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Nutrition tips for cancer patients before, during and after chemotherapy

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Nutrition is an important part of cancer treatment. For cancer patients who receive chemotherapy, balanced nutrition can help them enhance the immunity to combat the side effects of chemotherapy.

Oncology dietitians hold that a balanced diet for cancer patients shall include enough energy, protein, antioxidants, and water. The goal of supplementing nutrition varies before, during and after chemotherapy, so dietary plans offered by oncology nutritionists are also different.

What do I eat before chemotherapy?

A diet before chemotherapy shall help cancer patients enhance nutrition and improve strength. This diet shall:

1. Include five categories of foods, namely, cereals (rice, pasta), vegetables and fruits, protein-rich foods like fish and poultry, eggs, milk, and soy products, and energy sources like oils.

2. Have 3-5 meals a day. Extra meals can choose yogurt, taro, biscuits, fruit, protein powder, etc.

3. Choose low-fat, high-protein, high-vitamin foods such as rice, pasta, eggs, fish, chicken, lean meat, tofu, fresh vegetables, and fruits.

What do I eat during chemotherapy?

A diet during chemotherapy is used to reduce the adverse reaction of chemotherapy and to provide necessary nutrition to help increase white blood cells. There are some tips for this:

1. A light, bland and digestible diet seems to works best, consisting of on main ingredients like cereals, vegetables, and fruits, and a small portion of eggs, tofu, chicken, and fish.

2. If the adverse reaction is serious, the diet shall be made up of semi-liquid foods such as vegetable porridge, noodles, bread, egg yolk, tofu, etc.

3. Limit food uptake to two-thirds of the usual amount for more than one week.

4. Supplement special medical nutrition under the guidance of a nutritionist.

What do I eat after chemotherapy?

A diet after chemotherapy is aimed to prevent the malnutrition. Cancer patients shall:

1. Develop a healthy eating habit. It is recommended to include more vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and soy products in the diet. Red meat and processed meat, sweets and sugary drinks shall be avoided.

2. Choose food supplement rather than functional food. There is relatively little evidence that functional foods improve the prognosis for cancer patients.

3. Monitor nutrition. The body weight shall be monitored weekly. The food intake shall be less than two-thirds of the usual amount for over one week, and if non-autonomous body weight is found to decrease more than one to two kilograms within one week, see a physician or dietitian immediately.

Generally, some foods like lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, whole grains are good and healthy, but you shall always limit alcohol, high-sugar, high salt, high-fat foods, sweets, and sugary drinks.

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