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Three Nutrition Tips for Cancer Patients

Three Nutrition Tips for Cancer Patients

This month marks National Nutrition Month, and for cancer patients, nutrition is a very important part of treatment.  

It is essential for people with cancer to maintain a healthy body weight and eat nutritious foods to help their body heal properly. Every cancer patient is different, so be sure to speak with your oncologist or dietitian to discuss your personal nutrition plan.

While proton therapy is less invasive, with minimal side effects, healthy food choices can help patients feel better and speed up their recovery. Here are some nutrition tips to consider: 

1. Eat enough calories and protein. According to Stanford Cancer Center, if patients lose their appetites or feel weak, doctors may recommend a high-calorie, high-protein diet. The goal is to consume enough calories, proteins and nutrients to help rebuild tissues and heal the body.  

  • Eat dairy products and lean meats, fish, poultry
  • Drink commercial nutrition beverages and protein powders
  • Eat healthy carbohydrates from fruits and starchy vegetables
  • Eat healthy fats like olive oil, avocado, and full-fat dairy products
  • Eat foods high in vitamins and minerals, like tomatoes, watermelon, cherries, sweet potatoes, organ meats, apples, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, garlic, onions, and nuts

2. Pair protein and carbohydrates. According to the American Cancer Society, cancer patients may frequently feel fatigue. To combat this nutritionally, "try eating some protein, fat, and fiber with each meal and snack to help keep blood sugar levels more stable. This will give you a more sustained feeling of energy from the food you eat."

  • Instead of eating 2 pieces of fruit, try eating one piece plus a small handful of nuts
  • Try combinations such as fruit with cottage cheese, hummus and veggies, or roasted, spiced chickpeas.

3. Stay hydrated. According to the American Society of Clinical Oncology, dehydration is a top concern for cancer patients as they may be at higher risk from side effects of diarrhea and vomiting. Water is essential to every cell and to protect organs and tissue.

  • Drink at least 10 eight-ounce glasses of fluid every day
  • Keep a beverage by your side and take sips throughout the day
  • Add sliced fruit or vegetables to make water more appetizing 
  • Eat ice chips if drinking is too difficult
  • Drink coconut water, fruit smoothies and beverages with vitamins