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By  Nutrition Team
National Cancer Institute, Nagpur
     
On 11 June 2020

10 THINGS TO CONSIDER ABOUT DIET WHILE TAKING CHEMOTHERAPY

Good nutrition and nutritional therapy are important for cancer patients before, during and after treatment. The goal for the dietary advices and the nutritional therapy is to maintain or improve the nutritional status of the cancer patients. This seems to have beneficial effects on the oncological therapy. To achieve good results by using nutritional therapy in cancer treatment, a close collaboration between nutritionists, doctors and nurses will be important.

NUTRITIONAL TIPS DURING CHEMOTHERAPY

1. Do not reduce weight during chemo and radiation therapy.

As the chemo is planned according to the weight of a patient, losing weight will increase the toxicity of the drug and will decrease clinical outcome for the patient.

2. Eat small and frequent meal throughout the day.

Patients usually have nausea and vomiting during CT/RT treatment. Apparently, they are not able to take large meals at once. So it is advised to take small and frequent NUTRIENT DENSE MEAL in between to decrease the symptoms.

3. Avoid fruit juices and coconut water in the morning first half.

Towards the beginning of the day morning sickness sets in, more intense as compared to the rest of the day. Post chemo therapy, fruit juices and coconut water may contribute to nausea and vomiting. Hence, patients are suggested to include them in later parts of the day.

4. Eat more protein rich meal.

During chemotherapy patients tends to lose more protein from the body as cancer is a catabolic disease. Also, chemo drugs are protein binder drugs which mean post chemotherapy Albumin levels of the patient goes down. This affects clinical outcome of the patients. So as to maintain desired levels, patients are advised to take protein rich diet.

5. Stay hydrated.

As the chemo drugs are either hepato toxic or nephro toxic, those will not able to flush out of the body if the patient does not stay hydrated. This will cause further damage to the kidney and other vital organs of body.

6. Eat more fibrous food as it reduces constipation and increases appetite.

Post chemo a lot of patients complains about constipation so it is important to include more fibrous food in the diet as it reduces constipation and increases appetite. The logic is simple, if the motion is passed routinely, then the patient feels like eating; otherwise it is deemed to aggravate nausea and vomiting.

7. Limit the intake of processed items and sugary products.

Cancer cells primarily take their nutrition from these two things, which help them survive and grow inside the body. Hence, it is advised to refrain from these products.

8. Do not eat thin skinned fruits during chemo and radiation therapy.

Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are immunosuppressive treatments and the patient taking these treatments is considered to be in neutropenia - a condition where the presence of neutrophils in the blood is abnormally less, leading to increased susceptibility to infection. Patient is advised not to eat thin skin fruits, which are all more likely to carry harmful bacteria and can cause infections.

9. Do not eat outside food.

Because during these treatments the patient is immuno-compromised, outside food can cause infections; which can prolong their hospital stay and thus, increase the expenses. Also, the line of treatment will be disturbed as infection control will replace the primary objective.

10. Be Cautious while having Non-Vegetarian food.

Patient can take non-vegetarian food only if it is made at home. Home cooked chicken and fish when properly washed using boiled water can be taken during CT/RT.