Nutrition For Children With Cancer

Nutrition For Children With Cancer
16 Feb 2024
10 mins
Table Of Content
Nutrition For Children With Cancer

    Empowering Little Warriors: Fighting Cancer with Nutritious Foods


    Navigating the journey of childhood cancer is an emotional and challenging experience for both children and their families. Despite the complexity of hospital stays, medication regimens, and psychological support, eating a healthy diet is an important but occasionally disregarded component of care. Let us discuss the importance of diet and nutrition for kids with cancer in this blog. We'll discuss the special dietary requirements of young cancer patients, the difficulties they could have in fulfilling those requirements, and doable parental tactics to ensure their child gets the essential nutrition required for healing and rehabilitation. Come along as we shed light on how diet can help children with cancer and achieve better health and wellbeing.


    Prevalence of childhood cancer:  


    An estimated 400,000 children and teenagers between the age group of 0 and 19 are diagnosed with cancer each year. Childhood malignancies mostly consist of leukemias, brain tumors, lymphomas, and solid tumors, including neuroblastoma and Wilms tumors.

    Since 1975, the rates of cancer in adolescents and teenagers have gradually climbed; however, between 2010 and 2019, they stabilized. The number of cancer-related mortality in children and teenagers fell by more than half between 1970 and 2020. This is probably because more people are participating in clinical trials, and therapy has advanced.


    Decoding the link between cancer and nutrition


    While nutrition plays a vital role in a child's overall health, it becomes even more crucial for children undergoing cancer treatment. However, a child's appetite, level of energy, ability to handle particular foods, and the way their body absorbs nutrition can all be impacted by cancer and the adverse effects of cancer therapies. This is particularly valid for kids who need to stay in the hospital and those who get fever and illnesses.

    Educating kids about healthy eating habits before, during, and after cancer treatment may benefit them in the following ways:

    • Feel better, sleep better, have less agitation, and collaborate more effectively with their medical team.
    • Handle side effects and therapy more effectively.
    • Continue their treatment as prescribed.
    • Recover and heal more quickly.
    • Possess greater energy and vitality
    • Have a lower chance of infection
    • Achieve and hold onto a healthy weight
    • Keep their body's nutritional reserves intact.

    Planning a nutritious diet 


    A healthy diet plan during chemotherapy can be very much beneficial to cancer patients.


    High-energy foods: The majority of kids will have low appetites at some point while receiving treatment. Some kids may also struggle with weight loss or delayed growth. At these moments, it is It's crucial to feed kids foods high in energy or kilojoules, as they may struggle to consume the substantial portions of food needed to maintain their weight. Some high-energy foods can include oatmeal, banana, whole grains, brown rice, and milk. 


    Consuming a lot of protein: The body uses protein for energy production, repair, and muscular maintenance. Children's needs for protein rise when they are affected by cancer. Meat, dairy products, eggs, tofu, legumes (beans and lentils), almonds, and seeds contain high protein content and Consuming certain foods potent in protein on a daily basis is crucial. Adequate protein supplementation can slow down the progress of cancer and also helps your body to fight infections, maintain your muscle mass, heal wounds and support your journey of recovery. 


    Hydration: Teach your kids to drink lots of water throughout the day to stay hydrated. Provide hydration alternatives such as water, herbal teas, fruit-infused water, or diluted fruit juices to safeguard general health.


    Healthy Fats: To supply necessary fatty acids and promote general health, include sources of healthy fats such as avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil. Healthy fats are important for the development of the brain, hormone synthesis, and the functioning of the immune system. It assists in battling off the side effects of cancer treatment.


    Fruits and Vegetables: To provide your child the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber they need, include a range of various fruits and vegetables in their diet. When possible, choose fresh or frozen foods; you may also want to purée veggies into soups or combine fruits into smoothies to make them simpler to consume.


    Challenges in Maintaining Nutrition:


    When it comes to diet, children with cancer may have several difficulties in eating a proper diet to ensure adequate nutrition absorption.


    Changes in Appetite: Cancer therapy might alter a child's appetite, causing them to eat less and dislike the foods they normally have. It's essential for caregivers to be patient and flexible in accommodating their changing dietary preferences.


    Treatment Side Effects: Side effects such as nausea, vomiting, mouth sores, and changes in taste can make it difficult for children to eat. Finding ways to manage these side effects and provide gentle foods on the stomach is crucial.


    Emotional Factors: stress and anxiety experienced by the child during the cancer chemotherapy will cause an emotional disturbance that affects the likes and eating habits of the children. Creating a nice and supportive mealtime atmosphere might help ease some of these emotional barriers to eating.


    Tips for improving nutrition intake


    Encourage Small, Frequent Meals and Snacks: Instead of large meals, offer small, nutrient-rich meals and snacks throughout the day. This can help manage appetite and prevent fatigue or nausea.


    Focus on Nutrient-Dense Foods: Offer foods that are rich in nutrients, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. These foods provide essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to support overall health and wellbeing.


    Be Flexible and Patient: Children undergoing cancer treatment may experience changes in appetite, taste, and digestion. Be flexible in accommodating their dietary preferences and offer a variety of foods to keep meals interesting.


    Address Treatment-Related Side Effects: Collaborate with medical professionals to handle treatment-related side effects, such as nausea, vomiting, mouth sores, and taste or smell alterations, that impact nutritional intake. Making changes to a food's texture, temperature, or seasoning can improve its taste better.


    Hydration is Key: Always encourage your child to stay hydrated throughout the day by drinking fluids. Offer water, herbal teas, diluted fruit juices, or electrolyte-rich drinks to prevent dehydration and support overall wellbeing.


    Involve Children in Meal Preparation: Involve kids in meal planning and preparation to give them the feeling of responsibility and to make eating more enjoyable. Allow children to make age-appropriate food choices and take part in kitchen activities.


    Offer Comfort Foods: Children may find comfort in familiar or favorite foods during treatment. Allow them to indulge in occasional treats or comfort foods to boost morale and provide emotional support.


    Use Nutritional Supplements if Necessary: If your child is having difficulty meeting their nutritional needs through food alone, consider incorporating nutritional supplements or fortified foods under the guidance of a dietitian.

    Summing it up


    For children with cancer, nutrition is essential to maintaining their health and well-being. By understanding the importance of nutrition, addressing the challenges they face, and implementing practical strategies for caregivers, we can help ensure that children receive the nourishment they need to thrive during treatment and beyond. We can give children hope and healing on their road to recovery by feeding their bodies healthful foods and creating a healing environment at mealtimes.

    Written by
    Dr. Thamizhakaran K SMedical Content Writer
    AboutThamizhakaran K S is a Medical Content writer at Mr.Med. He completed Doctor of pharmacy from Annamalai University in 2023. He has worked as clinical pharmacist intern at Government Cuddalore medical college and hospital. During internship he gained expertise on clinical pharmacology, pharmacotherapeutics and clinical research. He also published an research project in International Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Research. He has thorough knowledge on clinical trail methodologies and various pharmacovigilance guidelines. He possesses a strong interest in writing and uses his research skills to clearly communicate health information to the readers.
    Tags :Childhood cancerNutrition and dietNutrition for children with cancer