Leukemia generally is a cancer of the blood separated into four possible types. The disease begins in the bone marrow cells and multiplies. This multiplication eventually takes over and out survives the normal bone marrow cells. Leukemia occurs in all age groups, but more commonly occurs in individuals over the age of 60. Side effects vary and can be very drastic.
Due to the devastating effects that leukemia has on the body, it is highly important that adequate nutrition be encouraged. A healthy diet for leukemia patients is necessary to help the sufferer stay strong and give the body the nutrition it requires to fight the disease.
Due to the various treatments that cancer patients have to endure weight loss is a common side effect. Appetite often diminishes rapidly. A cancer patient must remember to try to follow a well-balanced diet, ensuring all of the food groups on the food pyramid are eaten daily.
Other ways of helping to ensure adequate nutrition are to eat small, but frequent meals up to six a day. Snacks should be kept on hand at all times and readily available to the patient so that their nutritional needs can be met when there is a moment when they are physically up to eating. Additional caloric intake can be given in the form of high-calorie foods such as milk products including milk shakes.
Protein is another important factor in helping a leukemia patient develop additional strength. Protein intake can be achieved by including lean meats, poultry, and fish. Water is always important to avoid dehydration when water in the body is lost through radiation, chemotherapy and the side effects from those treatments. Maintaining hydration will help to combat constipation and feelings of lethargy. Eating with the family will help to distract the patient’s attention away from their eating and make the process more sociable. Make the food palatable and bite-sized so as not to be overwhelming. Some form of exercise is also encouraged to further stimulate the appetite.
For some leukemia sufferers weight gain is a common occurrence due to fluid retention. Weight loss regimes are not suitable as basic nutrition is extremely vital at this time although a diet lower in fat and lower in sodium may be helpful.
During this time the leukemia sufferer will have symptoms such as nausea and vomiting and food may not be appealing to them especially if undergoing treatment for their cancer and certain side effects may be responsible for robbing them of the ability to absorb the nutrients from the foods that they do eat.
Consulting with a dietician or a nutritionist can help in seeking out a good nutritional plan for obtaining a healthy diet for the patient and is strongly advised by most oncologists.