Fighting Cancer with Food – by David Haas

We received a wonderful article from David Haas of the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance. Good nutrition is important for everyone, but even more so when your body is recovering or battling a serious illness.  Thank you David for sharing this great information.

(always check with your doctor if you have limitations or concerns with your dietary needs or interference with medications you are taking)


Fighting Cancer with Food


Good nutrition during cancer treatments not only helps you feel better but can also aid your body fighting off infection and getting stronger. While food cannot necessarily heal cancer, it certainly allows the body to function better and more comfortably.


Chemotherapy Can Cause Anemia, Bruising and Bleeding

Unpleasant side effects, such as anemia, which is due to insufficient iron levels in the blood, or bruising and bleeding, are commonly experienced during chemotherapy. These conditions are caused by a low platelet count in the blood. Your diet can help to reduce and possibly eliminate some of these side effects.

Be sure that your diet is rich in iron. Iron is found in many foods, including red meat, liver, eggs and fish. Leafy green vegetables, such as kale, spinach, collard greens and mustard greens, are another excellent source of iron.

• Whole grain products, including breads, cereals, pastas and rice, are often fortified with added iron. Look on the label to be sure that the particular food contains at least 20 percent of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for iron.

• Eat more pineapple. Pineapple contains a natural enzyme called bromelain, which can actually help to dissolve blot clots and cause bruises to fade.

• Calcium prevents iron absorption in the body. Therefore, do not take an iron supplement when eating foods rich in calcium. Likewise, do not take a calcium supplement when eating iron-rich foods.


Radiation May Cause Mouth Soreness or Ulcers

Radiation is designed to attack and destroy rapidly growing cancer cells. The downside is that it can also destroy healthy cells, causing damage and pain in the mouth.

• Avoid spicy and acidic foods. Foods with a higher acid content, such as vinegar, citrus fruits and sugary foods should be limited as they can irritate the inside of the mouth.

• Stay away from extremely crunchy foods or those with sharp edges, such as chips, crackers and pretzels. Eat softer foods or those that can be broken into smaller pieces.

• Consume plenty of liquids, but try using a straw, as this may keep the liquids away from any sores in your mouth.


Chemotherapy Often Causes Vomiting

Various cancer treatments, chemotherapy in particular, dehydrates the body, which can lead to frequent vomiting.

• It is important to stay well hydrated with nourishing beverages, such as water, milk, juice and broth.

• Eat several smaller meals throughout the day instead of consuming three large ones. Think in terms of smaller breakfasts, lunches and dinners with snacks in between.

• Take time to thoroughly chew your food, thus beginning the process of digestion in your mouth and reducing the overall load placed on the stomach.

• Sit upright in a chair while eating. Reclining while eating or lying down soon after a meal may cause indigestion or heartburn by allowing some of the gastric juices from the stomach to leak up into the esophagus. This is not only uncomfortable but can also induce painful vomiting, due to the high acid content.

• Refrain from any strenuous activity for at least an hour after a meal. This will allow the stomach to fully digest your meals, lessening the likelihood of vomiting.

• Avoid potent smells. Anything that makes you feel nauseated, such as an unpleasant smell, can trigger vomiting. Try to notice and avoid your triggers.

The foods that you eat and do not eat can greatly aid in abating the side effects of cancer treatment. Try keeping a journal of what foods help or hinder your comfort in your battle against cancer. Inform family members as well so they can be mindful when preparing meals for you.

Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance