For women undergoing treatment for ovarian cancer, or who have completed treatment, nutrition is key to not only overall health and well-being, but it will help you feel better throughout the day.
Choosing the right foods during and after treatment will meet your body’s needs for protein, vitamins, and other nutrients, and can make a huge difference in your quality of life, too. Uncomfortable symptoms such as gas, bloating, and constipation are common in women with ovarian cancer, but these symptoms can be minimized with a proper diet and plenty of fluids.
The foods and supplements you should try to include in your diet will depend on where you are in your ovarian cancer treatment journey, says Anna Taylor, MD, a registered dietitian with the Cleveland Clinic Center for Human Nutrition. “For example, people have different nutritional needs while they’re actively undergoing treatment or recovering from surgery or complications than they might have after treatment,” says Taylor.
Keep reading for expert recommendations on diet and nutritional supplements for optimal health and recovery during and after ovarian cancer treatment.
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Why do you need a balanced diet: Food and calories after ovarian cancer treatment
Ovarian cancer treatments, including surgery and chemotherapy, can affect your body’s needs for specific nutrients, according to Amanda Nichols Feder, deputy chief of gynecologic surgery at Johns Hopkins Health System in Baltimore. “These treatments may also affect a woman’s eating habits and how the body digests and absorbs food,” says Dr. Fader.
Fader says there are four main goals of nutrition during ovarian cancer treatment.
- Make sure you meet your personal nutritional needs and calorie goals.
- Eat a well-balanced diet.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Avoid losing muscle.
“The body needs more calories and certain nutrients like protein during and after treatment in order to fight and heal. Staying hydrated and eating enough calories, protein, and other nutrients during this time helps preserve muscle stores, and prevents delays,” says Taylor. treatment, boosts the immune system, and reduces side effects of treatment.
Taylor says it’s sometimes difficult to eat enough calories and protein after treatment because you may feel full due to bloating or constipation. Frequent small meals can help in this case; Try to include some protein at every meal, and snack whenever possible to help meet your overall protein needs, she suggests.
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Create a balanced diet
You may be wondering what exactly is meant by a “balanced diet,” especially if you have ovarian cancer. “In this case, a balanced diet would include all six food groups, with an emphasis on minimally processed foods from each group,” says Taylor. This is in line with the American Cancer Society’s general recommendations for reducing the risk of cancer and cancer recurrence while supporting adequate nutrition and a healthy weight, she says.
Fader says a balanced diet filled with whole, nutrient-dense foods is the best way to get the nutrition you need. “Some supplements can be beneficial if you have a specific deficiency, but most studies have found that the risks of high doses of supplements usually outweigh the benefits,” she says. If you are considering any supplements or vitamins, you should consult your healthcare provider first, she says.
“Avoid taking a multivitamin with more than 100 percent of the daily value (Daily Value) unless you have a nutrient or vitamin deficiency and have been directed to take more by your healthcare provider,” Fader says.
Taylor recommends the following foods and meals for each of the six groups:
- proteins Eggs and egg whites. skinless poultry, fish, and shellfish, as well as lean red meat in moderation; legumes (such as lentils, beans, soybeans, and peas); nuts and seeds (if tolerated)
- dairy products and dairy alternatives Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, milk or milk alternatives, and cheese in moderation (many dairy products are also good sources of protein)
- the fruit Mostly fresh and frozen – two to three servings per day
- vegetables Mostly fresh and frozen – three to five servings a day
- starches Whole grains (if tolerated) such as oatmeal, quinoa, barley, brown and wild rice, whole-wheat pasta and whole-grain bread, and starchy vegetables, including sweet potatoes, yams, peas, and winter squash
- healthy fats Olive oil, nut butter, avocados, nuts, and seeds (if tolerated)
It’s also important to drink plenty of fluids, Taylor says, mostly in the form of water. “I recommend at least 64 ounces (ounces) a day,” she says.
Keep in mind that if you experience certain side effects, the recommendations may be different, says Taylor. “For example, if someone has diarrhea or has an increased risk of bowel obstruction, high-fiber foods wouldn’t usually be recommended,” she says.
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Special dietary concerns for gastrointestinal problems with ovarian cancer
“Women undergoing treatment for ovarian cancer may experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, heartburn, bloating, or early satiety, which is the feeling of fullness after eating relatively small amounts of food,” Fader says. “All of these digestive issues can affect a woman’s nutritional status as well as her desire to eat,” she says.
Unfortunately, these problems are relatively common during and after ovarian cancer treatment, says Taylor. Taylor says there are ways to help reduce these symptoms, which can include constipation, diarrhea, gas, bloating, and an increased risk of bowel obstruction.
Gas and bloating
- Try small, frequent meals to avoid large portions.
- If you are lactose intolerant, avoid foods that are high in lactose such as cow’s milk and ice cream.
- Avoid popsicles, carbonated drinks like soda or beer, and chew with your mouth open, all of which can cause air to be swallowed and contribute to bloating.
- Avoid fatty meals that are slowly digested and can lead to bloating.
- Certain healthy foods cause gas, including beans, cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and bok choy. “This is because they contain sulfur and raffinose, which are carbohydrates that are difficult for the body to break down,” says Taylor. You may want to limit these foods if you’re feeling bloated or try to cook them thoroughly, which will help break down those compounds.
- Drink at least 80 ounces of fluids each day.
- Stay active with low-intensity exercise, such as walking daily for 20 to 30 minutes, to improve the movement of your digestive system.
- If you are not at risk of developing a small bowel obstruction, include foods high in fiber, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds. Aim for at least 25 to 35 grams (g) of fiber per day.
- Ask your healthcare team if fiber supplements, stimulant or osmotic laxatives, or stool softeners might be a good option for you.
- Drink plenty of decaffeinated, low-sugar fluids throughout the day. Drink at least one glass of fluid after each loose bowel movement. Avoid sugary drinks (even juices), as well as caffeine, as they can make diarrhea worse.
- Limit insoluble fiber such as the peels and rinds of produce, and other “rough” foods, and increase sources of soluble fiber including rice, bananas, oatmeal, potatoes without skin, and applesauce.
- Avoid greasy and greasy foods and limit your intake of sweets.
risk of bowel obstruction
An intestinal obstruction is a blockage in the intestine that prevents foods and liquids from passing through the intestines, and it sometimes occurs in people with ovarian cancer. “If you have a history of bowel obstruction, or your health care team has said you are at risk of developing intestinal obstruction, there are many foods that can increase your risk of this problem,” says Taylor.
Examples of foods to avoid if you are at risk of developing a small bowel obstruction include:
- Fresh or dried fruit (except bananas), fruit skins, canned pineapple or fruit cocktail, and coconut
- Raw vegetables, corn, cooked or raw mushrooms, stewed tomatoes, potato skins, cabbage, beans, peas, and legumes
- Coarse whole grains, bran, any grains with whole seeds or spices, popcorn
- Coated meat, peanut butter, nuts
If you don’t have a history of bowel obstruction and you’re not at risk, there’s no reason to avoid these foods, says Taylor.
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Nutritional needs during and after treatment
Taylor says there are certain foods that can help provide you with energy while you’re undergoing treatment or surgeries for ovarian cancer.
- Greek yogurt is a rich, smooth, moist, easy-to-eat, and fiber-free type of protein. “It’s a good choice for people who are at risk of developing a bowel obstruction,” says Taylor.
- Creamy peanut butter is a healthy fat that also contains protein and is easy to mix into smoothies, oatmeal, or spread on toast or applesauce.
- Rich in protein, easy to digest, eggs are a breakfast food, snack, or part of a stir-fry.
- Banana is a healthy fruit that contains vitamins, soluble fiber, and carbohydrates to provide the body with energy. “It’s a great addition to smoothies or cereal,” says Taylor.
- Cottage cheese is rich in protein and is soft and easy to eat. “It’s also devoid of fiber and is a good option for people at risk of developing a bowel obstruction,” she says.
- Great for stir-fries, soups, and side dishes, rice is also easy on the stomach and digestive system and a good source of calories and carbohydrates during a treat.
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Foods to avoid during treatment
Fader says it’s important to discuss foods to avoid when undergoing treatment with certain chemotherapy regimens.
Some foods to avoid:
- Grapefruit and Seville orange: “In some women, these fruits can interact with certain medications,” Fader says.
- Raw or undercooked seafood or meat: “Chemotherapy can affect a woman’s immune system and her ability to fight infection, and so raw or undercooked seafood or meat, which can harbor bacteria, should not be eaten because foodborne infections A weakened immune system can be difficult to fight, Fader says, adding that infections during surgery or chemotherapy may delay cancer treatment.
A healthy weight can reduce the risk of cancer
There is evidence that excess body weight can increase the risk of several types of cancer, including ovarian cancer, Taylor says, so maintaining a healthy body weight is important.
According to the meta-analysisAnd A higher BMI is associated with a slightly increased risk of ovarian cancer, especially in women who have not used hormonal therapy for menopause.
For this reason, we recommend not only eating a healthy balanced diet, but also choosing portions to support a healthy weight. A good rule of thumb, Taylor says, is to aim for half a plate of produce at each meal, with a daily goal of at least five handfuls of fruit and vegetables per day.
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