How Can Good Nutrition Help Patients Manage Cancer Treatment

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When it comes to treating cancer, surgery, radiotherapy or chemotherapy are most frequently used. 

They are designed to either remove the tumour, kill it or shrink it, so it is no longer at risk of spreading.

However, taking steps to improve the patient’s lifestyle can help them cope with the adverse symptoms of these therapies, as well as make their bodies strong to support their cancer fight. 

Having good nutrition, for instance, is essential, helping to boost the immune system, lower the risk of cancer returning, rebuild tissue, and maintain strength. 

Essentially, cancer patients need to eat extra protein, including meat, fish, eggs, dairy or plant-based proteins. 

One of the biggest side effects of treatment is appetite loss, so it is important for patients to set reminders to eat even if they do not feel like this, as they need to remain strong. 

They might also suffer from a dry or sore mouth or throat, or have trouble swallowing. In this case, swapping to liquid foods, such as gravies, smoothies and soups could help them get their calories in. 

Other side effects can include diarrhoea or constipation, so they need to talk with their nutritionist about how to increase or decrease fibre in their diet.

It is also important to drink plenty of water, particularly on days when appetite is low. 

Other ways to manage food intake while undergoing cancer treatment is to eat smaller meals throughout the day, keep snacks closeby, eat something before bed, have soft or cold foods, consume large meals when feeling well, and only sip liquids during meals to avoid filling up too quickly. 

After the treatment is complete, the symptoms should start to subside, making it easier to eat again. 

It is still important to regain strength and boost mood so patients should continue eating well, making sure there is plenty of fruit and veg in the diet, adding pulses to meals, eating whole grains, choosing low-fat milk options, limiting red meat to three servings a week, and easing off fat, salt, sugar, and alcohol.