You aren’t always what you eat…

Cancer treatment’s impact on nutrient absorption

It’s incredibly important to maintain a healthy, well balanced diet while undergoing cancer treatment–like they say, you are what you eat! But is that really true if your body isn’t able to absorb all the good stuff from that nutrient-dense food?





A common side effect from cancer treatments like chemotherapy, radiation treatment, and immunotherapy is unwanted weight loss. While weight loss may be due to nausea or mouth sores from treatment that ultimately impede one’s desire to eat, it’s more often a result of damage to important cells within our gastrointestinal tracts that are responsible for nutrient absorption.






Treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation target rapidly dividing cells–that’s why they work so well to combat cancer cells. The cells that line our gastrointestinal tracts (this includes both our stomach & intestines, along with other vital organs) are also rapidly dividing. Treatments can’t necessarily distinguish between “bad” cells and “good” cells, so our GI tract unfortunately takes on a lot of damage.







Our small intestine houses tiny, fingerlike projections called villi. Villi are cells responsible for nutrient absorption. Healthy villi have a large surface area, allowing ample space for all the goodness in the foods we’re consuming to be absorbed into the body. Cancer treatments damage these cells, causing them to shrink. This decreases the amount of surface area that can absorb nutrients.





The result? Weight loss. Fatigue. Malnourishment. The list goes on.






Some behavioral changes that are said to enhance nutrient absorption:








  1. Chewing food completely & mindfully
  2. Include probiotics & prebiotics in diet
  3. Pair iron with vitamin C
  4. Pair calcium with vitamin D
  5. Include healthy fats in your diet

There’s just one issue:



If you’re not addressing the root cause of the problem (the damage to the cells within the intestine) these behavioral changes to enhance nutrient absorption ultimately won’t make much of a difference. Enterade Advanced Oncology Formula is a clinically proven, plant-based medical food that helps reduce the side effects of cancer treatments. While enterade is not a meal replacement or a nutritional beverage, it is formulated to help rebuild the villi to promote better nutrient absorption so oncology patients can maintain a healthy weight while undergoing cancer treatment. Used at over 200 leading cancer centers, enterade has helped 40,000+ patients on their treatment journeys. Don’t just take our word for it!

intestinal villi

enterade Advanced Oncology Formula can help rebuild the cells in your gastrointestinal tract that are vital for nutrient absorption–helping you maintain a healthy weight during cancer treatment.

In September, I was diagnosed with Stage 2 HER2+ Breast Cancer and started chemotherapy in October. The side effects were brutal to the point that I thought I was going to die from severe fatigue. My gastric system was a wreck making it very difficult to eat. Thankfully, my awesome social worker referred me to an amazing nutritionist who suggested enterade for my stomach issues. This has helped beyond that! The fatigue, even when I still get it, is nothing like it was before. Before enterade, I would have fatigue almost up until my next round of chemo. Now it only lasts 8 to 10 days after the infusion and isn’t nearly as bad as it was before.


After several months of being told I had IBS I ended up in the ER needing 2/3 of my colon removed due to colon cancer. I mean who expects a 100-lb active healthy millennial with no family or genetic predisposition to get colon cancer! Unfortunately more and more healthy people in their 20s and 30s are coming down with cancers that normally occur in older people. After accepting the “s–t happens” attitude I found very little actionable information on how to deal with the fact that I had only 1/3 of my colon to digest food and I had significant diarrhea and weight loss. And honestly, if you are not talking to a medical practitioner, family member or other sick person, there is no one with whom you can talk about diarrhea–not exactly a compelling conversation topic! Luckily the oncology nutritionist at the UCLA Simms/Mann Center told me about Enterade, which nobody knew anything about. I started drinking one bottle/day and my oncologist and nurses were amazed that despite my diarrhea and weighing only 87lbs I had no signs of dehydration. I spoke with someone at Enterade who advised me to take two bottles/day and it made a huge difference in my diarrhea. So much so that I put cases of Enterade on my birthday wish list. I know it is not inexpensive, but it has helped me so very much. I don’t know if I will ever have a normal digestive system, but drinking 2 bottles/day has helped significantly.

I was recently diagnosed with stage 3b breast cancer and started chemotherapy 2 months ago. The chemo has caused a lot of stomach issues including severe diarrhea and cramping which then caused weight loss. My oncologist recommended Enterade and within 3 days of starting it, my diarrhea went away and my stomach started feeling so much better. Finding this drink was a prayer answered. As a bonus, it also gives me energy and I’ve gained 3lbs in a week! I would absolutely recommend this drink to anyone going through chemotherapy.