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The Right Diet to Manage Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma and its treatment can exhaust the body, leaving little energy to cook or even eat a healthy meal. But if your weight gets too low, you won't have the strength to fight mesothelioma.

By Diana Rodriguez
Medically Reviewed by Niya Jones, MD, MPH

Mesothelioma and its treatment can cause stress, anxiety, and a lack of appetite — all factors that can result in quick weight loss.

Diet to Manage Mesothelioma

Eating well may not be at the top of your list, but it should be. To fight mesothelioma and tolerate treatment, patients need to eat nutritiously and maintain a healthy weight, advises David Rice, MD, an associate professor and director of the mesothelioma program at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. For people who struggle with low body weight while undergoing cancer treatment, Dr. Rice recommends they work with a nutritionist to increase calories in a healthy way, and regain weight safely.

Mesothelioma: Why Weight Matters

The benefits of eating a well-balanced diet during cancer treatment are plentiful. Proper nutrition can:
  • Reduce your risk of infection
  • Improve the pace of your recovery
  • Boost your energy and stamina
  • Improve your mood
  • Help you maintain a healthy weight
  • Reduce your risk of treatment side effects

Mesothelioma: What to Eat

So what mix of healthy foods will make you feel better before, during, and after mesothelioma treatment? Try the following foods known to promote healing:

  • Fruits and vegetables. These healthy diet staples are rich in antioxidants, which help to protect and restore the body. Antioxidants include vitamins A, C, and E, as well as selenium. Eat a variety of brightly colored fruits and vegetables to get the antioxidants that you need — but avoid taking supplements while undergoing treatment.
  • Fat. Your body needs fat to survive — and you may need a little extra to keep your weight up during mesothelioma treatment. Fat supplies the body with energy, which you need now more than ever. But that doesn't mean diving into a pint of ice cream — selecting healthy fats is important. Choose sources of unsaturated fat like olive oil, nuts, avocado, and seafood.
  • Protein. Protein helps boost your immune system, and rebuild tissues damaged by mesothelioma. Get plenty of protein — especially after you've undergone treatment — in the form of chicken, fish, and lean meats, soy products, nuts and dried beans, dairy foods, lentils, and peas.
  • Carbs. Your body needs carbohydrates for energy — especially as you continue to fight mesothelioma. Choose whole-grain carbohydrates, including whole-wheat bread, pasta, cereals, and brown rice. Corn and potatoes can also be good sources of carbohydrates.
  • Water. Every cell in your body needs water to function. Without enough water, you can quickly become dehydrated — an avoidable health problem you don't want to deal with on top of mesothelioma. It's easy to forget to drink enough water, but make an effort to drink at least eight glasses a day to stay hydrated.
Your oncologist may recommend that you work with a dietitian to create the right nutrition plan for your needs, before, during, and after your mesothelioma treatment. Maintaining proper nutrition can help your body stay as healthy as possible even in the face of mesothelioma treatment.

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