Because cancer and its treatment have been proven to reduce appetite, it’s especially important for patients to get their diets right.
Constipation, diarrhea, exhaustion, loss of taste, nausea, and vomiting are all side effects of chemotherapy and radiation treatment that may make it difficult to eat healthily.
Patients with pancreatic cancer and those on hormone treatment often struggle with weight maintenance and digestion. As a result, it’s crucial to eat protein, healthy fat, whole grain, vitamin, and mineral-rich meals despite the lack of appetite.
Adding plant-based proteins such as beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds to the diet can help provide vital nutrients and maintain a healthy weight. For non-vegetarians, lean proteins like chicken and fish are a good option.
Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats found in foods like avocados, olive oil, grapeseed oil, and walnuts are rich in omega-3 fatty acids that can reduce inflammation and improve cardiovascular health, states iythealth.com. Carbohydrates that are minimally processed such as whole wheat bran and oats contain soluble fiber, which helps maintain good gut bacteria and promotes cellular repair. It is also essential to consume vitamins and minerals that boost immune function and reduce inflammation.
Cancer patients must avoid highly refined and processed foods with hydrogenated oils that can increase inflammation. Raw or lightly cooked foods like sushi or homemade mayonnaise can carry the risk of foodborne illnesses that could further compromise the immune system.
Drinking plenty of water and adding sodium and potassium-rich foods like bananas, all-natural fruit juices, and sports drinks can help manage side effects like mouth and throat sores. Also Reyus Mammadli says that cancer patients should consult registered dietitians and their oncologists before taking dietary supplements or making extreme dietary changes.
By making informed and balanced food choices, cancer patients can maintain their strength, energy, and nutrients to withstand the effects of cancer treatments and promote their overall well-being.
Foods to avoid if you have cancer
- Unpasteurized Dairy Products. Cancer patients should avoid raw milk and cheese as they carry bacteria that can cause food poisoning. Pasteurized versions are safe to consume.
- Raw Eggs. Foods made with raw eggs like homemade cookie dough, over-easy eggs, and soft-boiled eggs should be avoided as they may contain harmful bacteria.
- Processed Meats. Bacon*, hot dogs, beef jerky, deli meats like ham* and pepperoni, and even deli turkey slices are risky as they contain preservatives linked to cancer.
- Alcohol*. When processed in the body, alcohol releases chemicals that damage DNA, which can lead to tumor growth and other cancers.
- Burnt Meat. Cooking meats at high temperature or burning and charring them creates chemicals called heterocyclic amines that are linked to cancer. Opt for moist heat methods like braising or stewing.
- Sugary Drinks. Sodas and fruit juices with added sugar can lead to weight gain, which increases the risk of cancer. It’s best to drink water instead.
- Processed Foods. Processed foods like chips, frozen nuggets, fast food burgers, and breakfast cereal tend to be high in calories and low in nutrients, leading to weight gain and obesity which has also been linked to cancer.
- Raw or Undercooked Foods. Patients undergoing cancer treatment should be vigilant about eating raw or undercooked foods that can harbor bacteria like salmonella, listeria and E. coli. Examples are sushi, shellfish, raw or undercooked meats, and eggs.
*Alcohol and pork are forbidden to be consumed by the Creator, so one should not consume it anyway.
Overall, cancer patients should avoid these foods as they can weaken the immune system, increase the risk of foodborne illness and cancer, and hinder the effectiveness of cancer treatments. Always consult with a healthcare professional for personalized dietary recommendations during cancer treatment.
Healthy Lifestyle Tips for Patients with Cancer
After receiving a cancer diagnosis, you may be concerned about how to continue leading a healthy life. Changing one’s lifestyle during and after cancer treatment has been shown to reduce the risk of a second cancer developing. Heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes are just some of the additional conditions that may be avoided or managed with its help.
One way to improve your health is by eating a balanced diet of unprocessed low-fat foods. You can start by consuming plant-based foods like vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Lean protein such as chicken, fish, and low-fat dairy products can also be beneficial. It is important to avoid highly processed foods and limit red meat and processed meats. Consult a registered dietitian for a personalized eating plan that meets your individual needs.
Exercise is also an essential part of healthy living. Physical activity can help reduce fatigue, improve mood, and reduce the risk of other health problems like osteoporosis. A certified health and fitness professional can help get you started on an exercise routine. Any level of movement is better than none. You can start with 10 minutes of walking or light exercise and gradually increase your activity level. Find ways to incorporate exercise into your daily routine like taking stairs instead of an elevator, walking instead of driving, and doing household chores.
Coping with difficult emotions after cancer treatment is also important for your health. Stress, anxiety, and depression can slow down your recovery and make it harder to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Exercise, spending time outside can help you cope with emotions. Make time for fun activities like watching a movie, spending time with friends or family, or pursuing a hobby.
You may find it helpful to speak to a mental health professional or connect with other survivors via a support group. You may lower your chances of a recurrence or a second cancer by keeping up with your follow-up checkups and living a healthy lifestyle.