19 Apr Fueling Healing: Proper Nutrition During Radiation Therapy
Radiation therapy is a common treatment for cancer, but it can also have side effects that can impact a patient’s ability to eat and maintain a healthy diet. Proper nutrition is essential during radiation therapy to help maintain energy levels, support the immune system, and promote healing. This article will provide fundamental information on diet during radiation therapy and how to manage potential side effects.
The Importance of Nutrition During Radiation Therapy
Good nutrition helps support the body’s immune system, which is essential during radiation therapy. Radiation therapy can weaken the immune system, making it more vulnerable to infections. Proper nutrition can also help maintain energy levels, which is vital since radiation therapy can cause fatigue. In addition, a healthy diet can help promote healing and reduce the risk of treatment-related side effects.
Managing Side Effects
Radiation therapy can cause side effects such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, making it challenging to maintain a healthy diet. However, there are ways to manage these side effects to ensure patients get the nutrition they need. For example, eating small, frequent daily meals can help reduce nausea and vomiting. Drinking plenty of fluids, such as water or clear broths, can help prevent dehydration and may also help with nausea. Choosing foods that are easy to digest, such as soups, smoothies, and well-cooked vegetables, can also be helpful. Additionally, avoiding foods high in fat, fiber, or spice may help reduce symptoms of diarrhea.
Foods to Incorporate
During radiation therapy, it is important to eat a nutritious diet that includes a variety of foods from all food groups. Foods high in protein, such as lean meats, poultry, fish, and beans, can help support the immune system and promote healing. Fruits and vegetables are also essential since they contain vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Whole grains, such as brown rice, quinoa, and whole-grain bread, can provide energy and fiber. Low-fat dairy products, such as milk, yogurt, and cheese, can also be included in the diet.
Foods to Avoid
Depending on the individual’s specific treatment plan and side effects, some foods may need to be avoided during radiation therapy. For example, patients may need to avoid raw fruits and vegetables if they are experiencing diarrhea or have a weakened immune system. Foods high in fat or spice may also need to be avoided if they cause nausea or vomiting. Patients should talk to their healthcare provider or a registered dietitian to determine which foods suit their situation.
Supplements and Vitamins
Sometimes, patients may need to take supplements or vitamins during radiation therapy. However, talking to a healthcare provider before taking any supplements or vitamins is essential, as some may interfere with radiation therapy or other medications. Additionally, some supplements may be harmful if taken in large doses. If a healthcare provider recommends supplements or vitamins, patients should only take them as directed.
Proper nutrition during radiation therapy is critical to maintaining energy levels, supporting the immune system, and promoting healing. Patients can maintain a healthy diet despite potential side effects by managing symptoms and incorporating nutrient-rich foods. Patients should work with their healthcare provider or a registered dietitian to develop an individualized nutrition plan that meets their needs. By focusing on a healthy diet, patients can support their overall health and improve their chances of a successful recovery.
You can trust that CenterPoint Radiation Oncology, led by Dr. Morrell, provides exceptional radiation therapy. If you’re looking for a cancer treatment center in Los Angeles, we encourage you to schedule an appointment with us.