Guest Blogger Jillian McKee on Nutrition

I’m happy to be sharing a guest blog post today on the benefits of eating healthy during and after a diagnosis of any kind of cancer. There are many philosophies and viewpoints on this, and I will be sharing some additional perspectives soon, such as the healing benefits of raw food.

In the words of Jillian McKee:

Why is Nutrition Important for Cancer Patients?

“Battling cancer is difficult, but good nutrition can help the body fight the disease and help the patient return to good health during remission. Eating well before, during and after cancer treatment can help patients feel better overall, reduce fatigue, boost energy and strength, decrease one’s risk of infection and help patients recover and heal quickly.

Eating well means consuming a range of foods that provide the body with the nutrients it needs to maintain good health and functioning. These nutrients include carbohydrates, water, vitamins, fat, protein and minerals.

The bulk of the calories needed by the body are supplied by fats and carbohydrates. Great sources of carbohydrates include whole grains, dried beans, lentils, peas, fruits and vegetables.  Whole grain products are healthier options than processed foods or those made with white flour, so avoid white breads, pastas and rice in favor of whole grain and whole-wheat foods. Healthy sources of fat include avocados, nuts, seeds and oils and moderate amounts of dairy products.

Water is vital to good health. People who do not consume enough fluids or experience vomiting or diarrhea are at risk of developing dehydration. More water can be added to one’s diet by carrying a reusable bottle, adding lemon or lime slices to the water to improve taste or choosing water in place of sugary sodas, caffeinated drinks or other beverages.

Vitamins and minerals help the body grow and develop properly. They also help the body use the calories supplied in foods as energy. Eating a balanced diet can generally ensure that the body gets the right amount of nutrients and vitamins, but it can be challenging for people with cancer to obtain an optimum level of these compounds. For this reason, some patients need to take a vitamin supplement before, during or after treatment.

Protein is necessary for a healthy immune system and helps the body grow and repair tissues. If protein is lacking in one’s diet, the body has a lower resistance to infections and takes longer to heal following illnesses. According to the Abramsom Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania, cancer patients often require more protein than others, and getting the right amount of protein is especially important following treatments like radiation therapy, chemotherapy and surgery. Healthy sources of protein include organic dairy products, dried beans, nuts, lentils, peas and soy foods.

Both the disease and its treatments can make it difficult for patients to obtain the nutrition they need to stay strong. Treatment side effects and effects from treatments for other types of cancer may include loss of appetite, sore throat, dry mouth, diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, constipation, mouth sores and more. An experienced nutritionist or doctor can recommend ways that patients can still obtain the proper nutrition in spite of these side effects.”

Bringing a wealth of personal and professional experience to the organization, Jillian McKee has worked as the Complementary Medicine Advocate at the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance since June of 2009. Jillian spends most her time on outreach efforts and spreading information about the integration of complementary and alternative medicine when used in conjunction with traditional cancer treatment.

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