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Tuesday Training: Nutritional Tips for Dealing with Chemotherapy Side Effects


Today’s nutrition guest post comes from David Haas, the director of Awareness Programs for the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance website. If you or someone you know as Mesothelioma or Asbestos Cancer, this website is a wonderful resource for patients and their families. There’s free guides and even a whole section of information and resources for those seeking alternative treatments in dealing with their cancer. Read what David has to say about the role nutrition plays in your cancer treatments:

Nutritional Tips for Dealing with Chemotherapy Side Effects  

Though battling through a cancer diagnosis may leave you frustrated at times, nutrition can in many cases make a huge difference. In between chemotherapy sessions, you can stick to foods that are rich in protein and full of vitamins and minerals. By making liberal use of fruits, vegetables, and lean meats, you can ward off fatigue and avoid some of the side effects that are associated with cancer treatment. With dedication, you can follow a diet that will ultimately allow you to face chemotherapy with a positive mindset.   Combating Hair Loss Because chemotherapy kills healthy cells as well as malignant cells, you may lose some of your hair during the treatment process. Hair is primarily made up of protein. For this reason, you should eat large quantities of meat, eggs, beans, and lentils. Fish, which is especially high in both omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D, is another good option. You might also speak with your doctor about adding certain daily supplements. Folic acid and biotin are both needed for healthy hair. You should avoid processed foods with extra sugar, which can be detrimental to hair follicles. If you tire of the same old foods, you might also choose alternative sources of protein. Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, almonds, walnuts, and sunflower seeds are all easily procured.    Lowering Your Risk of Infection During the chemotherapy, you may also experience an increased risk of infection. To avoid taking any chances, always buy fresh organic produce from a local farm or trusted grocery store. Five servings of fruits and vegetables each day should give you the nutrients your body needs to fight infections. Citrus fruits can be especially beneficial. Add oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and limes to your diet whenever you can. Because fruits and vegetables tend to pick up germs at the supermarket, always wash them thoroughly before you eat them. You might even make your own fruit juices from scratch. If you love to make gourmet meals for your family, keep raw and cooked ingredients separate to avoid cross-contamination. Be sure to also throw out canned goods that have gone past their expiration dates.   Avoiding Anemia, Bleeding, and Bruising Chemotherapy treatments will also likely lead to low platelet counts, which can cause problems within the blood. Anemia, bleeding, and bruising can all result. With the right dietary choices, however, you should be able to avoid an iron deficiency. Liver, red meat, and eggs are all high in iron. Leafy green vegetables are also excellent options. Spinach, kale, mustard greens, and dandelion greens will be wonderful additions to any diet. Because calcium makes it harder for the body to absorb iron, do not take calcium supplements while you are also consuming iron-rich meats or vegetables. If you are having trouble planning out daily meals, you might ask a registered dietician to oversee things for the first couple of weeks or so.   The Very Real Benefits of Proper Nutrition Though chemotherapy and radiation therapy are necessary components of cancer treatment, you can stay one step ahead of the game by adhering to a healthy diet. Leafy greens, lean meats, and citrus fruits can all work wonders for both the body and the mind. With many of the worst side effects avoided, you can continue on with your life as you always have.  


  DavidHaas   Joining the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance 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 HERE. 

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