Cancer Fighters Thrive


Cancer Fighters Thrive is a quarterly print and online magazine bringing readers practical, innovative and inspirational information about cancer treatment and survivorship.

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NUTRITION As Easy as 1 2 3 Nutrition Basics for Cancer Patients Learning some essentials about basic nutrition and stocking the pantry with key ingredients can help patients maintain health throughout cancer treatment. By Diana Price Everyone can beneft from learning about nutrition, but focusing on food that fuels the body can be especially benefcial to cancer patients. Crystal Langlois, RD, CSO, LD, Clinical Oncology Dietitian at Cancer Treatment Centers of America® in Newnan, Georgia, says that "good nutrition and prevention of weight loss is critical for patients undergoing treatment." Adequate nutrition is essential to help boost immunity and maintain strength, allowing patients to complete treatment and recover. "The body will be expending more energy than normal because it needs to heal from surgery, radiation or chemotherapy," Langlois says, making dietary choices signifcant. Certain side effects can make it diffcult for patients to maintain optimal nutrition. Langlois says that side effects such as nausea and vomiting, constipation and diarrhea, taste changes, loss of appetite and diffculty eating—all can lead to poor intake and malnutrition. Malnutrition can pose a serious threat, 1 she says, potentially leading to "decreased immune function, loss of lean body mass and increased risk of infection and complications." In addition, fatigue can make it diffcult for patients to expend energy on shopping and food preparation, leading to choices based on convenience rather than nutritional value. "Because treatments often leave patients tired and weak, some end up relying on fast foods or convenience foods for meals and snacks," Langlois says. "These food choices are often low in nutrient density and higher in fat and sugar." Though it may seem daunting to put so much thought into what you eat, a few simple steps can set you up for success. By learning some basics about what nutrients your body needs during treatment and then stocking up on foods that make good choices easy, you can beneft from the improved overall health that good nutrition provides. Here Langlois takes us through a 1-2-3 approach to set the stage for ensuring healthy choices. Learn What Your Body Needs The frst step in ensuring adequate nutrition throughout treatment is understanding the key nutrients your body needs and which foods provide those nutrients. Langlois says, "A balanced diet of carbohydrates, protein and fats is essential to maintaining your body's daily functions." She provides the following breakdown of how each element contributes to overall health during treatment, along with examples of what types of foods fall under each category. 14 cancer fighters thrive | winter 2013 CARBOHYDRATES "Carbohydrates provide fuel to your body and brain and include whole grains, fruits, starchy vegetables and beans." PROTEIN "Protein is needed for building your immune system and muscles and for repairing tissue. When choosing meats, always look for lean meats, such as chicken, fsh and turkey, and limit red meats. And be aware that protein also comes from other sources, such as soy, dairy, nuts, eggs, beans and legumes." FAT "Fats are a necessary part of your diet as well; however, some fats should be limited, such as saturated and trans fats. Choosing unsaturated fat such as olive and canola oils, avocados and nuts may actually help decrease the infammation process in the body."

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