If you or a loved one has had a recent diagnosis of cancer, (oncology pages) you might be searching for information on how to optimise your health through your diet. In particular, if you are about to commence chemotherapy or radiation therapy, it is critical to support your immune system, reduce inflammation and improve the nutritional status of your body. This will help to reduce some of the common side effects of your treatment such as:
- Low energy
- Lack of appetite
- Taste changes.
My top 10 tips on what to avoid while having conventional chemotherapy treatment for cancer are:
- Avoid caffeine as it acts as a diuretic and draws water out of your cells, causing you to urinate more fluid than you are consuming.
- Stay away from strong smelling foods to avoid aggravating any disorders of taste. Avoid fatty fried, spicy and overly sweet foods, as they may induce nausea.
- Avoid refined sugars (including raw, brown and palm sugar) as well as refined carbohydrates as most tumours prefer glucose as a source of energy.
- Try to avoid only eating your favourite foods as these foods may become associated with nausea.
- Keep away from excessive alcohol, nicotine, and unhealthy dietary fats as these foods decrease immune function. Smoking cessation is a priority, as it increases oxidative stress and inflammation.
- Avoid germs! Ensure strict hygiene during food preparation (wash hands, fruit, vegetables and cooking utensils thoroughly) as immune activity is compromised during cancer treatments, leaving the body vulnerable to bacterial exposure.
- Try not to nap during the day or stay up late at night. Keep up with your regular patterns of daily activity to maintain healthy sleep-wake cycles.
- Avoid being sedentary. Mild exercise, such as walking for a total of 70 – 150 minutes per week helps to improve energy levels, decrease stress, improve sleep quality and increase survival.
- It’s hard to avoid stress, but you can engage in stress management techniques, such as yoga, a nature walk, mindfulness, meditation and journaling.
- Don’t isolate yourself from your family and friends, as this can actually increase the body’s stress response. Accept offers of practical assistance, talk about your feelings and consider joining a local chemotherapy support group or attend counselling.