People receiving treatment for kidney cancer need proper nutrition to help their bodies remain strong. Chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and other treatments take a huge toll on the body, and a healthy, planned cancer diet gives it the fuel to combat the side effects from these therapies.
Unfortunately, these therapies also create unique challenges when it comes to eating a healthy diet. Patients often lose their appetites completely, or find their tastes have changed to the point where it's hard to eat anything. They are also more vulnerable to infection, which means their food needs to be carefully prepared to prevent further illness.
What You Should Eat
A kidney cancer diet should include many of the things found in any healthy diet, with some nutritional tweaks to combat the specific effects of cancer treatment. A patient's daily nutrition should include:
Plenty of fruits and vegetables. "You want to choose lots of plant source products, so make sure you eat 5 to 10 servings of fruits and veggies a day," says Dee Sandquist, RD, spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association.
A good amount of whole grains. "Whole grains are a great source of B vitamins and iron and fiber," Sandquist says. These include whole wheat, brown rice, oatmeal, and cracked wheat.
Lots of calories. Here's where a cancer diet differs from a normal diet. Nutritionists recommend that people eat high-calorie foods to help keep the body from shedding pounds as a result of treatment. "The main thing during treatment is to really maintain weight," Sandquist says. Cancer patients are often urged to eat high-calorie, high-protein foods such as peanut butter, milkshakes, sauces, gravies, meats, cheeses, and whole milk.
The right amount of protein. Kidney function may decrease as a result of cancer treatment, particularly if surgeons have to remove one kidney. High-protein diets may cause the kidneys to work harder to remove urea, a waste product created as your body breaks protein down for use. Kidney cancer patients need to keep their weight up, but should discuss their protein intake with medical experts. "How much protein a kidney cancer patient should eat would depend on their kidney function," Sandquist says. "The physician and registered dietitian would work with the patient and adjust the diet accordingly."