Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Right Nutrition is Vital when Living with Cancer

(ARA) – Good nutrition is always important, especially when you’re undergoing treatment for cancer. Proper nutrition supports your immune system and supplies you with the energy to do the things you enjoy.

So why do between 45 and 80 percent of all cancer patients develop some form of clinical malnutrition during the course of treatment? Frankly, it’s tough to get the right nutrients when you can’t keep food down or when things just don’t taste good anymore. Also, the tumor itself may affect the way your body processes nutrients.

One school of thought has been if you’re living with cancer, eat whatever you want - whether it’s nutrient dense or not. The reality is there has never been a more important time to get the right balance of nutrients. Foods high in fat and empty calories (calories present in high-energy foods with poor nutritional profiles) alone won’t give you the energy you need to keep you strong.

Why Nutrition Matters for Cancer Patients

Here are some facts cancer patients and their caregivers should know about how nutrition affects the way the body reacts to cancer treatment:

* Cancer treatment increases your need for protein and calories to help repair and heal your body.

* Radiation and chemotherapy may interfere with normal eating habits by causing nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation and a sore, dry mouth.

* Some cancer patients -- especially those undergoing high doses of chemotherapy, or those with head, neck and lung cancers -- may develop swallowing difficulties, known as dysphagia. Dysphagia is a condition that leaves patients extremely vulnerable to malnutrition, as it impairs the ability to consume adequate amounts of nutrients and often goes undiagnosed in the general population more than 75 percent of the time.

“Getting the right nutrition is vital during cancer treatment,” says Mary Miranowski, a registered dietitian with Nestle HealthCare Nutrition. “Whether you’re preparing for surgery or going through chemo or radiation therapy, there’s never been a more important time to make sure your body is getting the nutrition it needs to defend against infections, help fight fatigue, and maintain lean muscle mass as part of maintaining a healthy weight.”

Specifically, here’s what the National Cancer Institute says good nutrition can do for you when living with cancer and undergoing treatment:

* Calories supply energy and help maintain a healthy weight.

* Protein helps support healing and is essential to protect, maintain and build muscle.

* Vitamins and minerals help reduce tissue damage and promote immune function.

Cancer Patients: It’s Time for Smart Nutrition

There are many ways to get the specialized nutrition you need during cancer treatment. As a world leader in health, wellness and nutrition, Nestle HealthCare Nutrition offers a comprehensive array of products to help support cancer patients stay strong through the cancer journey. It’s never been easier or more important to understand the role specialized nutritional support plays during cancer treatment.

To learn more about how nutrition helps cancer patients stay strong, check out www.nutrition4strength.com.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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