Cancer treatment: Your diet needs these tweaks during chemotherapy

Published on: 1 February 2022, 19:47 pm IST

World Cancer Day 2022: Chemotherapy is an important and sensitive cancer treatment. A nutritionist tells you about the diet you must follow.

cancer treatment
Cancer treatment is possible. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Chemotherapy is treatment used by using chemicals to stop the fast-growing cells in the body, in a disease like in cancer. It is one of the most used cancer treatments, and you will need to follow a special diet during chemotherapy.

The treatment may involve one medicine or a combination of medicines. There are various types of Chemotherapy such as medicines given through Intravenous route, as oral medications or as an injection to mention a few.

Chemotherapy has many side effects such as fatigue, nausea, hair loss, infection as well as changes in appetite which can lead to deficiencies and even anaemia. It is very important to eat properly during chemotherapy, so that they can complete their treatment.

So, it is very important to make the person eat well during chemotherapy for cancer treatment. All nutrients are important but what are the ones which need special attention?

Foods to include in your diet during chemotherapy

1. Protein

You can consume moong dal. Initially you can have it in soup form, and gradually it can be made thicker. But cumin and ginger are important ingredients to help in digestion. Turmeric can be added for its anti-inflammation and antioxidant properties.

2. Anti-oxidants

These play a very important role in the body at this time. Amla can be used in boiled form. It can be added to curd rice or to a smoothie or to the vegetables. B carotene can be used from carrots in vegetables or soup.

fibre foods during cancer treatment
Eating fibre-rich food is advisable. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

3. High fiber foods

These provide phyto-nutrients. The variety of beans and gourds can be used along with whole pulses and whole cereals whenever possible. It depends on the digestive capability of the person after the chemotherapy. If they are able to take the foods with fiber it will help them. But if their nausea is high, consume gourds as they are easy to digest. Later you can have vegetables like carrots, sweet potato and beetroots. Start with white rice, polished millets and then move to whole grains in case you are not able to take fiber.

4. Hydration

Hydration is important. Water, infused with Tulsi, basil or other spices can be taken to meet the required needs for the day.

5. Fruits

These can be stewed and used. Fruits such as pear, apple, grapes and berries are good. Normally, during this period, no raw foods are given.

6. Milk

If nausea is manageable, milk can be taken. Else, cancer patients can even go for curd or buttermilk. A mix made of dhania, cumin and fresh ginger can be used early in the morning to help relieve nausea or at least reduce its intensity.

cancer treatment diet
You can have milk and nuts if you feel okay. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

7. Iron-rich foods

Green leafy vegetables, garden cress seeds and dates can be taken
along with boiled amla. This will help in better absorption of iron.

8. Nuts and seeds

These can be used for garnishing or taken as a snack. They can also be added to food to make it calorie dense when the person is not able to take larger quantities of food.

Also Read: Breast cancer treatment: Eat well for a healthy recovery

fried food
Fried food is best avoided. Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Foods to avoid in your diet during chemotherapy:

* Raw foods of any kind such as salads, fresh fruits.
* Fried foods, bakery items and biscuits also should not be taken.
* Sugar in any form is preferred not to be taken.
* Red meat, re-heated foods can be avoided at this time. Since the immunity of the person is low, it is better to take freshly cooked foods.
* Avoid eating outside food. But if it becomes necessary to eat out, it is better to avoid chutney, salad, raita, fresh juices, smoothies, non-packaged water.

Dharini Krishnan Dharini Krishnan

Dharini Krishnan is a consultant dietician in Chennai.

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