While a healthy diet is important at all stages of a person’s life, it becomes especially important during cancer treatment. For mesothelioma patients, a proper diet can help improve their overall condition and stimulate their body’s natural ability to fight off cancer cells.
So what exactly does this “proper diet” entail?
For cancer patients, their dietary needs depend on their sex, body composition, activity level and weight gain/weight loss goals. Although patients may be less active during mesothelioma treatment than they were before diagnosis, they typically require more protein and calories at this time to fuel their recovery. An oncology nutritionist can help set specific calorie and macronutrient goals.
Once these goals have been established, patients must focus on using the right foods to meet these nutritional needs. Now more than ever, they should eliminate greasy, processed and fast foods from their diet and focus on a whole-foods-based diet with plenty of fresh produce.
How Proper Nutrition can Help Mesothelioma Patients
Fruits and vegetables contain vitamins and antioxidants that help prevent or slow the growth of cancerous tumors. Certain antioxidants, such as the flavonoids quercetin and rutin, may be directly toxic to cancer cells. Other compounds such as lenitan (a substance found in reishi mushrooms) may stimulate the immune system’s natural ability to fight off the cancer.
Other cancer-fighting nutrients include:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Diallyl disulfide (a natural tumor-blocking compound found in garlic)
- Myricetin (a flavonoid found in green tea)
Each food has a different concentration and combination of these cancer-fighting compounds, so it is especially important to consume a wide variety of natural foods.
Patients can also use dietary changes to manage certain side effects of mesothelioma treatment. They can make simple adjustments to cope with bouts of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation and mouth sores. For example, patients can eat starchy foods to help counteract diarrhea or consume electrolyte drinks to help restore their body’s natural balance after vomiting. They can also fight fatigue by consuming a protein and calorie-rich diet that provides them with essential minerals such as iron and B12.
Author bio: Faith Franz researches and writes about health-related issues for The Mesothelioma Center. One of her focuses is living with cancer.
Also see related: The Importance of Nutrition During Cancer Treatment