I was contacted by Jillian from the blog http://www.mesothelioma.com/blog/authors/jillian/ and asked if she could do a guest post on effects positive effects of nutrition for those patients suffering with cancer and I thought it is definitely benefitial!
Hope you enjoy the article and want to say thank you to Jillian for writing it.
The Positive Effects of Nutrition on Patients Suffering with Cancer
Cancer is a devastating disease whether it is skin cancer, mesothelioma cancer, or any other type of cancer. The treatment for the disease alone can be devastating, never mind the mental and emotional effects of dealing with the disease. In these cases, nutrition is more important than ever.
Nutrition is important to everyone's health, but it is especially important to those who are undergoing cancer treatment because of the nature of the chemicals used in the medications. Chemotherapy and radiation are essentially poisons that not only kill cancer cells but healthy cells as well. This leads to the common side effects such as nausea and vomiting, fatigue, dehydration and malnutrition, decreased immune system functioning and hair loss associated with the treatments.
Nausea and vomiting can cause severe dehydration and malnutrition in chemotherapy patients. This can exacerbate the symptoms of fatigue and the decreased immune system function by not providing the body with the vitamins and nutrients necessary to strengthen cells and create healthy new cells. The use of nutrition as a supplement to traditional cancer treatments is known as orthomolecular nutrition and can greatly reduce these effects.
Orthomolecular nutrition has been studied by Abram Hoffer, Ph.D., M.D. since 1960. He has been a pioneer in this area of study and has had amazing results using only vitamins and nutrition to supplement cancer therapy. He has treated a number of cancer patients successfully as well as people who suffer from other diseases including schizophrenia.
Hoffer believed the human body needed higher doses of vitamins (specifically vitamin C, E and niacin) and minerals than the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends on a daily basis. Many vitamins such as vitamin C and vitamin E are strong antioxidants that prevent cell damage from free radicals. These free radicals are the end product of a process called oxidation, which is the result of our daily metabolic processes. In chemotherapy and radiation patients, these free radicals are exacerbated because of the nature of the medication and its effects on the body. Higher amounts of vitamins are required to neutralize these effects in order to prevent further damage.
Changing the Diet
For patients who are suffering with chemotherapy and radiation, it is important to make sure the diet is full of fruits, vegetables and whole grains and limits the amount of processed foods, sugars and animal products consumed. Animal products take more time to break down, which can exacerbate fatigue. Many animal products contain excess hormones such as estrogen and antibiotics that can actually cause cancer.
The diet should be rich in dark leafy green vegetables, which are full of antioxidants. Vegetables such as broccoli, kale, spinach and romaine lettuce are excellent sources of vitamins, especially vitamins A, E, and C.
Juicing is an excellent choice for patients undergoing cancer treatments. Ninety percent of the nutrients in fruits and vegetables are in the juice, which is easily and quickly absorbed into the blood stream. An added benefit of juicing is the amount of fruits and vegetables consumed, which is much greater compared to simply eating the vegetables. A patient would have to eat ten to twenty fruits or vegetables a day to equal the amount of nutrients received from two or three glasses of freshly made juice. For those who dislike eating vegetables, juicing is an excellent alternative.
One of the most important changes in the diet of cancer patients is the avoidance of processed foods and sugars. The chemicals and preservatives in packaged foods have been shown to actually cause cancer. Most manufactured, or processed, foods contain very little (if any) nutritional value. They are essentially empty calories. It is best to avoid these foods completely, or at least limit them drastically. Fast foods should also be avoided due to the high fat content and lack of nutrients.
Maintaining this type of diet during and after chemotherapy or radiation treatments can dramatically improve the quality of life for cancer patients. Increasing the body’s nutrient intake can alleviate many of the side effects of the cancer treatments while helping to protect healthy cells, which can help improve fatigue and prevent possible long-term side effects. It can also help detoxify the body after treatment.