How a Healthy Diet can Help Seniors with Mesothelioma

Most Americans don’t know where to go for trustworthy nutritional guidance. We’ve received numerous conflicting messages for decades, and now we don’t know who to trust for dietary recommendations.

Cancer patients are especially nervous about dietary choices, fearing the food they eat could fuel cancer growth. This isn’t exactly true, but a diet filled with processed foods instead of whole, fresh foods won’t help you recover well from cancer treatment.

Seniors with malignant mesothelioma, a type of cancer caused by asbestos exposure, can benefit from healthy dietary choices. A good diet will boost energy, improve mood and help seniors handle the side effects of cancer treatment.

A few cancer patients have claimed control of their cancer using diet alone. People want to believe these anecdotal stories will work for them, but cancer remission through diet alone unfortunately hasn’t been proven in clinical research.

The good news is that by eating a whole foods diet, you’ll feel better and be able to handle cancer therapies better.

How Diet Affects Cancer

According to scientific research, diet won’t cause your cancer to grow or stop growing. However, your diet will directly affect how well you feel and how well you recover from cancer treatment.

The two most important dietary considerations for cancer patients involve protein and calorie consumption. Without enough protein, tissues can’t repair. Without enough calories, the immune system and other systems won’t have enough energy to do their job.

The standard American diet is heavily processed, meaning much of the food Americans eat comes in boxes and goes through processing to make it easier to eat. Frozen meals, boxed food such as cereal, canned vegetables and bread are examples of processed foods.

Whole foods include fresh vegetables and fruits, beans, nuts, seeds, unrefined grains, meat, poultry and fish.

Most whole foods, aside from grains, are anti-inflammatory. Eating anti-inflammatory foods like cold water fish, walnuts, flaxseed and avocados will help you recover quicker from cancer treatment.

Dietary Tips for Cancer Patients

Mesothelioma can present unique eating challenges for some patients. For example, because of the way pleural mesothelioma grows in the chest cavity, it can cause difficulty swallowing. This symptom can make it challenging to eat solid foods.

Certain cancer therapies can cause eating and digestive issues for people with mesothelioma. The most common treatment for mesothelioma is chemotherapy and sometimes it causes nausea, vomiting, mouth sores or digestive issues. Not everyone will experience these side effects while on chemotherapy, but it’s good to be prepared with certain foods that are easy to eat, just in case.

Consider the following dietary tips to feel better during mesothelioma treatment:

  • Consume plenty of calories. Snack throughout the day and add extra food to the portions you usually eat. For example, add avocado, cheese, eggs or meat to sandwiches, soups, salads and omelets. Cook with butter and coconut oil.
  • Eat extra protein by snacking on nuts, seeds, beans, eggs and sliced meats or jerky.
  • Opt for desserts that are fattier than they are sweet such as cheesecake, custard and pudding.
  • If you develop mouth sores, choose cold, soft foods like smoothies, popsicles and ice cream.
  • Opt for soft foods that require minimal chewing if you have difficulty swallowing. Examples include mashed potatoes, soup, smoothies and casseroles.
  • When you get fatigued, eat extra calories and protein to boost energy such as a milkshake with added coconut oil.
  • If you lose your appetite, keep nutritional drinks like Boost or Ensure at home for an easy way to get calories.  

Eating a healthy diet requires effort and planning, but the benefits for cancer patients are worth the work. Reach out to friends and family for assistance with grocery shopping, meal planning and cooking. The more support you can get the easier it will feel to maintain a healthy diet.

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