Importance of nutrition during chemotherapy

Eating a nutritious diet makes a difference during and after chemotherapy treatment.

May 14, 2018 - Author: Erin Carter, Michigan State University Extension

Getting into the habit of eating a nutritious diet full of fruits and vegetables is difficult for most of us. When cancer patients are going through chemotherapy, it may be even harder when they might not feel up to cooking or stepping foot in a grocery store. Fast food or ordering a pizza may seem like an easier option when depression, fatigue and low self-esteem may be taking over their lives.

Living on a diet of unhealthy food could cause malnutrition. Malnutrition can occur any time during a person’s life when the food consumed is not healthy and lacks essential nutrients. Cancer.net has some helpful suggestions about diet and chemotherapy. It mentions consulting with a registered dietician about a personal diet plan to achieve optimal health through healthy food intake and minimizing side effects experienced during chemotherapy.

While receiving chemotherapy treatment it is vital for the body to have the ability to repair itself and to remain as strong as possible. According to Michigan State University Extension, without the proper nutrition the body may not be well enough to continue treatment or possibly cause a lapse in treatment schedules, thus prolonging the time a person will require chemotherapy. Some side effects associated with chemotherapy, such as a decrease in appetite, or mouth sores can be reduced through a healthy diet. Although medications to reduce side effects have come a long way in recent years, it is possible to further decrease these experiences by eating a healthy diet.

A healthy diet including a daily variety of fruits and vegetables can help cancer patients maintain a healthy weight, according to an article by Chemocare. The article references the importance of a plant-based diet and lists modified diets, which could fit in any person’s lifestyle. Plant based diets provide phytonutrients or phytochemicals found only in plant compounds, like carotenoids, lycopene, resveratrol and phytosterols which have protective or disease preventative qualities.

The benefits of a nutritious diet are frequently in the headlines as being the key for optimal health and wellbeing, regardless of chemotherapy treatments. Making a habit of healthy eating may help to diminish stress and help the body heal to ensure a better quality of life during difficult periods in life.

An article published by Tuff’s University refers to the possibility of reprogramming the brain to crave healthy food instead of food that isn’t healthy. Many studies have found nutritious diets full of fruits and vegetables has the ability to reduce the onset or the return of cancer. Making strides to fill a cancer patient’s diet with nutritious foods, thus reprogramming the brain, is a positive step towards their current and future health.

Tags: chronic disease, food & health, msu extension, nutrition


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