One of my clients has just finished receiving a full dose of taxol and is set to begin the next, more intense round of treatment next week. Her side effects from the chemo have been primarily fatigue, loss of appetite, insomnia and dehydration. She was beginning to have joint pain around day 4 after treatment, but acupuncture therapy has since prevented the onset of pain. She is thankful to not experience neuropathy as of yet. One of the main things we have been discussing lately in regards to her meal prep is dehydration. A lot of the other symptoms are exacerbated by dehydration. I know she has been receiving fluids periodically and she has teas to help with sleeping, but I wanted to explore how foods and beverages could help. She also shared that it's difficult and frustrating to drink all day, have to pee every hour and still feel dehydrated. My goal is to find efficient and sneaky ways to improve and combat her symptoms.
Below are a few things we have tried.
Protein: Chemotherapy consumes protein. When protein levels drop, nutrients and fluid get pulled out of the blood; therefore, it is important to take in protein to avoid dehydration. I have been preparing a lot of dishes with healthy protein. This week I made Salmon Burgers topped with red cabbage and fennel slaw. The only ingredients in the burgers are fresh salmon, sweet potato, garlic and lemon zest. Salads with grains and beans are another great way to sneak in a good bit of protein. I also add protein powder to shakes. I use a vegan powder called RAW Protein. It contains organic sprouts, all essential amino acids and is an excellent source of complete protein. It supports digestive function with live probiotics and protein digesting enzymes.
Chia Seeds: My favorite way to enjoy chia seeds is by soaking them overnight with almond milk, bananas, cinnamon and vanilla extract. The result is a gelatinous pudding like mixture to which I add buckwheat groats, granola, fruit, or nuts. When chia seeds are soaked, they can hold up to 12x their own weight in water. This makes them fantastic for maintaining hydration. The soaking also makes it easier to digest and allows more nutrients to be absorbed by the body, thereby helping to maintain energy levels. I also add them to oatmeal.
Watermelon, Tomato, and Basil Skewers: Watermelon is a super hydrating fruit/vegetable (yes, it's both!) that's great for staying hydrated during the dog days of summer. In addition, it's a valuable source of lycopene and vitamin C. It also contains dietary fiber as well as minerals, such as potassium. Double bonus!
Herbs: I love adding herbs, such as mint and parsley to freshen the dish up. Both mint and parsley act as a digestive aid. Mint can actually make foods seem more palatable to the taste buds, while parsley serves as an appetite stimulant. These traits are especially helpful when appetite is low. Allowing herbs diffuse in luke warm water can be a great way to hydrate while also benefiting from the herb's medicinal properties.
- Green Tea Ginger Lemonade: Refreshing lemonade that's way better than the store-bought blend. Ginger can help with nausea. Green tea contains a lot of antioxidants called catechins. They have been shown to inhibit cell cancer growth and blood flow to tumors. The lemon adds a burst of energy and alkalizes the body.
- Turmeric Lemonade: Turmeric is balancing and purifying. In Ayurvedic medicine, it is known for being tridoshic (healing for all three body types). It is also rich in anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It helps cleanse the liver, boost immunity, and enhance digestion and circulation.
- Mineral Broth: A homemade broth made from super healthy veggies. This is an efficient way to get nutrients without having to consume a lot. It's good for hydrating also because you can sip on it throughout the day. I added kombu, a dried seaweed high in potassium, iodine, calcium, and vitamins A and C. It's also a rich source of fucoidans, a polysaccharide which may inhibit cancer cells.