Nutritional Advantages During Cancer Treatment

Eating enough food to acquire the nutrients and calories you need is typically not an issue when you’re in good health. Most dietary standards emphasize eating a variety of vegetables, fruits, and whole-grain products; reducing red meat consumption, particularly processed or high-fat meats; avoiding fat, sugar, alcohol, and salt; and maintaining a healthy weight. These things can be difficult to accomplish when you’re being treated for cancer, especially if you’re experiencing side effects or just don’t feel well.

Integrative Oncology Nutrition - Cancer Nutrition Consortium

If you have cancer, good nutrition is especially important because the disease and its therapies might alter your eating habits. They can also influence how your body tolerates and utilizes nutrition.

Changing your diet during cancer treatment may be necessary to help you gain strength and resist the effects of the disease and its therapy. When you’re in good health, this might entail consuming foods that aren’t typically suggested. For example, you may require high-fat, high-calorie foods to maintain your weight, or thick, cold foods such as ice cream or milk shakes because ulcers in your mouth and throat make eating difficult. When determining the best ways to receive the nutrients your body requires, you must consider the type of cancer you have, your therapy, and any side effects you may be experiencing.

Cancer patients’ nutritional requirements differ from one another. Your cancer care team can assist you in determining your nutritional goals and devising strategies to help you achieve them. While receiving cancer treatment, eating healthily may help you:

• Feel better

• Maintain your strength and vitality

• Maintain a healthy weight and nutritional storage in your body

• Tolerance of treatment-related adverse effects is improved

• You’ll be less likely to become infected

• Heal and recover more quickly

Eating healthily entails consuming a wide variety of meals in order to provide your body with the nutrients it requires to fight cancer. Proteins, lipids, carbs, water, vitamins, and minerals are among these nutrients.

Good nutrition is important for cancer patients

Nutrition is the process through which food is ingested and utilized by the body for growth, health, and tissue replacement. Nutrition is critical to one’s overall health. Before, during, and after cancer treatment, eating the appropriate foods can help the patient feel better and stay stronger. A healthy diet consists of eating and drinking enough foods and liquids that provide the body with essential nutrients (vitamins, minerals, protein, carbs, fat, and water).


Protein is required for development, tissue repair, and the maintenance of a healthy immune system. If you don’t consume enough protein, your body may break down muscle to acquire the energy it requires. It takes longer to recover from sickness, and your resistance to infection may be lowered as a result. Cancer patients frequently require more protein than the average person. Extra protein is generally required after surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy to help repair tissues and fight infection.

Fish, poultry, lean red meat, eggs, low-fat dairy products, nuts and nut butters, dry beans, peas, and lentils, and soy foods are all good sources of protein.


Fats are essential for good nutrition. The body may get a lot of energy from fats and oils. Fats are broken down by the body and used to store energy, insulate bodily tissues, and carry certain vitamins through the bloodstream.

You’ve probably heard that some fats are healthier than others. Choose monounsaturated (olive oil and canola oil) and polyunsaturated fats (found mostly in flaxseed oils and seafood) above saturated and trans fats when evaluating the effects of fats on the heart and cholesterol level.

Animal sources of saturated fats include meat and poultry, full or reduced-fat milk, cheese, and butter. Saturated vegetable oils include coconut, palm kernel oil, and palm oil. Saturated fats boost cholesterol levels and put you at risk for heart disease. Saturated fat should account for less than 10% of your total calories.

Snack foods and baked products produced with partly hydrogenated vegetable oil or vegetable shortening are high in trans fats. Some animal products, such as dairy products, naturally contain trans fats. Trans fats have the ability to elevate bad cholesterol while lowering good cholesterol. Trans fats should be avoided to the greatest extent feasible.


Carbohydrates are the body’s primary energy source. Carbohydrates provide the fuel that the body needs for physical activity as well as appropriate organ function. Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are the greatest sources of carbs since they also provide essential vitamins and minerals, fibre, and phytonutrients to the body’s cells. (Phytonutrients are substances found in plant-based foods that we don’t require to live but may benefit our health).

The portion of plant meals that the body can’t digest is called fibre. Fiber is divided into two categories. Insoluble fiber aids in the rapid elimination of food waste, whereas soluble fibre binds with water in the stool to maintain it soft.

Bread, potatoes, rice, spaghetti, pasta, cereals, maize, peas, and beans are all good sources of carbs. Sweets (desserts, candies, and sugary beverages) may be high in carbs, but they are low in vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients.


Water and other liquids or fluids are necessary for good health. Water is required for the proper functioning of all bodily cells. You can get dehydrated (your body doesn’t have as much fluid as it should) if you don’t drink enough fluids or if you lose fluids through vomiting or diarrhoea. The fluids and minerals that keep your body running might get dangerously out of balance if this happens. You obtain water through your diet, but you should also drink around eight 8-ounce glasses of liquid every day to ensure that all of your body cells get the water they require. If you’re vomiting, have diarrhoea, or aren’t eating much, you may need to drink more fluids. Remember that all liquids (soups, milk, even ice cream and gelatin) contribute to your fluid requirements.

Vitamins and minerals

Vitamins and minerals are necessary for the body to function correctly and utilize the energy (calories) in meals. The majority are present in meals, but they are also available as pills and liquid supplements.


Vitamins A, C, and E, as well as selenium and zinc, and enzymes that absorb and attach to free radicals (destructive chemicals) to prevent them from harming normal cells, are antioxidants.

Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables that are high in antioxidants if you want to increase your antioxidant intake.


Phytonutrients or phytochemicals are plant substances with health-promoting properties, such as carotenoids, lycopene, resveratrol, and phytosterols. They’re present in plants like fruits and vegetables, as well as plant-based foods like tofu and tea.

It’s critical to maintain a healthy diet both during and after cancer treatment

Nutrition therapy is used to assist cancer patients maintain a healthy weight, retain strength, maintain healthy body tissue, and reduce adverse effects during and after treatment.

Vegetables and fruits

Fruits and vegetables (including beans) are complex foods that include vitamins, minerals, fibre, and other compounds that may aid in cancer prevention. Dark green and orange vegetables, cruciferous vegetables (such as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts), soy products, legumes, allium vegetables (onions and garlic), and tomato products are among the vegetables and fruits being studied for their potential cancer-preventive properties.

The impact of vegetables and fruits on calorie intake and body weight may also reduce cancer risk. Many fruits and vegetables are low in calories, high in fiber, and have a high water content. This may aid with weight reduction and keeping unwanted weight off by lowering overall calorie consumption.

Eating a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables has also been related to a reduced risk of various chronic illnesses.

Protein, fiber, iron, zinc, potassium, and folate are all found in legumes, which include kidney beans, pinto beans, black beans, white beans, garbanzo beans (chickpeas), lima beans, lentils, and soy foods and soybeans. They have a nutritional profile that is similar to veggies and other high-protein foods, and they are excellent sources of both.

Whole grains

Whole grains offer more fiber and nutrients than refined (or processed) grains since they have all of the original kernel’s components. Whole grains have been found to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer in studies. Furthermore, whole grains and high-fiber diets appear to be associated to a decreased risk of weight gain and being overweight or obese, both of which can increase cancer risk.


Dietary fiber, which may be found in legumes, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, is thought to be associated with a decreased risk of colon cancer, as well as a lower risk of weight gain and obesity. Fiber has an effect on gut bacteria, which may play a role in the development of certain malignancies.

The symptoms of cancer and cancer therapies make it difficult for many people to eat properly.  

The following cancer therapies have an impact on nutrition:

  • 1.Chemotherapy is one cancer treatment that has an impact on diet
  • 2.Hormone replacement treatment
  • 3.Radiation treatment
  • 4.Surgery
  • 5.Immunotherapy
  • 6.Transplantation of stem cells

It’s difficult to get enough nutrients to be healthy when the head, neck, oesophagus, stomach, intestines, pancreas, or liver are damaged by cancer therapy.

Malnutrition is a side effect of cancer and cancer therapies

Taste, smell, appetite, and the capacity to consume enough food or absorb nutrients from food may all be affected by cancer and cancer therapies. Malnutrition, a condition characterized by a lack of essential nutrients, might result as a result of this. Malnutrition can be exacerbated by alcohol misuse and obesity.

Malnutrition can make a patient weak, weary, and incapable of fighting infection or completing cancer therapy. If the cancer progresses or spreads, malnutrition may become more severe.

For healing, combating illness, and having adequate energy, eating the proper quantity of protein and calories is critical.

Anorexia and cachexia are frequent causes of malnutrition in cancer patients

Anorexia is a condition in which a person loses their appetite or desire to eat. It is a frequent symptom among cancer patients. If the cancer develops or spreads, anorexia might develop early in the disease or later. When a patient is diagnosed with cancer, they may already have anorexia. Anorexia affects the majority of people with advanced cancer. The most prevalent cause of malnutrition in cancer patients is anorexia.

Cachexia is a disease characterized by weakness, weight loss, and the loss of fat and muscle. It’s frequent in people who have tumours that impair their ability to consume and digest food. It can happen to cancer patients who eat well but don’t store fat or muscle due to tumour development.

Some tumours alter the body’s nutrition use patterns. Tumors of the stomach, intestines, or head and neck can all impact how the body uses protein, carbs, and fat. Even though a patient appears to be eating enough, the body may not be able to absorb all of the nutrients.

Treatment of Symptoms


Anorexia is characterized by a widespread lack of appetite or interest in food.

The following suggestions may be helpful for  cancer patients who have anorexia (loss of appetite or desire to eat):

1. Consume high-protein, high-calorie meals. High-protein foods include the following:

o Beans

o Chicken

o Fish

o Yogurt

o Eggs

2.Increase the amount of protein and calories in your diet by drinking protein-fortified milk.

3.When your hunger is at its peak, eat high-protein meals first.

4.During meals, drink just modest amounts of liquids.

5.If you don’t feel like eating solid things, drink milkshakes, smoothies, juices, or soups.

6.Eat small meals and healthy snacks frequently throughout the day.

7.Stay as active as possible to maintain a healthy appetite.

8.To alleviate symptoms and aftertastes, brush your teeth and rinse your mouth.


The sensation of being ill with a desire to vomit is called nausea.

The following suggestions may be beneficial for cancer patients who are experiencing nausea:

1.Select foods that you enjoy. Don’t push yourself to consume something that makes you sick. To prevent associating your favourite foods with sickness, stop eating them.

2.Instead of hefty meals, eat bland, soft, and easy-to-digest foods.

3.Consume stomach-friendly meals such as white bread, plain yoghurt, and clear soup.

4. Consume meals and beverages at room temperature (not too hot or too cold).

5.Throughout the day, sip beverages slowly.

6. Foods and beverages with strong odours should be avoided.

7.If you have a foul taste in your mouth, eat hard candies like peppermints or lemon drops.

8.Instead of three substantial meals every day, eat 5 or 6 little meals.

9.During meals, drink just modest amounts of fluids to avoid feeling full or bloated.

11.Don’t forget to eat your meals and snacks. Your nausea may be worse if you eat on an empty stomach.

12.Rinse your mouth with water before and after you eat.

12.Rinse your mouth with water before and after you eat.

13.Consult your doctor about anti nausea medication


“Throwing up” is another term for vomiting. Nausea can cause vomiting, and nausea and vomiting can occur at the same time, but they can also be completely different issues. Your stomach muscles contract (squeeze) and force the contents of your stomach (liquids and food) out through your mouth when you vomit .

The following suggestions may aid cancer patients in controlling vomiting:

1. Do not eat or drink anything until you have stopped vomiting.

2.After the vomiting has stopped, drink tiny amounts of clear liquids.

3.Consume easy-to-digest liquids like strained soups or milkshakes once you’ve been able to drink clear liquids without vomiting.

4. Instead of three substantial meals every day, eat 5 or 6 little meals.

5.After vomiting, sit up and lean forward.

6. Consult your doctor to prevent or manage vomiting.

Dry Mouth

Patients with cancer who have a dry mouth may benefit from the following:

1. Eat meals that are simple to digest.

2. Add sauce, gravy, or salad dressing to moisten the meal.

3.To help create more saliva, eat foods and liquids that are highly sweet or sour, such as lemonade.

4.Drink plenty of water throughout the day.

5.Avoid meals that might irritate the mouth (such as spicy, sour, salty, hard, or crunchy foods).

6.Rinse your mouth once or twice a day. Mouthwash containing alcohol should be avoided.

7.Discuss with your doctor or dentist the use of artificial saliva or comparable products to cover, protect, and moisturize your mouth and throat.

Mouth Sores

Patients with mouth sores may benefit from the following:

1.Consume milkshakes, scrambled eggs, and custards, which are soft and simple to chew.

2.Cook until the food is soft and tender.

3.Food should be cut into little pieces. To make food smooth, use a blender or food processor.

4.Eat cold or room temperature meals. Foods that are too hot might cause pain in the mouth.

5.Drink via a straw to avoid the sore areas of your mouth.

6.Avoid the following items:

o Citrus fruits and vegetables, such as oranges, lemons, and limes

o Foods with a lot of heat.

o Ketchup with tomatoes

o Foods that are high in salt.

o Vegetables raw

o Foods that are sharp and crunchy.

o Alcoholic beverages

7. Rinse your mouth three to four times daily.

8. No toothpicks or other sharp items should be used.

Sore throat and trouble swallowing

Patients with cancer who have a painful throat or difficulty swallowing may benefit from the following:

1. Consume milkshakes, scrambled eggs, oatmeal, or other prepared cereals that are simple to chew and swallow.

2.Consume high-protein, high-calorie meals and beverages.

3.Use gravy, sauces, broth, or yoghurt to moisten the meal.

4.Avoid the following meals and drinks that might irritate or burn your throat:

o Hot meals and beverages

o Foods with a lot of heat.

o Acidic foods and juices are foods and juices having a high acid content.

o Foods that are sharp or crunchy

o Alcoholic beverages

5. Cook until the food is soft and tender.

6.Cut the meal into tiny chunks. To make food smooth, use a blender or food processor.

7. Use a straw to drink.

8. Instead of three substantial meals every day, eat 5 or 6 little meals.

Lactose Intolerance

Patients with lactose intolerance symptoms may benefit from the following:

1. Drink lactose-free or low-lactose milk. Foods labelled “lactose free” or “reduced lactose” may be found in most grocery shops (such as milk and ice cream).

2.Look for lactose-free milk products, such as hard cheeses (like cheddar) and yoghurt; alternatively, try soy or rice-based goods (such as soy and rice milk and frozen desserts). Lactose is not present in these items.

3.Only eat the dairy items that are causing you issues. If you can, consume modest amounts of dairy products such as milk, yoghurt, or cheese.

4.Drink non-dairy beverages and eat calcium-fortified meals.

5.Consume calcium-rich foods like broccoli and leafy greens.

6.When eating or drinking dairy products, take lactase pills. Lactase is a digestive enzyme that breaks down lactose to make it simpler to digest.

Weight Gain

The following suggestions may assist cancer patients in avoiding weight gain:

1. Consume a variety of fruits and vegetables, as well as high-fiber meals such as whole-grain breads, cereals, and pasta.

2.Select low-fat dairy products.

3.Consume less fats (eat only small amounts of butter, mayonnaise, desserts, and fried foods).

4. Use low-fat cooking techniques such as broiling, steaming, grilling, or roasting.

5.Reduce your sodium intake.

6.In order to feel fulfilled, eat items that you love.

7.Only eat when you’re hungry. If you eat to cope with stress, fear, or sadness, seek therapy or medication. Find activities that you like if you eat because you are bored.

8.At meals, eat less portions of food.

9.Get some exercise every day.

Foods that Fight Cancer

10 Diet Tips for a Cancer Patient -

There is no single food that can protect you against cancer on its own. A diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, and other plant foods, on the other hand, can help reduce the risk of many cancers. Many minerals, vitamins, and phytochemicals have been shown to have anti-cancer properties in laboratory tests.

1.Apples: Apple fiber and polyphenol chemicals may help to improve cancer-fighting responses by interacting with gut bacteria.

2.Asparagus: Asparagus has a group of flavonoid chemicals that may have a number of protective properties.

3.Blueberries: Blueberries, which are high in antioxidants, may help to enhance brain, eye, and heart health while also lowering cancer risk.

4.Carrots: Carrots, which are high in carotenoids, have the potential to reduce cancer risk.

5.Cauliflower: Cauliflower is high in vitamin C and other cruciferous veggies’ health-promoting components.

6.Cherries: Cherries, both sweet and tart, are high in fiber and vitamin C.

7.Cranberries: Cranberries’ cancer-fighting properties are largely due to a group of phenolic chemicals.

8.Flaxseed: Flax seeds are high in fiber and phytochemicals called lignans, which are substances found in plants.

9.Grapefruit: Grapefruit is high in phytocompounds and antioxidant nutrients. Because of its low calorie density, it can help you maintain a healthy weight.

10.Grapes: Grapes include resveratrol and a range of phytocompounds that may enable the fruit to play a role in cancer prevention in the diet.

11.kale: Kale combines the health-promoting properties of dark green leafy vegetables with those of cruciferous veggies.

12.Oranges: Oranges include vitamin C as well as a group of phytocompounds that scientists are investigating as a possible cancer-fighting combo.

13.Pulses: Dry beans, peas and lentils: Pulses are a good source of dietary fibre and include polyphenol compounds, which are possibly beneficial phytonutrients.

14.Raspberries: Raspberries have the ability to help cancer-fighting antioxidant and anti-inflammatory defences.

15.Soy: Soy is one of the few plant meals that contains all of the amino acids required for protein synthesis.

16.Spinach: Spinach is a nutritional powerhouse because it includes beta-carotene, vitamin C, fibre, and potentially cancer-protective phytonutrients.

17.Squash (Winter): Because it includes many different families of carotenoids, which combine with vitamin C to make it a potent choice for healthy cells and a strong immune system, winter squash is a wonderful option for healthy cells and a strong immune system.

18.Strawberries: Strawberries, which are high in vitamin C and a group of polyphenol chemicals, can be an important part of a cancer-prevention diet.

19. Green tea: Green tea includes chemicals that have been shown to protect against cancer through antioxidant defences and cell development effects.

20.Tomatoes: Tomatoes are a relatively rare source of lycopene, a red-colored phytochemical and kind of carotenoid. This carotenoid is the subject of a lot of study on tomatoes and cancer.

21.Walnut: Walnuts, which contain polyphenol and other chemicals, can be included in a regular diet to lower cancer risk.

22.Whole grains: The fiber-rich bran, nutrient-dense germ, and starchy endosperm make up whole grains. Whole grains deliver more nutrients, fiber, and health-promoting phytochemicals than processed grains since they contain the bran and germ.

To enhance their prognosis, some cancer patients attempt specific diets

Patients with cancer may attempt specific diets to improve the effectiveness of their therapy, reduce side effects, or treat the disease itself. However, there is no proof that most of these specialized diets work.

Vegetarian or vegan diet

Vegan diets are consistently related to a reduced cancer risk in long-term observational population research. Vegetarian diets, for example, are linked to a reduced incidence of colorectal cancer overall.

Ketogenic diet

A ketogenic diet restricts carbohydrate intake while increasing fat consumption. The goal of the diet is to reduce the quantity of glucose (sugar) available to tumour cells for growth and reproduction. Because precise quantities of lipids, carbs, and proteins are required, it is a difficult diet to maintain. The diet, on the other hand, is completely harmless.

Several research trials are now enrolling glioblastoma patients to see if a ketogenic diet impacts tumour activity in the disease. Glioblastoma patients who desire to start a ketogenic diet should consult with their doctor and work with a qualified dietitian.

Dietary supplements may be used by certain cancer patients

A dietary supplement is a substance that is consumed in addition to the regular diet. It’s often consumed by mouth and contains one or more nutritional components. Dietary supplements can help cancer patients improve their symptoms or treat their disease.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a vitamin that the body needs in tiny amounts in order to operate properly and remain healthy. It aids in the battle against infection, the healing of wounds, and the maintenance of healthy tissues. Vitamin C may be found in a variety of fruits and vegetables. It can also be used as a dietary supplement.

For additional information on the use of intravenous high-dose vitamin C as a cancer therapy, see the PDQ summary on High-Dose Vitamin C.


Probiotics are live bacteria that are used as dietary supplements to aid digestion and bowel function. They may also aid in the maintenance of a healthy gastrointestinal system.

Probiotics used during radiation therapy and chemotherapy have been demonstrated in studies to help reduce diarrhoea induced by these therapies. This is especially true for individuals who are getting abdominal radiation treatment. Probiotics may benefit cancer patients who are getting abdominal radiation treatment or chemotherapy that is known to induce diarrhoea.

Oral glutamine

Oral glutamine is an amino acid that is being researched for the treatment of diarrhoea and mucositis (inflammation of the digestive system’s lining, which can manifest as mouth sores) induced by chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Oral glutamine may help prevent or lessen the severity of mucositis.

Oral glutamine may help cancer patients who are undergoing abdominal radiation treatment. The use of oral glutamine may help to lessen the severity of diarrhoea. This may make it easier for patients to stick to their treatment regimen.