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Cancer Therapy Nutrition

By Angela Medieros, Staff Writer

(Page 2 of 3)

Different formulas of nutritional supplement drinks can be ordered by the physician to round out the body’s need for a “complete” meal. These drinks supply the expected vitamins (B vitamins and C for example), cholesterol and fats (needed by the nervous system) and even “prebiotics.” Prebiotics are carbohydrates that cannot be digested, but encourage the body to produce bacteria to balance the digestive tract. Nutritional supplements can be taken alone or with a meal. While they may taste similar to a milkshake, sugar content is more controlled than a fast food shake.

Smoothies and supplement drinks may feel “heavy” on the stomach and patients may choose to alternate them with juice. It’s important to read labels whether you are buying from a “health food store” or grocery. Prepackaged drinks may be labeled “organic,” but may still contain sugar or artificial sweeteners, or a mixture of juices that dominate the advertised juice.

Sugar is always a factor, but many juices (such as cranberry, blueberry and pomegranate) come in “100% pure” offerings. They contain no added juices or sweetener. They are excellent options, especially when dealing with kidney and bladder infections, related to cancer therapy or not. These juices come in concentrates, providing fruity nutrients that can be taken by the conservative spoonful, or mixed with water to flush bacteria that sticks to the lining of the bladder. The “pure” juices can be more costly than those with apple or grape juice added, but in the long run they may be versatile in ways the mixtures can’t be.

Ready to drink juices come in a wide variety, and both standard grocery and health food stores have good selections. Select two or three types and offer a “tasting event” instead of a full meal, pairing small amounts of juice with snack sized portions of a meal.

Vitamin supplements may be beneficial, but discuss usage with the dietician. Liquid vitamin supplements may be easier to swallow and stay down, with less opportunity for reflux. Pills in general have a tendency to “back up” the esophagus, often when taken with small amounts of fluid. Liquid vitamins may not have an ideal flavor, but manufacturers have made improvements over the years.

Liquid vitamins can be added to juices that have their own intense flavor. Pomegranate, acai berry and cranberry are bold flavors that mix well with other juices and might mask vitamin odors.

Enzymes help the body to digest food and pull nutrients from the meal. They lighten the work that the digestive tract has to do, and some people find they get more out of a meal when these are taken. Papaya tablets have been popular for years, and for those who do not want to eat the fruit itself, they’re a quick supplemental fix.

Other types of digestive enzymes are sold in stores, and while many do the same work, read the labels to narrow down choices. Find one that does the trick and stick with it. A rule of thumb to determine how well it’s working is how good one feels. There can be more energy from the same meal taken with enzymes than when no enzymes are taken. Time between meals may last longer because the feeling of satisfaction lasts.

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