Food is your body’s fuel, giving your cells the energy to sustain your 11 major organ systems. When cancer therapy enters the scene, your body goes into overdrive as it battles invading cells. That’s why most cancer therapies, though designed to help and heal, make you tired in the process. Your body is fighting the good fight, and it doesn’t want to give up.
With the right nutrition, you can dramatically improve your body’s response to cancer treatment–and feel better in the process. You and your team of health professionals have worked hard to target your cancer with the most effective treatment. Why not have your diet take aim as well?
First and foremost, stay hydrated. Cancer treatments often cause patients to lose fluids through vomiting or diarrhea. Dehydration throws the body out of balance, making treatments less effective as you continue to feel worse.
It’s important to prevent that cycle by drinking at least eight 8-ounce glasses of liquid each day. Remember, if the side effects of treatment make the taste of plain water disagreeable to you, you can obtain your liquids in other ways. Soup, tea, watery foods such as watermelon, and water flavored with fruit or flavor enhancers are all good options.
Protein is the great healer, rebuilding tissues that may get become weakened during cancer therapy. However, don’t take a trip through the drive-through. Red and processed meats, which are full of saturated fats and preservative chemicals such as nitrates, tax the body. Instead, opt for lean proteins, such as soy, nuts, beans and legumes, fish, and poultry.
Carbohydrates give your body energy, but not all carbs are built the same. Processed white flour, such as that found in most commercial hamburger buns, pizza, and baked goods, offers empty calories and few nutrients, leaving you feel even less energetic than before. Go for complex carbs found in whole grains (the package must say 100% whole grain to “count”), fruits, and vegetables. The fibers, vitamins, and minerals found in these foods will give your body the additional boost it needs to heal.
Vitamins and Antioxidants
Certain antioxidants have been found to not only prevent cancer, but to help the body fight off existing malignant cells. However, don’t take supplements without the advice of a healthcare professional; some of them may actually work against your treatment. To be safe, make it a priority to get the bulk of your nutrients from whole, natural foods.
What if You’re Not Hungry?
It is common for cancer treatments to act as appetite suppressants, whether because of nausea or changes in the body that make foods taste unpleasant. However, your body needs fuel to keep fighting. It’s important to keep eating, even when you don’t feel like it. Eating several small meals throughout the day, and focusing on your favorite nutritious, high-calorie foods, will help you maintain your calorie intake.
Maintaining a healthy diet can be challenging, especially in conjunction with cancer treatment that makes you feel not quite like yourself. With the help of an experienced health professional, you can make your food choices work for your body.
The Get Well Center cares about holistic health. We’re here to help you figure out diet and nutrition solutions to complement your cancer treatment plan. For more information on how to keep your body fighting the food fight, contact us. We’ll set up a consultation and provide you with directions and recipes to keep your body working hard for you.