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Nutrition Tips for Cancer Patients During Covid-19

Posted: June 23, 2020


A healthy lifestyle is extremely important in your fight against cancer. At Cancer Care Northwest, our oncology dietitian, Heather Gabbert, is available to assess your nutritional needs and to develop a personalized program to improve your health before, during and after treatment.
Here are a few nutrition tips she'd like our patients to remember as they undergo cancer treatment during this COVID-19 healthcare pandemic:
  • Aim to be as anti-inflammatory with your nutrition intake as you can!  Meaning have Omega 3 fatty acids from wild caught salmon, cod, halibut, steelhead, trout and low mercury tuna, three times a week!  If fish is not your thing, try plant based Omega 3’s such as these rich food sources: walnuts, chia seeds, avocado, and flaxseeds. You will feel your best, mind and body, when you flood it with healthy nutrients such as Omega 3’s. 
  • Focus on best supporting your gut health!  We all have microbiota consisting of microorganisms living in our intestinal tract.  The equilibrium between the microorganisms: bacteria, yeasts, fungi, and other microorganisms, is fundamental to your health!  We each have our own immune-supporting factory, if you will, inside of us, housed in our intestines. One of the best things you can do to best fuel this factory, is to consume fermented foods and probiotics daily!  The American Institute of Cancer Research has recommended we consume a fermented source daily such as yogurt, sauerkraut, kombucha, kimchi, and vinegar. The mind and body are indeed connected as it has been shown that good gut health can minimize anxiety. Aim to have one of these power-packed, probiotic-filled foods in your day, every day!  
  • Immune boosting /Anti-viral properties exist in foods, herbs and spices!  Yes! Believe it! To help your body best fight against nasty viruses, try using pinches of some of these immune boosting herbs such as oregano, sage, garlic, and ginger to name a few!  Also, you may be amazed to hear that certain mushroom varieties have shown to exhibit a nice amount of heart healthy benefits, as well as show immune-boosting power. Give shiitake mushrooms a try in your stir fry!  Some popular mushroom powders are also an option, including reishi, chaga, turkey tail and lion mane varieties.  More is not better, especially if in active cancer treatment so keep intake of powders to 1-2 tablespoons per day. (Please note that the mushrooms have also been shown to help with improved sleep, which is also so important.)
  • Hydrate!  Did you know that the number one cause of fatigue is dehydration, or not enough fluid intake?! It’s true! Aim for a minimum of 64 ounces a day from water, tea, 100% juices, and other low calorie drinks such as almond milk and bone broth. If hydrating properly is a struggle for you, I suggest setting an alarm as a reminder to drink up!  There are also reminder apps you can use that are fun in helping you to properly hydrate!  Also, keep in mind the water source. Reverse osmosis (RO) filtration is the cleanest of all filtered waters. Some examples of RO water, include but are not limited to Dasani, Aquafine, and DejaBlue. 
  • Keep Moving!  Stretch, walk, ride bikes, do a video workout, use a personal trainer, whatever it is that you like to do, just keep moving!  The new saying is “sitting is the new smoking.” It is important to aim for 150 minutes a week of activity and to do 2 days of strength training/resistance. 
These are a few simple things you can do to best support your mind and body during this stressful time. As we reopen across the nation, we are faced with many things we can’t do. Here are a few things you CAN do!  
Learn more about CCNW's Nutrition Program.
CCNW Nutritionist, Heather Gabbert. Heather Gabbert MS, RD, CD
CCNW Registered Dietitian, Oncology Specialist