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Loss of appetite is one of the commonest side effects of cancer therapy, be it due to medications, chemotherapy, radiotherapy or surgery. Cancer patients usually complain of loss of appetite as a result of either an inability to eat or drink properly or a lack of desire to eat. This frequently results in cancer patients consuming inadequate food or drinks, not receiving proper nutrition and subsequent weight loss.
Some other common eating problems faced by cancer patients apart from the loss of appetite when they undergo treatment are
- Dryness of mouth
- Sores in the mouth (stomatitis or glossitis)
- Lactose intolerance
- Weight loss
Improper or inadequate diet and weight loss can lead to poor or slowed down recovery. This being a vicious cycle, it is important for cancer patients and their relatives to identify certain foods and drinks which can not only be easily consumed by the patient but also provide the necessary nutrients to the patient.
Cancer patients often find it difficult to maintain or gain a certain amount of weight during the course of treatment or after treatment. This article will help you know about a few drinks for cancer patients to gain weight, yet, their suitability may vary from patient to patient.
Drinks For Cancer Patients To Gain Weight
The aim of consuming drinks for cancer patients to gain weight or to maintain themselves in certain weight is to provide the necessary calories along with maintaining a proper balance between carbohydrates, fats and proteins requirements of the body.
The list of drinks mentioned below not only ensure adequate intake of nutrition but also help the patient tolerate such drinks when consumed in small quantities and frequently. Some natural supplement drinks for cancer patients to gain weight include
1. Fruits And Vegetables
Since cancer patients become averse to eating in general or are unable to eat due to the affection of the mouth or throat, juices or smoothies made from the desired fruits or vegetables can provide the necessary nutrients such as essential minerals, vitamins, and proteins. Fresh fruits and vegetables are also rich sources of antioxidants and flavonoids which are necessary to clear out free radicals from blood, enhance the process of healing and also help to fight against various types of infections. Smoothies can be prepared with the help of whole milk, yogurt or also ice creams.
2. Protein Shakes
Protein shakes can be prepared from soy, egg white or whey. Protein shakes for cancer patients can also be prepared with the help of supplement protein powders which are available commercially or as prescribed by the doctor.
Proteins are building blocks of the human body. They are an extremely important part of our immune system and therefore adequate protein intake is not only necessary for healing and recovery. Protein shakes also aid in weight gain for cancer patients by providing sufficient calories.
Milkshakes can be prepared with the help of fruit pulps or by adding sherbet in low-fat or full-fat milk, whichever is suitable to the patient (full-fat milk is more favorable if the patient is seeking weight gain). Flavored syrups such as rose or chocolate can also be added to make the drink more palatable.
Milkshakes are delicious as well as a nutritious option for cancer patients if they are unable to take a full meal. When prepared with full-fat milk, they provide a good amount of calories for weight gain.
4. Warm Drinks
Warms drinks like vegetable or meat broths, vegetable or chicken stocks or soups are a great alternative for cancer patients who seek a nutritious diet in spite of complaining of loss of appetite.
Broccoli soup and potato soup are well known for their high calorie as well as protein content. Broths, soups or stocks contain all the important nutrients which the particular plant or meat has to offer along with the necessary calories for cancer patients to gain weight.
5. Natural Supplements
These are readily available commercially as well as on prescription to prepare drinks for cancer patients to gain weight. These natural supplements are generally available in powdered form and a meant for the purpose of meal replacement especially for cancer patients who face difficulty in eating a proper meal.
Such supplements provide a well-balanced content of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins required for weight gain or to maintain a certain amount of weight.
Apart from these above-mentioned drinks, it is important to keep a few points in mind to ensure weight gain for cancer patients such as:
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Drinking sufficient amount of water helps to deal with the trouble of mouth dryness and nausea which is a common problem among cancer patients.
- Try to consume smaller portions of the meal rather than 3 large regular meals in a day. Smaller meals help to keep full and also prevent problems such as bloating or nausea which is commonly seen after heavy meals.
- Keep some easy to eat snacks nearby for a quick bite such as dried fruits, biscuits, cookies or nutrition bars.
- It is more favorable for cancer patients to consume cold and soft drinks such as juices and smoothies as compared to warn drinks like soups.
- Keep sweets or candies nearby. These help to manage dryness of the mouth or unusual taste in the mouth which may be one of the reasons for loss of appetite.
- Avoid consuming oily foods which may cause gastric upset.
It is important to consult an oncologist as well as a qualified dietician regarding the suitability of such drinks and what quantity of these drinks can be given to cancer patients.
A dietician will be able to guide as well as make a tailor-made treatment program as per the patientâ€™s daily nutritional requirements. When making a diet plan, the dietician will also consider the weight of the patient, and a history of illnesses due to which the patient may be unfit to consuming certain types of drinks.