Now a day, most of the industrialized countries resort to tools and refining processes for a larger production of food in order to satisfy the great demand.
This has brought clearly identified problems in the area of public health, where diets rich in processed foods, refined sugars and high caloric content, are behind then development of multiple chronic degenerative diseases, obesity being the most common one.
This unhealthy scenario, creates the environment for the development diseases such as Diabetes Mellitus, cardiovascular diseases, autoimmune diseases, cancer, to mention a few.
It is important to clarify that the diseases mentioned may exist without the need for present obesity, however, it is more likely that these diseases may exist or present in individuals under a diet with the characteristics mentioned above.
It is clear that any pathological state alters the function of the body not only where the problem is localized but also at a distance through the relationship between organs and systems.
Typically in the presence of disease, the nutritional needs are undermined by an increase in caloric use for defense, repair or maintenance purposes or all of the above; resulting in an increase in caloric intake to be able to meet and maintain these needs and keep balance.
The lack of an adequate intake of nutrients leads the body to a “self-consumption” where it will make use of the nutrients available within the body for its survival.
The adipose tissue and connective tissue will be used by the body as the main sources to meet these needs, resulting in nutritional deficiencies; weight loss can lead the patient to severe malnutrition, this being a complication as such, however capable of creating a chain-reaction of complications as a product of these shortcomings.
As we have already mentioned, by definition, cancer is a multifactorial disease, where nutrition plays a big role.
Regardless of the type of cancer, nutrition should be considered in a purely physiological point of view in order to guarantee nutrient availability for the body and the different processes characteristic of the disease, it is here that we have to take into account those cases where the gastrointestinal system is directly assaulted in terms of its integrity and function, putting at risk the nutritional status of the patient.
Such as in the case of digestive tract, liver, pancreas, gallbladder, and head and neck cancers, where mechanically an obstruction may exist to provide adequate nutrition.
On the other hand we have an abnormal growth, where the tumor is trying to survive and develop, thus robbing the healthy body of nutrients and generating imbalance, for example we can have two patients with colon cancer, both patients have the tumor exactly in the same location, however one of these patients has a considerable growth, generating a greater expense compared to the patient who has a smaller tumor where this, is not generating any imbalance what so ever.
It is imperative that we consider the side effects that conventional treatments brings us, specifically chemotherapy, where patients report decrease, lack of appetite, change in the taste of food, nausea and vomiting as a challenge for the guarantee of adequate nutrition.
Since the human body depends directly on nutrition for its function and survival, it is essential to study the patient’s nutritional history as a contributing etiological factor within the disease. Where the quality of nutrition of each patient defines the body’s functioning and its ability to respond and defend in situations such as a disease of this nature. A detailed nutritional history must be adequately collected and recorded as an integral part of the oncological assessment.
Once the patient’s history and nutritional status are clear, the necessary steps can be taken to develop a therapeutic intervention. Nutrition as therapeutic management should be focused on satisfying the daily requirements of each patient. This cannot be unrestricted, it should be developed thinking not only about the needs but the quality of nutrition. This is where we face a major challenge outside of medicine and its therapeutics, which is the food industry and its refining processes, which becomes an obstacle to provide a suitable diet to patients.
It is elementary to eliminate everything from the diet that does not bring any nutritional benefit to the patient and its only purpose is to provide a calorific number regardless of its quality and its impact, as an example we have these drinks with a high glycemic content that would not provide nutrition and generate metabolic stress because of its high content of refined sugars.
It is no secret that now a day it is a real challenge to have access to good quality food, making this situation even more complicated. It is here that a medical orientation is vital to guide the patient in their choices, as well as in the development of their personalized nutritional plan.
Nutrition in cancer must be focused on meeting the needs of the healthy body to maintain balance, and preserve the integrity of the individual, this through a diet that uses and combines nutrients of the best quality.