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Getting the Nutrition You Need During Chemo
In the face of cancer’s many challenges, it can feel impossible to maintain any semblance of a normal routine. Many of a patient’s habits must change to accommodate the effects of their disease and its treatments, even as their body begins to degrade under the constant assault of chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and other harmful but necessary forms of cancer treatment. One of the hardest things to do is to get the nutrition you need during chemo, as many complications commonly arise that can impede your ability to consume food and drinks. If you or someone you know is undergoing chemo and having trouble eating enough to stay energized or recover sufficiently between treatments, know that medical nutrition support is available. To learn more about your options for getting nutrition during chemotherapy, keep reading as the people at ENU explain.
Effects of Chemo on Cancer Patient Nutrition
Even if hunger has seemed like a constant throughout your life, chemotherapy has a way of altering, diminishing, or eliminating a patient’s appetite, which could have serious implications for your recovery. Part of the reason for this is that chemo is a “systemic” treatment, meaning that it affects the entire body; this fact explains why the side effects of chemo can be felt throughout the body, not just near the cancer or the part of the body where the chemo drugs were administered. Because chemotherapy affects such a wide array of systems in the body, this treatment can have far-reaching consequences for patients.
In some patients, chemo can reduce appetite, especially in the hours and days following a treatment. Chemo can affect hunger in less direct ways, too; for example, chemotherapy often causes painful sores to form in the mouth, a condition called oral mucositis. Patients who develop this ailment may experience intense discomfort when chewing or swallowing food, which may lead them to avoid eating. (In the most severe cases, the oral consumption of nutrients might be impossible.) Other chemo side effects that can make eating uncomfortable or unpleasant include changes in taste, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and changes in mood.
Important Nutrients During Chemotherapy
Despite the presence of the side effects mentioned above, cancer patients need to get as many calories and nutrients as they can; this point is vital to remember. As the body battles cancer and the effects of its treatments, it tends to burn through any stores of energy or nutrients it may have, and the difficulty of consuming more makes weight management for cancer patients a serious concern. For that reason, it may be necessary for those undergoing chemo to focus on specific nutrients and maximize their recovery potential, even if they can’t consume much food each day.
Of all the nutrients that benefit cancer patients, protein is probably the most important. That’s because this macronutrient (the main type of nutrient, comprising fats, carbs, and proteins) is crucial to the body’s healing process. Without sufficient protein, a patient might struggle to repair the damage done by one chemo treatment before it’s time for the next; if so, their doctor could be forced to delay or even suspend treatments until the patient is able to recover. It’s also worth noting that protein works to preserve muscle mass, which can prevent unwanted muscle loss and help patients maintain their strength and body weight.
When eating large meals becomes too difficult, fats can save the day. That’s because this often-reviled macronutrient can provide a significant number of calories in a relatively small volume, a substantial advantage for those who can only eat a small amount of food. If you are going through chemo and have to eat small meals, try cooking with fats or putting fatty condiments on your food to provide your body with the energy it needs to keep fighting.
Though not technically a type of nutrient, calories are nonetheless a crucial point of consideration for patients going through chemo. Calories are our bodies’ main source of energy; without them, a patient can quickly lose weight and wind up malnourished. If you’re not eating enough during chemo, focus on calorie-dense foods like milkshakes, peanut butter, or ice cream.
How to Get the Nutrients You Need During Chemotherapy
If you struggle to handle solid foods (many cancer patients do) keep in mind that there are often alternative sources of the nutrients you need to consume. Homemade protein shake recipes made with nutrient-dense and calorie-dense foods can be both nutritious and easy to drink – the perfect thing for someone going through chemo.
There are also many products specifically designed to help cancer patients through their battle with cancer. For instance, ENU meal replacement shakes can serve as balanced, convenient liquid nutritional supplements for cancer patients. Each carton contains 20 grams of protein from whey and soy – two of the easiest forms of protein to digest – along with complex carbs and heart-healthy fats to provide extended energy in a convenient, drinkable form. These shakes also offer more than 20 different vitamins and minerals, and they’re lactose-free, gluten-free, non-GMO, and certified Kosher as well.
All the Nutrition You Need During Chemo, Available from ENU
If you or someone you know is undergoing chemo, you’re probably familiar with the difficulties that come with this type of treatment. Fortunately, there is a way you can get the nutrition your body needs to endure chemotherapy in one healthy, convenient product: meal replacement shakes from ENU. Each shake provides well-balanced nutrition and 400 calories, so you can down the equivalent of a small meal anytime, anywhere. To learn more about ENU products and how they can help during chemotherapy, visit us online or call (855) 266-6733 right away.