KPJ Healthcare Berhad

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Eating for health and recovery

Safe and sufficient food intake is paramount for cancer patients in treatment


IT is normal for people to lose their
appetite when they’re feeling poorly.
Food becomes less appealing, and
everything tastes bland and bitter. But
that does not change the fact that they
still need to eat to keep up their strength
and get better.

Meanwhile, cancer treatments such as
chemotherapy or radiotherapy can cause
side effects including loss of appetite,
nausea, soreness in the mouth and throat,
constipation and fatigue. The medication
may leave an unpleasant taste in the mouth,
further putting patients off their food.

But with treatment taking months or
even years, it’s vital to maintain a regular
diet that supplies all the nutrients needed
for the body to function and recover

“Food gives us energy, and cancer
patients need a lot of energy to fight the
disease,” says dietitian Nur Hayati Azmi
from KPJ Ampang Puteri Hospital. “Our
principal in dietetics for cancer patients is
high calorie and high protein.”

Both cancer and the drugs used to fight
it can change the way the body normally
absorbs nutrients. A high calorie diet
helps the patient from losing weight and
becoming malnourished. Meanwhile
protein is needed for cell growth and repair.
It is also the key nutrient for keeping the
immune system healthy.

Nur Hayati says: “A dietitian can
calculate the patient’s daily calorie
requirement based on their weight and
other factors. Meanwhile, their protein
requirement is roughly between 1.2 and
1.5g per kilogramme of their body weight,
compared to a healthy person’s protein
portion of 0.8g per kilogramme.”