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Dietary changes that boost cancer treatment

Health By Vivianne Wandera

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The nutrition for cancer patients varies depending on what one is being treated for and the kind of treatment they are on.

When undergoing cancer treatment a change in diet is necessary so that the patient can get stronger faster and also withstand the side effects of cancer treatments. This means that eating habits will have to change with more fruits, vegetables and healthy proteins included in the diet, and more water drank.

Consumption of unhealthy oils must also be decreased to avoid the chances of getting any heart-related problems.

Below are ideas on how the diet of a cancer patient can change for the better.


Water is vital to one's general well-being and health especially when undergoing treatment because all body cells need water to function properly.

Diarrhoea is a common side effect of cancer treatment. When it happens frequently, it can lead to dehydration thus cancer patients need to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.

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A person on medication should drink about 8 glasses of water every day to ensure that the body cells get the fluids they need. Soups and other fluids like fresh juice can also help maintain proper hydration of the body’s cells.


Fats and oils are a rich source of energy for the body. The body breaks them down to produce and store energy, transport vitamins through the blood and insulate the body tissues. Choose healthy sources of fats like olive oil, coconut oil and peanut oil and also oils that are found majorly in sunflowers, corn and seafood instead of trans-fats and saturated fats. Saturated fats raise cholesterol levels and increase the risk of one getting heart diseases.


Carbs are the major source of energy in the body and they give the body the power it needs to have proper organ functions and enough strength for physical activity. Whole grains, fruits and vegetables are the best sources of carbohydrates. Eating cereals, peas, beans, rice, potatoes and bread also provide the body with carbohydrates.


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Proteins are essential for growth and repair of damaged body tissues and they also help to keep our immune systems healthy. If the body does not have enough proteins it tends to break down muscle to take care of its fuel needs. This makes the healing process longer and it also lowers the resistance to infections. Cancer patients need more proteins because after chemo, radiation and surgery, the extra protein is necessary as it helps to fight infections and heal tissues.

Vitamins and minerals

The body needs minerals and vitamins to help it function properly and use the calories in food. Most vitamins and minerals are found naturally in foods and they are also sold as supplements.

Maintaining a balanced diet while on chemo can be challenging hence doctors recommend the use of multivitamins and mineral supplements to boost their intake.

However, taking large doses of some minerals and vitamins can make chemo and radiation treatments less effective.


Different antioxidants have Vitamins C, A, E, Zinc and Selenium and other enzymes which absorb and attach in order to free radicals which are also destructive enzymes which prevent them from attacking the existing normal cells. Doctors recommend that one should eat a variety of fruits and vegetables which are rich in antioxidants. The large amounts of vitamins and antioxidant supplements that people take while on chemo treatment is not recommended as it is not good for a patient's health.

Photos: Shutterstock

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