Ask the Nutritionist
Q: I have stage IV lung cancer, and I'm wondering if you have any experience with nutrition benefits for lung cancer patients. Also, there is some literature regarding the benefits of pomegranate juice for lung cancer patients.
D.N.K., Portland, Maine
A: Consuming a plant-based diet that includes fruits such as pomegranate is advised for all cancer survivors, including those with lung cancer. The dark or rich color of a fruit or vegetable is a good indicator of its health promoting content. Choosing a variety is recommended to get as many phytonutrients as possible. Phytonutrients are plant-based compounds that are beneficial in terms of immune function, energy level and anti-cancer properties. Making sure to eat enough in general to prevent weight loss, especially in a small, frequent meal pattern that includes a source of protein, can be helpful in keeping the immune system strong and energy levels high for patients with lung cancer. Lean protein sources such as fish, eggs, dairy, chicken, turkey, red meat, nuts, seeds and beans are all examples of healthful protein-rich foods.
Vitamin D is another important nutrient, and many people with lung cancer who live in New England are deficient. Your doctor can order a blood test, 25 (OH) D, to determine if you are deficient. A qualified nutritionist can help you create the proper supplementation plan based on your blood test results.
I would encourage you to meet individually with a licensed nutritionist who specializes in oncology to create a food and supplement plan to best fit your needs. If you are a Dana-Farber patient, please contact us to schedule an appointment or speak with your oncologist.