Lung cancer is one of the most common cancer types to cause cachexia, the loss of muscle mass and weight, often in a short period of time. Losing muscle mass can have negative effects on quality of life and survival, which is why it becomes crucial to maintain both weight and activity with a lung cancer diagnosis.
Here at the CCNM Integrative Cancer Center, we keep track of body composition, which includes measuring fat and muscle mass, using the InBody770 Test, which allows us to give specific diet and nutrition advice. When it comes to trying to maintain a healthy weight and muscle mass, we encourage eating foods that are both healthy and higher in calories.
Nutritious high-fat foods:
- Avocados: this fruit derives most of its calories from fat, namely oleic acid. This type of fat is anti-inflammatory, which can be helpful in cachexia. Avocados also contain other necessary vitamins and minerals, making them an important nutrient and energy dense food to add to your diet. Use them as spreads, in a smoothie/shake or whip up a batch of guacamole!
- Nuts (and nut butters), like walnuts, pecans, almonds and macadamia, are all delicious and convenient snacks to incorporate into your diet. They provide mainly unsaturated fats and are nutrient dense, making them a quick and healthy higher-calorie option for when you’re on the go.
- Olive oil is a staple of the Mediterranean diet, with a wide range of benefits. It is rich in polyphenols, which have been shown to slow down the development of cardiovascular diseases and cancer as well as reduce inflammation. Be liberal with this oil when cooking, drizzle it on top of meals and add it to smoothies/shakes.
Targeted nutritional supplementation can also play an important role in the maintenance of weight and muscle mass. Some of these supplement recommendations include: Vitamin D, L-carnitine or fish oil. During your naturopathic visit, we recommend an individualized treatment protocol incorporating these dietary strategies/supplements and exercise which helps not only in the maintenance of weight but improves overall quality of life as well.