A new study, published in the journal Food & Function, suggests that lactoferrin, a protein found in milk, could be used as a treatment of taste and smell disorders in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.
Previously, a team of researchers identified the role of lactoferrin in diminishing the metallic flavor stimulated by chemotherapy medications. The substance is well-known as a first-line defense, aiding the body’s immune response, but its ability to impact salivary proteins stays little-studied. The most recent study builds on the previous body of work through the application of lactoferrin supplements in treating taste and smell abnormalities.
Researcher Susan Duncan says: “By suggesting lactoferrin as a dietary supplement, we can reduce taste and smell abnormalities (TSA) for many patients, restoring their ability to enjoy foods during a time in which nutrition can play a key role in their recovery. This research could help us develop TSA-targeted biomarkers and strategies for improving the quality of life during chemotherapy. Cancer patients and their supporting family and friends may again find comfort in enjoying a meal together.”
Chemotherapeutic treatment is used to inhibit the growth of malignant cells in an organism. This is a fairly aggressive form of therapy, which can cause a number of side effects: nausea, diarrhea, osteoporosis, anemia, deterioration of the condition of hair and nails, alopecia, etc. If we take into consideration this, the diet during chemotherapy must aim to reduce the adverse effects of treatment on the body, as well as to restore and maintain the body’s defenses.
If a patient doesn’t suffer from gastrointestinal tract and liver and pancreas conditions, we recommend a diet that includes foods from the following four groups: protein, dairy, bread and cereals, fruits and vegetables. The daily food ration of a patient should contain products from all four groups both during chemotherapy and between courses.
The protein group includes beans and peas, nuts and soy products, eggs, fish, meat (veal, beef, pork, poultry), liver. Products in this group contain protein, iron and B vitamins. A chemotherapy patient should include the products of this group twice a day. It may be, for example, a cup of cooked beans or two eggs, or 60-90 grams of meat, fish, poultry, etc.
The dairy group includes all kinds of dairy products: milk, yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese, butter, sour cream etc. The choice is determined by the patient’s preference. It is believed, however, that the lactic acid products are more useful, especially those that are rich in bifidobacteria. The dairy should be eaten twice a day as well.
Fruit and vegetable group includes all kinds of raw and cooked vegetables, salads and fruits as well as juices and dried fruits. It is particularly useful during taking of anticancer drugs. The products of this group should be eaten 4-5 times per day. Recommended one are citrus (grapefruit, tangerines or oranges), apples or any other fruits and berries containing vitamin C; vegetables – zucchini, eggplant, various types of cabbage (cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, etc.), peppers, beets, carrots. Useful greens are lettuce, dill, parsley, green onions, celery, etc.
Bread and cereal group includes bread, cereals and cereal products (oat, corn and wheat flakes), a variety of cereals, biscuits etc. Products in this group provide the body with carbohydrates, vitamin B1. Should be eaten 4 times daily. Each meal can contain a piece of bread or 2 cookies, half a cup of oatmeal, pasta, noodles etc.
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