For many of the 3,000 Americans who are newly diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma each year, their immediate concerns are all centered around what treatment options they might have, including surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.
But many new cancer patients overlook the importance of healthy eating in making their bodies strong enough to help fight off the cancer and adjust to the strain the treatments themselves can have on the body.
Many diets have been found to be helpful for a variety of aspects of dealing with multiple types of cancer, including mesothelioma. What diets could be helpful to those dealing with this rare but often-deadly type of cancer?
Why Diet Matters
Good nutrition is important all the time, but it’s especially crucial for those dealing with a health crisis, such as a cancer diagnosis. Unfortunately, many of the available treatments for cancer have unpleasant side effects that can make it difficult to maintain a healthy eating plan.
Nutritional needs vary from person to person, and different types of cancer affect different parts of the body, which may make it more difficult to eat certain types of foods. But the foods we eat provide the vital fuel our bodies need for optimal function, and this may be even more important for cancer patients.
For instance, proteins help repair body tissues and bolster immune systems, while fats can help insulate body tissues and transport certain vitamins through the blood. Fiber-rich carbohydrates can provide an energy boost, while fluids like water prevent dehydration.
So the food you eat while undergoing cancer treatment isn’t just about making you feel better, though it certainly can serve that role, but it’s about complementing the treatments and ensuring your body is as strong as possible.
Among the most commonly recommended diets for cancer patients, the available scientific literature suggests that short-term fasting, or reducing calorie intake for a brief period, could have the best results.
SEE ALSO: Will Fasting Help Mesothelioma Cancer?
A 2019 meta-analysis found that animal studies routinely revealed that brief bursts of fasts ranging in length from one day to a few days, not only boosted healthy cells in the body but caused cancer cells to be more receptive to treatments, providing a two-in-one punch (Journal of Experimental & Clinical Cancer Research).
Animals studied in the analysis did not include those with mesothelioma, but other cancers were studied, including breast, brain, colon, pancreatic and ovarian cancers as well as melanoma and lymphoma. Benefits from brief periods of fasting included increased effectiveness of treatments, lower death rates and reduced cancer spread.
The benefits of fasting have also been studied in people without cancer, but these benefits may be especially important for those undergoing treatment for cancer, including mesothelioma. Those benefits include:
- Cell repair: Fasting may boost several repair processes that take place inside the body, making the cells more efficient and possibly more resilient.
- Boosted insulin sensitivity: Many people with diabetes and pre-diabetes use fasting to control their blood sugar levels, a practice that may help cancer patients ward off the disease.
- Lower levels of inflammation: Fasting has been shown in studies to reduce inflammation inside the body, which could inhibit the growth of cancer cells.
Other Diet Options
We’ve already discussed the importance of protein, but it’s also wise to consider the timing of various procedures a person may undergo during the course of their mesothelioma treatment, whether surgery, chemotherapy or radiation. For example, many nutritionists recommend a huge boost of protein intake before and after surgery to speed recovery.
It’s also important for a mesothelioma diet to take into account ongoing treatment, not just the periods of time around surgeries. Chemotherapy is notorious for being difficult to stomach — literally. That’s why foods that are easy on the gastrointestinal tract may be helpful, so consider broth or low-sugar sports drinks to replenish fluids after nausea or vomiting.
Some research has connected foods rich in antioxidants like broccoli, tomatoes, corn, fish oil, lettuce, kale, strawberries and others with improved cell function, while foods packed with anti-inflammatories, including flaxseed and turmeric, could inhibit the spread of cancer cells.
For mesothelioma patients who want to consider ways that their diet can complement the malignant mesothelioma cancer treatments they’re undergoing, it’s important to have a conversation with your doctor, who can help you keep all these aspects in balance.
Get Mesothelioma Legal Help
Up to 80% of people with mesothelioma were exposed to a deadly substance, asbestos, which was once widely used in construction and other industries but that’s now well-understood as being highly carcinogenic. The Asbestos Trust Funds have about $30 billion available for individuals and family members of those who were exposed to asbestos and later became sick, and it may be possible to receive compensation without filing a lawsuit. Complete the form or call us toll-free (800) 352-0871 to find out more.