Most of us know that eating healthy foods is important for a healthy life. But for people with certain health problems, proper nutrition is more than just a good idea. Today, experts know that nutrition is an essential part of managing many health problems, including cancer.
Therapeutic nutrition—or the use of specific nutrients and food products in the right quantity to help manage a health problem—is a good way for you to take care of your own health or the health of a loved one. Therapeutic nutrition cannot prevent health problems, but it may help reduce medical care and complications and hospital stay.
Therapeutic nutrition works by making sure that your body gets the balanced mix of the nutrients it needs to fight an ongoing health problem. Your doctor or registered dietitian may recommend using it by itself or along with other medical care.
Many people with cancer lose weight during their treatment. Poor appetite can result from treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery. Weight also is lost when cancer causes the body to burn more calories than normal.
Many people with cancer who are in treatment find it difficult to eat enough food to meet their needs. Their bodies may burn muscle and fat for energy. When people with cancer lose weight and have poor nutrition, their bodies cannot handle their treatment as well.
Some therapeutic nutrition products are helpful for people with cancer. For example, Ensure®, Ensure CompleteTM, and Ensure Plus® can provide calories and protein to patients who need to regain and keep up their weight. Juven® can help build and maintain muscle mass in people with certain illness-related weight loss, which can help support wound healing. Building and maintaining muscle mass early in the disease may help with chemotherapy treatment. Talk to your doctor or registered dietitian to find out which therapeutic nutrition product is right for you or your loved one.
Everyone should try to eat a balanced diet to help maintain good overall health, even if you do not have a chronic health problem. However, therapeutic nutrition is different from simply choosing healthy foods for yourself and your family. It provides important nutrients that can help you manage cancer. You may use therapeutic nutrition in addition to regular meals or choose to occasionally replace some foods with these products.
Some people use therapeutic nutrition products to help them heal faster, stay stronger in the face of illness, and respond better to medical care, such as chemotherapy and surgery. Talk to your health care professional to make sure that therapeutic nutrition is right for you.
Always start by talking to your health care professional. Your doctor may refer you to a registered dietitian (RD), who will review your medical information, help you create a special diet, and show you how to use therapeutic nutrition products to meet your or your loved one’s specific needs. You can find an RD in your area by visiting the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics online at www.eatright.org and clicking on “Find a Nutrition Professional” or look in your phone book under “Registered Dietitians.”
Some insurance companies may cover the counseling an RD provides when recommended by your doctor. Contact your doctor’s office to see if an RD is on staff.
Many of these products are available to purchase online for home delivery. You also can find many therapeutic nutrition products at your local grocery or drugstore or ask your pharmacy to order them for you. Speak to your doctor or registered dietitian to learn which products are best for you.
To learn more about therapeutic nutrition products for specific health problems and for a store locator, visit www.AbbottNutrition.com or call 1-800-227-5767 Monday through Friday, 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM EST. You also can chat live with a registered dietitian online at http://ensure.com/ask-a-nutritionist.