According to NICPR, National Institute of Cancer Prevention and Research, there are 2.25 million Indians suffering from cancer and more than 11 lakh new cancer cases are registered every year, claiming over 7 lakh precious lives.However, a healthy lifestyle is the key to fight against the disease. A well-balanced diet, adequate liquid intake, active lifestyle and mental well being is amongst the three parameters to help ace your long-term health and reduce side effects of cancer. People suffering from cancer or who are on medications witness various diet issues, including frequent taste changes and loss of appetite, weight loss, difficulty in swallowing, gastric problems, cachexia (wasting syndrome), inadequate fluid in the body (dehydration) followed by a lot of hot flushes.
Here are a few nutrition tips for patients who are undergoing cancer treatment amidst the Covid pandemic:
• Focus on your gut health: A group of microbiota consisting of microorganisms living in our intestinal tract, helps in management of gut health. Everyone has their own immune-supporting factory, and to fuel this factory, it is essential to consume fermented foods and probiotics daily. Try some yogurt, sauerkraut, kombucha, kimchi, Indian kanji, kefir and vinegar-based salads etc. Ensure to include one of these power-packed, probiotic-filled foods in your day with atleast 2 servings, every day!
• Anti-inflammatory foods: Anti-inflammatory foods help in reducing the inflammation/ swelling caused due to cancer cells/ treatment process. Foods rich in Omega 3 fatty acids like salmon, cod, halibut, steelhead, trout and low-mercury tuna, three times a week helps ease the impact of the disease. If not animal-based source, go for plant-based Omega 3 sources such as walnuts, chia seeds, avocado, and flaxseeds. These help in removing free radicals from your body like berries – cranberries/ gooseberries/ blueberries/ cherries/ strawberries; turmeric /ginger and garlic . Some cancer patients are not comfortable with extreme-smelling food, they can ignore it.
Immunity boosters: Herbs and spices are the best examples of natural immunity boosters. To help your body best fight viral infections, add a pinch of some of these immune-boosting herbs such as oregano; turmeric; black pepper; white pepper; sage; garlic;cinnamon; licorice and ginger. Some mushroom varieties like, broccoli, bell pepper, zucchini exhibits heart healthy benefits, with additional immunity-.
• Control heat flushes by keeping hydration at check: Did you know that the number one cause of fatigue is dehydration, or not enough fluid intake? Cancer patients should aim to consume atleast 2 liters of liquids a day, ranging from water, 100% juices, soups, to other low- calorie drinks such as almond milk and bone broth.
• Stay active and mentally happy: It is mandatory to be happy, in whatever you chose to do. From sretching, jogging , to riding bikes, or workout just keep moving. Do not let cancer be a barrier to life. As it is said, “Sitting is the new smoking”, which slowly and gradually harms your health. Always try to do regular meditation or listen to your favorite music and a timely sound sleep.