Keep your immune system healthy with these chemotherapy-appropriate foods!
If you or a loved one is going to go through the hard ordeal of taking chemotherapeutic treatment, then you should be prepared to be quite sick. There is no way around it, as the treatment is aggressive and needed in order to get rid of the cancerous cells from your body. Many of us take comfort in food, yet it may happen that those who are doing chemo are sometimes too sick to even eat.
This is why people should make sure that what they eat during these times they should pick something that’s not only appropriate when it comes to nutrition but also healthy and tastes good. After all, when you are going through something so challenging and hard, you should also be able to eat certain things that are both good for you and tasty.
This is why we have gathered the best foods to eat while you are going through chemotherapy while also detailing why they are good for you and how you can best cook them!
Let us know if you know how nutritious these foods are below!
If you’re experiencing a lack of appetite (which is the case with chemo), you can easily just introduce avocado to your diet. Not only will it provide the nutrients and calories necessary, but you will also get your fill easily. It is a gorgeous fruit, high in monosaturated and healthy fat, which will lower your bad cholesterol and boost the good ones! In addition to that, it has a lot of fiber, and it can be easily integrated into your diet.
You can make it into an avocado toast, add it to smoothies (more on those later), soups, salads, bowls, or even just make it into a dip. There are lots of ways in which you can eat it, and all of them will do great to both fill you up and also help with other issues caused by chemo, like mouth sores, dry mouth, and even constipation!
There are generally a lot of changes that you will experience during chemotherapy, but one of the ones that most people reported was a taste change. One such thing that is commonly said to taste different is water! To make sure that you can withstand this change without any issues, you can make some clear broth to make sure that you are both starting out hydrated and also getting some nutrients.
You can simply make a broth out of veggies, meat or poultry, herbs, and, if you desire, some bones as well! When you boil these, you’re going to release electrolytes, which will give you a boost of nutrients (calcium, potassium chloride, and sodium) and keep your body functioning properly despite any changes!
What’s more, if you’re feeling sick and experience excessive sweating, diarrhea, or vomiting, the broth is going to do wonders to rehydrate you and also get something in your stomach that is unlikely to upset it more. And when you finally have the appetite for it, you can add some solid additions back to the broth as well.
Just remember to take small sips if you’re nauseated to avoid any unfortunate accidents!
#3 Easy to eat during chemo: Oatmeal
Oatmeal is one of the most nutrient-dense foods you can have during chemotherapy treatment. Even outside, it is amazing as it has a lot of ample antioxidants, carbs, and proteins, as well as a ton of healthy fats, especially when compared with other grains. The oats will ensure that you have a healthy bowel movement due to the beta-glucan in them; it is a fiber that is easily soluble and feeds the good bacteria in your gut.
And when doing chemo, you need all the good bacteria you can get. What’s more, the creamy texture and neutral flavor of the oatmeal are exactly what you will need when you are experiencing the harsh side effects of chemo, like mouth sores and dry mouth.
Even better, you can always choose to make the easy version of oatmeal (overnight oats) and not have to worry about what to eat as it refrigerates beautifully for a few days. You can also add anything you would like to the mixture, but our recommendations are maple syrup, honey, some fresh fruit like berries, and nuts! And if you’re not feeling well, eating it plainly will do just fine for a filling and neutral meal that will not upset your stomach during chemo.
If you’re a fish fan, then you will be happy to hear that it is actually highly preferred that you eat about two servings of fish per week while you are doing chemotherapy. Not only will it ensure you’re getting all the protein you may need, but you will also get all the good omega-3 acids!
The omega-3 fatty acids are the main reason why fish is so good for you during chemo, as well as during your daily life. They support the health of the brain and have anti-inflammatory properties that you definitely need. The best fish to eat during these times are sardines, mackerel, albacore tuna, and everyone’s favorite, salmon!
What’s more, the fattier fish like salmon and herring are also full of vitamin D, which is amazing for immune health and great for your bones! The best ways to cook them would be to either pan-fry, steam, or even roast them and serve with a little bit of lemon! An easy dinner you don’t have to worry much about.
#5 Healthy smoothies made at home
Smoothies are the most convenient way to get all of the nutrients you need from vegetables and fruits without having to worry about chewing everything or whether you’re getting enough healthy additions to your diet. It is another food that will do wonders if you’re too fatigued to cook or even go through the ordeal of chewing, especially if you have any mouth sores, as can happen with chemotherapy.
The greatest thing about these delicious smoothies is that they can be as customizable as you want them to be: if you don’t like certain ingredients, you can swap them for others you enjoy with the same nutritional value, and you can adapt your recipe to whatever your situation is based on taste changes caused by the chemo treatment.
As long as you follow a basic formula, you should be good to go. It is as follows:
- one or two cups of liquid (be it water, yogurt, milk, or kefir)
- one and a half to three grams of vegetable and/or fruit
- 1 tbsp of protein (could be peanut butter or protein powder)
- 1 tbsp. of fat (nuts and seeds of your choice)
One combination we love is fresh or frozen fruit with your choice of milk or kefir, along with a few washed spinach leaves and a half of beetroot. Add the measured peanut butter and flax seeds for the protein and fat aspects, and you’re good to go!
You can even add some lemon or lime juice to bring the flavors up a notch. One good thing to do if you’re planning on using fresh berries (which goes for everything, not just smoothies) is to soak them before rinsing. That way, you are getting rid of any extra bacteria or debris that could potentially make you sick. There’s no need to add other factors to make you feel bad, as you’re already having a hard time due to chemotherapy.
#6 Cruciferous vegetables
If you’re not familiar with the term, cruciferous vegetables are some of the most nutritious vegetables out there. They include the likes of kale, cauliflower, cabbage, and broccolli, and they are full of nutrients and vitamins. Out of them all, broccoli has the biggest apport of vitamin C, and it is vital for any immune system, but even more so when it comes to undergoing such a hard treatment scheme as chemotherapy.
Brocolli also contains a nutrient called sulforaphane, which is a plant compound that research has shown to have a positive impact on the brain’s health. It helps with protecting the brain cells from damage and reducing inflammation, which is vital when people are doing chemo.
What’s more, none of these vegetables are hard to cook. The best and easiest way to do so is to toss them with olive oil and salt and then roast them in the oven. You can even make more ahead of time and keep them in the refrigerator in containers for a few days.
When it comes to kale, all you have to do is wash it and massage it before adding it to your favorite salads or dishes. If your taste is changing, you can always add some freshly squeezed lemon juice on top, and it will be a great meal if you aren’t feeling nauseated!
If you’re looking for more healthy food options that are actively fighting against cancer, you should give our recipes a try!