Role of Nutrition in Cancer Patients: What Nutrients Do Cancer Patients Need?


Patient Education

Role of Nutrition in Cancer Patients: What Nutrients Do Cancer Patients Need?

When it comes to cancer, nutrition is one of the most important factors in the overall health of a patient. Diet and nutrition play a vital role in the recovery process, and can be especially beneficial during chemotherapy, targeted therapy, immunotherapy, and follow-up visits.

Unfortunately, many cancer patients are uncertain about what type of nutrition they should be receiving due to conflicting information from well-meaning family and friends as well as from the internet. To help clear up some of this confusion, let's break down why nutrition is so important for cancer patients, and identify key nutrients from their diet that are essential for their health.

The Role of Nutrition in Cancer Treatment

Nutrition is an extremely crucial factor when it comes to fighting cancer. When cancer patients take in proper food, it ensures that the body has all the nutrients it needs to stay healthy during the required treatment. It also strengthens immunity while reducing inflammation. In addition, proper nutrition can help keep a person’s energy levels up so they can better handle physical activity and other medical treatments.

Nutritious Food for Cancer Patients

There are several different types of nutrients that are particularly beneficial for cancer patients. For example, protein helps rebuild cells damaged by radiation or chemotherapy while omega-3 fatty acids combat inflammation caused by tumours. Vitamins A and C boost immunity while zinc helps protect against infection; magnesium aids in relaxation, which can reduce stress levels; iron helps prevent anaemia; and antioxidants such as beta carotene fight free radicals that damage cells.

1. Protein

Proteins are essential for cell regeneration and growth, making them an incredibly important part of any cancer patient’s diet. Protein can be found in foods like lean meats, eggs, dairy products and legumes. For those who have difficulty chewing or swallowing, protein shakes and other supplements may be a good option.

2. Fats

Fat is an important source of energy for cancer patients going through chemotherapy. Fats also provide essential fatty acids that help maintain cell integrity, immunity, and reduce inflammation in the body. Healthy sources of fat include avocados, nuts, seeds and oily fish like salmon and mackerel.

3. Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates provide energy for cells throughout the body, as well as vitamins and minerals that are crucial for good health. Whole grains such as oats or quinoa are excellent sources of carbohydrates along with fruits, vegetables and legumes like beans or lentils. All these foods should be included in a cancer patient’s diet while they undergo chemotherapy or other treatments.

Foods to Avoid for Cancer Patients

It’s also important to note that certain foods should be avoided completely by people undergoing treatment for cancer. These include processed meats like bacon or sausage; high-fat dairy products like butter or cheese; fried foods like french fries or doughnuts; refined carbohydrates such as white bread or pasta; sugary snacks like candy bars or cookies; foods with artificial colours or preservatives; alcohol; cigarettes; and excessive amounts of caffeine. All these items should be eliminated from a patient’s diet as they can inhibit recovery time and lead to further health complications down the road.

Professional Advice on Nutrition for Cancer Patients

When it comes to coping with cancer, having good nutrition is essential. The best way to go about this is by consulting with your doctor or a registered dietitian who specialises in oncology nutrition. They will be able to provide you with recommendations on which foods you should eat (and avoid) based on your specific needs—ensuring that your body has all the necessary nutrients needed for recovery.

At OncoCare Cancer Centre in Singapore, we provide quality care and support for our patients who are undergoing treatment. We partner with you at every step of your journey, and this includes advice on the optimal nutrition you’ll need. Make an appointment to speak to one of our well-experienced specialists today.

“Expert knowledge means better care for cancer”

Written by:
Dr Angela Pang
MBBS (Singapore)
Grad Dip (GRM)
M Med (Internal Med)