Patients with cancer may experience dietary changes that, among other things, can alter or reduce appetite. One of the main fears is malnutrition, which is responsible for 20% of deaths in people with the disease, according to a survey published in an article. European Journal of Medical Oncology.
Cancer nutritionist Adriana Carrieri says access to quality food treatment is one of the main barriers, and patients generally lack in-depth guidance. Lack of supportive care can also lead to a poor diet, in addition to the symptoms of the disease itself and the side effects of treatment.
“We say that cancer is an individualized disease, so whatever the location of the tumor, it deserves careful attention so that the patient does not get into a phase of severe malnutrition and only then start working on nutrition,” said researcher Carrieri. In the Faculty of Medicine.Albert Einstein in New York (USA), in an interview Live well was held in São Paulo last week at the Ganepão Congress.
Gastrointestinal tumors, such as tumors of the stomach and esophagus, neck and head can cause more difficulty in feeding patients, and often require the use of supplements and probes.
In cases of malnutrition, low immunity which leads to serious results in the case of infections, e.g. “Often the death is not caused by cancer, but by malnutrition that weakened this patient. It is a very serious issue, which leads to these complications,” Carrieri explained.
Experts say that nutritional assessment of patients should be done regularly as an alternative to identifying warning signs. People should also be encouraged to exercise when it comes to improving their strength and muscle mass.
See nutrition tips for people undergoing cancer treatment
Those receiving cancer treatment should have a healthy and balanced diet with foods in naturesuch as fruits and vegetables, always very well sanitized. Therapeutic modalities against cancer are intended to cure and alleviate symptoms, but may cause side effects that vary in intensity and duration.
Eating should be adapted to the nutritional status and treatment of the person with the disease.
“In terms of quantities, cancer patients have specific metabolic requirements that increase calorie and protein requirements. It can be a big challenge because cancer treatment, in its various forms, causes toxicities that directly affect food consumption,” says * Janainna Mazelli. , oncology nutritionist at Sírio-Libanês Hospital.
nausea and vomiting
To alleviate the symptoms of nausea and vomiting, the consumption of easily digestible foods is indicated. It’s important to avoid fried foods, fats and seasonings, as well as make small meals throughout the day.
Another recommendation is to not lie down after eating. For nausea, a good tip is to consume ginger, which can be added to juices, coconut water or teas. In the event of vomiting, experts also recommend that water intake be increased in part.
It is quite common for people receiving cancer treatment to have diarrhea or constipation. For both cases it is essential to drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration or to improve the consistency of the stool.
Those suffering from diarrhea should avoid fatty and spicy preparations with lactose, sugar and excess laxatives, milk and dairy products such as high-fiber vegetables, whole grains, papaya, plums and avocados.
For constipation, it is advisable to increase the consumption of oats, flax, vegetables and fruits, such as papaya, orange with pomace, plum, mango and avocado. Another important tip is to do physical activity if there are no contraindications.
loss of appetite
It can often make you feel unwell, but this attitude is quite dangerous, as it leads to malnutrition and puts your treatment at risk.
Those who have difficulty consuming solid foods may take in more fluids, such as vitamins, juice, ice cream, yogurt, and soups. It is worth trying to eat in small quantities, but more times a day. Also, always eat foods that make you want to eat at that time. Adding olive oil, avocado and nuts to your daily preparation helps to increase your calorie count.
In some cases, when you are overweight or malnourished, specialists may include oral supplements to supplement your diet with more foods.
It is quite common for anyone suffering from cancer to have aphthous ulcers or mouth ulcers. This can make it difficult to eat, as eating can cause pain or discomfort in these cases. Therefore, it is important to consume soft foods and pastas, such as purees, and at a warm temperature.
It is not interesting to eat very cold or hot foods and also to avoid acids, spices and irritants of the oral mucosa, such as spices and others full of sodium.
It is also quite common to have symptoms of dry mouth. Being hydrated and consuming foods that increase saliva are helpful strategies to alleviate this discomfort. Therefore, it is recommended to increase the consumption of fruits, fresh vegetables, fruit juices and ice cream. A good tip is to drink water with a drop of lemon.
In some cases, a saliva stimulant supplement may be used. Drinking liquids at meals also promotes chewing and swallowing.
Some people with cancer have anemia due to reduced food intake or changes in intestinal absorption function. There are also cases of people who cause blood loss or tumors that affect the bone marrow, which hinders their ability to produce red blood cells.
Therefore, it is important to increase the consumption of iron-containing foods, such as dark green leaves and animal meats, along with foods rich in vitamin C, to benefit the absorption of iron. It is necessary to initiate rigorous and complementary follow-up in the examinations, if necessary.
Changes in smell and taste
It is common for people receiving chemotherapy to reduce their taste or smell. That way, the food won’t be so interesting or bitter. As it affects each person individually, it is a good idea to find ways to make the food more appealing with seasonings, herbs and spices to enhance the flavor.
Liquids, such as water and natural juices, are essential for the proper functioning of the body, as they help digestion, transport nutrients and excretion, as well as assist in the functioning of the kidneys. Staying hydrated is important so that the medications used do not overload the kidneys and thus have less toxic effects on the body.
Attention to products
The quality and hygiene of the food consumed should be taken into account, especially outside the home. Priority should be given to those who receive cancer treatment who are always well-prepared, well-packaged, with a quality seal, within the expiry date and in strict compliance with hygiene regulations.
Experts stress the importance of avoiding processed foods, as they are rich in preservatives. Consumption of alcoholic beverages, ultra-processed, fried and highly sugary foods should also be avoided.
* With information from a report published on 11/30/20