Bowel cancer, also known as colorectal cancer, is a significant health concern globally. It ranks as the third most common cancer worldwide, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). While medical treatments like surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy are crucial for managing bowel cancer, the impact of nutrition should not be underestimated. As a dietitian, I firmly believe that a well-planned, balanced diet can play a crucial role in supporting bowel cancer patients throughout their treatment journey. In this blog post, we will delve into the importance of nutrition in bowel cancer treatment and discuss key dietary recommendations.
Maintaining a Healthy Weight: Maintaining a healthy weight is vital for individuals with bowel cancer. Obesity and excess weight have been associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer and poorer treatment outcomes. Dietitians can provide guidance your nutrition requirements and creating personalised nutrition plans to support weight management during treatment.
Eat Plenty of Wholefoods: A diet abundant in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes offers numerous benefits for bowel cancer patients. These plant-based foods provide essential nutrients, antioxidants, and fibre, which help bolster the immune system, reduce inflammation, and promote healthy digestion. It's important to include a variety of colourful fruits and veggies in each meal, and consider plant-based protein sources like beans, lentils, and tofu.
Adequate Fibre Intake: Fibre plays a crucial role in maintaining bowel health and preventing constipation, which is a common issue during cancer treatment. Gradually increasing fibre intake can help regulate bowel movements and minimize discomfort. Whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds are excellent sources of fibre. However, it's important to introduce fibre gradually and drink plenty of fluids to avoid exacerbating any digestive symptoms.
Lean Protein Sources: Protein is essential for tissue repair, immune function, and overall recovery - especially post bowel surgery. Opt for lean protein sources such as poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products, and plant-based options like legumes and tofu to meet the increased protein needs during cancer treatment. Dietitians can help determine the appropriate protein intake for each individual based on their specific requirements.
Staying Hydrated: Proper hydration is vital for everyone, particularly for bowel cancer patients. Staying hydrated helps maintain bowel regularity, prevents dehydration, and supports overall well-being. Aim to drink an adequate amount of water throughout the day and include hydrating foods such as soups, smoothies, and juicy fruits like watermelon and oranges.
Managing Side Effects: Bowel cancer treatment can lead to various side effects that affect appetite and nutrient absorption. Dietitians can work closely with patients to address these side effects and minimise their impact on nutrition. Consider small, frequent meals to combat nausea, suggest easily digestible foods during periods of reduced appetite, and provide strategies for managing taste changes.
To learn more about the role of nutrition during cancer treatment, read this post here.
At Four Seasons Dietetics, our team of Accredited Practising Dietitians (APDs) is here to support you throughout your bowel cancer treatment. With personalised nutrition guidance tailored to your unique needs, we aim to optimise your health and well-being during this critical time. Our dietitians will work closely with you, considering your medical history, lifestyle, and preferences, to develop a comprehensive nutrition plan that supports your treatment goals. From managing weight to addressing side effects, we are dedicated to providing evidence-based advice, practical strategies, and customised nutrition plans to optimise your treatment outcomes and improve your quality of life.
Take a proactive step towards optimising your health by booking an appointment with dietitians here.