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Dietary Tricks to Combat Side Effects of Cancer

Posted by: Dr. Tina Morse PsyD, MFT

Topic: Life Support

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In honor of The National Cancer Alliance Day (Sunday June 2nd), here’s a guest post by David Haas – the director of Awareness Programs at the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance.

You probably already know that nutrition holds the key to several health advantages. During cancer treatment, you may come up against some particularly bothersome side effects. While diet alone can’t help you avoid these entirely, there are a few nutrition tricks that can help mitigate your discomfort.

Chemo Fog

Several chemo patients and survivors make jokes about chemo fog or chemo brain, but the difficulties in mental function associated with chemotherapy are quite real and can be disturbing to those experiencing them. You may notice that you begin to have memory problems or have difficulty paying attention. Rather than panicking, try eating your vegetables.

That’s right! Vegetables are good brain food, and several other foods that have been proven to improve brain function can help as well. These include blackberries, coffee, apples, spinach, grapes and grape juice, curry and salmon.

Hair Loss

Many chemotherapy patients experience severe hair loss, but you can mitigate this effect with some dietary supplements and habits. First, eat plenty of fish for the omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D it contains. Both of these have been proven to prevent hair loss. Also, talk with your doctor about taking nutritional supplements. Folic acid as well as vitamins B6, B12, A, C and E all provide the nutrients your body needs to promote healthy hair growth. Processed sugar can leach important nutrients from your system, so avoid it whenever possible.

Anorexia

Appetite changes as well as side effects of cancer treatment and the emotional difficulties associated with a cancer diagnosis can result in anorexia for cancer patients. If you’re having difficulty getting proper nutrition or enough to eat, pamper yourself to make the experience of eating as pleasant as possible. Play soothing music at mealtimes. Surround yourself with pleasing visual stimulas while you eat. Whenever possible, share meals and snacks with people you enjoy being around. Eat slowly and enjoy your food as much as possible. Also, get nutritional counseling at your treatment center or an associated organization to help you make more positive food choices, especially if you experience rapid, unnecessary weight loss.

Many aspects are involved in your cancer treatment and recovery. You may go through surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, and these treatments administered by your oncology team are important. Just as important, however, are the aspects of recovery that you control such as diet, sleep and exercise. Use the resources you have to learn more about how you can improve your own health and quality of life. Then take action to eat right for your fight.
Joining the MCA in 2011, David Haas is the Director of Awareness Programs. In addition to researching much of the information available to our site’s visitors, David often blogs about programs available and campaigns underway at the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance. David is a fitness enthusiast who frequently runs, climbs, and bikes for enjoyment. He is also very involved in outreach associated with awareness about the dangers of asbestos for many different organizations and groups of people.

Read more: http://www.mesothelioma.com/blog/authors/david/bio.htm#ixzz2PVMlj2OR


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