The Importance of Consulting a Dietitian To Cope With Cancer
Cancer can be taxing on the body and mind. Moreover, there is the risk of side effects to consider when undergoing cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy.
As a result, some patients may feel lethargic or fatigued. To counteract this, it is important to eat a balanced diet to stay healthy and strong. Learn how a dietitian plays a crucial role in making this happen and how they help patients cope with cancer.
The importance of a balanced diet during cancer treatment
Although there are no specific diets that can cure cancer, what we eat can significantly impact the effectiveness of the cancer treatment. While nutrition may seem to be a minor factor, it has a significant impact on how well our bodies take to the cancer treatment.
Examples may include minimising side effects or keeping the body energised and strong during treatment. Even under normal circumstances, if the body does not absorb the necessary amount of nutrients it needs to function, it leads to many health issues like digestion problems, skin disorders, malnutrition, and more.
Hence, an individual’s transition from a cancer patient to a cancer is influenced by the lifestyle and behavioural changes, especially those of a nutritional nature.
Nutrition is a crucial aspect of cancer management, regardless of the cancer stage. Studies have shown that having a higher intake of vegetables and fish is inversely proportional to the overall mortality among cancer patients. On the other hand, a western-based diet lowers the survival chances of those diagnosed with cancer.
How a dietitian can help
All types of medication, cancer-focused or otherwise, come with specific side effects. For the former, common ones include loss of appetite, taste changes, difficulty in swallowing, which can prevent patients from taking in enough nutrients to support their body’s needs.
Working with a dietitian allows patients to determine the ideal diet since dietitians help optimise the food intake to achieve the best nutritional status their body needs to get through treatment.
Without knowing what is suitable for consumption, patients undertaking treatment may aggravate their side effects or give rise to more symptoms, such as nausea and gastrointestinal problems.
This is where dietitians come in. They work to understand various factors about each patient, such as their taste preferences, cultural background, and support systems to develop a customised diet plan that suits the patient’s nutritional requirements and will lead to the best outcome possible for their treatment.
However, it will also require cooperation from the patients. Patients should work together by bringing information about the nutritional value of the foods, vitamins, and drinks in their day-to-day diet. In this way, dietitians can coordinate with other healthcare team members and ensure that the diet will not affect the full effectiveness of the treatment.
As we go through cancer recovery, our bodies fight and repair against the effects of the medication. Thus, a balanced diet helps fuel cancer recovery and side effects from the respective treatments.
By coordinating with a dietitian, patients can review their nutritional intake and resolve the problems that prevent them from achieving a healthy and robust body.
If you need a hand in adjusting your diet to be better prepared for treatment, International Cancer Specialists is more than willing to help. As a certified cancer diagnosis and treatment in Singapore, International Cancer Specialists offers personalised dietary and nutrition plans to support you in managing the symptoms of cancer treatment.
In addition, we also provide other services involving early detection of cancer through cancer screening tests in Singapore and treatment for many types of cancer, such as breast, lung, and colon cancer.
Gardner, M. & Goldberg, A.M. (2016). The Role of Oncology Dietitians in Cancer Care [Podcast transcript]. Cancer.net. https://www.cancer.net/blog/podcasts/role-oncology-dietitians-cancer-care-with-maureen-gardner-ma-rdn-cso-and-annette-m-goldberg-ms-mba.
Why diet is important. Cancer Research UK. (2020, February 26). Retrieved March 4, 2022, from https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/coping/physically/diet-problems/about/why-diet-is-important
Bramlet, K. (2017, February 13). Meeting with a dietitian during cancer treatment: What to expect. MD Anderson Cancer Center. Retrieved March 4, 2022, from https://www.mdanderson.org/cancerwise/what-to-expect-when-you-meet-with-a-dietitian-during-cancer-treatment.h00-159142878.html
O’Callaghan, N., Douglas, P., & Keaver, L. (2022). Nutrition practices among adult cancer survivors living on the island of Ireland: A cross-sectional study. Nutrients, 14(4), 767. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu14040767