Correct nutrition can help alleviate the adverse effects of both cancer and the ensuing treatment
Cancer devastates human body, and so do the chemotherapeutic treatment methods deployed to get rid of it. The strong medicines and corrosive chemotherapies weaken the body beyond healing. They make the recuperation process even more difficult. But, maintaining a healthy and nutritious diet throughout the recovery period and thereafter is a proven mechanism to cope with the adverse effects of cancer. Also, a balanced nutrition has several other perks on health overall.
Cancer has an undeniable nexus with the exponentially increasing traits of lifestyle disorder. Smoking, alcohol consumption, eating disorder, stress, lack of sleep, sedentary lifestyle, lack of physical activities, prolonged exposure to hazardous radiation - all these are the most common causes of lifestyle disorder. All of them have the potential to trigger the risk of getting cancer. This is why several cancer treatment repertoires often proactively include cutting off of many of these activities. Amidst these never ending examples of lifestyle disorder, a nutritious and balanced diet plays a pivotal role in keeping the risks at bay. It rejuvenates the human body by strengthening the immune system and thus reduces the susceptibility to infections and the possibility of succumbing to several other life threatening ailments including heart conditions.
Treatment of cancer often renders the affected human body very highly susceptible to multiple serious diseases. Foodborne illnesses are very common. Neutropenia is another health condition worth mentioning which exhibits an abnormal low count of white blood cells (Neutrophills). Microscopic organisms like fungi and gram-negative bacteria, available in food and drinks, often pose serious threats to the Neutropenic patients.
Safe preparation and handling of foods is more important than restricting intake of specific food groups, as balanced diet and nutrition is important for coping with chemotherapy and other kinds of cancer treatments. The diet concerns include
Chemotherapy and radiation therapy during cancer specifically in head or neck often causes irritation in the lining of the mouth, throat, and esophagus. This makes eating and swallowing a difficult task. Maintaining proper oral hygiene is imperative in cases of mouth sores.
Alcohol has no boons and only banes. It contributes to dehydration. It weakens body’s immune system and adds no nutritional values to the already compromised body.
Dry mouth is a very common side effect of chemotherapy. To put a check on dehydration, adequate supply of fluids is imperative, barring caffeinated beverages as they can exacerbate the symptoms of dehydration. 8-10 glasses of water is likely to suffice.
Dividing the daily nutrition obtained from food into small 5-6 ‘mini’ meals throughout the day is always beneficial. It never lets the body run out of calories which, in turn gives the body adequate strength to cope with the harsh treatment methods. It also helps to deal with the side-effects like nausea. Eating every three hours thus is a nice plan to keep the body going.
Missing teeth, receding gums leading to loosening of teeth, mouth sores, and jaw pain- all these ultimately destroy normal appetite
Along with all these, its necessary to be very particular about healthy fats, good amount of protein in the diet. e.g- Olive oil/ Fish oil/ Avocados/Nuts and Seeds. In addition, eggs/ lean meat/ low fat dairy food/ soya foods etc.
(The author is a lifestyle coach and diet counsellor. She tweets @Bipasha1sugati))