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Dietary Changes to Make if You Have Cancer

During cancer treatment, you face the incredible challenge of needing more calories and nutrients, while having no appetite and struggling to tolerate food. Dietary changes are essential to strengthen your body and give it the energy to fight cancer.

Your diet is an integral part of your cancer treatment. Your body must get the right type and amount of nutrients to fight cancer, heal, and stay healthy during your recovery.  

At the same time, the disease and its treatments affect your appetite, making it hard to consume the nutrients you need. 

The caring team at Docere Integrated Medicine specializes in nutrient therapy for cancer patients. They assess your unique nutritional needs based on the type of cancer and your treatment, and then create a diet plan that supports your health.  

Impact of cancer on diet and nutrition

Your body always needs good nutrition to stay healthy. But your dietary needs become more urgent when you have cancer, and your body depends on adequate nutrition to:

  • Fight cancer
  • Slow muscle loss
  • Support your immune system
  • Prevent nutritional deficiencies
  • Fight cancer-related weight loss
  • Minimize treatment side effects
  • Increase strength and energy

When you have cancer, your body uses more nutrients than usual. That means you need to consume an extra amount, a task that’s especially difficult for many people with cancer. 

Cancer may interfere with your body’s ability to digest and use nutrients. Additionally, cancer treatments may cause nausea, ruin your appetite, cause food intolerances, and reduce your sense of smell. And treatment often causes such fatigue that you don’t have the will or energy to eat. 

You can overcome these challenges with nutritional counseling together with our support and encouragement. 

Dietary and nutritional guidelines for cancer

Every person with cancer needs an individualized nutrition and meal plan. However, the following five guidelines apply to most people. 

Boost protein intake

Your body needs up to double the amount of protein to fight cancer, heal, and support healthy muscles, nerves, and organs. Unfortunately, cancer affects protein metabolism, putting you at a high risk of muscle wasting, infections, anemia, and edema (fluid buildup). 

Some cancers cause more significant protein loss than others, making it important to get individualized advice from our nutrition experts. 

Optimize calories to prevent weight loss or gain

Your body needs extra energy when it’s fighting cancer, and energy comes in the form of calories. When cancer and its treatments affect your appetite or cause food intolerance, you may not consume enough to meet your energy needs. 

It’s important to remember that each person faces different calorie challenges. For example, some types of cancer make your body burn more calories than others, putting you at risk of severe weight loss, a condition called cachexia. 

If you have cancer that’s treated with hormone therapy, you’re more likely to gain weight. This creates a different challenge because you need to get enough calories and nutrients without putting on excessive weight. 

Avoid certain foods

You should avoid foods that are likely to carry bacteria or toxins that might make you sick. A healthy body can fight food-based illnesses. But when you have cancer, your immune system is stressed, weakened, and less able to prevent infections. 

You should avoid:

  • Undercooked or raw fish, meat, poultry, and eggs
  • Soft-cooked eggs
  • Foods containing raw eggs
  • Unpasteurized dairy products

You also need to carefully wash fresh fruits and vegetables before eating them raw. 

Pack your diet with nutrient-rich foods

Nutrient-rich foods are the only way to get the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants you need, especially if you’re like many cancer patients and can only tolerate small meals. We recommend foods that give you a lot of protein, calories, and nutrients in small servings. We also work with you to create a comprehensive meal plan packed with nutrient-rich foods you can tolerate. 

Plan a diet to offset cancer treatment side effects

Your diet can help you reduce or avoid some side effects, but the best food choices depend on the type of treatment and the medications you receive. For example, some people need a liquid or low-fiber diet, while others can reduce side effects by eating light, bland foods a few hours before a scheduled infusion.  

These are only a few of the most important dietary considerations when you have cancer. To get personalized care, call us at Docere Integrated Medicine or request an appointment online today.

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Docere Integrated Medicine

Docere Integrated Medicine in Auburn, Washington, prides itself on its innovative and integrative approach to health care, encompassing traditional and holistic practices and treatments to provide its patients with excellent care.


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