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Nutrition Options During Treatment

Thanks to Nestlé Health Science for sponsoring this post and for their support of Cancer Services! Their sponsorship will support our educational programs for survivors.

In this post, I discuss tips for managing side effects that impact nutrition status and also discuss the menu of options regarding oral nutrition supplements that Nestlé Health Science offers.

For many people undergoing treatment for cancer, simply coming to terms with their disease and then getting started on their treatment journey requires the majority of their brain power. However, we know that preventing and treating malnutrition during cancer treatment is a key component of getting the best care.  

Individuals undergoing treatment for cancer often experience side effects such as mouth pain, discomfort and taste changes, which can lead to poor food and fluid intake resulting in weight loss and malnutrition. In fact, current data suggests that:

  • 46-77% of patients receiving chemotherapy report changes in taste
  • Up to 80% of patients may experience oral discomfort or mouth sores during cancer treatment
  • Up to 80% of patients experience malnutrition risk during treatment, with >50% exhibiting or at risk of malnutrition at their first oncology visit

Research supports that tailored nutrition interventions can help minimize weight loss, decrease unplanned hospital admissions and length of stay, and improve treatment completion rates, symptom scores and quality of life.

Of course, in an ideal world, each cancer patient would have a consultation with an oncology specialized dietitian who would be in regular contact with patients regarding their side effects and need for tailored nutrition guidance. At this point in time, that is not the case for the large majority of treatment centers, so many patients get their guidance from other cancer care providers, or are left to figure it out on their own.

Oral nutritional supplements (ONS) is the way we refer to nutrition supplement drinks, like BOOST®, in the nutrition world. These beverages can be a convenient source of protein, calories, and other essential nutrients to help fill nutritional gaps when eating is not tolerated or possible. However, not all nutritional drinks are specifically designed considering the taste changes and other side effects patients facing cancer may be experiencing.

In fact, many cancer patients who experience sensitivity to smells or certain tastes, find that some of the nutritional drinks are not tolerable because of the smell of the nutrients, like vitamins and minerals, that are added for nutritional value.

This sensitivity to smells and tastes is what prompted Nestlé Health Science to develop a product specifically designed for oncology, called BOOST® Soothe. BOOST® Soothe Clear Nutritional Drink was developed with cancer patients, for cancer patients.

Here are some things to know about BOOST® Soothe:

  • BOOST® Soothe was developed to provide nutritional support for patients experiencing side effects of oral discomfort and taste changes by delivering protein and calories as well as a cooling, soothing effect.
  • It contains no artificial colors, flavors, or sweeteners and is formulated without vitamins & minerals known to have a metallic aftertaste. It provides 300 calories and 10g high-quality protein per 8 fl oz serving to help patients gain or maintain weight.
  • It is available in 2 mild flavors: Hint of Peach-Mint & Hint of Strawberry-Kiwi. I refer to it as an “essence of mint” or “strawberry kiwi essence”! I have tried it and the flavor is mild and tasty.
  • This product is a clear liquid, so if someone is post surgery, or with any kind of intestinal blockage and is put on a clear liquid diet, this will likely meet their diet restrictions. In fact, when I shared a picture of the product on social media, dietitians responded very excited about the fact that a clear liquid drink could provide 300 calories and 10 grams of protein!

What are the other Nestlé Health Science / BOOST® products that are “go to’s” for many oncology dietitians?

Nestlé Health Science offers a range of products to help provide nutritional support for patients before, during, and after treatment. I call it your “menu of options”:

The purpose of using a nutrition supplement is to provide a concentrated source of calories and protein to help support weight gain or maintenance for patients with fatigue, poor appetite, or unintended weight loss. Ideally these would “complement” your diet and “top off” your nutrient needs. For some people, these are the only things they are able to tolerate during treatment and can be their sole source of nutrition. Here are the most common products we use:

  • BOOST® High Protein (20g protein & 240 calories),
  • BOOST Glucose Control® (190 calories, 16g protein, 4g sugars),
  • BOOST Plus® (360 calories & 14g protein in 8 fl oz),
  • BOOST® Very High Calorie (530 calories & 22g protein in 8 fl oz)
  • Benecalorie® (330 calories & 7g protein per 1.5 fl oz container, designed to be mixed into foods and beverages).
  • In addition, clear nutritional drinks like BOOST® Soothe and BOOST Breeze® provide a taste alternative for patients who may have an aversion to creamy nutritional shakes.
  • Nestlé Health Science also has ‘mix-ins” that fit specific nutritional gaps such as extra calories, protein, or fiber, and can be mixed in to foods patients are already consuming to enhance the nutritional content.

Ultimately, Nestlé Health Science products offer nutritional support in a range of flavors and formats to provide patients a variety of options to help get the nutrition they need throughout their treatment journey.

Tips for Using Nutrition Supplements drinks:

Getting nutrition from a can, or bottle, is sometimes your best option. Try these tips for helping it taste better!

  1. Drink it cold. Refrigerate the bottle before you serve it.
  2. Pour it over ice. A lot of ice! Fill a large cup or water bottle completely full of ice and then pour the refrigerated drink over it.
  3. Use a lid, and a straw. During treatment, smells can bother some people. Be sure to put a lid on the cup or water bottle and use a straw. A travel coffee cup can work well, and put a straw through the drinking spout.

I hope you find this information helpful. If you have any questions, let me know!

-Julie

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