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Diet during chemotherapy: What to eat and what not to

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What should a diet for chemotherapy comprise?

Chemotherapy is a highly effective cancer treatment wherein drugs destroy cancer cells. However, it has numerous side effects, including fatigue, muscle loss, hair loss, and loss of appetite. Dr. Patil discusses the reasons for this.

“The chemotherapy effects the growing cellsin the mucosa of the intestinal (inner liner that lines the tract of your intestinal). The gut, therefore, can also be affected due to chemotherapy. It can cause mucositis (sour stomach and mouth) as well as diarrhea.” the doctor says. “Chemotherapy also acts on the salivary glands and the taste buds, hence altering the taste.”

So, doctors advise patients undergoing chemotherapy to be fed a bland diet. “Consuming spicy food will irritate the already damaged mucosa, leading to gastrointestinal issues,” Dr. Patil insists. He advises the food you consume must be rich in calories, nutrients, and proteins when undergoing treatment for cancer.

Kasinathan emphasizes that patients undergoing cancer treatment must eat healthy, balanced meals that will aid them in building the ability to fight and resist chemotherapy. Therefore, adhering to a diet prescribed by a doctor is crucial.

The diet should comprise foods high in protein, such as fruits, vegetables, complex carbohydrates, vitamins and.

  • Proteins”A food plan that is high in calories and proteins are essential for those receiving chemotherapy so that they may regain their muscle strength,” says Kasinathan. “Consuming high-protein foods like eggs, milk, pulses as well as fish, chicken, and lean meat is advised. Lean meat may be cooked in a steamer or made into a curry. However, it is not a good choice to fry.”
  • Vegetables, fruits, and others: Fruits and vegetables are a great source of nutrition in smoothies and soups. “This is for easy swallowing and digestion, especially people with oesophageal cancer,” Kasinathan says. Kasinathan. A balanced diet should include various colors of vegetables and fruits since they’re high in phytochemicals, which provide nourishment. “We recommend papayas, watermelons, berries, grapes, purple-colored cabbages and oranges, mangoes, carrots, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, and acorns.
  • Complex carbs: Choose more complex carbs over more straightforward carbohydrates. “Complex carbohydrate foods like multi-grains, nuts, rice, fibre-rich food like ragi and flax seeds help build strength,” Kasinathan says. Kasinathan.
  • Vitamins: Kasinathan points out that vitamin Chas has antioxidant properties, so it is crucial to include it in your diet by eating fruits such as lemon, orange grapes, mosambi, and grapes.

Dr. Patil states that based on the kind of cancer, the diet will differ based on the type of cancer. “Those who are undergoing intense chemotherapy for liquid tumors (cancer which can affect the body’s fluids as well as bone marrow) such as lymphoma and leukemia are advised to stay clear of food that is raw to prevent the spread of infection. However, in the case of solid cancers such as lung cancer or breast cancer raw vegetables and fruits are a good option. But, they should be cleaned and scraped properly.”

Diet after chemotherapy

The typical chemotherapy diet lasts for up to six months. Dr. Patil says patients can slowly return to their regular diet two months after treatment. He also points out that non-vegetarians must be cautious because red meat can’t be readily digested. “People can have properly cooked lean meat in small proportions.”

For people with underlying medical conditions causing them to suffer, Dr. Patil is also adamant about following an individualized diet plan tailored to their specific needs. “If they are diabetic, they must follow a diet curated by their diabetologist, dietician and oncologist.”

Kasinathan emphasizes the importance of exercising following treatment for cancer. “People should dedicate some time for physical exercise as it will help in building their appetite. It does not need to be a rigorous exercise. Individuals can do whatever exercise they’re capable of,” he says.


  • Dietary requirements for chemotherapy must be high in protein, complex carbohydrates, vegetables, and fruits.
  • It is recommended that people follow a diet prescribed by their doctor.
  • In the course of chemotherapy, eating healthy, home-cooked meals is vital.


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