Making Wise Food Choices When Going Through Cancer

Immune system

Immune system (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

Today I am featuring a guest post by David he is a writer and awareness advocate for the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance and has been studying and blogging about nutrition and fitness for cancer patients.  You can find his blog and bio at http://www.mesothelioma.com/blog/authors/david/. I hope you enjoy his article, because I sure did!

Food safety is important for everyone, not just for those going through cancer. Viruses, parasites and bacteria can contaminate the food you eat if you don’t take adequate precautions to keep yourself safe. Since cancer patients often undergo chemotherapy, medication or radiation to help them fight their disease, the result can be a weakened immune system.

A Properly Functioning Immune System is Necessary for Cancer Patients

Over the course of your disease, cancer can weaken the immune system. When you add the potential for further weakness from possible treatments, food safety and wise food choices becomes especially important. A properly functioning immune system is necessary to keep infection and foreign pathogens out of the body, but if cancer treatments have weakened your immune system, that makes you more susceptible to infection and foodborne illnesses.

Proper nutrition during cancer treatments results in many benefits. It can improve your quality of life, increase your energy levels and give you a better outlook. It can increase your stamina, improve how you look and make you feel better. When you feel better, you’re more likely to take better care of yourself, and that includes getting enough sleep and exercise. With proper nutrition, your body will be better equipped to fight against the cancer.

Making Wise Food Choices

Some foods are healthier and less risky than others. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, foods most likely to contain harmful viruses and bacteria fall into the following two categories.

1. Unpasteurized milk (raw milk), soft cheeses made from raw milk, uncooked or undercooked eggs, and deli-type salads prepared without preservatives at your local grocery store can all cause problems.

2. Uncooked, fresh fruits and vegetables can also be problematic.

Since cancer therapies and mesothelioma treatment side effects can place an extra burden on your immune system, the USDA recommends you always drink pasteurized milk in order to avoid potential food contaminants. In addition, you should use pasteurized egg products when preparing recipes that call for raw eggs and avoid eating raw cookie dough. Don’t make eggnog at home with raw eggs and avoid homemade Caesar-type salad dressings.

Unsafe cheeses are varieties made from raw milk such as Feta, Brie, Camembert, blue-veined cheeses, and Mexican varieties such as Queso fresco. Always thoroughly wash your fruits and vegetables, including the salad mixes that come in factory-sealed bags. The USDA also advises cancer patients not to eat raw sprouts. They should always be cooked.

While making wise food choices can’t guarantee you will never become ill, taking adequate precautions to help keep yourself safe will give you a fighting chance to win against the odds.

Listeria

 
Listeria monocytogenes

Image by AJC1 via Flickr

Listeria, you’ve probably heard it in the news lately. Listeria is a foodborne illness caused by bacteria.It infects about 2500 Americans each year and 500 of those infected die.  It can cause fever and diarrhea in those without compromised immune systems. Those who are at the most risk are the elderly, pregnancy women, and newborns. Symptoms include septicemia, meningitis and may result in a spontaneous abortionstill birth and fetal/newborn meningitis. Sources for Listeria are from the soil, water, plants, cold damp environments, humans, domestic and wild animals. Listeria can be found in unpasteurized milk and soft cheeses (feta, blue cheese, brie), raw vegetables, poultry/meat, seafood, deli meats, and hot dogs. Ways of prevention are use pasteurized milk and dairy products, cook food to proper internal temperature (including deli meats), avoid cross contamination, sanitize surfaces and wash raw vegetables.