Mesothelioma patients fight a courageous battle every day. Their lifestyle choices can have a huge impact on their future prognosis. In particular, those undergoing intensive treatment for mesothelioma, eating habits and physical activity levels play a significant role on the road to recovery.
Treatment interventions like radiation therapy or surgery have side effects that can lower protein and calorie levels. Some patients lose their appetite after chemotherapy, but it is crucial to know that the body needs protein, fat, carbohydrates, and water to support the immune system.
Research by the American Cancer Society (ACS) shows that 1/3rd of the deaths due to cancer is because of improper dietary and exercise habits. Following treatment, a healthy diet is essential to restoring full functionality and vitality.
Here are a few nutrition tips that can help mesothelioma patients get better faster.
- Consume lots of protein
Cancer patients usually eat less protein due to poor appetite, swallowing difficulties, and nausea. Protein is the key to maintaining muscle strength, boosting the immune system, and preventing malnutrition. As a consequence of mesothelioma, you need to maintain a protein-rich, nutritious diet to avoid weight and muscle loss. Meat such as beef, lamb, poultry, seafood and fish, dairy products, and eggs are high in protein. In addition, cheese, honey, nuts, eggs, peanut butter, protein powders, tofu, and honey are healthy foods often included in mesothelioma patients’ diets.
- Increase fiber intake
Treatment for mesothelioma causes constipation most often. A diet high in fiber and whole grains is a good way to overcome this problem. Fiber and whole grains also help keep metabolism healthy. Fiber is abundant in plant-based foods, especially vegetables and fruits. Since they have a pleasant taste, they are also likely to please the palate of someone who is nauseous following chemotherapy. Doctors recommend taking soluble fiber in foods like barley and oats.
- Take plenty of vegetables
Health specialists refer to certain diet components as ‘cancer-fighting’ foods. These foods boost the immune system and reduce inflammation. Here is a list of highly effective vegetables for mesothelioma patients:
- Broccoli: Broccoli is abundant in folic acid, fiber, vitamin K and C, calcium, iron, magnesium, and phytonutrients. Studies have shown that people with high phytonutrients are less likely to get lung, stomach, and prostate cancers. With its high amount of sulforaphane, broccoli is an excellent choice for mesothelioma patients.
- Carrots: Packed with fiber and vitamins K and A, carrots are known to reduce the risk of breast, bladder, and digestive cancers. You can take them raw, boiled, blended, or juiced.
- Sweet potatoes: Rich in vitamin A and carotenoids, sweet potatoes can be baked, eaten in soups, as fries, or roasted with herbs. American Institute for Cancer Research states that carotenoids control cell growth and are thus directly related to cancer.
- Increase fruit intake
Many fruits fight cancer because of their high nutritional value. A hospital-based control study suggests that a high intake of fruits and vegetables reduces cancer risk. Anticancer effects are associated with fruits containing carotenoid and pro-vitamin A.
Apples, especially when taken raw and with the skin, are a rich source of vitamin C, antioxidants, and fiber, while quercetin in apples protects cells’ DNA against cancer-causing damage. Moreover, Grapes and pumpkins are also known to be cancer-fighting foods.
- Include food substances that target specific side effects of mesothelioma
Mesothelioma patients also experience eating disturbances and appetite loss. Nausea, diarrhea, dryness of the mouth, weight loss, constipation, mouth sores are all commonly reported. Alter your diet in the following ways to fight these symptoms:
- For dryness of the mouth, increase water intake and consume fruits. Sweet foods stimulate the salivary glands, whereas dry and salty foods do the opposite.
- Alcohol, caffeine, spicy foods, and raw vegetables aggravate diarrhea, so avoid those.
- The answer to losing appetite is to take nutritional shakes more often. When eating food, prepare a small or bite-sized meal rich in nutrients.
- Avoid salty and spicy foods to avoid burn-in mouth sores.
All these healthy dietary tips are recommended by nutritionists and play a crucial role in managing your side effects of mesothelioma.
- Take dietary supplements
Mesothelioma increases the body’s nutritional demand while lowering appetite. Therefore, these patients need to eat well, but many cannot do so due to many factors. Despite the importance of eating well, it is not always possible for these patients due to many factors—including allergies.
If allergies are a reason your diet suffers, nutrient supplements are your solution. Increase the intake of protein powders, snack bars, supplement shakes, and protein drinks in your daily eating habits. In addition, supplements are also helpful in reducing the risk of chronic illnesses and are extremely beneficial for those with high nutritional needs.
- Restrict the use of white sugar, alcohol, refined flour, and processed meat
Processed sugars are not recommended for mesothelioma patients since they can cause insulin levels to rise and inflammation to increase. The less processed white sugar, brown sugar, and corn syrup you consume, the better your immune system will be able to recover from surgery, chemotherapy, and other treatments.
If your lifestyle involves drinking alcohol, it’s time to stop. Studies have shown that alcohol consumption lowers the disease-free survival time for people with mesothelioma and is associated with a poorer prognosis.
While refined-flour foods sure sound appetizing, they can slow the prognosis for your disease. If you really crave a piece of donut, consume in moderation, or opt for one made with whole grains. High consumption of refined flour can aggravate inflammation and increase the risk of chronic diseases.
Mesothelioma or no mesothelioma, processed meat is extremely detrimental to health. The smoking, salting, and curing involved in the processing of meats produces cancer-causing substances. Research shows that the cancer risk associated with processed meats like sausages and bacon is as high as asbestos, the primary cause of mesothelioma.
A healthy diet is crucial to achieving a healthy lifestyle. What you eat directly impacts your wellbeing. It is imperative to take enough proteins, vitamins, minerals, fiber, calories, and water when you suffer from chronic illness. Your body’s immune system needs to function efficiently for complete recovery after chemotherapy or radiation, and a healthy diet is key.