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Diet for Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive form of cancer that affects the lining of the lungs, abdomen, and heart. It is caused by exposure to asbestos, a natural mineral that was commonly used in construction and other industries until the health risks associated with it were discovered. It is also one of the complications of asbestosis.
Patients with mesothelioma can benefit from a nutritional diet (mesothelioma diet), physical exercise, and other optimistic lifestyle modifications to support difficult treatments and feel better. A consultation with a registered dietitian or oncologist can lead one to obtain a personalised mesothelioma diet plan (also called a mesothelioma survivor’s diet) that may help them alleviate symptoms and promote overall health.
Diet alone cannot cure cancer or asbestosis disease; however, a balanced diet is essential for mesothelioma patients, as malnourishment and muscle loss caused by a lack of nutritious food can have a negative impact on their health and survival. For some people, the adverse effects of cancer treatment, such as chemotherapy, can reduce appetite. To boost the immune system, the body requires plenty of protein, fats, carbohydrates, and water. Without these foods, continuing treatment may be challenging.
Some foods contain nutrients that may help in the recovery process following mesothelioma treatment; however, there are certain foods that can negatively interact with mesothelioma medications, such as chemotherapy. Consult a doctor about potential interactions.
It can be difficult to know what to eat during the treatment if an individual has been diagnosed with mesothelioma. Here are some mesothelioma foods to eat that aid in recovering from mesothelioma and can be inculcated to improve the diet and overall health of patients suffering from mesothelioma. Consult with a doctor or dietitian about including the following foods in the diet:
A few studies have linked increased vegetable consumption to a reduced risk of cancer. Vegetables and fruits contain antioxidants and phytochemicals that may aid in the fight against cancer. Antioxidants protect cells from damage.
Vegetables rich in antioxidants include:
- Brussels sprouts
- Sweet potatoes
- Red peppers
Fruits rich in anti-oxidants may include:
Plants produce chemical compounds that aid in the fight against pathogens (that causes cancer). Fruits and vegetables high in phytochemicals include the following:
- Brussels sprouts
- Red peppers
- Sweet potatoes
Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties and may help to inhibit metastasis (the spread of cancer) and help combat weight loss to a certain extent.
Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids include the following:
- Nuts and seeds
- Olive oil
Spices have anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties that are beneficial for mesothelioma patients. These may include:
Fibre-rich foods can help balance insulin levels and slow cancer cell growth. Foods containing fibre include:
- Fruits and veggies
Natural sources of coenzyme Q may help protect the heart from chemo-induced damage. These include:
Green tea and herbal teas (tea bags or loose leaf) are high in antioxidants and have been shown to exhibit anticarcinogenic properties. Some of such herbal teas are:
Medicinal teas are high in antioxidants and exhibit anti-cancer properties in the body. Following are some examples:
- Moringa leaf
- Essiac tea
In addition to this, cancer patients should consume an ample amount of water each day.
Dietary supplements, vitamins, minerals, herbs, and other supplements
A few mesothelioma patients may benefit from a vitamin supplement if they are deficient in certain nutrients. The doctor or dietitian may recommend the use of these dietary supplements, if the patients are required to take them.
Most dietary supplements, however, should be avoided during treatment for cancer because they can impair the efficacy of cancer therapies. If someone wants to take any over-the-counter medications or supplements, they should first consult with their oncologist.
What should mesothelioma patients avoid eating?
Patients with mesothelioma may want to avoid specific foods during and following treatment. This is due to the fact that certain foods can have an effect on the body’s ability to fight cancer. They may also raise the risk of getting cancer.
Some foods that mesothelioma patients should avoid include:
- Red and processed meats
Research indicates that red and processed meats may cause inflammation, thus facilitating carcinogenic (cancer-causing) activities including DNA damage and abnormal cell division. Limiting the consumption of these kinds of meat may help the body in the fight against cancer.
These fats have been linked to hyperglycaemia (diabetes) and other comorbid conditions. Diabetes can have a negative impact on a patient’s overall health and treatment options.
- Caffeine and alcohol consumption
Patients may be instructed to reduce or avoid alcohol consumption. This is due to the fact that it can cause DNA damage. When taken in conjunction with certain medications, it may cause complications.
- Sugar intake
Researchers discovered a link between elevated blood glucose levels and an increased risk of cancer. Avoid foods that have excess amounts of processed sugar. For instance, sugary drinks, packaged or processed foods, sauces, and salad dressings.
- Refined carbohydrates
Foods including breakfast cereals, regular pasta, white bread, and white rice contain refined carbohydrates and should be avoided.
Mesothelioma patients’ food safety
Patients with mesothelioma must exercise caution when handling and eating certain foods. Mesothelioma cancer and its treatment weaken the immune system. This may increase patients’ susceptibility to foodborne illnesses. Food safety precautionary measures can help improve the patient’s food safety.
To avoid illness, follow these tips:
- Before eating fresh produce, thoroughly rinse it.
- Before preparing food, consider washing hands.
- Follow food storage guidelines.
- Keep raw meat separate from other foods to avoid cross-contamination.
- Before eating anything, make sure it is completely cooked.
- Keep an eye out for food expiration dates.
- Avoid unpasteurised foods such as raw milk and cheese.
Food safety precautions can reduce a mesothelioma patient’s likelihood of contracting a foodborne illness; however, mesothelioma patients must be aware of the signs of foodborne illness. Foodborne illnesses can cause the following symptoms:
- Muscle aches
- Vomiting frequently
Food poisoning (a foodborne illness) symptoms may be similar to cancer treatment side effects. If a patient suspects they have food poisoning, they should contact their doctor right away.
Weight loss and malnutrition in mesothelioma patients
Several mesothelioma patients have difficulty staying fit. Cancer patients frequently lose their appetites or experience side effects such as abdominal pain, mouth sores from chemotherapy, and GI distress, which make eating difficult. Weight loss, malnutrition, and, eventually, cachexia (muscle wasting) can result from this. Concentrate on increasing the calorie and protein intake wherever possible. A high-calorie, nutrient-dense shake, protein shake, or smoothie can quickly add calories.
Dietary recommendations for mesothelioma patients
- Instead of three large meals a day, consume 5–6 comparatively small meals or snacks every 2–3 hours.
- Consume high-nutrient foods like full-fat Greek yoghurt, eggs, salmon, and homemade milkshakes made with whole milk, fruit, and protein powder.
- If cooking odours bothers, avoid kitchens while they are in use. Also, colder foods, such as cheese crackers or sandwiches, are options.
- Taste alterations are common, particularly during chemotherapy. To find out what the taste buds can handle, experiment with sweet, sour, salty, and bitter flavours.
- 1 cup water, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon baking soda mouthwash help clear taste buds and soothe a dry mouth.
- Set a timer if you do not eat every 3 hours. It is easy to go half a day without drinking or eating.
- Keep hydrated. Water is fine, but soups, milk, and 100% vegetable or fruit juices will provide hydration and nourishment.
It is important to remember that everyone is different, and what works for one person may not work for another. It is important to work with a registered dietitian or a medical professional to create a personalised diet for mesothelioma patients that takes the individual’s specific needs and health status into account.
It is also important to note that dietary changes alone are not a cure for mesothelioma. They should be used in conjunction with other treatments such as surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.
Consult your doctor
Before making any dietary changes, speak with the doctor. Certain foods may be prohibited during some mesothelioma treatments.
It can be beneficial for mesothelioma patients to consider discussing with a dietitian how to develop a nutrition plan (a mesothelioma survivor’s diet) that meets their needs.
The oncologist may recommend dietitians with experience working with cancer patients or cancer survivors to help individuals make dietary changes.