When you have bladder cancer, it’s understandable to want to learn more about the best ways to take care of yourself. You may want to know more about the condition, your treatment options, and how to take care of your body.
Part of taking care of yourself is trying to eat well. Eating well gives your body the nutrients it needs to support treatment and help you feel better.
There are many factors in determining the right eating pattern for you. If you’re feeling fatigued or experiencing other symptoms, it can be hard to eat well. You may not be able to eat the way you used to. The goal is to eat a variety of nutritious foods to support your health.
There’s no one specific diet recommended for the treatment or prevention of bladder cancer. However, some research suggests that certain dietary patterns may help reduce the risk of bladder cancer and cancer in general.
An Italian case-control study showed some advantages of a Mediterranean diet for reducing bladder cancer risk. The Mediterranean diet is a nutrient-dense diet rich in foods like vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains. It also includes healthy fats from fish, nuts, seeds, and olive oil.
The Mediterranean way of eating has other health benefits, such as lowering inflammation and risk of heart disease.
There’s no one recommended diet for people with bladder cancer, but the Mediterranean diet may have some benefits.
Many studies have explored if specific foods can fight bladder cancer. There have not been any conclusive results, but some research has shown that specific foods, especially those high in antioxidants, may have anti-cancer effects.
For now, the recommendation is to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet, which has been associated with a reduced risk of cancer recurrence and death.
A healthy eating pattern includes:
Vegetables and fruits
Vegetables and fruits provide a variety of vitamins and minerals that your body needs. Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, kale, and Brussels sprouts may be best because they are antioxidant-rich. Berries and citrus fruits are also good options for this reason.
Vegetables and fruits also provide fiber, which can help if you have constipation. Fiber is essential for keeping your digestive system healthy.
Adequate protein helps to maintain muscle mass and support your immune system. Protein sources include meat, chicken, fish, eggs, beans, lentils, soy products, nuts, seeds, and dairy. Try to include a source of protein with all meals and snacks.
Fats improve the flavor and texture of food. Our body needs fat to help absorb some vitamins, produce hormones, and repair cells throughout the body. Healthy sources of fat include fish, avocados, nuts, seeds, olives, and olive oils.
Whole grains are grain products that have not been overly processed. This means they still contain most of their nutrients and fiber. Look for “whole grain” as the first ingredient in the ingredient list of foods you’re buying.
You should eat foods that are part of a healthy eating pattern, especially those that are high in antioxidants.
There’s ongoing research into the role that tea, especially green tea, plays in our health. Researchers are interested in green tea because it’s rich in polyphenols. Polyphenols are compounds that occur in some plants and may offer health benefits.
Some research supports that polyphenols may help fight cancer, including bladder cancer. They may also reduce heart disease or decrease the effects of aging. These findings show promise, but there’s much more to learn and understand about the effects of polyphenols.
A 2012 meta-analysis explored if drinking tea prevents bladder cancer in humans and found no evidence that it helps. For those who don’t like tea, there isn’t enough evidence to recommend drinking it to fight bladder cancer. If you enjoy tea, continue drinking it.
It’s not clear whether tea has any effect on bladder cancer. Research is ongoing.
There’s a strong association between arsenic in drinking water and bladder cancer. Areas with higher levels of arsenic in the water supply have
If you use well water, make sure to have it tested at least
Another area of research is the possible role of red meat in cancer risk, especially processed red meat. A 2018 meta-analysis showed a higher risk of bladder cancer in people who eat more processed red meat. Unprocessed red meat may not increase the risk of bladder cancer.
Research has also associated Western-type diets with an increased risk of bladder cancer recurrence. The Western dietary pattern is rich in highly processed foods and low in fruits and vegetables.
One 2018 study found that people who followed a Western-type diet experienced a 48 percent higher risk of bladder cancer recurrence than people who had more nutritious diets.
Eating processed red meat and drinking water with unsafe levels of arsenic have been linked to bladder cancer risk and recurrence.
Roughly 75 percent of bladder cancer cases are non-muscle invasive. About 60 to 70 percent of cases of this type of cancer will recur. Regular follow-up appointments with your care team are important to monitor your health.
There’s no one way of eating that’s proven to reduce the risk of recurrence. Some studies link eating lots of fruits and vegetables to a lower risk of bladder cancer. However, a 2018 review suggested vegetable intake does not play a role in preventing recurrence.
A diet high in fruits and vegetables is still recommended for other reasons. It can reduce your risk of other cancers and heart disease.
A 2010 study of 239 people with bladder cancer looked at whether eating cruciferous vegetables, mainly broccoli, had any effect on survival. People who ate the most broccoli tended to live longer. These positive effects on survival were seen even with one serving of raw broccoli per month.
Still, more research is needed in this area before any diet or food is widely recommended for the prevention of bladder cancer recurrence.
Although there’s no clear evidence that any foods will prevent bladder cancer recurrence, a diet rich in vegetables and fruits may help. It also supports overall health.
Depending on your health, your doctor may recommend certain supplements. If you’re feeling fatigued, they may check levels of iron and vitamin B12 in your blood. Fatigue can be caused by your cancer or treatment.
Fatigue may be worse if iron or B12 levels are low in your blood. Supplements can help to boost your iron and B12 levels.
If you have an infection and need antibiotics, taking probiotics afterwards may help. Your body is home to trillions of bacteria, many of which live in the digestive system. Antibiotics are important medications because they destroy harmful bacteria. Unfortunately, they also destroy some good bacteria, which can result in digestive trouble.
Probiotics can increase good bacteria in your digestive system. This may help reduce bloating, gas, and diarrhea. There is also
Talk to your healthcare team if you have questions about whether any supplements could help you. Certain types of probiotic strains may not be safe for some people with bladder cancer, so it’s important to speak with your doctor before using probiotics.
Cancer treatments may reduce other nutrients in the body, including vitamin D and folate. Talk to your healthcare provider if you have questions about nutrient depletions caused by cancer treatments.
Many supplements, including probiotics, may be appropriate for people with bladder cancer. Talk to your care team before starting any supplements.
You may have heard the term “superfood.” There is no official definition of what makes a food a superfood. Foods referred to as superfoods tend to be rich in nutrients.
There are lots of healthy foods that are not labeled as superfoods. Aim to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, especially ones that are darker in color. In general, the darker the color of the food, the more nutrients present.
Different colored fruits and vegetables contain unique compounds that promote health. Incorporating an array of colors into your diet can increase your intake of a variety of health-promoting compounds.
Many herbs and spices are also concentrated sources of plant compounds that promote health. These include turmeric, black pepper, cloves, garlic, saffron, mustard seed, parsley, cumin, and ginger.
Aim to eat a variety of foods of all different colors, especially darker-colored fruits and vegetables.
There are no recipes specifically for people with bladder cancer. In general, it’s best to eat a variety of healthy foods. However, if you’re concerned you might not be getting enough nutrients, here are some tips for getting more from your diet:
Add more vegetables
You can add extra vegetables into casseroles, soups, and stews. Frozen vegetables can be helpful. They’re just as healthy as fresh vegetables and you don’t have to do extra washing and cutting before using them.
Add healthy fats
Consider using olive oil in dressings or drizzling it on or into other foods. Spreading nut butters or avocado on toast or crackers is another possible option.
When you have cancer, your body
You can easily add skim milk powder to anything milk-based to boost the protein content. You can also try adding canned beans or lentils into stews or soups or shredded cheese to eggs, potatoes, or cooked vegetables.
There are many reasons why it might be hard to get the nutrients you need, especially if you have loss of appetite from cancer treatments, according to the American Cancer Society. If you’re feeling fatigued or nauseous, eating can be challenging.
Here are some tips that might help:
- Accept help from family or friends who offer to buy groceries or bring you meals or snacks.
- Keep simple snacks and meals in your home to minimize prep time.
- Do your best to eat something every 2 to 3 hours.
- Eat in a relaxing, pleasant environment.
- Avoid filling up on fluids before meals.
- You may find bland, starchy foods such as pasta, crackers, toast, or cereal easier to tolerate.
- If you’re having trouble eating enough, focus on high-calorie, high-protein foods like eggs, peanut butter, and cheese to increase your calorie consumption.
- Consider using nutritional supplement shakes or making smoothies if drinking feels easier than eating something more solid.
- For some people, sniffing fresh lemon or using ginger tea or sucking on ginger candies can help.
There’s no single best way to eat when you have bladder cancer, but there are steps you can take to support your health. A Mediterranean diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats may be beneficial.
Otherwise, do your best to eat a variety of healthy foods. Talk to a registered dietitian if you’re having trouble eating well.