In honor of Mesothelioma Cancer Awareness Day, Meals to Heal is featuring a blog from the Mesothelioma Center.
The Role of Proper Nutrition and Exercise in Mesothelioma Recovery
During mesothelioma recovery, nutrition enthusiasts may forego healthy foods in favor of foods that they can keep down, while exercise fiends may skip treadmill time to squeeze in a nap. This is a normal reaction as the body switches into survival mode. However, in spite of these natural urges, it’s important for mesothelioma patients to maintain the healthy habits that support recovery.
Even though they don’t directly kill tumors the way that chemotherapy or radiation therapy does, nutrition therapy and exercise therapy play a major role in mesothelioma treatment. A balanced diet can help prevent the fatigue that often overwhelms mesothelioma patients in the later stages of their disease. Certain cancer-fighting foods can even help improve their body’s ability to rid itself of the illness. Meanwhile, physical activity is a healthy outlet for the anxiety that may accompany a terminal mesothelioma diagnosis. Specific exercises may even help patients control their symptoms.
Nutrition during Mesothelioma Recovery
Mesothelioma patients experience many common cancer side effects that make proper nutrition difficult. Nausea, loss of appetite, diarrhea, constipation and depression can all interfere with a mesothelioma patient’s ability to properly fuel their body. Because of these conditions, it’s important that patients make each meal count.
Whole foods should make up the majority of a patient’s diet during recovery. Not only do greasy, fried junk foods often increase treatment-induced digestive issues, but they tend to be nutritionally void. To provide their body with the vitamins and minerals that are essential for repair, patients should eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins.
Foods that are especially helpful in promoting mesothelioma recovery include:
- Berries and leafy greens (rich in antioxidants, which can help clear the body of cancer-causing substances)
- Carrots (the beta-carotene may help prevent cancer recurrence)
- Mushrooms (may naturally enhance a patient’s immune system and natural cancer-fighting abilities)
Patients should keep these items on hand so that they can eat whenever their appetite is high. Mesothelioma patients whose symptoms interfere with their ability to grocery shop, cook or feed themselves may consider finding a home health care aide to provide mealtime assistance.
Exercise during Mesothelioma Recovery
Because mesothelioma often causes shortness of breath, patients should avoid strenuous activity that might overtax their lungs. However, patients can greatly benefit from gentler forms of physical activity. Some of the most beneficial exercises for mesothelioma patients include:
- Walking (improves cardiovascular ability and lung function)
- Gentle yoga (certain poses open the breathing passageways and relieve chest pain)
- Light strength training (prevents muscle decay)
Because mesothelioma patients may not always feel like exercising, it’s important for patients to find a form of physical activity that they enjoy. Even a few minutes per day can help stimulate a patient’s appetite, reduce their stress and improve their quality of sleep – all important factors during mesothelioma recovery.
Author bio: Faith Franz researches and writes about health-related issues for The Mesothelioma Center. One of her focuses is living with cancer.