Carla Araya

The most common side effects of cancer treatment are: loss of
appetite, nausea, vomiting, mouth irritation, diarrhea, constipation,
swallowing difficulty, dry mouth and change in taste.
Carla Araya, Registered Dietitian with Miami Cancer Institute, says
depending on the type of cancer, the diet can be liquid, soft or
calorie.
Lemon candy or lemon in the water can stimulate the taste buds. Phytonutrients are found in vegetables, fruits, spices. They give the color and the stronger the color is, the more nutrients It’s going to have, says Carla Araya, Registered Dietitian with Miami Cancer Institute.

Purple food has antioxidants, and they have cancer-fighter properties. Fruits and vegetables like grapes, berries and purple cabbage, among others, have a lot of anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory substances, and protect brain and cells. “The more variety and the more colors are on a plate, the better it is,” she says.

The expert also advises avoiding sugar, because it contributes with obesity and It’s empty calories. Chemotherapy is a treatment that is used to kill cancer cells, says Alicia Soler-Cancio, Advanced Practice Provider for the Survivorship Program with Miami Cancer Institute.

There are different modalities that are used: pills or IV. It depends on the type of cancer the patient has and the treatment that is chosen by his oncologist, she explains.

The side effects of chemo can be: nauseous, fatigue, diarrhea, constipation and weight change, adds Carla Araya, Registered Dietitian with Miami Cancer Institute.

But, nowadays there are a lot of medications that counterbalance those side effects. Nutrition and hydration are very important in order to avoid the toxicity of chemo and radiotherapy.

“Drinking enough fluids is a natural way of flushing the body out of all these toxicities,” describes Carla Araya, Registered Dietitian with Miami Cancer Institute, and also advises a healthy diet, because it helps with the treatment toxicity.

Alicia Soler-Cancio, Advanced Practice Provider for the Survivorship Program at the same place, says physicians take each patient individually and then they decide the treatment and if there is something that has to be adjusted for each one. Dr. Adrian Cristian, Cancer Rehabilitation Physiatrist with Miami
Cancer Institute, talks about weight management during cancer
treatment and says It’s very important to maintain the weight
management just right.
He advises working with a nutritionist to really identify what is the
best strategy to reduce the weight and incorporate the exercise
routine.
The first step is starting to eat healthy, says Carla Araya,
Registered Dietitian at the same place. Radiation has similar side effects than chemotherapy, affirms Alicia Soler-Cancio, Advanced Practice Provider for the Survivorship Program with Miami Cancer Institute.

With radiation treatment, one thing that must be taken into account is the area where the radiation will be made, because the side effects will feel more intense in that place, describes Carla Araya, Registered Dietitian at the same place. A physiatrist is a physician that is specialized in rehabilitation
medicine. People who have cancer very often have a variety of
different cancer related musculoskeletal problems, says Dr. Adrian
Cristian, Cancer Rehabilitation Physiatrist with Miami Cancer
Institute.

Diet is very important in cancer patients too. Carla Araya, Registered
Dietitian with Miami Cancer Institute, says her goal as a nutritionist
is to optimize the nutritional status before, during and after the
treatment. She also says the treatment is individualized.

Prehab therapies are very useful in patients who are in cancer
treatment, she says. Carla Araya, Registered Dietitian with Miami Cancer Institute, talks
about how nutrition can help cancer patients.

She says a good nutrition plan can keep patients’ weight and preserve
lean body mass, tolerate side effects and decrease risks of
infections.

Protein is going to help patients, because It’s important to rebuild,
regenerate all the cells and needs extra calories, too, for keeping
strong. Depending on the area where the cancer is, the appropriate treatment is applied: radiation, surgery or chemotherapy, and can cause different types of side effects, says Alicia Soler-Cancio, Advanced Practice Provider for the Survivorship Program with Miami Cancer Institute.

Besides of the side effects, the treatment can affect different body parts as well as can cause a feeling of some invasion into the patient’s private body. “You know the medical professionals are there to help you, but, at the same time, it is an invasion of your personal space. So that creates a lot of psychological issues as well,” she says.

How healthy the patients are where they are diagnosed is also important, affirms Carla Araya, Registered Dietitian at the same place. Besides not smoking, one of the main thing in order to prevent a risk of cancer is a healthy lifestyle, which includes eating healthy, maintaining a healthy weight, because the 20% of cancer diagnosed is linked to lack of diet or obesity, affirms Carla Araya, Registered Dietitian with Miami Cancer Institute, who also says eating healthy is really important.

Survivorship physicians spend a lot of time with patients and discuss all the issues about the cancer so it doesn’t recur. Diet and exercise are the main topics they talk about, because diet can be a risk factor for recurrence, says Alicia Soler-Cancio, Advanced Practice Provider for the Survivorship Program with Miami Cancer Institute. Carla Araya, Registered Dietitian with Miami Cancer Institute, recommends having a lot of hydration, eating three times a day, eating protein in those meals and having enough calories in order to battle the fatigue caused by chemotherapy.

She also advises staying active, doing exercises such as walking, because exercise and healthy food are hand-in-hand. She affirms doing small frequent meals and cold drinking also help.

About nausea, the specialist suggests avoiding greasy, spicy and heavy foods, also foods with strong smells. Carla Araya, Registered Dietitian with Miami Cancer Institute, recommends looking at the ingredients. “They go from highest quantity to lowest quantity. If sugar or some preservative is at the beginning of the list, you don’t want that, you want it to be as natural as possible.”

She also points out about fiber it is better to get high-fiber food, which on the label you can see it closer to 20%. Dr. Adrian Cristian, Cancer Rehabilitation Physiatrist with Miami
Cancer Institute, says 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week is a
nice benchmark to the target in prehabilitation for cancer patients.
He also adds strength training is also a very important part of that,
but he highlights the importance of an individualized exercise
program.

The specialist recommends exercising the major muscle groups of the body such as upper extremities, the arms, the legs, the core muscles of the abdomen and the back extension. Prehabilitation is the time period when the patient first gets
diagnosed until a treatment really starts. It’s an opportunity to
really take the patients individually and optimize them physically,
nutritionally and psychologically for getting them ready for the
battle against cancer.

Dr. Adrian Cristian, Cancer Rehabilitation Physiatrist with Miami
Cancer Institute, explains these prehabilitation processes have a lot
of benefits in the course of the diagnosis such as a better tolerance
to side effects of the cancer treatment. Cindy Hutson, Celebrity Chef with Miami Cancer Institute and Owner of Ortanique on the Mile, recommends starting with a liquid or protein base like almond milk, to add carbohydrate-like half of an apple or 1 cup of mixed berries, to add a healthy fat-like seeds, and to add a spice-like cinnamon or ginger.

Carla Araya, Registered Dietitian with Miami Cancer Institute, explains Greek yogurt is better than regular yogurt, because it is higher in protein, it is another way to add protein in the smoothies for the cancer patients who need it, and it has probiotics, which are good for the intestinal health. Cindy Hutson, Celebrity Chef with Miami Cancer Institute and Owner of Ortanique on the Mile, highlights there are cancers that are better with certain foods.

Carla Araya, Registered Dietitian with Miami Cancer Institute, says ‘food is medicine’; it is about making the right choices to take the things that are going to help you and to stay away from processed foods. “The main source of cancer treatment is still medicine and then diet to prevent cancer recurrence. Carla Araya, Registered Dietitian with Miami Cancer Institute, says ginger helps cancer treatment, because it is an antioxidant, an anti-inflammatory and it helps with nausea.

She also explains the food plate model: “Vegetables will dominate the plate. Half of your plate should be these non-starchy vegetables with lots of color and variety. You always want to do a healthy protein and a rich omega-3 source, at least once or twice a week, that would be salmon, cold water fish.” Carla Araya, Registered Dietitian with Miami Cancer Institute, says if you are going through cancer treatment and you are not eating much and you want to boost up calories, you will want to do more proteins, more fruits in the smoothies, because the idea is to maximize nutrition.

She also highlights once you are cancer free, it is important to maintain a healthy weight by making sure that what dominates the smoothie is vegetables, adding some healthy protein, and watching the calories. Carla Araya, Registered Dietitian with Miami Cancer Institute, recommends staying away from processed foods and inflammatory foods, such as white sugar, white bread, white rice, something in a box or package like canned foods. “Stay away from saturated fats, fried foods, processed meats like salami and ham, because of the nitrites and it increases your risk of stomach cancer.”

About food preparation, she says if you are going through cancer treatment and you are immunocompromised, you have to have two cutting boards to do raw foods on one, and fruits and vegetables on the other.

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