Optimal nutrition is essential when you’re undergoing treatment so that you have the strength to handle procedures and increase your chances of recovery. Because cancer and some treatments can compromise your immune system, you need to be extra careful with your food intake and handling.
What You May Need to Avoid
Each cancer case is unique, but generally, you may need to avoid certain types of food that may worsen your situation or increase the risk of cancer recurrence or development of a new type of cancer.
Here are some food staples that your doctor may ask you to limit or avoid:
- Alcohol – Alcohol can inflame the liver, which can interfere with the organ’s ability to break down drugs used for cancer treatment. Since that is the case, it is recommended to limit or avoid alcohol during treatment.Consult your doctor about alcohol intake and find out how it can affect your condition. For instance, if you have mouth sores, the doctor may advise completely taking off alcohol in your diet because it can worsen your situation.
- Fat – Fat is essential for proper nutrition, but too much of it, especially trans fat and saturated fat, may result to obesity—which is a major risk factor to cancer.There are varying study findings about fat intake and cancer. Some studies reveal that saturated fats may increase cancer risk. Meanwhile, monounsaturated fats such as omega-3 may be linked to lower risks for certain cancer cases such as prostate cancer.To be on the safe side, it’s best to consult your doctor or nutritionist about the ideal fat intake for your condition and which sources you should get it from.
- Sugar – Sugar doesn’t feed cancer and have no direct link of worsening existing cancer cases. However, sweetened foods and beverages can add up to the calories you intake and increase your weight, which can affect cancer condition and risk.
- Red and processed meat – Red and processed meat can be sources of protein, but cancer patients may not benefit much from them. Natural chemicals found in red meat or substances used to cure and preserve processed meats may have cancer links.Cancer patients may need to limit or avoid eating red and processed meat and may need to rely on other sources for their protein requirements.
Tips for Eating Healthy During Cancer Treatment
Eating healthy is essential to ensure that you get proper nourishment during cancer treatment, and here are some helpful tips to help you do that:
- Fill your diet with vegetables and fruits – Fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants that help maintain nutritional balance and boost your immune system.
- Go for healthier protein sources – Lean meat from chicken and fish and non-meat sources such as tofu and peanuts are rich in protein. Instead of relying on red meat, you can turn on these food staples to meet your protein requirements.
- Stay hydrated – Drink the right amount of water. Make sure that you have enough fluid intake each day to keep your body hydrated and maintain proper bodily functions.
- Practice proper handling and cooking of food – Maintain preparation area clean and wash all ingredients prior to cooking. Make sure that your food is well cooked. Raw or undercooked food can pave way for foodborne illnesses and may affect your health during cancer treatment. Be careful of food items that may have raw ingredients such as sauces and dressings. In addition, going for pasteurized food and beverages are typically recommended.
- Store food properly – Avoid food spoilage and know how and when to store food in the refrigerator. Likewise, read food labels carefully and take note of expiration dates.
Proper nutrition is important for cancer patients, and the tips discussed can help with that. But before going on any type of diet during treatment, it’s best to discuss options and requirements with your doctor and nutritionist first. This way, you can understand your situation better and make the right food choices that are suitable for your condition.