Supplements for Fighting Cancer
Fighting Cancer? The Best Supplements and Foods for the Battle
Most people are aware of the benefits of a healthy diet in cancer prevention but good nutrition and the right choice of supplements is critical for people who already have cancer.
Cancer and cancer treatments can reduce your appetite and affect the body’s ability to tolerate certain foods and use nutrients. Eating well and taking the necessary supplements while undergoing cancer treatment can help you feel more energetic, maintain your weight and muscle mass, prevent infections and heal and recover more quickly.
Research also suggests that people who are well nourished are better able to tolerate some of the side effects of cancer treatment. They may be able to handle higher doses of chemotherapeutic drugs that have a higher rate of success and most cancer treatments are more effective in people who consume adequate calories and protein.
More than half of people diagnosed with cancer undergo chemotherapy, a treatment that can make eating very difficult.. Side effects such as reduced appetite, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, mouth sores and taste changes can definitely affect your ability and your desire to eat.
Chemotherapy refers to the use of drugs to treat cancer. It works by slowing or stopping the growth and multiplication of cancer cells. However it also slows the growth and multiplication of normal healthy cells and this causes most of the side effects.
Supplements to Avoid
Under normal circumstances if chemotherapeutic drugs are introduced into a human body there would be a very strong immune system response to destroy these drugs. Your immune system is designed to protect the body so the presence of a chemical agent that has the ability to stop the growth of cells would cause an elevated immune system response in which your white blood cells would be dispatched to destroy the invading substance… For that reason nearly all patients undergoing chemotherapy are also given the drug prednisone which totally suppresses their immune system response. This allows the chemotherapy drugs to do their job without any interference from the body’s immune system.
For this reason any supplements that are designed to boost your immune system must be discontinued because they are actually interfering with your treatment. This includes Echinacea, astragalus, oil of oregano and any and all products that claim to “boost your immune system”.
Antioxidants such as Vitamin C, Vitamin E, beta-carotene etc must also be discontinued because they destroy free radicals. This is fine for a healthy person but radiation and chemotherapy actually generate free radicals to kill cancer cells. Once again you may think you are doing the right thing but you are interfering with your treatment.
Supplements to take
Because a balanced diet may be very difficult, the first thing the cancer patient requires is a very good multivitamin. I would recommend Nutri-Multi for Men or Women which is a high potency liquid multivitamin, easily absorbed and rich in nutrients. I would add one tablespoonful of this to an eight ounce whey protein shake. I would then add one teaspoonful of Nutra Sea, (the highest quality pure fish oil) and assorted fruits. This smoothie would be taken at least in the morning for breakfast and 2 or 3 times a day if regular food is too difficult to digest.
Once again, because the prednisone completely stops your immune system response, you are much more susceptible to almost any type of viral or bacterial infection. It is therefore very important that the cancer patient take the highest dose acidophilus as possible because this high influx of healthy bacteria limits the ability of harmful bacteria to invade the body. The best product is Bio K Plus and if you are undergoing chemotherapy you would take from ½ to one container a day.
Food to Avoid
Since chemotherapy and radiation can cause mouth sores, tender gums and a sore throat it can make chewing and swallowing food very difficult. Try to avoid foods that can irritate your mouth such as citrus fruits, tomatoes, spicy and salty foods, raw vegetables and dry foods such as toast and crackers.
Foods to Choose
The easiest foods for a cancer patient would be soft foods such as milkshakes, yogurt, cottage cheese, pudding, applesauce, scrambled eggs and bananas. This is no time to worry about cholesterol or about eating the so called “wrong foods”. You must load up on calories as much as possible because if you have a cancerous growth it is consuming your nutrients faster than the rest of your body. You must eat for two, your body and the tumour. If the nutrient supply is insufficient the cancer will try to break down body parts and consume them.
Fruits and vegetables are very important for the cancer patient and not because they have antioxidant properties. A new study from the University of California, Riverside found that apigenin, a naturally occurring compound in fruits and vegetables helped increase the sensitivity of cancer cells to chemotherapy drugs.
Apigenin is found in fruit (apples cherries grapes) vegetables (including parsley, artichokle, basil, and celery), nuts and tea. Lab studies have shown that it can inhibit the growth of breast, colon, prostate, skin, thyroid and leukemia cancer cells
As I mentioned earlier if you are undergoing chemotherapy you are taking prednisone which temporarily diminishes your immune system response. This makes you highly susceptible to food poisoning. To minimize any possibility of infection cook meat, poultry, seafood and eggs thoroughly. Avoid cold smoked fish, raw tofu and be extremely diligent when you wash your fruits and vegetables. Also, while cooking and preparing meals wash your hands before and after handling any kind of food and when you are out of the house use a hand sanitizer after any type of human or animal contact. Once again the daily use of Bio K Plus will severely restrict the ability of harmful bacteria to invade your body and also protects against c.difficile, the hospital infection that causes severe diarrhea.
Eat Less More Often
If your chemotherapy is causing nausea and a poor appetite and preventing you from eating a full size meal, try eating very small meals or snacks every 2 hours. If you don’t feel like eating solid foods then sip foods such as fruit juice, clear soups, green tea and of course your smoothie. If your nausea subsides and you actually feel hungry then take advantage and eat a large meal. Do not drink too much fluid with the meal or you will get full too fast. Once again, don’t worry about eating the right thing. If you are hungry for a greasy hamburger, fries and ice-cream, go for it. You need all the calories you can get.
Whether you or a loved one are preparing for surgery or going through chemotherapy or radiation, good nutrition can be the difference between life and death. If you can maintain your weight, eat enough food to maintain your muscle mass and take enough supplements to make up for the deficiencies you have an excellent chance of winning your battle with cancer.