Importance of Proper Nutrition for Cancer Patients
For patients undergoing cancer treatment, getting sufficient nutrients, proteins and calories is important. Proper nutrition helps keep up their strength, combat the cancer and the effects of the treatments, lower infection risks, and rebuild tissues. However, side effects particularly from particularly chemotherapy and radiotherapy can make eating difficult. Side effects include conditions such as loss of appetite, constipation, diarrhoea and nausea. Nutritional Supplements for cancer patients help ensure sufficient intake of vital nutrients, proteins and calories.
Oral Nutritional Supplements for Cancer Patients To Consider
We have compiled a list of 5 nutritional supplements available in Singapore that you can consider. The patient’s doctor should however, be consulted on what supplements are suitable for the patient.
Prosure® from Abbott
Prosure® is a line of products available in powder and in liquid form. Abbott claims that “ProSure® is scientifically formulated for cancer patients who require weight gain through improved appetite and dietary intake. It has energy-dense, high protein formulation enriched with 1.1g of EPA per serving.”. Prosure® is available from Abbott’s official store on Shopee at about $32 for a 380g tin (Prosure® Powder), or around $7+ for a 220ml bottle (Prosure® Liquid).
Glucerna® Triple Care from Abbott
Also from Abbott is the Glucerna® line of products. Glucerna Triple Care is described as “a low glycemic index, sucrose-free, complete and balanced formula with 28 vitamins and minerals. Each serving of Glucerna® delivers 10g of a high quality Triple Protein blend. It is lactose-free and gluten-free”. It is low GI, making it more suitable for cancer patients who also suffer from diabetes. Available from Abbott’s store on Shopee at about $50 for a 850g tin (powder).
Supportan® Drink from Fresenius Kabi
Supportan® comes in packages of 4x 200 ml bottles. They claim to have 2g of EPA for every 400 ml (i.e. 1g per bottle). These are available from dnrwheels at about $24 for the 4-pack.
Diden® from Fresenius Kabi
Another product from Fresenius K, Diben® is described as high-caloric (1.5 kcal/ml), High protein (7.5 g/100 ml), high monounsaturated fatty acids, and low GI drink. Available from dnrwheels at about $15 for a 4-pack of 200ml bottles.
ORAL IMPACT® Powder by Nestle
Nestle describes ORAL IMPACT® as an “unique, patented immune supporting nutritional supplement” containing “Omega-3-Fatty acids, Arginine, dietary Nucleotides and soluble fibre”. It is used as an “oral supplement to support the nutritional needs of people undergoing surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy”. They are said to contain 3.3g of Omega-3 fatty acids per litre. Available from Nestle Heath Science’s official stores on Lazada or Shopee at about $45 for a box of 5 sachets.
Importance of Nutritional Supplements in Improving Quality of Life and Survival Chances for Cancer Patients
Weight loss in cancer patients is a matter of concern as it can lead to cancer cachexia. This is a condition whereby there is wasting of muscles. Cancer cachexia is associated with poor outcomes such as reduced response to therapy, development of complications and infections, lowered quality of life, and reduced chance of survival.
Weight loss is caused mainly by metabolic changes caused by the tumour. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), a type of omega-3 fatty acid, can decrease the metabolic changes. Patients who consume oral nutrition supplements containing EPA have shown improved outcomes such as weight gain and lean body mass maintenance. They faced reduced treatment interruptions and improved quality of life.
Tips for Managing Food Intake
For cancer patients, there will be time when food intake becomes difficult. The Singapore Cancer Society has a comprehensive guide on “Eating Well During Cancer”. They advise patients to:
- Take the largest meal when they have the best appetite;
- They can enjoy their favourite food at any time of the day;
- Consume most of their fluids between meals, instead of with meals; and
- Drink oral nutritional supplements for extra calories and protein.
This article is informative only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.