Cancer is a term greatly feared by the general population. It is more correctly referred to as a disease process whose development is thought to be multistep, both reversible and irreversible. Some of the reversible steps may be influenced by dietary factors, which can also limit the multistep process from progressing and thereby protect against the development of clinical cancer.

A nutritious diet is always vital for the body to work at its best. 

Good nutrition is even more important for people with cancer, why?

  • Patients who eat well during their treatment are able to cope better with the side effects of treatment. Patients who eat well may be able to handle a higher dose of certain treatments.
  • A healthy diet can help keep up strength, prevent body tissues from breaking down, and rebuild tissues that cancer treatment may harm.
  • When one is unable to eat enough food or the right kind of food, the body uses stored nutrients as a source of energy. As a result, natural defences are weaker and the body cannot fight infection as well. Yet, this defence system is especially important to cancer patients who are often at risk of getting an infection.

Food needed

A good rule to follow is to eat a variety of different foods every day. No one food or group of foods contains all the nutrients one needs. A diet to keep the body strong will include daily servings from these food groups:

Fruits and Vegetables: Raw or cooked vegetables, fruits and fruits juices provide certain vitamins (such as A and C) and minerals the body needs.

Protein foods: Protein helps the body heal itself and fight infection. Meat, fish, poultry, egg, milk, yogurt, cheese, dals and pulses give protein as well as many vitamins and minerals.

Grains: Grains, such as bread, rice, chapatti made from whole cereals grains provide a variety of carbohydrates and B vitamins. Carbohydrates provide a good source of energy, which the body needs to function well.

Dairy foods: Milk and other dairy products provide proteins and vitamins and are the best source of calcium.

In other words, food requirements of a daily diet can also be classified as:

  1. Cereals and cereals products (e.g. rice, maize, wheat, jowar etc.)
  2. Milk and milk products (e.g. curds, cheese etc.)
  3. Meats and meat products (e.g. chicken, egg, fish mutton etc.)
  4. Dals and pulses
  5. Green leafy vegetables and other vegetables 
  6. Fruits
  7. Fats and oil, sugar and jaggery

If sufficient foods from each of the food groups are included in the daily diet, the nutrient needs of the body will be met every day.

At Central Referral Hospital, dietitians support people to improve their health by providing expert nutrition and dietary advice. A dietitian can help you manage health conditions, such as:

  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Heart disease 
  • Renal disease
  • Dialysis
  • Cancer

Diet Clinic at Central Referral Hospital also offers customised meal plan and food chart.

Visit: Diet Clinic, Level 3, Central Referral Hospital, Tadong, Gangtok.

Rajkumari Binapani is lecturer–cum-dietitian at the Central Referral Hospital, Sikkim Manipal University

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