Foods to Eat While Undergoing Cancer Treatment
BY: Dr. Rachel Steiner
Cancer has personally hit home this past month when one of my dearest friends mom was diagnosed with a very serious form of colon cancer. I was in contact with her right away discussing what she should be eating during her treatment because she had been told and read many different things. I started doing some research and there is a ton of information of foods to eat to prevent cancer, but not so much about what to eat when you are faced with it.
Balanced nutrition is very important for cancer treatment and survivorship especially if one is doing chemotherapy and radiation that can be very taxing on the whole body. Many times the treatment causes the person to lose their appetite all together, but it is a crucial time that one is supplying their body with the best nutrients. According to the type of cancer one has and the side effects from the treatment will greatly influence the type of diet one should follow. However, there are some foods or as I like to call them- “super foods” that are proven through many studies and research to aid and protect the body during cancer treatments.
Recent studies suggest that adding ginger to your diet may help reduce the nausea associated with some types of chemotherapy even more effectively than over the counter anti-nausea meds. You can find fresh ginger root in the store that can be cut up in salads and soups. Another option is taking a supplement of high-grade encapsulated ginger that you can find at a local health or natural food store.
Flaxseed oil contains omega-3’s, which have the good fat our body needs to function on a daily basis. Research suggests for those who are battling cancer, a diet including omega-3s can help protect the organs from the harsh affects of chemotherapy, reduce inflammation, and help prevent muscle loss associated with treatment. Flaxseed has also been shown to reduce the damage of organs caused by radiation exposure by protecting the healthy tissues before and significantly reducing damage after exposure.
Leafy Green Vegetables
Green vegetables along with avocados, beans, carrots, apricots, pumpkin, and egg yolk are all high sources of folic acid. This will help the bodies DNA to replicate properly and protect it during radiation. Green leafy vegetables contain a high source of sulforaphanes, which have strong cancer correcting benefits and have been shown to aid survival from colorectal cancer. A diet rich in greens will help keep your body in an alkaline state that has been shown to increase the immune system and can aid in stopping new metastases. When your body is in an acidic state, this causes inflammation that can lead to the spread of cancer.
Garlic contains active ingredients like selenium and tryptophan that attack cancer cells and can act to stop the spread of cancer by not allowing a blood supply source to form to tumors. Garlic also destroys microbes and yeasts that our body is susceptible to from taking common medication and antibiotics prescribed during cancer treatments.
Again, cancer treatments are unique to each individual and the side effects associated differs as well. With that being said, a diet plan is usually prescribed by a doctor or dietician when going through chemotherapy and/or radiation. The foods mentioned above however have strong research to benefit the body while undergoing such treatment. If you or someone you know is battling cancer, make sure diet and proper nutrition is discussed throughout treatment.