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Nutrition for Leukemia Patients: Tips, Diet & Recipes
Keeping up your strength while battling cancer has to be one of the most difficult burdens a person can face. Not only does the disease itself wreak havoc in the body, but its treatments do as well; things like chemotherapy, radiation, and hormone therapy can ravage the nerves, digestive system, skin, mouth, heart, and lungs of a patient, just to name a few of the affected areas. Of course, these procedures often save the patient’s life, making them a necessary ordeal, but how do you maintain your energy levels or observe proper nutrition during such a difficult time? To find out more on the topic of medical nutrition support nutrition shakes, keep reading as the people at ENU provide some answers.
Effects of Leukemia and Its Treatments on the Body
A patient facing leukemia has to deal with a persistent condition that drains the body’s strength, leaving it vulnerable to bacteria and other contaminants and causing persistent fatigue that can make even simple, everyday tasks seem daunting. Many patients experience unwanted weight loss, bone pain, nosebleeds, and other symptoms that can leave them feeling battered and, quite literally, bruised. And in many cases, the treatments for leukemia only make these conditions worse.
Chemotherapy has been shown to cause a host of side effects that can further compromise a leukemia patient’s immune system, alter a person’s appetite or sense of taste, make eating and drinking painful or impossible, and cause nausea and vomiting; together, these side effects often lead patients to forego eating or drinking as much as possible during their treatments, which only makes things worse.
Both malnutrition and dehydration are serious concerns for cancer patients. Those who develop either may have to pause their chemo or radiation treatments until their condition improves, which will only hurt their prognosis in the long run and lead to even greater medical expenses. Patients with these conditions are also more vulnerable to side effects, as they lack the resources to fight those debilitating ailments or stave off infection.
Nutritional Needs for Leukemia Patients
As with any serious illness, those fighting leukemia must keep their bodies as nourished as possible, not only to help preserve their limited stores of energy but also to make sure that their systems have enough resources to run smoothly. It can be very easy for a patient to become malnourished, leading to significant weight loss and possible complications in treatment. Below are some of the essential nutrients a patient should focus on during their fight against leukemia to improve their condition and help with weight management.
While protein is undoubtedly an important part of a healthy diet for anyone, including those who are sick, this key macronutrient takes on an outsized role in the diet of cancer patients. That’s because protein is crucial for the body’s healing process, an especially important consideration if you are facing a major illness. It’s also necessary to prevent muscle wasting in those who are physically inactive, and it plays a major role in helping the immune system maintain effectiveness and recover after your illness.
Getting enough protein in your diet can be tough, though. Solid foods might be difficult to consume, given the side effects of chemo and radiation, so focus on soft foods that contain protein, like yogurt and eggs. Adding protein powder to a smoothie or drinking a protein shake for cancer patients can help you get the protein you need as well.
Sugary snacks and desserts may help you boost your calorie count – a potentially important part of cancer nutrition – but the energy they provide is fleeting. Aim for complex carbs instead, like those provided by whole grains. Complex carbs supply the body with extended energy and are good sources of fiber, which helps you stay energized longer.
Brown rice can be a good option, as it is easy to eat and season to taste, and oatmeal can be a soft, palatable source of whole grains as well. If you prefer to consume a liquid supplement for cancer nutrition, try a meal replacement shake that contains complex carbs, like those from ENU, which offer carbs derived from quinoa, tapioca, and brown rice.
The term may seem like an oxymoron, but healthy fats do exist, and you should get plenty of them. Unsaturated fats are ideal – think olive oil, coconut oil, and the fat found in nuts and seeds. Fats are important because they provide a significant number of calories, which can help leukemia patients maintain their body weight, and the right kinds of fats are even good for your heart. When preparing meals for yourself, try to cook with unsaturated fats, and avoid greasy foods as much as possible. You can also find these heart-healthy fats in ENU nutrition shakes, which contain coconut and sunflower oils.
Complete, Healthy Nutritional Shakes for Leukemia Patients Available from ENU
At ENU, we understand the importance of well-rounded nutrition, especially for those battling a life-threatening illness. That’s why we make sure to include only the best ingredients in our meal replacement shakes, including whey and soy proteins for easy absorption, complex carbs for extended energy, healthy fats to provide plenty of calories, and a mix of more than 20 different vitamins and minerals. ENU shakes make it easy to supply your beleaguered body with the fuel it needs to keep fighting – no meal preparation required. To learn more about ENU nutrition shakes and how they can help you in your struggle against leukemia, visit us online or call (855) 266-6733 today.