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Nutrition During Chemotherapy
Suggestions for Patients and Caregivers

To view the chemotherapy topics,
click on the links below or scroll down the page.

Creating Comfort Through Nutrition
Ways To Reduce Constipation
General Tips for Eating
Ways To Lessen Dry Mouth
Healthy foods to try

Quick and Healthy Snacks
What to Keep In Your Fridge
What to Stock in Your Freezer
Things to Avoid

Sources
Natural Foods Stores
Recipes

Creating Comfort Through Nutrition

One of the most important things to keep in mind when you or a loved one is undergoing chemotherapy is comfort. It is essential that the chemotherapy patient have pleasant and peaceful surroundings, especially in the days immediately following treatment. Comfort can mean many things to many people, so it is imperative that there are open lines of communication between the patient and caregiver so that the patient can freely express his/her needs.

When it comes to comfort through nutrition, here are a few points that may help create a comfortable atmosphere, and aid in minimizing nausea and maximizing the absorption of nutrients:

  • Create a calming environment, especially when eating by playing soft music, avoiding television, news and other distractions.

  • Eat small amounts of easily digested foods frequently, such as:
    Vegetable broth, brands such as Imagine and Pacific have organic, natural broths (watch out for high sodium varieties, especially if water retention is an issue)

    Light soups
    Crackers, preferably organic whole grain choices with minimal hydrogenated fats
    Dry toast
    Fresh grated ginger tea: grate 1 teaspoon of ginger root into one cup hot water and steep for five minutes
    Mint or chamomile tea
    Ice water or juice chips : freeze fresh juices into an ice tray for easy access

  • Try wearing a "Sea Band" on the wrist to minimize nausea. They can be purchased at your local pharmacy.

  • Take short walks after meals to aid digestion. While walking, inhaling fresh air and taking in scenic views may help quell feelings of nausea.

  • Take anti-nausea medicines you know are safe for you as recommended by your medical doctor
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Here are Some Ways To Reduce Constipation:

  • Drink ample water between meals.

  • Eat high fiber snacks such as whole grain cereals, stewed fruit, hydrated prunes, and wheat bran.

  • Drink prune juice. Start out with half a cup to assess bowel tolerance.

  • Try aloe vera juice. Dilute one tablespoon in one cup of water (make sure to start with no more than one tablespoon to assess bowel tolerance). Aloe vera juice is known for promoting beneficial flora properties which may aid digestion and heal tissue. Aloe vera juice (for internal use) can be purchased at any natural foods market such as New Leaf Markets or Whole Foods.
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General Tips for Eating:

  • If you do not feel well, eat small, frequent meals as opposed to three larger meals each day. Five meals a day is optimum.

  • Consume plenty of water -- 1 oz. per two pounds of body weight.
  • Eat slowly, and sit up or walk after each meal.

  • Eat foods that are high in potassium such as bananas, potatoes, broccoli, asparagus and un-sulfured red apricots. Try to consume predominantly organic fruits and vegetables.

  • Eat plenty of green, leafy vegetables. Try raw or marinated cabbage and other cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and asparagus.

  • Try to eat foods that are in season for best nutrient density and freshness.

  • Keep a variety of healthy organic and convenient snacks readily available, such as: rice crackers, carrot sticks, and miso broth.

  • Chew your food slowly and thoroughly, and this will help with digestion. If you find that you are experiencing indigestion or slower than usual digestion, talk to your medical doctor about taking a natural digestive enzyme (such as papain, a supplement made from papaya enzyme found in most health food stores).

  • Chemotherapy can put a strain on friendly bacteria in the intestines. You can help restore this balance of "friendly bacteria" by eating acidophilus-rich foods such as yogurt, or with the approval of your physician, taking acidophilus supplements. Keeping a balance in internal flora will help the body restore proper digestive function. Always remember to discuss supplements that you are taking with your health care team.

  • It is a good idea to be open to experimenting with a variety of foods with different textures and odors to find the foods that feel comfortable for you during this time. Remember, some foods that you usually love may be extremely distasteful to you during treatment.
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To Lessen Dry Mouth:

  • Chew on ice chips.
  • Eat fruit juice popsicles, or homemade fruit ice chips made in your ice tray.
  • Prepare broths to sip with meals. Miso is an excellent choice.
  • Try drinking several small glasses of water between meals.
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General Foods

Here is a guide to some healthy foods to try:

Foods What It Is How it Helps
Miso Fermented soy paste Contains pro-biotics (friendly flora)
Ginger Asian root spice Helps relieve nausea and helps with vitality
Burdock root Root vegetable Strengthens cells, helps with liver function.
Aloe juice Juice from cactus-like plant Helps with elimination and healing.
Spirulina Plant from ocean Easily digested plant protein.
Vegetable juice Juiced vegetables Full of vitamins & minerals

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Quick and Healthy Snack Ideas:

  • Crackers
  • Celery sticks with organic almond butter
  • Carrot sticks with yogurt dip
  • Air popped pop corn with flax oil
  • Dry toast or toast with hummus
  • Organic wild rice crackers
  • Organic Spelt crackers
  • Organic cereals (hot and cold)
  • Healthy sweeteners (e.g., maple brown rice syrup/molasses/stevia- stevia is a plant source sweetener available at natural foods stores)
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What to Keep In Your Fridge:

  • Organic milks, such as soy, almond, oat, or rice
  • Organic hard-boiled eggs
  • Organic almond butter
  • Organic yogurt
  • Organic hummus
  • Washed and sliced vegetables with dipping sauce. Try organic salad dressings as a dip.
  • Washed and sliced fresh fruit, such as pineapple, mango and papaya-these fruits contain natural digestive enzymes.
  • Peeled and sliced burdock root, marinated in apple cider or rice vinegar-burdock root can be found in the produce department of your local natural foods store.
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What to Stock in Your Freezer:

  • Frozen yogurt
  • Organic berries
  • Lecithin for adding to cereals
  • Flax seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Frozen bananas
  • Smoothie ingredients
  • Spirulina to put into smoothies or shakes
  • Wholegrain breads
  • Organic ready-to-heat meals found in the freezer section of the supermarket.
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Things to Avoid:

  • Spicy foods or foods that tend to be acidic, such as hot peppers or lemon juice.
  • Carbonated beverages, alcoholic beverages, and acidic fruit juices in order to prevent excess bloating and indigestion. Never consume orange juice with meals or vitamins, as this may irritate your stomach and slow down digestion.
  • Caffeine and nicotine.
  • Too many canned products and/or animal products.· All fried foods.
  • Packaged foods that are laden with preservatives, color, or additives. Shopping at a natural foods store will greatly reduce your odds of purchasing additive-laden products (see list of stores that follows). However, it is a good idea to check labels of all foods. Here are some other ingredients to avoid:
    • Aspartame
    • Sucralose
    • High Fructose Corn Syrup
    • Saccharin
    • Hydrogenated oils
    • Corn Oil
    • Excessively salty foods (e.g., potato chips, canned vegetable juices, pickles etc.)

A word of caution: Always discuss complementary treatments such as nutritional supplements with your doctor and/or members of your health care team.
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Sources:

Kushi, Michio, The Cancer Prevention Diet, St. Martins Press, New York, 1993.

Kushi, Michio, Cancer and Heart Disease: the Macrobiotic Approach to Degenerative Disorders, Japan Publications, Inc., Tokyo, 1985.

Weil, Andrew, Natural Health, Natural Medicine: A Comprehensive Manual for Wellness and Self-Care, Houghton Mifflin, Boston,1990.

Weil, Andrew, Spontaneous Healing, Alfred A. Knopf Inc., New York, 1995.
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Natural Foods Stores Phone Address
New Leaf Market Capitola 831 479 7987 1210 41st Avenue
Capitola, CA
New Leaf Market Pacific 831 425 1793 1134 Pacific Avenue
Santa Cruz, CA
New Leaf Market Westside 831 426 1306 2351 Mission Street
Santa Cruz, CA
Staff of Life 831 423 8632 1305 Water Street
Santa Cruz, CA
Whole Foods Los Gatos 408 358 4434 15980 Los Gatos Boulevard
Los Gatos, CA
Whole Foods Campbell 408 371 5000 1690 S Bascom Avenue
Campbell, CA
Whole Foods Monterey 831 333 1661 Del Monte Shopping Center
Monterey, CA

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