Childhood cancer – Benefits of good nutrition for children during and after treatment

Roshni Lata sells fruits and vegetables at the Navua market. Children with cancer should maintain a balanced diet that includes lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy. Picture: FILE

Having a healthy diet is crucial for children battling cancer. However a child’s appetite, level of energy, ability to handle specific foods, and how their body utilises nutrition can all be impacted by cancer and its side effects.

According to Cancer.Org, it was especially relevant for children who must be taken to the hospital and those who got infections and fevers.

Helping children eat the right kinds of food before, during, and after cancer treatment could help them – better handle treatment and side effects, maintain treatment schedule, feel better, sleep better, be less irritated and work better with their medical team, reach and maintain a healthy body weight, heal and recover more quickly, lessen the risk of infection and have improved strength and energy.

Long-term benefits of healthy eating and exercise habits

For children with cancer, a key focus of nutrition and physical activity is to help maintain their normal growth and development.

This is important both during and after cancer treatment.

Childhood cancer survivors are more prone than non-survivors to experience second malignancies, heart disease, and insulin resistance in their younger years.

Learning healthy eating habits when they are younger can help prevent or delay chronic health conditions later in life.

Additionally, kids who start and maintain regular exercise have a lower risk of dying and their cancer coming back.

How a registered dietitian nutritionist can help

Each child with cancer has unique dietary requirements, which can be influenced by their age, level of activity, baseline condition, diagnosis, and treatment plan.

Before starting treatment, it is advised that children see a licensed dietitian nutritionist (RDN) or registered dietitian (RD).

The dietitian can evaluate your child’s needs, work with you to develop a plan for healthy eating, or make other recommendations for how to satisfy your child’s nutritional requirements.

Children with cancer should consume a lot of protein-rich foods and nutritious calories on your best days that would maintain your body’s strength and assist in repairing any harm caused by the treatment.

Among the foods high in protein are: lean meat, chicken and fish, eggs, beans, nuts, seeds, cheese, milk and yogurt.

Furthermore, no diet can effectively treat cancer, but maintaining a balanced diet that includes lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy is your best option. Reduce salt and sugar intake.

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