Expert Guide to Food Choices During Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is a difficult part of cancer treatment where the immune system is completely shut down. Some of the cancer doctors in Karachi are advised to avoid certain foods, while others are urged to make dietary adjustments. The most important thing is to keep your energy level high. As you go through excruciating treatment, it is important to regulate your diet and take into account all the important factors that come with it.

As difficult as it may sound, but being aware of yourself, your routine, and your diet can have a major impact on your treatment.

During the chemotherapy process, a certain type of white blood cell called neutrophils is active in your bloodstream, which is often monitored by the doctor. Any low level of neutrophils in your bloodstream can lead to neutropenia, a condition that puts you at a higher risk of infection. It is important to take safety precautions and handle healthy foods to minimize the risk of infection.

– Be very careful when cutting and cooking raw meat. If you have to process and cook raw meat in any case. Be very careful with the utensils. Wash them after each use. Do your best to reduce your exposure to cutting boards, uncooked meat, unwashed vegetables, and utensils.

– Use fresh ingredients in your pantry. Try to get help with organizing your pantry and kitchen, but at least keep your space clean. Avoid ready-made meals, but if you have them in your pantry, keep them separate from each other.

Cook your food at the optimum temperature to kill bacteria. This is a very important step when it comes to poultry. Avoid anything that promises medium rarity.

– Always use frozen food after thawing on a wooden board, saucepan, or plate and never on the counter.

If your doctor suspects that you have neutropenia, avoid the following foods;

  • Fresh unwashed products
  • Raw or unpasteurized milk
  • Unpasteurized cheese made from mild and raw milk
  • Delicatessen
  • Cold or uncooked sausages
  • Raw or undercooked meat

Some fresh produce such as lettuce, leafy greens, strawberries, and raspberries are difficult to clean. You may need to avoid all of these foods in your state of neutropenia. You can also ask your doctor, dietitian, nutritionist, or nurse if you are unsure whether a particular food is safe for you or not.

Now, most of the foods that are healthy in the normal routine may not be safe to consume with chemotherapy drugs because they can react. Most people are told not to consume grapefruit and green tea, as this can be a potential threat with common chemotherapy drugs. For example, a medicine called Velcade, which is mainly used in patients with blood cancer, loses its effectiveness if green tea is consumed regularly.

Should supplements also be avoided?

This is subjective for any cancer patient. In general, you should limit your supplements during chemotherapy to cause any risk of a chemical reaction, but you should talk to your oncologist before taking them.

If someone is undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer, highly concentrated forms of foods or chemicals should be avoided at all costs.

How to relieve the side effects of chemo.

Nausea is a common side effect of chemotherapy that most patients experience soon after starting their sessions. Some of the following tips may help you manage chemotherapy-induced nausea:

  • Any nausea medication can help you exactly as prescribed. Don’t wait until your condition feels nauseous, just take it regularly as directed by your doctor.
  • Don’t get rid of food smells or sights that might be causing your nausea. Get help preparing your food if you have severe nausea.
  • Eat small meals regularly with regular breaks in between. Small snacks with breaks will help your digestion and make you less foul-smelling.
  • Try foods that are low in odor, dry, or have less flavor, such as yogurt, crackers, toast, or plain oatmeal.
  • Avoid anything that’s full of processed fats, sugary, or spicy foods.
  • Try a pinch of salt if you cook or feel nauseous
  • Make sure to get more soluble fiber in your diet

People often have a misconception about probiotics, that a good dose of probiotics can help relieve nausea, specialists at Kiran Cancer Hospital said. However, probiotics don’t usually relieve nausea, especially if you also have neutropenia. Before using probiotics, consult your doctor.

Try for more soluble fiber;

  • Fast oats or regular oats
  • Natural applesauce
  • Boiled lentils
  • Ripe pears
  • White boiled rice

Have insoluble fiber;

  • Everything Whole grain
  • Rye bread and crackers
  • Berries
  • Steamed vegetables

Due to the intense radiation, mouth ulcers can also be a problem for many cancer patients. Therefore, try a mild mouthwash and eat moist, dry, and chewy foods. If you are unable to eat due to mouth ulcers, tell your doctor immediately.

Short introduction:

Subjective to any cancer patient. Most healthy routine diets may not be safe to consume with chemotherapy drugs because they can interact.

Authors biography:

Faisal is a medical researcher and writer. Her main interest is in raising awareness of common health issues by learning and sharing more about human life every day.