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Support cancer therapy with the right food
According to the Munich Tumor Center (TZM), a good third of the approximately 500,000 cancers occurring in Germany each year could be prevented by eating healthy. But people with cancer also benefit from a healthy diet that is tailored to their individual situation.
For people who are diagnosed with cancer, this starts a fight against the disease. Diet can also be an effective means. The cancer society points out that those affected should pay attention to a balanced diet, which contains fruits and vegetables as well as dairy products, eggs, lean meat and fish. However, the food must also be adapted to the individual situation.
Benefits of the low carb diet have not been proven
"There is no such thing as a cancer diet!" Says Nicole Erickson. And not the one cancer-universal food either. The coordinator for nutrition at the Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University Hospital in Munich says that food intake is as individual as people and their illnesses.
Some cancer patients are currently on a low-carb diet, Daniel Buchholz found. The idea: The body gets little sugar and carbohydrates, so the cancer cells are also inhibited in growth because they lack the energy source.
"So far, there have been no studies on humans that confirm this thesis, only information from the laboratory and animal studies," explains the head of the school for dieticians at the University Medical Center in Mainz.
But one thing is clear: With the help of food, therapy can be supported and malnutrition prevented.
"Malnutrition means an unwanted, rapid weight loss within a short period of time, i.e. about five to ten percent in the last three to six months," explains nutritionist Eva Kerschbaum, who helps cancer patients in the nutrition advice center at the Munich Tumor Center.
With many types of cancer, those affected lose weight during treatment, which makes recovery even more difficult. Because weight loss leads to weakness and the already compromised immune system becomes weaker and weaker.
Eat what is good for you
According to Kerschbaum, in addition to malnutrition and weight loss, patients also have to deal with loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, or loss of taste.
“Sometimes you get disgusted with food and certain foods, or even with the smell,” says Erickson.
The experts therefore advise those affected: Weigh yourself regularly, avoid eating extremely smelling foods such as certain cheeses and eat what is good for you and tastes good.
"This can change from day to day and doesn't necessarily mean fruit and vegetables," says Erickson.
On the day of chemotherapy, when patients are struggling with nausea and vomiting, their favorite food should not be on the table. "Otherwise disgust can develop," explains Buchholz.
Eat in company
Relatives also play a crucial role. They are often the ones who want to help and sometimes unconsciously put pressure on them. There is a lot of cutting, stirring and cooking - and afterwards the disappointment is great because the cancer patient does not like to eat anything.
According to Buchholz, it helps to pre-cook and freeze food. "So you can offer it spontaneously when the patient is hungry."
Erickson explains, "Relatives should accept that those affected should try and eat as best as they can." Eating together may help make eating easier.
"A relaxed atmosphere and relaxed conversations distract from nausea or make the food slide better if you have no appetite," says Kerschbaum. Cooking together can also help some.
Since the topic is so complex, experts believe that individual nutritional advice is worthwhile. "However, this is not so easy because it is not a mandatory part of therapy," explains Erickson.
The best way to find a qualified person is to consult the professional association of dieticians or the German Nutrition Society (DGE), because the terms “nutrition therapist” and “nutritionist” are not protected. Some of the counselors specialize in cancer.
The Was-essen-bei-Krebs.de website, which Erickson developed together with partners, offers many recipes for cooking. The page is a help for self-help: Depending on the symptoms and complaints, recipes can be put together here. (ad, source: dpa / tmn)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
- Munich Tumor Center (TZM): Cancer nutrition, (accessed: February 4, 2020), Munich Tumor Center (TZM)
- German Cancer Society: Nutritional Supplements for Cancer: Benefit or Harm ?, (Retrieved: 04.02.2020), ONKO Internet portal