Good nutrition is important during and after cancer treatment
When it comes to nutrition and fighting cancer, Debbie Davis knows the importance of eating right.
"It is so important. During treatment, nutrition can really affect outcomes," says Davis, MBA, RDN, LDN, CSO, outpatient dietitian with Doylestown Health Nutrition Services. "Good nutrition after treatment is also really important, as patients heal and try to prevent recurrence."
Eating well during cancer treatment can help patients feel better, maintain strength and weight, lower risk of infection and heal and recover faster, according to the American Cancer Society. After treatment ends, eating well helps patients regain strength, rebuild tissue, and feel better overall.
Davis, who is board-certified in oncology nutrition, is leading a new series of programs aimed at helping current and former cancer patients get the most out of good nutrition. The program takes place at Simply Fresh by McCaffrey's in Doylestown, where Davis leads a short talk before the most important part of the program — a tour of the market. She takes the group aisle by aisle pointing out which foods can help in the fight against cancer, and which foods should be avoided or used minimally.
The program is offered through Doylestown Health's Cancer Institute thanks to generous financial support from the Minford Foundation. Participants receive a cookbook and other educational materials, as well as ingredients to make a dish from the cookbook.
Debbie Minford Dailey, president of the nonprofit Minford Foundation, is a long-time supporter of the Cancer Institute and a cancer survivor herself. She said getting tips on good nutrition can help patients "feel like they have a little bit of control" as they go through treatment.
"We're very happy to be able to sponsor this type of program," said Dailey. "We want to give patients the extra encouragement and resources they need to help them help themselves. Practicing good nutrition is doing something to maximize the chance of not having a recurrence."
"Patients in our community have expressed an interest in learning more about nutrition," explained Rachel Saks, MSS, LSW, OSW-C, oncology social worker with the Cancer Institute. "We wanted to be able to meet that need and provide our patients with the education and tools they can use to get and stay healthy."
Davis is available to help patients of the Cancer Institute with nutrition plans and guidance about eating well during and after treatment. Many patients make use of this service as part of their treatment plan.
Davis' favorite part of the market is the fresh produce section, where she extols the virtues of fruits and vegetables. She recommends five to six servings of fruits and veggies each day. "There is so much evidence about the benefits of a plant-based diet," she says.
Davis encourages people to change the way they look at food, considering foods with high nutritional value as "foods that are going to keep me healthy."
One class participant who is currently undergoing treatment for prostate cancer attended with his wife and said the program was full of good advice. "There are things I need to change in my diet. I need to stay on top of this."
About Doylestown Health's Cancer Institute
Doylestown Health's Cancer Institute offers patients the quality care they expect from a leader in cancer diagnosis and treatment — close to home. Accredited by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer, and a member of Jefferson's Sidney Kimmel Cancer Network, our board-certified physicians and oncology-certified practitioners provide comprehensive, coordinated care and services for the full range of cancer diagnoses including breast, lung, urologic, gastrointestinal and other cancers.