Our Conversations Webinar Series is an opportunity to link national experts in colorectal cancer and other related fields to you, right in the comfort of your own home. The programs are designed to empower you to play a leading role in your healthcare management.
Last month, our webinar focused on questions of proper diet and oncological nutrition after a colorectal cancer diagnosis. To answer your questions, we brought in Terri Taylor, Registered Dietitian and Board Certified Specialist in Oncology Nutrition from the Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center at HonorHealth Scottsdale, Arizona. Get our Top 5 Takeaways below and watch the replay.
- Nutrition is an integral part of your cancer treatment and long term survivorship plan. Your food choices can help minimize treatment side effects, support your immune system, maintain your energy and reduce your risk of recurrence and other medical conditions. This in turn helps improve your quality of life. Be a proactive participant in your care.
- You can modify your diet to manage bowel irregularities and still eat fruits and vegetables. Chemotherapy, radiation treatment and colorectal surgeries all have the potential to cause bowel irregularities. The type of fiber that you eat can help manage bowel issues. Soluble fiber from oats, bananas, applesauce and peaches binds the fluid in the bowel to minimize diarrhea. Taking a fiber supplement such as psyllium husk mixed in water after a meal may relieve bowel urgency. Other dietary modifications to reduce diarrhea include limiting lactose, eating cooked, not raw vegetables, avoiding nuts, seeds, wheat bran, and fresh fruit with peelings, taking a probiotic and eating rice congee daily. Insoluble fiber from wheat bran, berries, fresh fruit with peelings, raw vegetables, nuts, seeds and whole grains stimulates the bowel to relieve constipation. Drinking adequate fluids is important for both diarrhea and constipation.
- Eat less red and processed meats. Eating red and processed meats consistently and routinely before and after a colorectal cancer diagnosis has been linked to a higher risk of colorectal cancer-associated mortality and recurrence. The American Institute of Cancer Research recommends a maximum of eighteen ounces cooked red meat, which includes beef, veal, lamb and pork, per week. They also recommend avoiding all kinds of processed, cured and smoked meats. Grilling any animal meats poses a cancer risk. To minimize this risk, marinade or put a dry rub of herbs on the meat or cook slower at a lower temperature.
- Increase your intake of fish high in omega-3 fatty acids. Replacing red meat with fish high in omega-3 fat is a good choice after a colorectal cancer diagnosis. Salmon, arctic char, black cod, sardines, trout and low mercury tuna all are high sources of omega-3 fat. Research associates a higher intake of marine omega-3 fat after a colorectal cancer diagnosis with a lower risk of colorectal cancer-specific mortality.
- Maintain a healthy body weight to reduce your risk of colorectal cancer recurrence and to lower your risk of diabetes, heart disease and other cancers. The prevalence of obesity in colorectal cancer survivors is higher than those without cancer. Obesity is a risk factor for other cancers, diabetes and heart disease. Colorectal cancer survivors are at higher risk for diabetes for up to five years after diagnosis. Eating healthy foods in appropriate portions and being more physically active is an important part of weight management and survivorship. Consult an oncology certified registered dietitian to develop a weight management survivorship plan that fits your lifestyle.
Don’t forget, the Colon Cancer Alliance serves as a source of information about colon health. If you have additional questions about colon cancer screening or are in need of support, please contact our free Helpline at (877) 422-2030. We’re here to help.
Did you have questions from the webinar? Take a look at the Q&A to find the answers to your questions!