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The Benefits of Proper Nutrition

There are numerous benefits of proper nutrition before, during, and after cancer treatment.  


Implications on Immunity and Treatment

Proper nutritional intake with a well-balanced diet, consisting of primarily plant-based foods along with lean sources of protein, provides the body with adequate amounts of calories and immune enhancing micronutrients to help maintain immune function for normal everyday functions as well as to help support the body during chemotherapy and radiation treatments.  Nutrition is also essential in preventing weight loss, a common problem among cancer patients.  Without the right amount and balance of nutrients, your body may not combat invading infectious organisms as quickly or respond with the appropriate level of infection-fighting white blood cells and antibodies to resist infection that can delay treatment and weaken the body’s ability to heal.  Proper nutrition and maintaining a healthy weight also enhances response to treatment, reduces the amount and severity of treatment side effects, and provides the body with the fuel to repair itself from the damage caused to healthy cells during treatment.


Boost Energy and Enhance State of Mind

The proper balance of proteins, carbohydrates, and healthy fats is necessary to maintain a healthy energy level as well as to prevent swings in blood sugar levels, hormones and energy levels.  Those who consume a well-balanced diet, along with frequent meals and snacks, prevent fatigue, optimize energy levels and maintain a more positive mood and attitude during treatment.


Improve Quality of Life

The good old saying holds true – you are what you eat.  The better you eat, the better you feel.  Proper nutrition strengthens the immune system, enhances response to treatment and reduces the amount and severity of side effects, thereby improving quality of life and mental outlook.  Bon Appetit!


[i] Fernandes, G. et al.  “Nutrition and the Immune System.”  Ed: Shils, M. et al. Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease, 10th Edition.  New York: Lippincott Wilkins and Williams, 2006. Pages 670-684.
[ii] Willet, W., Skerrett, P.  Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy, The Harvard Medical School Guide to Healthy Eating.  New York: Free Press, 2001.
Jessica Iannotta, MS, RD, CSO, CDN

Jessica is a registered dietitian and certified specialist in oncology nutrition (CSO). She studied nutrition at Cornell University and completed her dietetic internship at New York Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center. She obtained her Master's degree through the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. Jessica has worked in inpatient and outpatient oncology settings since 2001 in the North Shore-LIJ Health System. Jessica is in charge of all operations including clinical and culinary operations ranging from menu development to evidence-based website content, relationships with registered dietitians and social workers and developing processes and protocols for intake, management and outcomes analysis of patients.

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