Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive cancer caused by asbestos, and treatment can cause disruptive side effects. As a result, many veterans with mesothelioma may turn to alternative treatments, like yoga, meditation, and nutrition, to help alleviate these side effects and ease depression and anxiety.
Mesothelioma nutrition is one of the most important alternative treatments that can help veterans with mesothelioma heal from intense surgeries or other therapies and feel stronger while receiving standard treatment.
In fact, mesothelioma survivor and U.S. Army and Air Force veteran Arthur Putt incorporated a healthy mesothelioma diet that reversed the painful side effects from chemotherapy that kept him from eating solid foods.
“At one time, doctors told me I’d never eat solid food again, but we showed them wrong.”
– Arthur Putt, Mesothelioma Survivor
Amy Fair, a registered nurse with over 20 years of experience helping mesothelioma veterans, says these 5 tips are key to a healthy diet for mesothelioma patients:
- Replace large meals with several small meals
- Increase protein and decrease fat
- Consume food and drinks at room temperature
- Eat hard candy or spicy food
- Find a cancer nutritionist
Learn more about each of these mesothelioma nutrition tips below.
1. Replace Large Meals With Several Small Meals
Instead of having three large meals a day, Amy Fair recommends aiming for six to eight smaller meals. This approach can make it easier for your body to digest food and absorb nutrients.
Smaller meals throughout the day can help you maintain energy levels when fatigue begins to set in. For example, you can eat fruits and vegetables for a nutritious snack that is easy for the body to absorb.
2. Increase Protein and Decrease Fat
After treatment, mesothelioma patients’ bodies use up protein to heal. Without enough protein, patients can experience weight and muscle loss that can make it hard to perform daily tasks.
A high-protein diet can help you recover and regain strength. Lean protein sources like poultry, fish, beans, and tofu are easier for the body to digest.
Reducing fat intake can also help ease nausea and digestive issues because the body takes longer to break it down.
3. Consume Food and Drinks at Room Temperature
When we eat or drink, our bodies use energy to warm up food to absorb the nutrients. If the body is working against extreme temperatures, nausea or digestive discomfort can sometimes occur.
Cancer patients may be even more likely to experience nausea from eating cold or hot foods as the body is already spending energy on other functions, like healing from surgery or fighting cancer cells.
To lower the risk of nausea, wait for foods and beverages to cool off or warm up to room temperature before eating them.
Want more tips for managing your mesothelioma treatment? Get a Free Veterans Guide today.
4. Eat Hard Candy or Spicy Food
Some mesothelioma treatments can cause a loss of appetite, which can make eating regular meals throughout the day feel like a chore.
Amy Fair suggests eating spicy foods or hard candy. These stimulate salivary glands and, as a result, may increase a patient’s appetite.
There are sugar-free candies that may be a great option for veterans with diabetes or other health conditions.
5. Find a Cancer Nutritionist
Each mesothelioma patient is different and may have unique dietary needs. For this reason, it is incredibly important to seek out a nutritionist or dietitian familiar with mesothelioma.
Some mesothelioma treatment centers have nutritionists available, while other mesothelioma doctors can offer a referral. Additionally, some health insurance plans cover the cost of nutrition consultations.
Talk with your care team at your next appointment about your options.
Get Help Affording Alternative Mesothelioma Treatment
Mesothelioma nutrition alongside other alternative treatments can greatly improve a patient’s quality of life as they undergo standard treatment.
A healthy mesothelioma diet can help veterans:
- Recover from chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, and more
- Improve mental health
- Maintain a healthy weight during and after treatment
- Manage painful side effects
Some insurance providers may cover the cost of alternative treatments, but others may not, leaving veterans to pay for treatment, travel to appointments, and more. Thankfully, veterans may not have to pay for these important care options on their own.
The Mesothelioma Veterans Center can help veterans with mesothelioma pursue compensation to help pay for some of these costs. Contact us now to see how we can help.