By Faith Franz:
A whole foods-based diet does more than supply the body with calories for energy; it provides the body with valuable vitamins and minerals that actually can help the body fight off cancer. During treatment, a proper diet can help patients also manage the side effects of aggressive mesothelioma therapies.
To optimally fuel the body to fight asbestos cancer, patients should eat a varied diet of whole foods while avoiding empty calories. Although patients will need to increase their calorie intake, fast food, greasy food and alcoholic beverages are not healthy ways to meet a newly raised calorie quota.
Cancer-fighting “superfoods” are often recommended to mesothelioma patients. Fresh, colorful produce should be present at every meal, and plant-based foods (including produce, whole grains and plant proteins such as soy, beans and nuts) should fill the majority of a patient’s plate.
More specific dietary recommendations can be made to help counteract the side effects of therapy. Nausea, diarrhea, constipation, mouth sores, dehydration and fatigue can all be managed with food choices. Often, hospitals offer patients access to a cancer nutritionist to help develop a dietary plan for dealing with these treatment-related conditions.
Specific Nutrition Recommendations for Mesothelioma Patients
Each patient will have different nutritional needs (depending on their current weight, activity level, dietary preferences and response to treatment), but all of the following foods can be incorporated into a mesothelioma patient’s diet with numerous benefits:
Most other fruits and vegetables offer valuable nutrients (including vitamin A, C and K) to mesothelioma patients.
Even when making a conscious effort to consume these foods, some patients may find it difficult to ingest adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are notorious for suppressing appetite, and the treatments may make it difficult for patients to eat large meals. In these cases, vitamin supplements can be extremely helpful. Nutritional drinks such as Ensure or Boost can also provide fat, calories and protein in an easy-to-consume liquid.
Chemotherapy-induced nausea or vomiting (some of the most common side effects of mesothelioma treatment) can be combatted through starchy foods, such as rice or toast, that help absorb stomach acid. Sugary, spicy and salty foods should be avoided, since they can irritate the stomach.
Treatment-related digestive issues also can be managed through nutrition. High-fiber foods such as oatmeal can help correct constipation, while a low-fiber diet is appropriate for patients experiencing diarrhea. These above conditions can be improved by removing greasy or spicy foods from the diet.
Author’s bio: Faith Franz is a writer for the Mesothelioma Center. She combines her interests in whole-body health and medical research to educate the mesothelioma community about the newest developments in cancer care.