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What Are the Benefits of Nutrition Therapy for Cancer?

By Brandon May
Updated May 17, 2024
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Nutrition therapy for cancer can carry a host of benefits and is seen as a helpful complementary approach to a well-rounded medical treatment plan. Consuming adequate nutrients like vitamin C and vitamin E, as well as omega-3 fatty acids, helps promote the health of the immune system, a system that needs to be kept strong during times of illness. Receiving adequate calories to prevent weight loss is also important during cancer therapy, so tracking energy requirements can be essential through nutrition therapy for cancer treatment. Although proper foods can help strengthen the health of any individual, many doctors do not recommend using nutrition as a sole form of treatment for any disease.

During treatment for cancer, a doctor might recommend holistic, complementary approaches to the medically approved treatment program, as some research does show some benefit to improving nutrition in many different diseases. Most research involves the relation between foods and how they affect the immune system. The immune system is often weak during cancer and cancer therapy, and attempting to keep it strong is an ongoing process. By choosing the correct foods that offer the correct nutrients, the body can strengthen the immune system.

Receiving adequate vitamins such as vitamin C and vitamin E has been shown to help improve the immune system in a large number of nutritional research studies. Sometimes, a doctor or dietitian will recommend that a patient supplement with a multivitamin containing these nutrients during nutrition therapy for cancer. Sugar has been shown to negatively affect the immune system, and many nutritionists and dietitians advise against consuming large amounts of sugar during treatment. Fructose is a type of sugar that is common in fruit juices and processed foods, and it has been shown to have a possible link to cancer cell growth in some studies.

Omega-3 fatty acids are popular nutrients used in nutrition therapy for cancer, mainly because of their benefits to the immune system and their links to helping prevent certain types of cancer. Foods like fish, flaxseed and chia seed all contain a large amount of these beneficial fatty acids. Some studies have shown that chronic inflammation can be associated with some cancers, so using foods that are anti-inflammatory are also popular methods of reducing inflammation in the body during cancer treatment. Spices such as turmeric and ginger are highly anti-inflammatory additions that can be added to a diet during nutrition therapy for cancer treatment.

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