Nutrition, Cancer and Chemotherapy
My guest blogger today is Ms. Tiffany Barrett, a Clinical Dietitian at the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University in Atlanta, GA. Ms. Barrett writes about the importance of maintaining weight and adequate protein intake while undergoing chemotherapy.
Maintaining adequate nutrition is an important part of your cancer treatment. Eating a variety of foods will help you obtain the proper amount of calories and protein. Getting enough protein is important to the healing process as your body uses protein to rebuild tissue. Protein requirements are often higher in cancer patients because of the change in protein metabolism. Without adequate protein the breakdown of lean body mass is increased from the demands of the tumor and treatment. Loss of lean body mass can lead to inability to heal, decreased strength, weakened immune system, loss in independence and decreased quality of life. And even if you are overweight, losing weight is not healthy or recommended during treatment.
Try eating every 2-3 hours meals of protein and calorie dense foods. Excellent protein sources include fish, poultry, eggs, dairy, legumes and soy. There are several commercial oral supplements on the market to help provide higher calories and protein. Add protein to foods by mixing protein powder or powdered milk to beverages, casseroles, soups, mashed potatoes or hot cereals. Make your own smoothie or milkshake by adding whey protein isolate or egg protein powder. These protein supplements can be found at most drug stores and nutrition stores. To add variety and increased nutrition mix, blend with fresh or frozen fruits. Good snack choices include peanut butter, nuts, dried fruit, cheese, yogurt and protein bars. Think of food as the fuel necessary to get you through treatment.
Tiffany Barrett MS, RD, CSO, LD
Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University