Cancer is a serious illness that affects the mind and body. In addition, there is also the treatment, which in turn changes the body and greatly affects well-being, so that there is a risk of heavy weight loss. The question of proper nutrition during cancer is therefore particularly important for those affected and their relatives.
What changes during cancer?
The decreasing appetite as well as the nausea contribute to the fact that the weight decreases during the cancer. In addition, inflammatory processes in the body make the patient feel sick and lose his appetite. Overall, the performance is significantly reduced, which also stresses the psyche. Especially with progressing cancer, eating becomes difficult, which favors increasing exhaustion. In addition, indigestion can be the reason that the mineral and vitamin balance is disturbed. Against this background, the use of nutritional supplements may be necessary, because without a healthy basic supply, the symptoms and general condition can worsen significantly. But there is also another danger because the undersupply carries the risk of infectious diseases, which in turn limits life expectancy. The prognosis for surviving the cancer depends on the adequate and coordinated diet.
Experts advise that
The German Nutrition Society (DGE) was founded in 1953. It formulates questions for which there is a need for research and provides support wherever possible. It is also a platform for the publication of the results, shows insights and thus makes them accessible to all interested parties. The DGE issues recommendations on all things nutritional supplements for cancer patients. This includes a diet tailored to the patient.
The PRiO working group (prevention and integrative oncology) also publishes recommendations for cancer nutrition. The experts largely agree that meals should not be an additional burden on the patient and that small portions that are particularly high in calories and contain enough protein are therefore more suitable. Of course, minerals and vitamins should not be missing. The menu must always be adapted to the acute health condition.
If the patient can no longer eat at all, he should be given the necessary contents by an infusion. Any wish for a meal can of course be fulfilled if no harmful effects are expected. Dishes that contain a lot of sugar, that are too hot, that are spicy to hot or that are very acidic are classified as harmful. Of course, the patient’s resilience also plays a role. The potato soup may seem sensible, but the patient desires a pizza and is sure to tolerate it if the request is not rejected in principle.
Cancer Supplements – Is That Necessary?
If eating is difficult for the patient, the question naturally arises as to whether food supplements can support the treatment and prevent deficiency symptoms. That must be answered in the affirmative. If the blood tests show that there is a lack of vitamins and minerals, high-dose preparations are a good decision and less stressful for those affected than larger portions of fruit and vegetables. This is especially true if the patient has nausea. Tablets are the better choice. However, vitamins can also affect the course of cancer. Grapefruit or large amounts of orange juice, for example, are not suitable to compensate for a vitamin deficiency. They have been shown to increase the side effects of radiation therapy on the skin.
They can also reduce the effects of chemotherapy. Grapefruits are generally known to weaken the effects of many medications. With this in mind, nutritional counseling is important for cancer patients and their families. In the clinics, patients with cancer receive a tailored diet and the advice they need to prepare food when they return home.