5 Simple Diet Improvements for Mesothelioma Patients

Patients with mesothelioma who are undergoing treatment need the right kind of diet to support their immune systems and give them the best opportunity to recover. Treatment for this type of cancer can cause digestive system issues and the side effects are often nausea, diarrhea, constipation and loss of appetite. 

Patients may feel too sick or tired to eat but not getting enough nutrition can make them feel worse and they may start to lose muscle mass. Improving their nutrition can be challenging but here are some simple ways to do it. 

Increase protein

Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that affects the mesothelium or thin tissue layer covering internal organs, most commonly the chest wall and lung linings. The primary cause is asbestos exposure as inhaling the microscopic fibers damages the cells. Having enough protein in the diet helps patients to rebuild damaged cells, gives them energy and reduces muscle loss. 

The body takes longer to process protein so it provides more sustained energy than eating starches that digest quickly. Eggs, lean chicken, pork, beef or fish are all good sources of protein. Beans, nuts and peanut butter are other foods high in protein. Patients could benefit from eating scrambled eggs, salads with seeds and snacks like nuts or roasted chickpeas. 

Reduce sugar

Cancer cells love sugar, taking it up at a higher rate than normal cells. Sugary foods may make a patient feel full but don’t provide the nutrition they need. Patients who aren’t able to eat as much have to make sure that what they do eat offers the most nutritive value. 

Substituting a sugary snack with a piece of fruit can satisfy a desire for something sweet. The sugar fruit contains doesn’t affect the body negatively like refined sugar. 

Get enough fluids

When undergoing treatment like chemotherapy, vomiting and diarrhea can cause dehydration. When a patient is dehydrated, the heart has to work harder because the blood is not flowing as quickly.

Patients must drink enough when undergoing treatment, even if they don’t feel thirsty. It is a good idea for them to always have a glass of water at hand and take sips throughout the day. 

Eat cancer-fighting foods

Research has shown that the antioxidants and phytochemicals found in fruit and vegetables may help the body to fight cancer. Antioxidants help to prevent cell damage and are found in foods like broccoli, carrots, sweet potatoes, oranges and spinach. 

Phytochemicals are chemical compounds that fight against pathogens and they are found in foods such as apples, apricots, cabbage, cauliflower and tomatoes. 

Manage Side Effects

The side effects of treatment cause many patients to lose their appetites. Some foods are able to overcome common side effects, like nausea and diarrhea. 

Patients with nausea should avoid high fat, greasy or spicy foods. Bland, dry foods like toast are helpful. Broths and liquid foods are soothing if the throat is sore. 

For diarrhea, it is important to rehydrate the body by drinking plenty of liquids. It may also be necessary to cut down on foods high in fiber such as grains.

Treatment can affect the sense of taste which decreases the appetite and causes weight loss. Healthy fats from nuts, olive oil and avocados can help to maintain body weight and supply energy. 

Patients may battle to maintain a way of eating they previously followed, such as having three main meals a day. If they battle to stick to a former routine, it may be beneficial for them to eat small, nutritious snacks throughout the day instead of large meals at regular times. 

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