Fuel Up With a Smoothie
Blended beverages can help cancer patients and survivors meet their nutritional needs.
By Leigh Labrie
Finding the time, energy and even the appetite to eat right
can be a challenge while undergoing cancer treatment—but
it's precisely the time your body needs nutrients the most.
Smoothies blend foods, such as fruits and vegetables, and liquids, like dairy or water, into a beverage. They can provide a quick way for survivors to get nutrients, says Daniella Chace, a nutritionist who lives in Port Townsend, Washington. Chace is the author of Healing Smoothies, which offers 100 recipes developed for cancer patients during and after treatment.
“[Cancer patients and survivors] just want to know what to do right now,” Chace says. “What’s the simplest thing that they can do to get those nutrients into their bodies?”
While no single food or ingredient has been shown to prevent cancer or reduce recurrence, a healthy diet with a lot of fruits and vegetables is beneficial to overall health. Each recipe in Chace’s book was inspired by cell, human or animal studies that explore the potential roles of ingredients, such as green tea and turmeric, in cancer prevention or recovery.
Smoothies may also help with side effects of treatment. For example, a cold smoothie, with an antioxidant such as curcumin, can help soothe chemotherapy-induced mouth sores, and the mild flavor of creamier smoothies made with coconut, almond or cashew milk can help minimize nausea, says Chace, who has worked with cancer patients and survivors for 20 years.
For those interested in making smoothies at home, Chace recommends starting with a low-sugar base, such as cultured coconut milk, and adding strawberries or wild blueberries, ice cubes made with green tea, and a protein, such as hulled hemp seeds. People undergoing cancer treatment often need a sizable amount of protein to help them recover from treatment and prevent infection and muscle wasting, Chace says.
Cancer patients and survivors should aim to consume essential nutrients every day—and making smoothies can be one way to get closer to that goal.