Proper diet and nutrition are important to keep any person healthy, but for mesothelioma patients, it is paramount. That’s because mesothelioma treatments can be stressful on the body and spirit. Proper diet and nutrition give the body a good foundation to build on.
Nutrition and diet can play several important roles in mesothelioma treatment. Both cancer and cancer treatments can lead to malnutrition. Proper nutrition is necessary to support your overall health, your ability to tolerate cancer treatments and to maintain the highest quality of life. Overall, the goal of a mesothelioma diet and nutrition is to keep the patient strong and healthy. This way the patient is better able to fight the disease and any problems that may occur.
There is no single diet for people affected by cancer. All of it will depend upon you, the type and progression of your cancer, the treatment you are receiving, and what you wish to have to consume and acquire.
In general, mesothelioma patients require more calories, need more protein and fat, and are advised to avoid fiber and other substances that can aggravate symptoms of mesothelioma and its treatments.
Each patient is unique. A nutritionist can help customize a diet that fits your needs and your needs may be different at different times. Scheduling an appointment with a nutritionist is a wonderful way to help you work out the best plan specifically for you.
We realize that sometimes during cancer treatment, eating anything is tough – so here are a few pointers to help make every bite count and guide you to a healthy, well-balanced diet that is easy on your stomach. Our favorite diet tips for Mesothelioma Patients are below.
DIET TREATMENT FOR MESOTHELIOMA CANCER
1. Meal Planning
Keeping up appropriate nutrition during treatment and recovery often involves effort from both the patient and the caregiver. Meal planning can reduce some of the stress associated with food shopping and meal prepping. When food shopping, stock up on the patient’s favorite foods (as well as all foods important to their nutritional needs) to decrease the need to shop frequently. Talk with a doctor or dietitian about meal plans and a grocery list. Prepare meals in advance, and freeze them in meal-size portions which can be convenient to heat up.
Meal Planning Tips
- Eat multiple small meals throughout the day instead of three large ones.
- Eating modest quantities is fine, just make sure that they add up to a full day’s worth of meals
- Cook large dishes and freeze them in meal-sized portions
- Snack whenever you are hungry, even if it is not mealtime, and enjoy the foods that appeal at the time.
- Eat when you’re feeling best and eat foods that are easy to digest.
- Keep the freezer and pantry stocked so you don’t have to run to the store when you’re feeling ill
- Drink liquids after meals or as snacks – not before or during meal time. The liquid can fill you up before you have had the chance to consume the whole, nutrient-dense foods on your plate.
- Try new foods, because tastes can change during cancer treatment
- Eat plant-based foods such as peas and dried beans
- Juice fresh fruits and vegetables to obtain their nutrients without filling up but avoid fruit juices that aren’t 100 percent juice.
- If you don’t own a juicer, you can create a juice with a blender and cheesecloth. Blend fruit or vegetables with filtered water, then strain with a cheesecloth. Cheesecloth is reusable and available at most grocery stores.
- Consume your favorite foods any time of day. If you love breakfast foods, it’s OK to eat them for lunch or dinner.
- Avoid eating when you feel nauseous, which may make you feel sicker and discourage you from eating at other times
- Create a joyful or relaxing setting by enjoying your food in the company of friends or family.
2. Add Protein
Proteins are essential for patients suffering from mesothelioma therapy-related fatigue, as are fluids and nutrients. None of these, however, is an alternative choice to calories, a lack of which reasons wasting syndrome (cachexia), or massive weight loss, in many mesothelioma patients.
Protein helps boost your immune system, and rebuild tissues damaged by mesothelioma. Protein assists ensure growth, repairs body tissues damaged by surgery, chemotherapy or radiation and also help to maintain a healthy immune system. Most patients require additional protein during and after aggressive therapies to help heal tissues and lessen the risk of infection.
Get a lot of protein — particularly after you have passed through treatment — in the form of chicken, fish, and lean meats, soy products, nuts and dried beans, dairy foods, lentils, and peas. Getting protein from natural food sources is recommended but if none of those is working for you, tries adding natural protein powders – such as nonisolated whey, rice or pea protein to your diet.
3. Add Calories
Calorie-dense foods are essential to maintaining energy, fighting infection and healing from cancer therapy. A registered dietician can aid you to devise a grocery listing and meal plan to help you prevent wasting syndrome and other dangerous side effects of mesothelioma. Your dietician may additionally teach you how to pack more calories into small meals and will let you overcome signs and symptoms such as difficulty swallowing fullness and taste changes.
- Avoid foods labeled as low-fat, non-fat and low-calorie. For example, choose whole milk in place of reduced fat.
- Opt for high-calorie drinks like milkshakes with added ice cream or fruit nectars.
- Cook with butter and oil, and add them to meals when possible. For example, top vegetables and bread with butter, or toss oil into rice, pasta, and casseroles.
- Add avocado to sandwiches and salads. Eat guacamole with tortilla chips.
- Smear cream cheese on bagels, sandwiches or crackers.
- Toss salads with high-calorie dressings.
- Top vegetables with creamy or cheesy sauces.
- Add heavy cream or sour cream to dessert recipes, sauces, and soups.
- Use whipped cream or chocolate sauce to top pancakes, waffles, French toast, ice cream, and cakes.
Furthermore to those certain instructions, the ACS advises more generally recommends making a choice on foods that support you keep a healthy weight. This requires familiarizing you with food labels and portion sizes. For instance, a “low fat” food isn’t necessarily a “low calorie” food. High-calorie foods can cause overweight and obesity, conditions that contribute to up to 1/5 of all cancer-related mortality. You can read all of the ACS guidelines for nutrition and physical activity for cancer prevention, including research on how diet and exercise affect risks for specific types of cancer, here.
4. Fats and Carbohydrates
Fats and carbohydrates help provide the body with the majority of its daily caloric intake. Each patient’s age, body size and level of physical activity will determine what is considered normal for them.
Fat: Your body needs fat to survive — and you may need a little bit extra to keep your weight up during mesothelioma treatment. Fat supplies the body with energy, which you need now more than ever. But that doesn’t mean diving into a pint of ice cream —choosing healthy fats is important. Pick sources of unsaturated fat like olive oil, nuts, avocado, and seafood.
Carbs: Your body needs carbohydrates for energy — especially as you continue to fight mesothelioma. Choose whole-grain carbohydrates, including whole-wheat bread, pasta, cereals, and brown rice. Corn and potatoes can also be good sources of carbohydrates.
5. Stay hydrated
Water is essential for life. Every cell in your body needs water to function. Without enough water, your body can quickly become dehydrated — an avoidable health problem you don’t want to deal with on top of mesothelioma. Discuss how much water you should be drinking each day with your doctor or nutritionist.
Getting enough fluids is a key part of any healthy diet. If you are receiving chemotherapy it is best to get 8-10 glasses a day as many symptoms associated with pleural mesothelioma and its treatment actually result from dehydration.
6. Fruits and Vegetables
Consume a wide variety of fruits and vegetables to get the antioxidants that you need — but avoid taking supplements while undergoing treatment. These healthy diet staples are rich in antioxidants, which help to protect and restore the body. Antioxidants include vitamins A, C, and E, as well as selenium.
Eat five (at least 2.5 cups) “colorful servings” of fruits and vegetables every day. This includes dark green and deep yellow vegetables, which contain important nutritional substances called phytochemicals. These foods should be included in every meal and also eaten for snacks.
Choose whole grains over refined grains. Whole grain foods are those made from the entire grain seed. Processed, nutrient sparse refined grain products are made of only part of one or more grains, and they don’t have the same high level of nutritional value as whole grains. Compared to refined grains, whole grains are lower in calorie density and higher in fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
Mesothelioma patients need all the nutrients they can get in their diet, and therefore when there’s a choice to be made between whole grain products and refined grain products, the whole grains should be chosen.
8. Cruciferous and Dark Green Leafy Vegetables
Dark green leafy vegetables and cruciferous vegetables are a must on everyone’s list. These greens are a good source of many vitamins (such as Vitamin A, C, and K and folate) and minerals (such as iron and calcium). These greens are also a great source of fiber. Research suggests that nutrients found in dark green leafy vegetables contain healthful antioxidants fighting off free radicals in the body. Free radicals are highly reactive oxygen compounds that can damage and destroy the body’s “good” cells. “Good” cells that have been damaged are more likely to spread illness & infection and, also, become cancerous.
A mesothelioma patient’s diet should include Cruciferous vegetables such as:
Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, watercress, radish, daikon (a kind of radish), wasabi, kohlrabi, parsnips, and rutabaga.
And Dark green leafy vegetables such as:
Spinach, kale, broccoli, collard greens, mustard greens, swiss chard, and romaine lettuce.
Three ways to eat dark green leafy vegetables:
- Make a salad. Leafy greens taste great mixed in a salad with different types of veggies (tomatoes, cucumbers, carrot & lettuce).
- Wrap it up. Make a wrap with tuna, chicken or turkey and add romaine lettuce, spinach, arugula, and other veggies for some extra taste.
- Add to a soup. Try mixing leafy vegetables such as kale or collard greens into your favorite soup.
Read More: 11 BEST DIET TREATMENT TO CURE LUPUS
The ACS defines a healthy diet as one rich in plant foods and low in processed foods and red meats. Specific guidelines include the following:
- Limit processed meat and red meat consumption. Processed meats include products like bacon, sausage, and hot dogs, while beef, pork, and lamb are considered red meats. Substitute processed and red meats with fish, poultry, and high-protein non-meats such as beans.
- Limit alcohol consumption to 2 drinks per day (men) and 1 drink per day (women). One standard drink is the equivalent of 12 fluid ounce of beer, 5 fluid ounces of wine, or 1.5 fluid ounces of 80-proof spirits.
- Limit foods that are pickled, smoked or salt-cured.
- Avoid dry, salty foods such as crackers and pretzels.
- Avoid greasy, fatty or fried foods, raw vegetables, strong spices, alcohol, and caffeine.
- Avoid strong-smelling foods.
- Avoid fried or sugary foods, as well as spicy foods.
10. Get Mesothelioma Diet and Legal Help
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos cancer, you should speak with a doctor about designing an appropriate diet plan that will help with treatment.
Above diet tips can help you understand your diet options, as well as you should contact a mesothelioma law firm if you or someone you love is diagnosed. A good mesothelioma lawyer or attorney can help you understand your legal rights.
In most cases, people who are diagnosed with mesothelioma were exposed to asbestos decades ago, most often in the workplace. Mesothelioma attorneys will work with you to determine when and where you were exposed and will make sure that you are compensated for your suffering.
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