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  • Carol Michaels

Combat Chemotherapy With Nutrition

Combat Chemotherapy: Nutrition to Carry You Through

Eating right is something that everybody should try to do, but when you’re going through chemotherapy, what you put into your body becomes particularly important. While avoiding chemicals and heavily processed foods that could make you feel worse is important, there are also some particular foods you should consider making a part of your regular diet.

Although the foods you eat may be unable to actually fight off the cancer on their own, they go a long ways toward giving your body strength, and making it through chemotherapy healthy and happy.


Berries like blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries are very high in antioxidant content, which help get rid of free radicals in the body. This is particularly important for people undergoing chemotherapy, because the process actually generates more free radicals in the body than usual, which puts stress on the central nervous system.

If you’re not a big fan of eating berries on their own, try making a juice out of them with ingredients you like including apples, bananas, and oranges. Just avoid adding sugar to your juice for the healthiest mixture possible.

Always buy organic fruit and wash it thoroughly before eating.

Cruciferous Vegetables

Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and kale can all play a major role in killing free radicals caused by chemotherapy and radiation treatment. Certain vegetables like broccoli have also been linked to preventing the growth of cancerous cells in the body.

While all vegetables are healthy, look for organic vegetables that are free of pesticides and manmade chemicals when doing your grocery shopping.

Cold Water Fish

Cold water fish, such as salmon and tuna, are an excellent source of protein,supplying much needed energy for day-to-day tasks when facing chemotherapy. It’s important that you get enough protein, but it’s also essential that you get quality protein found in foods like fish.

Salmon and tuna are also high in omega-3 fatty acids that can help reduce inflammation in the body and may help reduce some discomfort from chemotherapy. Look for cold water fish that is wild-caught, not farmed, as it’s higher in omega-3 fatty acids, and doesn’t contain potentially problematic antibiotics.


Oatmeal’s inclusion on this list may surprise some people, but the fact that it’s made with whole grains, which provide long-lasting energy and much needed vitamins and minerals, make it a commonly recommended food for chemotherapy patients. Oatmeal is also easy on the stomach, and most people find it gentle enough to eat, even when they’re not feeling their best after treatment.

For an even better meal, skip the sugar in your oatmeal and add some antioxidant rich fruit like blueberries for extra flavor.

What to Avoid

Just as important as it is to eat certain foods throughout treatment, it is equally important to avoid other foods during chemotherapy. While many of these foods are an everyday part of most people’s diets, making the sacrifice to avoid them will be well worth it in the long run.

  • Foods that contain processed sugar like cookies, cakes, and candy. These increase inflammation and some believe they may support cancer cell growth.

  • Flame-cooked or barbecued meats. Instead, choose steamed or baked meats, but keep meat consumption to a minimum in general.

  • Any foods that contain artificial sweeteners. That even means things that aren’t typically considered food, like gum.

  • Alcohol. While not a food, alcohol consumption can make it harder for your body to recover after treatment and should be avoided.

Eating right while undergoing chemotherapy might sound difficult. After all, if you have any appetite at all, you’ll want to enjoy your meals.

However, it is possible to enjoy healthy food. After some effort, and time getting used to it, your tastebuds will become acclimated, and your body as a whole will respond to the positive effects.

Tara Heath is a freelance writer in Southern California. She believes that a healthy diet is essential in all aspects of life. As a health writer, she contributes content to the Presidio Home Care blog.

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