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The Importance of Nutrition and Cancer Care

| Date Posted: 2/6/2012

There are many ways you can optimize your health through diet and nutrition while undergoing treatment for cancer.  The same nutrition and diet regimen can also greatly reduce your chances of getting cancer.

Staying nutritionally strong is one positive way to take control of your life and your well- being. Optimal, daily nutrition habits allow your body to function at its best. Maintaining optimal nutrition can provide several benefits for people living with cancer, including:

  • Support and building of immune function while undergoing treatment
  • Preserving lean body cell mass and protein production
  • Rebuilding of body tissue through nutrients, hydration and exercise
  • Decreasing your risk of infection by strengthening of the immune system
  • Improvement of strength and an increase in energy
  • Improvements to your tolerance for treatment
  • Reduction in side effects as related to treatment
  • Prevention of malnutrition
  • Promotion of on-going, positive healthy eating habits
  • Helping you recuperate faster after treatment
  • Improved quality of life, with an overall improvement in mood, energy and staying cancer free.

According to the National Cancer Institute, about one-third of all cancer deaths are related to malnutrition.  By increasing your protein, complex carbohydrate and overall caloric intake each day, and by staying well-hydrated with water throughout the day, you can add a significant boost to your ability to stave off cancer, and to recuperate from cancer.  By adding a strong and disciplined approach of nutrition, diet and exercise to your cancer treatment, you will be increasing your chances of healing, by providing your body a constant supply of nutrients to use as fuel during the healing process.  This supply of nutrients includes calories from all macronutrients (whole foods such as green, leafy vegetables, raw and uncooked colorful fruits and vegetables high in vitamins and minerals—often called “eating your colors”; complex carbohydrates such as whole grain, simple proteins found in legumes and vegetable proteins, fish and chicken, and fat from plant and low-cholesterol meats.)

Dietitians can help by making recommendations for how to keep you nourished with healthful foods and a well-balanced diet. Dietitians are health professionals with extensive training in nutrition who help with dietary choices.

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