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Guest Post: The Importance of Proper Nutrition for Cancer Patients

I have the privilege of featuring a guest writer who stumbled across my blog and wanted to contribute. Jillian and I agree on the benefits of discussing nutrition, so we would like to present this article to all of you, because cancer and IBD share some nutritional challenges. 

While eating healthy foods is recommended for everyone, it is especially important to make sure you are paying special attention to what you eat while battling cancer. Eating healthy foods can help boost energy levels, increase cell production and can help you fight back against cancer. Nutrition therapy is not a cure for cancer. It is one of many important parts of cancer treatment.

How Our Bodies Use Food

Nutrition is the process by which the body takes in food and uses it to support all of its functions. Vital body parts like our organs and nervous systems need the proper balance of nutrition to work properly. Some types of cancer change the way our body uses certain nutrients in food. They can make foods that are normally very beneficial to the body the enemy! Some cancer patients will need a special eating plan while undergoing treatment.

Why are Antioxidants Important?

Foods like blueberries, raspberries and blackberries are packed with nutrients that can help prevent and fight certain types of cancers. Of course, these foods don’t cure cancer, but they can be an important part of cancer treatment. Along with antioxidants, they are full of vitamins and minerals vital to bodily function. Patients with conditions like mesothelioma cancer can benefit the most from antioxidant rich foods.

Bacteria and Low White Blood Cell Counts

Cancer and cancer treatments can cause patients’ white blood cell counts to become very low. White blood cells help the body fight off infection. Having a low white blood cell count means your body cannot overcome sickness and disease.

A person with a normal white blood cell count has no problem fighting off common bacteria found in certain fresh foods. Fresh vegetables and meat are a great source of nutrition for these people, but cancer patients should generally avoid these foods. Ensuring that food is properly cooked is vital when undergoing cancer treatment. It is important to avoid things like salads and eating out if possible. Prepackaged foods are also a good option for patients that are trying to avoid bacteria.

Overcoming Anorexia While Battling Cancer

One of the most common problems for cancer patients is anorexia. It causes a loss of appetite and can have severe consequences if not properly treated. Without proper caloric intake, patients can have organ failure. This weight loss is caused by eating few calories, excessive use of calories or a combination of both. Patients will often be tired, weak and have little desire to do things they once enjoyed because they simply do not have the strength.

Patients with anorexia must be watched closely to ensure that they get the proper calories and nutrients. Foods that help patients with anorexia will be dense in calories. Things like powdered milk and honey can add extra calories to each meal.

Protein is vital to cancer patients to help them stay strong. Especially in patients with anorexia, muscle loss is common. Eggs and foods that contain dairy are high in protein, calories and good fats that patients need. Yogurt also contains good bacteria that can help patients with cancers that affect the stomach and intestines.

If nausea is a problem, foods that are low in odors are vital. The steam in food is generally what carries odors. Eating foods cold can help patients eat more at each meal.

Many patients with anorexia often find eating solid food impossible. These patients often find it easy to get their daily calories through drinking broth, soups and protein shakes.

Eating small meals throughout the day can also help patients with chronic nausea. Calories are lost and nutrients are not able to be absorbed with this condition. Small meals replace the calories lost every time a patient gets nauseous.

Jillian contributes to the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance blog. Her purpose for writing is to help others going through their battle with cancer. In addition to the main website, you can find the group on Facebook and their  Google + page.

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