A nutritionally diverse and varied diet is bound to pay rich dividends.
Generally, saturated fats (pastries, cheese, sausages and meat) should be avoided. Plenty of fruit, vegetables, fish, low-fat dairy products, nuts, rice, pasta, and pulses should be eaten.
Oncological diets should be personalised, as food tolerance varies from patient to patient. It should also be borne in mind that a patient’s tolerance to food can change in a short period of time, so not only must the diet be personalised, but the nutrition and diet specialist must also meet the patient regularly to modify the diet as the patient goes through their cancer treatment.
The aftermath of cancer can affect patients in more ways than one. It can affect their sense of taste, lead to loss of weight or muscle mass, vitamin or iron deficiency, etc. The nutrition and diet specialist will recommend dietary guidelines even after the oncology treatment has passed.
Proteins constitute the most important nutrient in any given diet.
How much protein one must take depends on an individual’s age, gender, physical activity, and body weight. Protein helps in growth, tissue repair, hormone formation, enzymes, red blood cells, and body maintenance. People with cancer need more protein as compared to normal individuals.
As proteins are the basic building blocks of the immune system, a low protein intake will lead to weakened immunity and, thereby, a slower recovery rate.
What are the dietary sources of protein?
According to research, animal protein helps in muscle protein synthesis better than plant protein. And when plant and animal protein are combined where animal protein is ≥65%, it helps avoid malnutrition during cancer treatment.
Plant sources include nuts (almond, walnut, peanuts), seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, sesame), legumes (dried beans, peas, lentils), tofu.
Animal sources include chicken, fish, seafood, eggs, milk, cheese, and curd/yogurt.
How much protein should a cancer patient take?
As per nutritional oncology guidelines, the minimum recommendation for protein intake in adults is 1g/kg body weight/day. However, aiming for 1.2-2.0g/ kg body weight/day is advisable for a better clinical outcome.
How to manage protein intake during cancer and its treatment?
Managing one’s protein intake is crucial. Estimating the daily intake based on body composition, understanding the source of foods, and the way of consumption can be planned well by a well-trained dietitian. Diet can be tailored for the individual by evaluating their food pattern, likes and dislikes, medical history, and present condition.
Hence, understanding the importance of nutrients, how they must be consumed, in what quantity, and most importantly, what role they play matters immensely.
It can be overwhelming to listen to pieces of advice from varying sources. Especially at the start of a challenging journey, when we don’t know who or what to follow.
What kind of food should a person eat when undergoing treatment? How much? What if they find it difficult to eat?
These are common questions asked by both cancer patients and their caregivers.
Since each person’s experience with food and nutrition during cancer treatment is different- it depends on the type of cancer they have, the stage they’re at, the type of treatment they’re receiving, and the medication they’re taking- it is critical to consult a nutritionist or a dietitian. The nutritionist or dietician will regularly monitor the patient’s condition and make a diet chart or plan suited to their needs at that point in time.
That said, both the patient and the caregiver would do well to know some basics of diet during oncological treatment.
The body needs to be supplied with enough and the right nutrition for cells to repair and heal. But it is difficult to eat when you don’t have the appetite for it, or feel full after taking only a few bites of food. Cancer, in combination with its treatment and medication, causes multiple side effects relating to food consumption and digestion.
These include: nausea; fatigue; loss of appetite, weight loss, malnutrition; weight gain; fluid retention; vomiting; diarrhea; constipation; taste changes; milk or lactose intolerance; sore mouth, tongue, and throat; dry mouth; difficulty swallowing; narrowing of the food pipe; and tooth decay.
The list may seem overwhelming at first, but the basic tips to mitigate all such discomfort remain the same:July 18, 2023
Yoga is not an alternative to cancer treatment- it cannot ‘cure’ or treat any kind of cancer- but it may help relieve some of its symptoms, improve mood and quality of life when integrated into ongoing standard treatment.
Our immune system responds to our feelings, and it could do with less of the stress, anxiety, and depression caused by cancer’s touch. Although it is hard to imagine making friends with an enemy, the illness the patient has been called upon to fight, this is the attitude we need. Yoga and meditation has helped many patients inculcate it. Yoga consists of gentle, low-impact exercises that can be easily adapted to each person’s needs. Its practice is centered around the breath, making it especially effective in “opening the chest” in patients of lung cancer. In turning our attention inward, meditation activates a sense of awe and wonder at the present moment: slowly, we start to become more mindful of our responses, and learn to take control of them. We eat in greater peace, and slowly, learn to treat food as medicine.
According to a recent study conducted by the Tata Memorial Hospital, inclusion of yoga in the treatment of breast cancer resulted in a 15% improvement in disease-free survival (DFS) and 14% in overall survival. It has also been found to prevent the development of lymphedema in survivors of breast cancer, which occurs when too much lymph collects in any area of the body. Diaphragmatic breathing, as taught in yogic practice, increases venous and lymphatic circulation, thus preventing lymph from collecting.
But here, one size doesn’t fit all. As simple and soothing as it may be, yoga can also have side-effects such as nerve damage and stroke, when done improperly or in excess. You need to have the programme tailored according to your own needs and follow it only to the extent your body allows.
Therefore, make sure to:July 18, 2023
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