Guest Post: The Benefits of Nutrition When You’ve Been Diagnosed with Cancer

Hello everyone! While I’m off in St. Louis learning a boatload about the latest and greatest in Sports Medicine, I’ve arranged for a couple of guest bloggers to fill the void. The first of which is Jillian McKee, who is a contributor to the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance Blog. Jillian wrote a great piece about the importance of nutrition after a cancer diagnosis, which is a topic that I have not even touched on with this blog. Enjoy the post and then tell Jillian what you think in the comments!

Discovering that you have been diagnosed with cancer can be heartbreaking. Treatments are stressful and exhausting and oftentimes cause a lack of appetite and changes in the way your body responds to foods. It may seem overwhelming to stick to a proper diet while you are experiencing such a toll on your body, but it can be extremely beneficial for your quality of life and hopeful recovery if you do.

No matter what stage of cancer you are in or what type of cancer you have, good health and nutrition can help you feel better during such a difficult time. Even if you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, one of the most severe forms of cancer, you can reap the wonderful benefits of healthful eating, including: feeling better overall, increased strength, more energy, maintaining weight, retaining nutrients, increased tolerance for treatment related side effects, decreased risk of infection and faster healing and recovery.

The most important aspect to a healthy diet when you have been diagnosed with cancer is adequate intake of fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are a rich source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. The American Institute of Cancer Research suggests filling your plate with at least 2/3rds vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and beans. Efficient vitamin intake is crucial for the immune system, which is weakened by cancer, while antioxidants keep free radical cells from attacking healthy cells.

Healthy fats can serve as a great source of energy for the body when it is weakened by cancer. It is important to consume healthy fats like monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats, rather than their unhealthy counterparts, saturated fats and trans-fatty acids. Saturated fats and trans-fatty acids, or trans-fats, can raise your cholesterol and your risk for heart disease. Good sources for healthy fats include vegetable oils like olive oil, and avocados.

If you have cancer, you may need a higher intake of protein and carbohydrates than others. Protein can help growth and body tissue repair. Great sources for protein include nuts, nut butters, beans, and peas. A sufficient amount of carbohydrates is required for maintaining energy levels, as carbohydrates are the main source of energy for the body. Whole grains and fiber can provide this. Nearly all fruits and vegetables are rich in fiber. When choosing bread products, always look for whole grains rather than refined.

Cancer research has shown that calcium and vitamin D play a role in cancer prevention. In patients already diagnosed, Vitamin D is shown to fight cancer cells. Leafy green vegetables like spinach are a great source of calcium, and mushrooms and sunshine provide an abundance of vitamin D.

Even after treatment, it is important to continue to maintain good nutrition. Once you enter recovery, a balanced diet can help you rebuild strength and tissues. Exceptional nutrition can help you maintain energy, feel better, and improve your quality of life.

Hopefully you all learned a little bit today, or this at least got you thinking about something new, as this isn’t a topic that I regularly cover! Do any of you know people who have used Nutrition as part of their cancer treatment? Enjoy the rest of your week, and I’ll be back with another great guest post on Friday!

Advertisements

3 thoughts on “Guest Post: The Benefits of Nutrition When You’ve Been Diagnosed with Cancer

  1. Pingback: The Benefits of Proper Nutrition for those Fighting Cancer « Food Diary of a Dietitian

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s