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Nutrition during Cancer treatment

Posted on March 22 2022

A healthy diet helps your body function at its best. This is even more crucial if you have cancer. You will start treatment with reserves that will help preserve your strength, energy level and defenses against infection. A healthy diet can also prevent body tissue from breaking down and new tissue from being produced. People who eat well can tolerate the side effects of treatment better. In addition, you may even be able to tolerate high doses of certain medications. In fact, we know that some cancer treatments actually work better if the patient is well nourished, consuming enough calories and protein.


Proteins are more than necessary for the growth and repair of the body tissue, as well as to maintain a healthy immune system. When our body does not receive enough protein, it may resort to relying on the body mass it already has by attacking the remaining muscle. People with cancer often need more protein than usual as it will help the body compensate for the radio/chemotherapy.   Sources of protein include:

  • lean cuts of red meat
  • eggs
  • low-fat dairy products
  • peanut butter or nuts
  • lentils and peas


Most people have a very negative conception about fats, however; fats have a fundamental role in nutrition. Fats and oils are composed of lipid acids that serve as a rich source of energy for the body. The body separates fats and uses them to store energy, insulate body tissues and transport some types of vitamins through the blood. Avoid saturated and trans fats, instead it is advisable to opt for monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.

  • Monounsaturated fats are those that can be found in vegetable oils such as olive, peanut, coconut, or canola.
  • Polyunsaturated fats are those that can be found in sunflower oils and seafood.


Carbohydrates are the main source of energy for the body and provide the body with the fuel it requires for physical activity and proper organ function. The best sources of carbohydrates are provided by whole grains.

Other sources of carbohydrates include bread, potatoes, rice, pasta, corn, peas, beans, and others.


Every cell in our body needs water to function. If not, enough water is ingested due to the side effects of chemotherapy, the body can become dehydrated. The recommended intake is 6 to 8 glasses of water per day.

Recommended food during chemotherapy treatment

White fish and seafood: hake, monkfish, cod, shrimp and prawn tails, salmon, among others.

Serrano ham: removing very well all the visible fat.

Eggs: great source of protein.

Carbohydrates: Cooked potato, rice, pasta, toasted bread and cereals.

Olive oil: buy the one with low acidity (0.2º).

Baked or stewed sweet fruits: pear, apple.

Soft vegetables: tender green beans, carrots, zucchini, pumpkin.

Vegetable and fruit smoothies: carrot and papaya or apple, banana too.

Skimmed dairy products: especially skimmed yogurt and skimmed cheese.

Infusions: lime blossom and lemon balm.

Don't forget about physical activity

Physical activity offers many benefits. It helps maintain muscle mass, strength, energy, and bone endurance. It can help decrease depression, stress, fatigue, nausea, and constipation. It can also improve your appetite. So, if you are not already exercising, talk to your doctor about getting at least 150 minutes or more of moderate activity, such as walking all week. If your doctor says it's okay, start modestly and at your own pace.

This is not the time for you to overdo it with exercise. Do what you can do and when you can do it. Keep in mind that it is always a good idea to consult your doctor about what foods you can and cannot eat, as everyone is different and is dealing with cancer in different ways.

“It’s about focusing on the fight and not the fright.” – Robin Roberts









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