Patients struggling with cancer will often find it challenging to keep up with their dietary needs due to side effects such as reduced appetite caused by various treatment options like chemotherapy. Despite this, proper nutrition can help alleviate the symptoms brought about by mesothelioma treatment, such as muscle loss, helping you get a boost to your immune system. So, what are some tips to help you improve your nutrition?
Adopt a Healthy Diet
A healthy diet will be crucial in helping you avoid infection during treatment while also being essential in sustaining your energy levels. One way to achieve a balanced diet will be to increase your protein intake. Examples of high-protein foods to include in your meals include eggs, beans, chicken, and fish. Nuts and seeds will also be other ideal alternatives to consume, along with cheese. Proteins are essential in rebuilding tissues damaged during various stages of mesothelioma treatment, allowing you to maintain a healthy weight to keep your immune system strong.
Fruits and vegetables will also be essential for maintaining a balanced diet. Make it a point to include strawberries and blueberries in your meals. Starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes and potatoes will also be ideal for supporting your weight, along with good fats such as olive oil, avocado, and seafood.
Limit Your Sugar Intake
Sugar is one of the risk factors associated with cancer, with patients being advised to limit processed sugar in their diet. This means avoiding packaged food, sugary drinks, and artificial sweeteners in your food. If you regularly dine out or have takeaway food, request sauces and gravy on the side, as these often come with sugar. Refined carbs can also cause spiked blood glucose levels, making this an added concern. To help with this, avoid foods such as white rice, white bread, pasta, and breakfast cereals. Swap these with whole wheat bread, pasta, and whole grain alternatives such as sweet potatoes and brown rice.
Add Antioxidants and Phytochemicals to Your Food
Antioxidants and phytochemicals help reduce cell damage, making them vital for patients with mesothelioma. Antioxidant-rich foods include berries, black tea, green tea, broccoli, brussel sprouts, and oranges. Others on this list are carrots, cabbage, lettuce, fish oils, red peppers, cantaloupe, celery, and red peppers.
Phytochemicals also protect against pathogens, making them a bonus to your immune system. Some foods that can help with this include apples, cauliflower, apricots, legumes, and soybeans. Anti-inflammatory foods will also be important in your diet, with studies showing that they help slow the spread of cancer cells. Turmeric, mint, dill, basil, and oregano are perfect examples of spices in your diet, with flaxseeds being other beneficial anti-inflammatory alternatives.
While water will likely be the last thing on your mind during your treatment, it will be essential in helping you soothe side effects such as vomiting. Patients are advised to drink eight glasses of water daily. This should, however, be after meals rather than before or during your food intake. If water intake is a problem, milk will be a good alternative. Soups, fruit, and vegetable juices will also be ideal, as these provide additional nutrients. Milkshakes prepared with whole milk, protein powder, and fruit will also come in handy for a balanced diet.
Plan Your Meals In Advance
Meal prep will be crucial in helping you keep up with the above dietary tips, allowing you to stock up on the right foods. For starters, list your must-haves, such as your protein sources, fruits, and vegetables. After this, you can include your favorite food items per the dietary requirements. Prepare your meals, making a note of the portion sizes, after which you can freeze and reheat them later.
Additional Tips for Improved Nutrition
Other additional tips that will come in handy for improved nutrition include:
- Try consuming your food in small portions instead of the regular three meals. Due to changes in appetite, your food intake will likely change. To cope with this, eat throughout the day whenever you feel hungry. Include favorite foods, such as breakfast meals during lunch or dinner, if it helps you keep up with your nutritional needs.
- Avoid foods labeled as low-calorie, low fat, and non-fat. These often get rid of the proper nutrition and come with artificial sweeteners that may spike your glucose levels. Instead, add calories and whole milk to your diet, as previously mentioned, since these will provide you with enough protein and healthy fats.
- Avoid handling and consuming your meals at low temperatures if you experience cold sensitivity when eating frozen foods. If you also experience sensitivity to warm and hot foods, try incorporating lukewarm meals to maintain optimal temperatures. Soft foods may also make it easy to chew food, avoiding any inconveniences when taking meals.
- Occasionally, your food tastes will likely change, with some patients experiencing a metallic taste when taking their meals. These can be countered by switching to wooden or plastic spoons, allowing you to consume your food easily.
If you or your loved one is currently undergoing mesothelioma treatment, a balanced diet will be a large part of the recovery process, with the right foods helping you maintain a strong immune system. Ensure that your meals are rich in protein and antioxidants to help fight off infections. Lastly, remember to stay hydrated and reduce sugar intake for improved nutrition.