Good nutrition is important for health, but even more so if you are fighting a disease like cancer. While diet cannot cure cancer, it can help provide strength and nutrients necessary to help boost the immune system and help your body stay strong. Colon cancer and its treatment can present challenges, as side effects from surgery, radiation or chemotherapy can interfere with good nutrition, but it is possible to eat well to help your body fight the cancer and help restore health.
Eat foods that are easily tolerated. After surgery or radiation for colon cancer, you may find yourself unable to tolerate certain foods. According to Colon Cancer Resource, many colon cancer patients are able to eat whole grains, raw and fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes and non-fatty fish and chicken. Limiting your intake of processed and red meats and avoiding excess alcohol consumption can lower the risk of developing colon cancer or a recurrence, says the American Cancer Society. Women should have no more than one alcoholic drink a day and men should have no more than two.
Drink plenty of fluids, says the National Cancer Institute. Radiation to the stomach or pelvic area can cause diarrhea or constipation, and adequate fluid consumption is important in both circumstances. With diarrhea, it is important to replace lost fluid, and drinking at least eight cups a day of liquid can help prevent constipation.
Eat five or six small meals or snacks a day instead of three large meals. Surgery or treatment may make it uncomfortable to eat large amounts of food, but it is important that you ingest enough calories. Find foods that you can tolerate well and slowly incorporate new ones. During cancer treatment your body needs extra calories and protein to heal and fight the cancer.
Add protein and calories to everything you eat to help boost total intake. This can be managed by sprinkling cheese on top of sandwiches, soups and omelets; using whole milk during cooking; adding dried fruit to salads or breads; and using meal replacement shakes as supplements rather than replacements, says the National Cancer Institute. If you are at risk for malnutrition, a feeding tube may have to be temporarily placed to help you get the nutrients you need.
Maintain a healthy weight during and after treatment. The American Cancer Society states that obesity has been linked to a higher risk of developing colon cancer in both men and women, but more so in men. A balanced diet and regular physical activity can help you stay at a healthy weight.
TIPS AND WARNINGS
According to Colon Cancer Resource, a good diet for individuals with colon cancer is similar to a colon-cancer prevention diet. The main difference is that patients undergoing treatment may need more calories or have higher nutritional needs because of the added demands on their bodies.