What to eat to lessen the side effects of chemotherapy

During cancer treatment, discomforts such as dry mouth, vomiting, diarrhea and hair loss may occur, but there are some strategies that can be adopted to alleviate these discomforts through eating. 

The diet for these patients should include nutritious foods such as fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, eggs, seeds and whole grains, giving preference to organic foods. However, in some cases it is necessary to supplement to ensure that the patient receives all the nutrients he needs, and the advice and follow-up of a nutritionist or doctor is important.

Food can help alleviate the side effects of chemotherapy, with specific recommendations for each side effect experienced by the person:

Table of Contents

1. dry mouth

To avoid dryness of the mouth due to chemotherapy sessions, it is recommended to drink small sips of water several times a day and avoid the consumption of sugary drinks, such as soft drinks, for example.

You can also use strategies like putting small ice cubes in your mouth, made with water or natural fruit juice, and eating foods that dissolve in your mouth, like gelatin, and that are rich in water, like watermelon, oranges and vegetables , for example. Check out a list of water-rich foods.

2. Vomiting

To avoid vomiting you should eat and drink in small quantities, in addition to avoiding very hot foods, as they stimulate the vomiting reflex. The ideal is to eat before or wait at least 1 hour after chemotherapy, and you should not drink liquids with food or lie down right after meals.

You should also avoid foods with a very strong smell or foods that are very spicy and difficult to digest, such as pepper, fried foods and red meats, so that they do not cause nausea and do not trigger the urge to vomit.

3. Diarrhea

To control diarrhea, the patient needs to eat foods that are easy to digest and low in fiber, such as cooked rice and pasta, vegetable puree, boiled or roasted fruits, fruit compote, rice or corn porridge, white bread and plain crackers. It is necessary to avoid fatty foods such as red meats and fried foods, raw vegetables and whole foods, as the fibers in these foods accelerate intestinal transit and favor diarrhea.

4. Constipation

Unlike diarrhea, to treat constipation, you must increase your consumption of fiber and whole foods, such as flaxseed, oats, chia, whole grains, bread, rice and whole pasta, fruits and vegetables, especially raw salads.

Along with fiber intake, it is very important to drink plenty of water, as it is the combination of fibers + water that will help speed up intestinal transit. In addition to food, the practice of physical exercises, even if it is just stretching or light walks, also helps in controlling constipation. 

5. Anemia

To treat anemia you should eat foods rich in iron and folic acid, such as meats, liver, beans and dark green vegetables. When consuming these foods, you should also eat citrus fruits, such as orange and pineapple, as they favor the absorption of iron in the intestine. Know what to eat for anemia.

6. Hair loss

Hair loss is one of the most frequent side effects of chemotherapy and it can directly influence the self-esteem of women and men. However, it is possible to control hair loss by eating rice, beans, lentils, soy, apple cider vinegar, rosemary, seafood and milk and dairy products. These foods are rich in proteins and minerals that help strengthen hair, as well as increase blood circulation in the scalp, which helps to nourish hair and prevent hair loss. Check out some recipes to prevent hair loss.

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