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Food to eat during cancer treatment

Abraham Eisenstein, M.D. |
They say the easiest way to reduce the risk for cancer is eating a healthy diet but what happens once the treatment starts? Healthy diet can make you feel better, give you more energy, and it may help you tolerate treatment-related side effects.

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We know it's sometimes hard to find meal attractive when you are sick, but there is something in the old saying "Food is the best cure for everything." Maybe it is not the best cure but it is very important, so even you feel very bad from time to time - eat.

After surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy, people with cancer need extra protein to help them fight infection and tissue damages. That's why red meat and poultry are good choice. On top of that, good sources of proteins are fish, soy, nuts, nut butters, and dried beans.

Now, that doesn't mean you should stick to meat all the time: Eat beans instead of meat a few times each week. To help you go through side effects of your therapy, fruits and vegetables are a good choice. You should eat oranges and other citrus fruits.

The only problem with oranges - and grapefruit and pomegranate - is that they can interfere with chemotherapy, so you should consult your doctor are they good for you because recommendations are made for each patient individually. When talking about vegetable dark-green and deep-yellow should be on your menu.

You should also continue to eat fat because fats are a source of energy for the body. Just like with meat, you shouldn't avoid fats just because of fats: Choose lower-fat milk and dairy, and go with baking or broiling, a lower-fat cooking method.

Since your body is under constant stress during the therapy, it should have a constant help from your side. So, along with bigger daily meals, have smaller snacks near you. And by snacks we mean a sandwich, cheese, crackers, yogurt and milk.

Here we must note something: some patients have no problems with eating and their weight stays the same during their treatment - they may forget this snack advice and continue to eat as they do.

If your treatment is a big stress for your body, you should change the eating habits a bit and that's not hard to do.

First, don't stay at three meals a day, eat every few hours. We know you may feel very bad from time to time, but stuffing yourself with a big meal and then a few hours without anything will make the situation even worse. So: don't wait until you are hungry but jump on the meal every few hours.

Then, forget the rules when to eat breakfast and when to eat lunch. If you want to eat dinner food for breakfast, go and do it. Also, if you are most hungry for breakfast, make the breakfast big. Remember, you are now following what your body needs, not what some bon-ton rule is saying.

To make things more complicated, cancer treatment may affect your sense of taste and all of a sudden your favorite food may seem too sweet or too salty just like that.

If your food lacks flavor, go ahead and add seasoning, souse or spice to your taste. Green or red bell peppers, onion, garlic, ham and sharp cheese are also a good choice to bring the taste back.

In an effort to fight the cancer it is important to keep your strength up, which can help you finish your treatment as soon as possible, so - eat.

If you drink alcohol, let it stay at one drink per day for women and two for men. You don't have to cut alcohol consumption to zero, but try to stay within those limits because more alcohol may make your state worse, cancers are known as alcohol fans so don't feed them but stay moderate.

You might get an idea to boost your energy with energy drinks. To the best of our knowledge, not a single cancer patient has trained for a marathon yet and regular eating will give you energy to support you through your treatments.

Energy drinks are not good in general. They, indeed, are giving a fast energy boost thanks to caffeine inside but that doesn't last long. On the other hand, energy drinks full of caffeine and sugar are not recommended to healthy people either in more than one day quantity. If you like it so much. take it later when you are healthy.

Nicotine patches are not good because nicotine from them enter your bloodstream directly and may protect cancer cells from some chemotherapy. If your cancer is not smoking related ask your doctor for an advice about smoking.

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