Nutrition Before During and After Cancer

Information on nutritional needs for cancer patients


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Pancreatic Enzymes and your Digestion

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The pancreas is essential in both digestion and absorption of nutrients, since it secretes pancreatic enzymes that facilitate the breakdown of foods into smaller molecules allowing the body to actually use fats, vitamins, minerals, amino acids etc.

Certain medical problems can cause the pancreas to produce fewer enzymes than needed for digestion. Some of these problems include, but are not limited to, pancreatic cancer, large pancreatic cysts, chronic pancreatitis, pancreatic surgery or cystic fibrosis.

Digestive Enzymes

Digestive enzymes are now being taken by an increasing number of people to help treat health conditions like acid reflux, gas, bloating, leaky gut, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, diverticulitis, malabsorption, diarrhea or constipation.

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Digestive enzyme products are derived from several sources, with the most common being fruits (usually pineapple or papaya), and plants like probiotics, yeast and fungi. These can be used for general help with digestion they cannot be used as a replacement for pancreatic enzymes.

Foods that benefit the pancreas

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High-antioxidant foods: This includes leafy green veggies; all berries; orange and yellow veggies like carrots, peppers, squash and sweet potatoes; tomatoes; artichoke; asparagus; broccoli; cauliflower, pineapple, papaya and kiwi. Ginger and other fresh herbs and spices.

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Fermented/probiotic: Foods like sauerkraut, yogurt, kefir, and miso soup.

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Healthy fats: Avocado, coconut or olive oil, grass-fed butter and ghee. Healthy fats are energy-dense, so they can be useful for adding calories to your diet and preventing weight loss.

MCT oil:  MCT oil can be beneficial because it doesn’t require the same amount of digestion as other oils. MCT is easily absorbed and a good calorie/fat source for providing energy and preventing weight loss.

Nuts and seeds.

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Clean proteins, including grass-fed meat, pastured poultry, wild-caught fish and free-range eggs.

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When unable to eat

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These recipes are for weight gain or when eating solid food gets difficult. Each smoothie provides approximately 2000 Calories.

These smoothies can be used as meal replacements when swallowing becomes an issue. To increase Calories add heart healthy oils like avocado, Olive and Peanut butter or Almond butter.

Cachexia in Cancer

Cachexia Illustration FINAL

Cancer cachexia is the complex, multi-symptom syndrome seen in late-stage cancer patients, characterized by anorexia ,the unintended loss of appetite, progressive and continual weight loss, accompanied by generalized host tissue wasting, skeletal muscle atrophy, immune and metabolic dysfunction, and a greatly diminished quality of life.

Cachexia is wasting of both adipose tissue and skeletal muscle. It occurs in many conditions and is common with many cancers when remission or control fails. Some cancers, especially pancreatic and gastric cancers, cause profound cachexia.

The Ultimate

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  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 bananas (can be substituted for ½ avocado)
  • 2 scoops protein ( use a medical grade protein for digestibility)
  • 1 cup ice cream (preferably similar flavor to the protein powder)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 4 tbsp peanut butter

Method:

1. Soak the oats before blending them.

2. The protein powder and peanut butter should be added to the blender after some of the other ingredients have gone in to avoid them getting stuck to the bottom and being difficult to blend properly.

Weight Gain

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  • ½ avocado
  • ½ cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • ¼ cup berries
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon

Method:

Blend all of the ingredients together until creamy and smooth.


Appetite stimulation during cancer treatment

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Eating foods high in Sulphur helps to stimulate liver detoxification such as garlic; Brussel sprouts cabbage, onions, broccoli, cauliflower and radish.

Have a vegetable juice each day (beetroot, carrot, celery and ginger) as these encourage liver detoxification, and cleanse the system.

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Ensure adequate water intake. The thirst center in the brain is also closely related to appetite, dehydration may affect metabolism

Eat 4 or 5 small meals throughout the day, rather than 3 large ones. This ‘grazing effect’ keeps your metabolism working at a higher rate throughout the day and stimulates the appetite.

Small Portion1

Include spices in your diet, this may help to increase metabolism by adding thermogenic effect to the digestive system and raising the heat of the body to encourage the digestive juices to flow.  Spices, such as Chili, turmeric, garlic, cumin are some examples.

Spices

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Reduce your consumption of saturated fats. Saturated fats decrease the appetite by decreasing the transit time of food through the digestive tract, reducing metabolism and affecting digestive and liver health.

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High fiber diets also slow transition time and reduce appetite.

whole grains and dietary fiber

Include whole grains and good quality protein (such as almonds, fish, and organic dairy products). Increase lean good quality protein at each meal. Have lean beef, lamb, tofu, beans, eggs; increase whole grains such as oats, brown rice, spelt, barley, millet, rye etc., increase full spectrum of vegetables and fruit of all colors; snack on almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, etc.

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Avoid soda drinks as these can affect the absorption of vital minerals and also cause over-stimulation of the nervous system due to the high amount of caffeine and sugar and they reduce appetite.  Sparkling or flat water is a healthier alternative

Some herbal teas aid digestion, – Dandelion, fenugreek, fennel, Spearmint, Peppermint, lemon and ginger.  Some other useful herbs include alfalfa, anise seed and cinnamon.

Tea

Daily physical activity will help with appetite stimulation.

Eat with others in a relaxed atmosphere.

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Tags: Appetite, cancer, foods

Category: During

 


Eliminating Carbs?

Low Carb

The popularity of low-carb, ketogenic and other Atkins-style diets are fueling an intense fascination around Carbohydrates. As a dietitian I feel it’s my duty to deepen our understanding of this topic.

The world’s staples are carb-heavy; these include cassava, corn, plantain, potato, rice, sorghum, soybean, sweet potato, wheat and yam. Fruits and vegetables, the foundation of a well-balanced diet, also contain carbohydrates. Even dairy contains milk sugar, which is a carb.

Importance of carbohydrates

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Carbohydrates supply glucose, the fuel source that our bodies use. Our body runs on calories, and it gets those calories by metabolizing carbohydrates, fat and protein from our food. Since our body spares protein for rebuilding and repairing tissue, carbohydrates and fat are by far the fuel of choice. While every cell is capable of burning glucose for energy, the same is not true for fat.

Certain organs and tissues require glucose. Our brain and red blood cells rely on the plentiful glucose in carbohydrates. Through gradual adaptation, the brain can learn to use fat in the form of ketone bodies, but our blood cells will always rely on glucose. In fact, our body fights really hard to keep our blood glucose levels within a narrow window. Once you dip below 20mg glucose/dL of blood you risk slipping into coma or having a seizure. This biological fact is partly what drives the daily recommendations for carbohydrates.

Carbohydrate Recommendations

Carb Chart

The National Academy of Medicine sets the recommended dietary allowance at 130 grams per day. This is the minimum amount of carbohydrates needed to provide enough glucose for the brain and red blood cells from carbohydrates.

The  Dietary Guidelines for Americans set macronutrient distribution for carbohydrates at 45–65% of total daily calories. For someone who eats a typical 2,000-calorie diet, this is 225–325 grams of carbs per day.

The World Health Organization and Food and Agriculture Organization recommend that 55% of total calories come from carbohydrates per day.

Can we function without carbs?

Protein and fat can provide glucose. The healthy human body is fully capable of reforming the amino acids from protein into glucose. Even the breakdown of fat for energy yields a bit of glucose. If an individual is eating enough calories, even if those calories are mostly from fat or protein, that person can still satisfy the glucose needs of their brain and blood cells and maintain their blood glucose at a normal level.

There is no such thing as “carbohydrate deficiency”. Nutrition science defines a nutrient as “essential” if we must get it from the diet because our body can’t make enough of it to meet our needs, so that we may not end up with an impairment or disease. This is not the case with carbohydrates.

The Atkins diet advocates followers eat as little as 20 grams of carbohydrates per day! To give you an idea of what this means: 20 grams is the amount of carbs in 1 small (6-inch) banana.

The classic ketogenic diet is 80–90% fat. It was originally used as a therapy for epilepsy but is now gaining popularity for use in weight loss.

The traditional Inuit diet, which is what the natives of northern Canada subsisted on for many years, is empty of refined sugar and grains. Instead, there’s plenty of fresh seal, walrus and other marine life on the menu. The diet on average has 23% calories from protein, 39% calories from fat and 38% calories from carbohydrates.

When it comes to choosing how low-carb you should go, keep in mind that:

  • Everyone responds differently to varying levels of carbohydrates. Our bodies are unique, so what works for one person may not work for another. The key is to do some research, and then experiment to figure out what works best for you. Enlisting expert guidance from a dietitian can make this process easier.
  • The best diet is one that can be followed over time. Consistency is the key to a healthy lifestyle. Setting yourself up with a plan that allows 20 grams of carbs per day may not be the best way to achieve this. A balanced diet is one that allows flexibility for you to fit in foods you enjoy regardless of carbohydrate content.
  • “Low-carb” can be a healthy lifestyle. Most low-carb diets don’t go as low as you may think, hovering around 35–40% of calories from carbohydrates. For many, the term “low-carb” has become synonymous with eating less refined carbs and added sugar and eating more fruits and vegetables.

Vitamin-B6

 


Cook with Care

What if I told you, your vegetarian diet—the one designed to protect your health and your family’s health—could kill?!

Vegetables

Meh. That’d be a little dramatic. But look, there are a few ways to accidentally harm yourself or your dinner guests by preparing plants the wrong way, and a few of them aren’t obvious if you’ve never been taught. All cooks, especially new ones, should read up on the hidden dangers of seemingly harmless ingredients, and so… here we go.

The humble potato, an integral part of the world’s food supply, is definitely not toxic. But a potato abandoned and forgotten in your pantry will eventually turn green in places, or even sprout. That’s when you know the poison solanine is now present.

Green, sprouted potatoes

Throw away (or plant!) green or sprouted potatoes. Cooking with them will result in gastrointestinal illness at least, and eating enough can kill.

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Yuca (cassava)

Cassava root, otherwise known as Yuca, is a staple food for over a half billion people and one of the most drought-resistant, pest-resistant sources of carbohydrates in the tropics. And why is it so pest-resistant, you ask? That would be all the cyanide.

Cassava, especially bitter cassava, contains cyanide and must be processed before consumption. Even soaking the product for a few hours will make a difference. Otherwise, unprocessed bitter cassava can kill if consumed in sufficient quantities

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Rhubarb leaves

Rhubarb is a sour, red, celery-like stalk most often used in desserts like the ever-popular strawberry rhubarb pie. Rhubarb stalks are a great ingredient, but avoid the leaves: they’re high in oxalic acid, which causes kidney failure. Just 25 grams of oxalic acid would kill, but you’d need to eat 11 pounds of rhubarb leaves to get there.

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Asparagus berries

You’ll never see these in a grocery store but apart from the safe stems, the asparagus plant also produces red, poisonous berries. So if you ever find yourself on an asparagus farm or something, don’t eat the berries—even a handful will make you vomit

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Tomato vines & leaves

Technically tomatoes aren’t vegetables, but we’re still not putting them in fruit salads. And technically tomatoes aren’t toxic either, but their leaves and stems may be slightly poisonous. In fact, tomatoes were widely feared in medieval times.

These days we rarely see tomatoes plated with anything other than the red fruit, but if you’re served tomatoes “on the vine,” don’t eat the vine. Tomatine found in the stems and leaves are said to cause headaches and dizziness.

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Raw lima beans

Lima beans contain a toxin called limarin, which is only neutralized by cooking the beans for 15 minutes. Don’t be tempted to throw raw lima beans on salads, and don’t slow-cook raw beans without boiling first. Limarin is fatal at high doses, but even a couple raw lima beans can cause gastrointestinal distress. Canned is fine

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Raw kidney beans

Raw kidney beans contain phytohaemagglutinin, a toxic lectin, and must be boiled for 10 minutes before use in any recipe, including slow cooking. In fact, slow cooking raw kidney beans that haven’t been boiled multiplies the toxicity.

Raw kidney beans have killed rats in lab tests. In fact, just like gluten, avoidance diets targeting lectins like phytohaemagglutinin are starting to gain popularity.

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Underripe tomatillos

Each tomatillo grows on the vine shrouded by a papery “lantern,” which begins to dry and peel off on its own once the tomatillo is ripe. There’s some debate on whether or not the tomatillo inside is toxic before the lantern peels, but the fruit is sour at this stage anyway, and probably not worth the risk. All other parts of the plant—including the lantern, leaves, and stem—are poisonous, so wash your tomatillos well.

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Mystery mushrooms

Grocery store ‘shrooms are harmless, of course. But with the popularity of wild mushroom foraging on the rise, it’s important to remember the average forest isn’t all morels and chanterelles. Some mushrooms, like the intimidating “death cap” amanita phalloides, can kill in one bite. Unless you’re an expert or you brought one along, don’t taste anything until you’re sure.

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Cancer and wound Healing

Wound Healing

There are several factors that influence wound healing, and it can be especially difficult for patients on chemo therapy.

Factors that can influence wound healing may include:

Age. The older you are slower the healing process, exercise can help improve the healing process for older adults, the female hormone estrogen helps with healing, so women tend to heal better. Diabetes can slow the healing process, use of certain medications like steroids and chemotherapy, radiation, use of alcohol, smoking, poor nutrition and being overweight can all slow down the healing process.

Good Nutrition can help with the Healing process

Nutrition is important for healing for those surgical wounds or pressure ulcers. There are some key nutrients involved in this process, paying attention to them will reduce you hospital stay and help with wound healing.

Protein

Protein helps to build healthy tissue as the wound heals. The amount you need depends on your body weight, a Dietitian will be able to give you the grams of protein you will need for healing. Track your intake by keep a good food log, to do this you will have to read the food label to figure out the amount of protein in a particular food.

Some good protein sources are, all kinds of meats, eggs, dairy and dairy products, beans, tofu etc.

Protein

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is an essential nutrient, it can be obtained from fruits and vegetables and low Vitamin C is a rare thing. This vitamin plays a big role in wound healing. High doses of this Vitamin are not recommended, start this vitamin supplementation only if recommend by your doctor. Dietary source should be your first go to.

Vitamin C

Zinc

This Mineral deficiency can happen to people with celiac disease, Crohn’s, short bowel syndrome and sickle cell diseases, some vegetarian and alcoholics as well. Zinc can be lost during processing of grains, look for whole grains and fortified breakfast cereals, red meats, beans, peas and Lentils are some other good sources. Zinc supplementation should be started in consultation with your Dietitian and should not be taken for more than 3 months.

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