Dr. Nancy writes:  I invited David to share his blog with our readers when he reached out to me with appreciation of the nutritional information on my website.  As he noted in his email, “Everyone is affected by cancer in some way, so this is a very important message to share.”   I have learned that my evidence-based program while designed initially for brain health, is very useful to help reduce risk or treat a variety of chronic diseases.

I appreciate David’s blog because he emphasizes some aspects that are particular for people dealing with cancer such as eating sufficient protein and avoiding sources of bacteria in food/water during treatment when immune systems are more vulnerable and that loss of appetite is a common phenomena, serious because it can limit nutrition when great nutrition is needed more than ever.  At the end of David’s blog I have added some additional suggestions.

Healthy Diets Help Cancer Patients by GUEST BLOGGER David Haas

While it is widely known that a diet containing whole grains, fruits and vegetables helps keep the body at optimal health, cancer patients have very different requirements for nutrition than the average person. Treatments for cancer, such as mesothelioma, can cause the patient to not want food and nutrient deprivation can set in. Those who are enduring radiation and chemotherapy can build up strength and fight fatigue with the proper foods.

Treatments for cancer focus on killing off the dangerous cells, but they can also destroy healthy cells and tissue. Because of this damage, side effects can occur that can prevent a patient from wanting to eat. Nausea, vomiting, a dry mouth, diarrhea and constipation, along with changes in the patient’s sense of smell and taste, can contribute to poor appetite and malnutrition.


While side effects create problems with eating, cancer treatment can also affect the way the body absorbs nutrients. The combination of these factors can cause the patient to feel constantly tired and weak. Patients can benefit themselves with the following tips.


  • Eating healthy before the start of treatment. This will allow for strength building and be helpful in avoiding fatigue later on.
  • Consuming a lot of protein and extra calories. Protein is very important to cancer patients and can be found in foods such as beans, eggs, legumes and dairy products.
  • Staying hydrated. Cancer patients must make sure to drink enough water each day, especially during treatment. Hydration increases the body’s infection fighting abilities.
  • Not putting unnecessary stress on the immune system. This means not buying bin foods and cooking all others very thoroughly so any bacteria are destroyed. Fresh, raw fish and unpasteurized foods must be avoided, as both can cause illness.
  • Planning with a dietician. This opportunity is available through many treatment programs and can assist the patient in meeting the nutritional requirements for their particular situation. If a dietician is not an option, speaking with a doctor can be helpful in determining a proper diet.


A cancer diagnosis is a life-changing event, but it is not the end. Often, the disease can open a person up to the possibilities of starting over on a different path. Adopting a lifestyle of good nutrition and regular exercise during and after treatment is a big step on the road back to health.


Readers can reach guest blogger David Haas directly by emailing him at:

david.d.haas22@gmail.com    David writes for the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance (www.mesothelioma.com/blog). David explains that while the info on the website is more mesothelioma specific, but the blog is much more general in terms of cancer tips and advice.




Loss of appetite is a serious and common phenomenon.  Thus it is important both to discover foods that can help increase appetite (e.g. keeping levels of zinc sufficient is just one aspect…zinc supplements can help those whose zinc levels have fallen to abnormal levels) as well as to be sure to eat sufficient protein to maintain health.  Ginger and real home made ginger ale can help one’s digestive system feel better and also better absorb good nutrients.


Dr. Nancy offers the following suggestions to supplement what David has written above:

  • Eat plenty of nutrient intense foods; if appetite is weak, then what one eats needs to be very nutritious.
  • Eat lots of anti-oxidant rich foods….vegetables, herbs and spices, fruits, whole grains, nuts and/or seeds are some examples.  These are also anti-inflammatory foods.
  • Include many anti-inflammatory foods; in addition to those above, consider fish, fish oil, lots of ginger and turmeric, berries, green tea .  Even dark chocolate can help!
  • Healthy fats such as extra virgin olive oil, fish oil, coconut oil.
  • A few foods to avoid eating in excess: sugar, especially refined sugar and high fructose corn syrup, excess animal foods, especially red meats.

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