Gluten free diets have become – shall we say – trendy – over the last several years. Some followers opt in simply to lose weight or see what the hype is about. But for many, it’s a health necessity, not a choice.
Most people with celiac disease explain that a gluten-free diet is the only thing that made their intestinal issues go away. These patients have often spent years coping with diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea and fatigue before learning that it was the result of a gluten intolerance. (Gluten is a wheat protein that many people have a difficult time digesting.)
Like patients with celiac, pleural mesothelioma patients may also experience these conditions. Some issues, like abdominal pain, are primary symptoms of their cancer. Others, like nausea and diarrhea, are side effects of their treatments.
While they’re caused by different triggers, mesothelioma patients’ symptoms can also be managed through diet. Gluten-free foods may help alleviate some of these symptoms.
- Fiber-rich, gluten-free grains like brown rice and quinoa can help stimulate digestion during bouts of chemotherapy-induced constipation.
- Soft, bland foods can help quell post-radiation nausea. While most people associate “comfort foods” with macaroni and cheese, buttery toast or similar gluten-heavy items, options like mashed potatoes or rice crackers fit the gluten-free bill.
- Carb-rich foods are concentrated sources of energy for periods of mesothelioma-related fatigue, but they don’t need to be limited to pastas or sandwiches. Complex, gluten-free carbohydrates like sweet potatoes and beans can provide a major energy boost to get through the day.
Beyond using gluten-free foods to address specific mesothelioma symptoms, patients may also use a gluten-free diet to reduce inflammation in the body. By avoiding this protein for a prolonged period of time, the digestive system gets to rest and focus on calming internal irritation.
While a gluten-free diet may not be medically necessary for mesothelioma patients the way it is for celiac patients, it certainly holds power to help them feel a bit better after their initial prognosis. If you’re considering adopting such a lifestyle, bring it up at your next oncologist’s appointment before making the switch.
Faith Franz is a researcher and writer for The Mesothelioma Center. She advocates for alternative medicine and encourages cancer patients to explore all of their treatment options.