Radiation treatment is used as a breast cancer treatment option to shrink tumors and stop the growth of cancer cells. Radiation treatments performed on breast cancer patients will make him tired, decreased appetite, and various other side effects. Therefore, maintaining a diet with the best foods that have high nutrition will prevent you from decreasing body strength and keeping your body in shape during cancer treatment. Some of the best foods you can choose during radiation treatment are foods that contain vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, calories, protein, antioxidants, and fat. All of these nutrients can be found in fruits, vegetables, grains, onions and garlic, fish, lean poultry meat, and others.
Radiation treatment for breast cancer uses high levels of radiation to kill cancer cells or prevent them from growing, dividing, or spreading to other parts of the body. There are various types of radiation treatments such as external radiation treatment, brachytherapy, and proton treatment. External radiation treatment is most commonly used to treat breast cancer by using a machine that produces radiation beams in the affected area.
Brachytherapy is a radiation treatment by sending radiation to cancer through something that is implanted first in your body. Usually using radioactive seeds or pellets as small as rice grains placed in the breast, near cancer. Proton treatment uses energy from positively charged particles called protons to damage DNA in cancer cells so that they can no longer grow or divide. Proton treatment only sends radiation right to your breast tissue and not to your heart or lungs.
Radiation treatments and chemotherapy in breast cancer patients not only make you difficult to eat, but there are also many other side effects such as fatigue, anemia, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, canker sores, dry mouth, changes in mood, changes in skin sensation, focus disturbances, red skin, hair loss, breast swelling, and painful swallowing. These side effects will disappear within 4 to 6 weeks after treatment.
In addition to short-term effects, radiation treatments for breast cancer sufferers can also experience long-term side effects, even lasting more than a year after treatment. Some of the long-term side effects that may be experienced by patients are enlarged pores in the breast, more sensitive skin, changes in breast size, skin becomes slightly darker, and thickening of the breast or skin tissue.
The right food choices are very important when you are being treated or are recovering from cancer. Eating nutritious foods that contain vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants can overcome side effects during radiation treatment. The best food choices must be adjusted to the specific symptoms that you experience during radiation treatment. You will need pure fruit or fruit smoothies if you have difficulty swallowing. If you have constipation, fruits that are rich in fiber can help you improve regularity. However, if you experience dry mouth you should avoid oranges because they can irritate mouth sores.
Why are nutritious foods so good for consumption during radiation treatment for breast cancer?
During cancer treatment, the body needs adequate nutrition and calories because most cancer sufferers will experience various side effects that make the body feel unwell and decrease appetite. Nutritious foods that are recommended such as foods high in fat and high in calories to maintain ideal body weight. Other nutritional guidelines that must be met during cancer radiation treatment are foods that contain nutrients such as protein, fat, carbohydrates, water, vitamins, and minerals.
Foods that contain protein, are needed to repair body tissues, maintain the immune system and for growth. Adequate protein is also needed during the radiation treatment of breast cancer patients to heal tissue and help fight infections.
Foods that contain fat are also very important to consume during cancer treatment because the body breaks down fat and uses it to store energy, protect tissues, and transport certain types of vitamins through the blood. Not all fats are good for consumption during cancer treatment, choose monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats, and avoid using saturated fats or trans fats.
Foods that contain carbohydrates are needed during cancer treatment to give the body the fuel it needs for physical activity and good organ function. Carbohydrate sources can be found in vegetables, fruits, and seeds. In addition to carbohydrates, foods that contain fiber are also needed to help remove the remaining food from the body quickly and help keep stool soft so that cancer patients are free from constipation.
Foods that contain vitamins and minerals are needed by the body during cancer treatment to help it function properly. The body also needs enough water and fluids during cancer treatment because your body is prone to dehydration during treatment. In addition to drinking at least 8 glasses of water, your body also gets fluids from foods such as soups and other liquid supplements. During cancer radiation treatment, the body is prone to losing fluids due to vomiting or diarrhea.
Foods such as vegetables and fruits are also needed during cancer treatment because they contain antioxidants to protect normal cells in the body from cancer cell attacks. Antioxidants include vitamins A, C, and E, selenium, zinc, and several enzymes that absorb and adhere to free radicals. Not only contain antioxidants, vegetables and fruits also contain phytonutrients such as carotenoids, lycopene, resveratrol, and phytosterols which are considered to have quality health protection.
Best foods to eat during radiation treatment for breast cancer to increase the effectiveness of radiation treatment
Fruits are highly recommended for consumption during the radiation treatment of cancer patients who have mouth sores, difficulty swallowing, dry mouth, or nausea. You can choose whole fruits such as apples, apricots, and pears if you experience symptoms as above. Here are some other fruits that are recommended for consumption:
|Blueberries||Blueberries are rich in antioxidants and various|
studies reveal very well used to fight cancer.
Blueberries also have a variety of vitamins and
minerals such as vitamin C, fiber, and manganese.
Research also reveals that consuming blueberry
juice can help alleviate brain chemo,
which is a memory and concentration
problem experienced by some people during
cancer treatment and recovery.
|Orange||Oranges are not only rich in vitamin C, |
but also other important nutrients such as
thiamine, potassium, and folate. Vitamin C
in oranges helps strengthen your immune system
during and after breast cancer treatment.
Vitamin C in oranges also helps protect against anemia
because it can increase the absorption
of iron from food. Research also shows that vitamin C
can act as a treatment for certain types of cancer
and reduce the growth and spread of cancer cells.
|Banana|| Bananas contain various nutrients that are |
important for the body such as vitamin C, B6,
potassium, and manganese. Bananas also contain
a fiber called pectin which is beneficial
for those who have diarrhea during cancer treatment.
Research also reveals that pectin can help protect
against the growth and development of colon
cancer cells. Potassium in bananas also helps
replenish electrolytes lost due to diarrhea or vomiting.
Bananas are also good for cancer patients who have
difficulty swallowing food because of its soft and
|Apple||Apples are one of the most nutritious fruits that |
can be consumed by cancer sufferers. Apples have
vitamin C, fiber, and potassium which are all
beneficial for cancer recovery. Vitamin C is an
antioxidant that functions to support
the body’s immunity and fight the growth
of cancer cells.
Fiber can increase regularity and avoid
constipation during radiation treatment.
Potassium in apples is useful to help prevent
fluid retention which is one of the side effects of
cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation.
|Pomegranate|| Pomegranate has vitamin C, vitamin K, fiber, folate,|
and potassium which are very beneficial for
various diets. Pomegranates can be consumed
during cancer treatment because several studies
reveal they can help reduce the side effects of
cancer treatments such as joint pain. Research
also reveals that pomegranates can help those
who experience decreased focus or concentration
due to cancer treatments such as chemotherapy
and radiation treatments.
|Pear||Pears are known to have cancer-preventing |
compounds, anthocyanins, a type of plant
pigment that is associated with decreased
cancer growth and tumor formation. Pears
are easily enjoyed as part of a healthy diet
during radiation treatment because of their
taste and texture which contain lots of water.
Pears also have various nutrients such as
vitamin C, vitamin K, and fiber.
|Lemon||You can make lemon as part of a healthy diet during|
cancer treatment because it provides lots of vitamins,
minerals, and antioxidants. Lemon has high
vitamin C and contains other nutrients such as
iron, potassium, and vitamin B6. Some studies
have found that lemon extract can help
prevent the growth of certain types of cancer cells.
|Cherry||Cherries have antioxidants that can help slow |
the growth of cancer cells and have other nutrients
such as vitamin C, potassium, and copper.
Antioxidants in cherries such as beta carotene,
lutein, and zeaxanthin all have benefits for
your health. Research also shows that cherries
can kill breast cancer cells and reduce the growth
of colon cancer cells in mice.
|Grapefruit||Not only oranges, but grapefruit is also highly |
recommended for consumption during cancer
treatment. Grapefruit has fiber, antioxidants,
vitamins and minerals that are useful for the body.
Grapefruit has large amounts of vitamin C, vitamin A
and potassium, and has compounds such as
lycopene. Several studies have shown that lycopene
can reduce certain negative side effects of cancer
radiation treatment. Before consuming grapefruit
you should consult your doctor first because this fruit
can interfere with certain drugs.
|Strawberry||Strawberry is suitable for cancer recovery for |
those who have difficulty swallowing lightly.
Strawberries also have impressive nutrients
such as vitamin C, manganese, potassium,
folate, and antioxidant compounds
such as pelargonidin. Animal studies
show that strawberries help kill breast cancer cells
and inhibit tumor growth.
|Mulberry||Mulberries are rich in vitamin C and iron to protect |
from anemia caused by cancer treatments.
Mulberry also has a fiber called lignin,
which has been shown in research to improve
immune function and kill cancer cells.
|Blackberry||According to animal studies, blackberries|
can maintain brain health, improve memory
, protect against DNA damage, neutralize
harmful compounds, slow the growth and
spread of cancer cells, and prevent
certain side effects of cancer treatments
such as surgery. Blackberry contains vitamin C,
manganese, and vitamin K, as well as various
antioxidants such as ellagic acid, gallic acid, and
Dark green, red and orange vegetables are the main choices for every meal. You can also try eating steamed or soft cooked vegetables if you have difficulty consuming raw vegetables. Radiation treatment also often causes constipation, irregular eating, and not drinking enough fluids.
Eating vegetables also minimize constipation because they contain lots of fiber to increase mass in your stool. The fiber in vegetables helps remove impurities from your body. However, if your digestion is uncomfortable due to cramps or gas, you should reduce fiber consumption. Some vegetables can cause gas such as broccoli, cauliflower, onions, and beans.
One of the most recommended vegetables is carrots, this vegetable is often used as a diet for cancer patients because it can make chemotherapy more effective by stopping a mechanism in the body that interferes with cancer treatment. Here are some other types of vegetables that you can consume include:
- Bok choy
- Brussels sprouts
- Hot peppers
- Cucumber Japan
When you experience constipation due to radiation treatment, drinking plenty of fluids and eating high-insoluble fiber foods that are mostly found in grains such as cereals or whole wheat bread will help your digestive system. Grains have more benefits than processed carbohydrates such as white bread. Grains like quinoa are also rich in protein and do not contain gluten. You can replace white rice in the diet menu with quinoa to get more protein intake. Whole grains can be the best food choices during breast cancer radiation treatment such as:
- Brown rice
- Whole-grain cereals
- 100% whole-grain bread
4. Onion and garlic
Consuming onion and garlic during radiation treatment can increase the body’s immune system to fight cancer because it contains high antioxidants. Research also shows that consuming onion and garlic has a lower risk of colorectal cancer. You can consume onion and garlic by baking, cooking or eating them raw. Onion and garlic are also often used to flavor vegetables or meat.
5. Foods high in lean protein
Other best foods during breast cancer treatment are foods high in protein but low in fat. Foods that are high in protein and without fat give you energy and keep your muscles strong during radiation treatment. Protein and calorie balance is also needed by the body to function properly. Some high-protein, non-fat foods such as:
- Lean meat
- Greek yogurt
- Low-fat dairy products
- Soy products (edamame).
6. High-calorie food
Radiation treatments often cause mouth sores that cause difficulty swallowing food which in turn makes the patient’s calorie intake from food disturbed. If you have difficulty swallowing, eat frequent small meals and snacks that have high calories to get enough calories. Food in small size can minimize the chewing process, you can also choose soft solid or liquid foods if it is difficult to swallow. Foods that have high calories are needed by breast cancer patients during radiation treatment such as:
- Cooked cereals
- Dried vegetables, and fruits
- Soy milk
- Fruit smoothies
- High-calorie pudding
Some choices of soft foods or foods that can be cooked until soft like beef, turkey, sweet potatoes, potatoes, winter squash, carrots, and tofu.
7. Other foods that can increase the effectiveness of radiation treatments
Other foods that are also recommended during radiation treatment are foods that have been shown to increase the anti-cancer effects of radiation treatment such as:
- Black pepper
- Black cumin
- Butternut pumpkin
- Black currant
- Green tea
- Fish bloating
- Wild salmon
- Walnut oil
Tips for managing side effects from radiation treatment
Some tips you can do to overcome the various side effects of radiation treatment so that you can still meet the body’s nutritional needs through food. One of the side effects of radiation treatment, the food you eat will taste bland. Changes in taste vary from person to person, generally having a bitter and metallic taste in your mouth and sometimes may not even feel like anything.
If the food you eat tastes bland, you can change the texture of your food for example by replacing baked potatoes with mashed potatoes. You can also add more seasonings according to tolerance for example by adding sauces and seasonings, such as soy sauce.
You can also add seasonings like garlic or onion to season your vegetables or meat. Besides adding herbs, some people also add herbs, such as basil, rosemary, oregano, and mint to your food.
Some people prefer to try sour foods to stimulate appetites such as cottage cheese, canned fruit, ginger candy, and pineapple. If you eat meat that tastes bitter, soak the meat in a sauce or squeeze lemon juice. If the food you eat tastes too sweet, try adding salt to the food. If food tastes or smells different from usual, you should avoid foods that have a strong odor, such as beef and fish.
The side effects of radiation treatment for breast cancer sufferers also cause a decrease in appetite or feeling full early. Loss of appetite can also occur due to nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dry mouth, depression, and stress. If you experience this, you should eat small portions 6 to 8 times a day to help get enough calories. Choose foods that are attractive in color and color to stimulate your appetite.
You can also eat your favorite food at any time of the day both at home and at work. Some suggested foods such as wheat cream, potato soup, chicken noodle soup, pudding, chicken, turkey, and yogurt. You can also drink hot chocolate, high-calorie honey, and fruit juice. Another way to increase your appetite is to consume foods that have a smell like frying bacon or baking bread.
If you experience dry mouth or pain during radiation treatment, then you need to choose foods that have a moist, soft texture and are easy to swallow. You should also avoid dry or rough foods that are difficult to chew and swallow, such as dry bread, biscuits, citrus fruit products, high-salt foods, spicy foods, salty foods, tomato products (pasta sauce, tomato juice, tomato soup), and dried meat without sauce. Some foods to choose from, such as macaroni and cheese, scrambled eggs, peanut dishes, casseroles, cooked cereals, baby food, stew and cream soups, milkshakes, smoothies, gelatin, yogurt, and bread.
Radiation treatments can also cause nausea or stomach pain, some tips you can try to manage nausea through nutrition. You can try practical foods that can be brought home or frozen dinners so as to prevent nausea when you prepare food, or while cooking. You can choose cold foods like salads or sandwiches if the cause of nausea is the smell of food.
Cold food does not have a strong odor like hot food. Eat small and frequent meals, and eat slowly to prevent feeling full too quickly or bloating. You are also advised to drink most of the fluids between your meals and avoid activities right after eating. Some food menus that you can choose when you experience nausea are whole wheat bread, cereals, dry bread, brown rice, peas, crackers, oatmeal, soups, boiled eggs, noodles, puddings, herbal teas, and miso.
If you experience constipation during radiation treatment, then choosing high-fiber foods can help you. Constipation can occur due to food and drinks are less than usual and the result of taking certain drugs. Some recommended foods for constipation include nuts and lentils, fresh and dried fruit, kidney beans, fresh or frozen vegetables, high-fiber breakfast cereals, and whole-grain bread. Some people who are not accustomed to eating lots of fiber should slowly increase fiber intake because it can increase flatulence (gas).
When constipation, you also have to drink lots of fluids and do light physical activities such as walking. Drink plenty of fluids up to 10 glasses every day and reduce caffeine intake. Caffeine can increase constipation by causing you to lose fluids. Advice from a specialist is needed when constipation problems still occur for a long time.
Radiation treatment in patients with breast cancer often also causes diarrhea. Diarrhea causes food to pass through your intestine quickly, causing your water and nutrients to not be absorbed properly by your body. When you have diarrhea, you should drink plenty of fluids and avoid caffeinated or carbonated drinks. Drink at least 8 to 10 glasses of fluid every day to avoid dehydration. You can also put water in a soup broth, and flavorful tea.
In addition to drinking plenty of liquids, choose foods that are rich in potassium, such as potatoes, bananas and other foods such as rice, toast, oatmeal, corn cereals, pasta, sandwiches on white bread, boiled eggs, soup without cream, lean meat, tofu, and crackers. You should also reduce high-fiber foods such as vegetables, cereals, unpeeled fruits, and whole grains. Avoid spicy foods and fried or oily foods. Also avoid ice cream, milk, and pudding because it can interfere with your stomach. Choose cheese, yogurt, and custard because these foods have lower amounts of lactose.
Examples of food menus that you can choose when treating breast cancer radiation
1. High protein menu
Diets that have a high protein content during radiation treatment are as follows:
- Apple slices with cheese and honey slices on top
- Snacks of baked beans and sunflowers or chia seeds
- Meat added to soups, salads, casseroles, and omelets
- Melt cheese on slices of meat and hamburgers
- Add grated cheese to sauces, soups, vegetables, mashed potatoes, casseroles, and salads
- Add beans, tofu, kidney beans, boiled eggs, cooked meat or fish to salads
- Add flaxseed powder to cereals, yogurt, casseroles, and meat
- Mix the peanut butter into your vanilla shake
2. High-calorie menu
The menu below can help you eat more calories during radiation treatment.
- Add cream cheese to toast or use as a spread of vegetables
- Use high-calorie sauces on salads, baked potatoes, and vegetables such as green beans or asparagus
- Use mayonnaise or creamy salad dressing on salads and sandwiches
- Mix granola with yogurt or fruit or place it on ice cream
- Add condensed milk with peanut butter to ice cream to add more flavor and calories
- Add butter or margarine to rice, pasta, potatoes, sandwiches, toast, and vegetables
- Add avocado slices to your salad
- Add jelly or honey to the biscuits or bread
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