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CARE WITH SAMARA: NUTRITION & CANCER

When it comes to nutrition and cancer, much research has pointed toward certain foods and nutrients that may help prevent or conversely, contribute to certain types of cancer.

While there are many factors you can’t change that increase your cancer risk, such as genetics and environment, there are others you can control. In fact, estimates suggest that less than 30% of a person’s lifetime risk of getting cancer results from uncontrollable factors. The rest you have the power to change, including your diet which improves your quality of Life.

Over the last 25 years, science has shown that diet, physical activity and body weight especially being overweight or obese are major risk factors for developing certain types of cancers. Your body’s ability to resist cancer may be helped by following a healthy diet, staying physically active and avoiding excess body fat. Study after study suggests that a healthy diet is rich in a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes (beans), and low in red and (especially) processed meat can fight cancer. This will ensure that our immune system works efficiently in fighting off the harmful cancer cells.

When you are healthy, eating enough food is often not a problem. But when you are dealing with cancer and cancer treatment, this can be a real challenge. When you have cancer, you may need extra protein and calories. If you have trouble chewing and swallowing, you may need to add sauces and gravies. Sometimes, you may need to eat low-fibre foods instead of those with high fibre. Therefore following the right diet specifically created for you is important. Research suggests that eating well benefits people during and after cancer treatment.

The nutrition needs of people with cancer vary from person to person. Your cancer care team can help you identify your nutrition goals and plan ways to help you meet them. 

Eating well while you’re being treated for cancer will help you:

  • Feel better
  • Keep up your strength and energy
  • Maintain your weight and your body’s store of nutrients.
  • Better tolerate treatment and side effects
  • Lower your risk of infection
  • Heal and recover faster
  • Improve immunity 
  • Manage nutritional deficiencies

Meal Timings

Very often we tend to miss out on following the right meal timing even though we follow the right diet. Eating food on time ensures that we don’t miss out on meals, prevents hunger pangs, boosts metabolism, keeps you energized and creates a consistent routine.  

Sleep

Often sleep is overlooked as a crucial part of a cancer patient’s overall treatment plan. According to “The National Sleep Foundation,” sleep is a major component when it comes to boosting the immune system. “Without sufficient sleep, your body makes fewer cytokines, a type of protein that targets infection and inflammation, effectively creating an immune response. Cytokines are both produced and released during sleep, causing a double whammy if you skimp on shut-eye.” Sleep deprivation prevents your immune system from building up its forces. If you don’t get enough sleep, your body may not be able to fend off invaders, and it may also take you longer to recover from illness.

Lack of sleep can also create digestive havoc and releases the hormone Ghrelin (hunger hormone) that will invariably result in you reaching out for junk food while assimilation or absorption of nutrients is compromised. 

Good nutrition should be implemented as the next practice to healing and recovery. It is the foundation of health and contributes to building a strong immune system and as a result, effectively managing the side effects of treatment and improving quality of life during and post-treatment. 

Disclaimer: The views expressed are of the writer only. Please consult a certified cancer nutrition coach for your specific plans.

Samara Mahindra

Founder & CEO of CARER
CARER works with cancer patients, caregivers, survivors, and specialists to prevent and help cancer patients. To know more about Carer (Cancer Prevention & Therapy Experts), please visit here.

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