Nutrition and Chemotherapy: All the Basics You Need to Know

chemotherapyChemotherapeutic treatment is used to inhibit the growth of malignant cells in an organism. This is a fairly aggressive form of therapy, which can cause a number of side effects: nausea, diarrhea, osteoporosis, anemia, deterioration of the condition of hair and nails, alopecia, etc. If we take into consideration this, the diet during chemotherapy must aim to reduce the adverse effects of treatment on the body, as well as to restore and maintain the body’s defenses.

If a patient doesn’t suffer from gastrointestinal tract and liver and pancreas conditions, we recommend a diet that includes foods from the following four groups: protein, dairy, bread and cereals, fruits and vegetables. The daily food ration of a patient should contain products from all four groups both during chemotherapy and between courses.

The protein group includes beans and peas, nuts and soy products, eggs, fish, meat (veal, beef, pork, poultry), liver. Products in this group contain protein, iron and B vitamins. A chemotherapy patient should include the products of this group twice a day. It may be, for example, a cup of cooked beans or two eggs, or 60-90 grams of meat, fish, poultry, etc.

The dairy group includes all kinds of dairy products: milk, yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese, butter, sour cream etc. The choice is determined by the patient’s preference. It is believed, however, that the lactic acid products are more useful, especially those that are rich in bifidobacteria. The dairy should be eaten twice a day as well.

Fruit and vegetable group includes all kinds of raw and cooked vegetables, salads and fruits as well as juices and dried fruits. It is particularly useful during taking of anticancer drugs. The products of this group should be eaten 4-5 times per day. Recommended one are citrus (grapefruit, tangerines or oranges), apples or any other fruits and berries containing vitamin C; vegetables – zucchini, eggplant, various types of cabbage (cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, etc.), peppers, beets, carrots. Useful greens are lettuce, dill, parsley, green onions, celery, etc.

Bread and cereal group includes bread, cereals and cereal products (oat, corn and wheat flakes), a variety of cereals, biscuits etc. Products in this group provide the body with carbohydrates, vitamin B1. Should be eaten 4 times daily. Each meal can contain a piece of bread or 2 cookies, half a cup of oatmeal, pasta, noodles etc.