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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Nutrition and Healthy Foods During Cancer Treatment

I read a great article last week on Nutrition and Healthy Foods During Cancer Treatment. You can access it at http://www.webmd.com/diet/guide/nutrition-and-healthy-foods-during-cancer-treatment or here is the whole text. I hope this helps those of you who are currently in treatment.

Candace Tatton

Nutrition and Healthy Foods During Cancer Treatment
Now, more than ever, you need good nutrition.
By R. Morgan GriffinWebMD Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD
When you're getting treatment for cancer, your body is under assault -- both from the cancer and the treatment itself. So it's more important than ever to make sure that you're getting the nutrition, vitamins, and minerals you need to stay strong.
But sometimes during cancer treatment, eating anything is tough. While chemotherapy is notorious for causing nausea, other cancer treatments -- from surgery to radiation -- can also affect how you eat. Just the psychological stress alone is enough to interfere with a person's appetite.
What's more, the whole notion of "good nutrition" may be turned on its head when you're in cancer treatment. "Eating healthy can mean something quite different during cancer treatment than it does before or after," says Rachel Zinaman, MPA, RD, of Memorial Sloan-Kettering's Evelyn Lauder Breast Center.
So what is good cancer nutrition? And how can you eat well when eating is the last thing you feel like doing? Here are some tips from the experts.
Cancer Nutrition: Maintaining Strength and Energy
When it comes to fighting cancer fatigue and boosting strength with good cancer nutrition, you have to pay attention to protein. "The radiation, the surgery, the chemo, and the cancer itself can all increase the body's need for protein," says Christine Gerbstadt, MD, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. Protein makes you heal faster. How can you get enough protein?
"Meats, poultry and fish are great sources of protein," says Sheri Knecht, RD, a dietitian at the South-Atlantic Division of the American Cancer Society. "But some people have trouble tolerating them during cancer treatment." So she also recommends easy-to-digest foods such as:
· Eggs
· Dairy products such as milk, cheese, cottage cheese, and yogurt
· Beans, soy, and nuts -- including peanut butter or almond butter
As with any nutrient, dietitians recommend getting protein from natural food sources. But if that isn't working for you, try adding protein powders -- like whey or soy -- or powdered milk to your diet. If you have trouble chewing or swallowing because of your treatment, try mixing them in with soft foods such as mashed potatoes or fruit smoothies.
Don't wait until after you're already in treatment to beef up on protein for cancer nutrition. "We want people to be as healthy as possible before going into surgery, because their bodies will be under a lot of stress," Zinaman tells WebMD. "It's important to go into treatment with adequate stores of protein."
Cancer Nutrition: Avoiding Weight Loss
Unwanted weight loss can be a serious problem for some people in cancer treatment. As your body fights the cancer, and undergoes the stress of treatment, your metabolism may kick into high gear. But while your body might need more food, you're feeling too sick to eat it. Losing too much weight can affect your treatment or even force your doctor to stop it altogether.
Cancer Nutrition: Avoiding Weight Loss continued...
What should you do if you're at risk for weight loss?
· Dietitians suggest you eat foods that are calorically dense -- packing a lot of calories per ounce. Again, protein is ideal.
· If treatment is making your food taste bland, try spicing it up with curry, oregano, or cinnamon, says Zinaman.
· And -- odd as it may sound -- you may need more fat in your diet. Remember that the risks of weight loss are serious. Many dietitians say you can indulge in high-fat pizza or ice cream if that's the only way you can get enough calories.
However, not all cancers and cancer treatments lead to weight loss. For instance, breast cancer treatment often results in weight gain, says Zinaman. So don't assume that good cancer nutrition always means lots of high-calorie and high-fat foods. Ask your doctor or dietitian whether weight loss is something you actually need to worry about.
Cancer Nutrition: Fighting Nausea
Thanks to new drugs, debilitating nausea during chemotherapy isn't inevitable like it once was. But 70% to 80% of people on chemotherapy still have at least some nausea or vomiting. What foods will help?
Ginger is one old remedy for nausea. Experts say ginger does help some people, although by no means all. Other standards, like dry toast, may work too. "Many of the starchy foods often work with nausea," like crackers, pretzels, dry cereals, potatoes, and white rice, says Knecht.
On the whole, it's hard to make blanket suggestions about foods that fight nausea. The specifics vary from person to person.
"I had one person who said that fast-food fried chicken was the only thing that calmed his stomach," says Knecht. "Obviously, that's the exact opposite of what we usually recommend, but I told him if it worked, he should go with it."
Other techniques may help. Since it's hard to sit down to a full meal, eat frequent small snacks instead. Knowing you have to eat can be stressful when you're sick, says Zinaman, and that stress in turn makes it harder to eat. So she recommends breaking your usual dining habits -- try eating by candlelight, or with music on, or outside. Anything that avoids the normal associations may help.
Cancer Nutrition: Staying Hydrated
Drinking enough fluid is a key part of cancer nutrition. According to the American Cancer Society, many symptoms associated with cancer and its treatment -- fatigue, light-headedness, and nausea -- can actually result from dehydration.
People getting chemotherapy need to be especially careful about drinking enough -- usually eight to ten glasses a day. Some chemotherapy drugs can be tough on the kidneys, and lots of liquid can help protect your kidneys. If you're having diarrhea or vomiting, you're probably losing a lot of fluid that you need to replace.
Cancer Nutrition: Staying Hydrated continued...
"Just about any kind of liquid that the person can tolerate is OK," says Knecht, as long as the doctor doesn't say otherwise. Water, juices, and sports drinks are all fine. However, if your cancer treatment puts you at risk of gaining weight -- or for that matter, losing it -- pay attention to how many calories are in your drinks.
Are caffeinated drinks okay? Generally yes, although your doctor may not want you to count them among your eight to ten glasses a day. Ask your doctor if you should completely cut out alcohol. The answer depends on the type of cancer and the treatment.
Cancer Nutrition: What Foods Should I Avoid?
The short answer is simple: during treatment, avoid the foods that you can't tolerate. Just about anything else is OK, unless your doctor tells you something different.
Should you aim for a typical well-balanced diet, high in fruits and vegetables and low in sugars and unhealthy fats? Of course. That's always the ideal goal.
But if some of those foods aren't sitting well with you, don't worry about cutting them out right now. People with mouth sores may find that some fruits are too painful to eat. People who have nausea and diarrhea may find that they just can't tolerate the high-fiber breads and cereals. That's OK. Remember that treatment won't last forever. Once it's over, you can go back to healthier eating habits. The goal right now is to get through treatment however you can.
Of course, always follow your doctor's advice about cancer nutrition. Depending on your situation and any other health conditions, he or she might have specific recommendations.
Cancer Nutrition: Supplements and Risky Diets
While we hear a lot about using food as medicine these days, experts say that it's not a great idea when you're in cancer treatment. Don't adopt an extreme diet or start taking mega-doses of specific foods, supplements, or vitamins. Doing so could have real risks.
For instance, experts worry that eating excessive amounts of soy products -- such as tofu -- could theoretically encourage the growth of breast cancer. Even antioxidants -- thought by many to prevent cancer -- could have dangers during treatment, Zinaman says.
"Antioxidants help protect cells," Zinaman says. "So if someone were taking lots of antioxidants, they could theoretically be protecting the cancer cells we're trying to kill with treatment."
Never start taking any supplements -- or eating large quantities of specific foods -- without checking with your doctor first.
Getting Help With Cancer Nutrition
Dietitians are unanimous about one thing: there's no single cancer diet. The best approach to cancer nutrition depends on the type of cancer you have, the type of treatment you're getting, and perhaps most of all -- what you want. The diet that gets one person through cancer treatment won't work for someone else.
So don't fret over checklists of "good" and "bad" foods for cancer nutrition. Instead, talk to your doctor or schedule an appointment with a dietitian.
"The advantage of working with a dietitian is that you'll get more than vague, general statements about what to eat," says Zinaman. "A dietitian can come up with a targeted plan for you as an individual."




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Books Available

Ginny and I (Erin) have collected a bunch of really great breast cancer related books and would love to share them with anyone interested in reading...Just leave a comment here on the blog and we'll arrange getting you the book!

Here's the list:

Finding the “CAN” in Cancer
By Nancy Emerson, Pam Leight, Susan Boonan and Terri Schinazi

Fighting for our future- How Young Women Find Strength, Hope, and Courage While Taking Control of Breast Cancer-
Forward by Ann Curry of the Today Show
By Beth Murphy

Voices of Breast Cancer- The Haling Companion: Stories for Courage, Comfort & Strength
Edited by the Healing Project

Just a Lump in the Road- Reflections of Young Breast Cancer Survivors
By Debbie Leifert, Gina Castronova, Dr. Tamara Brennan, Jackie Ehrilich, Cindy Goldberg, & Donna Palmisciano

Breast Cancer Survivor Fitness Plan
By Carolyn M. Kaelin, M.D., M.P.H.

Facing the Mirror With Cancer- A Guide to using Make-up to Make a Difference
By Lori Ovitz and Joanne Kabak

Breast Cancer Husband-- How to Help your Wife and (Yourself) Through Diagnosis, Treatment, & Beyond
By Marc Silver

First You Cry- The Classic Inspiring Story of One Woman’s Triumph Over Breast Cancer
By Betty Rollin

The Middle Place- A Memoir of Kelly’s battle with breast cancer
By Kelly Corrigan

Crazy, Sexy, Cancer Tips-
By Kris Carr--Forward by Sheryl Crow

Tools & Tips From the Trenches- Heartfelt Advice for Survivors Families & Friends
By Mary Olsen Kelly

Chicken Soup for the Breast Cancer Survivor’s Soul
By Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, & Mary Olsen Kelly

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