Feature Archive

Nutrition for Strength When You're Not Well

Eating right when you're battling illness is much easier said than done. These tips can help you get the nutrients you need.

By Denise Mann
WebMD Feature

Reviewed By Michael Smith

We've all heard the old adage "you are what you eat" -- and it's never as true as when you are feeling under the weather. During these times, what you eat and when you eat it can preserve strength, boost immunity, and help you feel better -- quicker.

But for people battling arthritis, cancer, depression, and other conditions that can affect appetite, eating right is much easier said than done. To help, WebMD compiled this list of nutrients you need, complete with suggestions for how to get them quickly and easily.

Harnessing the Power of Protein

Hands down, "the most important nutrient when you are feeling weak is protein," says Rachel Beller, MS, RD, director of the Brander Nutritional Oncology Counseling and Research Program at the John Wayne Cancer Institute in Santa Monica, Calif. "We need protein for strength and for maintaining proper body mass."

If you have cancer, are not hungry, and don't eat, "you could become weakened to the point that treatment can be halted," she says. To avoid this scenario, "psychologically think of food as medicine."