Nutrition and colorectal cancer

Making healthy food choices that fit overall lifestyle choices can make a meaningful difference throughout your path with colorectal cancer.

figs in bowl on table

Nutrition in cancer care

While some doctors offer nutrition advice during the cancer journey, registered dietitians are the go-to experts for thorough nutritional guidance specific to your individual needs. Implementing a safe and healthy dietary plan can improve your overall health and quality of life.

There are many things to consider around how to optimally eat and hydrate during cancer treatment. Some cancer treatments can lead to malnutrition or cause side effects—such as anorexia and cachexia—that affect nutrition.

Nutrition information just for you

Good nutrition is especially important for cancer patients and survivors

Nutrition is a process in which food is taken in and used by the body for growth, to keep the body healthy, and replace tissue. Eating the right kinds of foods before, during, and after cancer treatment can help a patient feel better, respond better to treatment, and stay stronger. A healthy diet includes eating and drinking enough of the foods and liquids that have important nutrients (vitamins, minerals, protein, carbohydrates, fat, and water) the body needs.

The healthy eating plate shows the balance of food groups that promote health. A dietitian with knowledge of cancer care can assess individual needs and provide more specific guidance. For example, if a person is weak and an assessment shows low protein stores, the dietitian can lay out a plan for increasing dietary protein intake. If a person is on immunotherapy, a dietician might draw upon new research suggesting that a plant-based diet will enhance treatment response and develop a plan accordingly.

Healthy eating plate harvard

Image Credit: Courtesy of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Harvard Medical School

Living with Cancer: Sugar in the Diet

Dr Clare Shaw, Specialist Consultant Oncology Dietitian and part of the Taking Cancer on Through Flavour team, talks about the relationship between sugar and cancer.

healthy food on table

Learn about essential nutrients

It is important to learn about essential nutrients and managing a healthy weight.

Nutrition counseling with a registered dietician can improve patient balance of essential nutrients, such as protein, vitamins, and minerals. It can also help maintain a healthy body weight. Some patients struggle with cancer-related malnutrition concerns as they begin treatment, others find themselves gaining weight despite efforts to stay healthy. At either end of the weight spectrum, poor nutrition could impact quality of life and even prognosis.

American Cancer Institute nutrition

Image Credit: World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research.

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Content has been developed in partnership with MSAC member Dr. Cynthia Thomson, Ph.D., RD

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