Chemotherapy is a laborious treatment used to fight various forms of cancer. While it is powerful in fighting cancerous cells, it can also affect the body’s regular functions, leading to side effects. Among the common side effects are appetite loss, taste changes, nausea, and mouth sores, which can make eating and drinking difficult for the patient. The cancer prevention and treatments by holistic nutrition are a highly interesting research field for the scientist and cancer specialist. The foods for cancer patients during and after chemotherapy not only affect a patient’s strength and recovery but it can also play a essential role in alleviating some of the treatment’s side effects. Here’s a guide on the best food to eat for cancer patients during and after chemotherapy treatment.

Best food to eat for cancer patients

Alkaline food list for cancer patients

Alkaline diets are based on the idea that consuming alkaline foods can help maintain the body’s ideal pH balance, thereby improving health. While the scientific consensus has not firmly established a direct link between an alkaline diet and cancer prevention, many believe that consuming foods that produce alkaline ash can have potential health benefits. Here’s a list of some might consider including in their diets:

Greenery Leafy Vegetables: Spinach,Swiss chard and Kale.

Cruciferous Vegetables: Broccoli, Cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and Cabbage.

Root Vegetables: Beets, Carrots and Radishes.

Cucumbers and Celery: These have high water content and can be juiced or consumed raw.

Avocado: Avocado is rich in healthy fats and has an alkalizing effect on the body.

Almonds and Almond Milk: These nuts are both protein-rich and alkaline.

Lemons and Limes: Despite being acidic, these citrus fruits have an alkalizing effect on the body once metabolized.

Seaweeds: Such as nori, kelp, and dulse.

Quinoa: A protein-rich grain that is also alkaline.

Herbal Teas: Such as chamomile or rooibos, which can have an alkalizing effect.

Sprouts: Like alfalfa and mung bean sprouts.

Bell Peppers: Red, green, and yellow varieties.

High protein foods for cancer patients

Chemotherapy can results in muscle loss due to decreased appetite and activity. High protein foods for cancer patients helps to rebuild these muscles and enhance energy levels. Some protein-rich foods include:

  1. Poultry: Chicken, turkey.
  2. Fish: Especially fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines.
  3. Eggs: They are easy to digest and versatile.
  4. Beans, lentils, and tofu: Good vegetarian and vegan options.

Stay Hydrated

Dehydration is common after chemotherapy. Drinking plenty of fluids can help with this, but in cases where the patient feels nauseated, try:

  1. Herbal teas.
  2. Broths.
  3. Popsicles made from natural fruit juice.
  4. Water infused with slices of fruit.

Go for Gentle Foods

When the digestive system feels sensitive, soft and bland foods can be easier to stomach:

  1. Mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes.
  2. Rice or risotto.
  3. Plain yogurts or pudding.
  4. Oatmeal.
  5. Cooked fruits and vegetables.

Avoid Greasy and Spicy Foods

Such foods can irritate the digestive system. Instead, opt for steamed, grilled, or baked dishes.

Prioritize Whole Grains

Whole grains, like quinoa, brown rice, and oats, provide much-needed fiber and energy. They can also help combat constipation, another side effect of chemotherapy.

Embrace Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

Unless the patient has a compromised immune system and needs to avoid raw foods, fresh fruits and veggies can provide a wealth of vitamins and minerals. Opt for smoothies if solid foods are difficult to eat.

Address Taste Changes

If foods taste metallic or off, there are some strategies to improve the taste:

  1. Use plastic utensils.
  2. Marinate meats in fruit juices or dressings.
  3. Add herbs and spices (but avoid anything too spicy).

Listen to Your Body

It’s important to understand that every patient’s experience is unique. Always pay attention to how the body reacts to certain foods and adjust the diet accordingly.

Consult a Dietician

If possible, seek the advice of a registered dietitian who specializes in cancer care. They can provide personalized advice based on the patient’s specific needs and conditions.

Food for Cancer Patients during Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy, an essential treatment for many cancer patients, can come with a range of side effects that affect the appetite and digestion. Here’s a guide to ideal food choices for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.

Protein-Rich Foods

Protein supports tissue repair and helps the body heal. Sources of protein include:

  1. Lean meats: Chicken, turkey, and lean cuts of beef or pork.
  2. Fish: Particularly those high in omega-3 fatty acids like salmon and trout.
  3. Dairy: Milk, yogurt, and cheese.
  4. Plant-based proteins: Lentils, chickpeas, beans, tofu, and tempeh.

Hydrate Adequately

Staying hydrated helps mitigate some side effects like dry mouth and constipation. Patients should aim to drink:

  1. Plain water.
  2. Herbal teas.
  3. Clear broths.
  4. Diluted fruit juices.

Prioritize Easy-to-Digest Foods

For those experiencing nausea or a sensitive stomach, soft and bland foods can be helpful:

  1. Creamy soups or broths.
  2. Scrambled or poached eggs.
  3. Mashed potatoes.
  4. Steamed vegetables.
  5. Rice or pasta.

Consume Calorie-Dense Foods

Some patients struggle to maintain their weight during chemotherapy. In such cases, focusing on calorie-dense foods can be beneficial:

  1. Nut butters: Almond, peanut, or cashew butter.
  2. Avocado.
  3. Full-fat dairy products.
  4. Smoothies with added protein powder or Greek yogurt.

Emphasize Whole Grains

These can aid in digestion and provide steady energy:

  1. Brown rice.
  2. Quinoa.
  3. Oats.
  4. Whole grain bread and pasta.

Manage Taste and Smell Sensitivities

Chemotherapy can alter the sense of taste and smell. Here are ways to address it:

  1. Marinate proteins in sweet juices like pineapple or apple to mask metallic tastes.
  2. Opt for cold or room temperature foods if smells trigger nausea.
  3. Experiment with seasonings to enhance flavor without making dishes overly spicy.

Monitor and Manage Constipation

Chemotherapy can lead to constipation. Incorporate fiber-rich foods like:

  1. Fresh fruits and vegetables.
  2. Whole grains.
  3. Beans and lentils.
  4. Nuts and seeds.

Avoid Potential Irritants

Some foods and beverages may exacerbate side effects:

  1. Limit spicy, greasy, or overly sweet foods.
  2. Avoid alcohol and caffeine.
  3. Steer clear of cold drinks if experiencing mouth sores.

Bad food for cancer patients

Cancer patients undergoing treatment often need to make dietary adjustments to accommodate their changing physical needs, manage side effects, and support their overall health. Some foods might exacerbate side effects or pose other health risks. The some foods to avoid for cancer patients are mentioned here.

Processed Meats:   Some meats (Sausages, Hot dogs, Deli meats) often contain nitrates and other chemicals that have been linked to certain cancers.

Sugary Drinks and Foods: High sugar (Sodas, Some fruit juices with added sugars, Candy) intake can contribute to obesity and increase the risk of certain cancers.

Fried, Grilled, or Broiled Meats: These can produce harmful compounds like acrylamide and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

Alcohol: It’s best to limit or avoid alcohol as it has been linked to an increased risk of several types of cancer.

Certain Seafood: Fish high in mercury like shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish. Mercury can weaken the immune system.

Refined Grains: White bread, white rice, and some pastries lack the beneficial nutrients found in whole grains.

Pickled and Salt-preserved Foods: They often contain a high amount of salt, which might be linked to stomach cancer.

Foods with Artificial Additives: Some artificial sweeteners, colors, and preservatives have been controversial and might be best avoided or limited.

Moldy Foods: Aflatoxins produced by molds on nuts or grains can increase the risk of liver cancer.

Trans Fats: Found in some margarines, fried foods, and baked goods. These fats can promote inflammation.

Unwashed Fruits and Vegetables: They may carry harmful pesticides or bacteria. Always wash thoroughly or opt for organic produce when possible.

Raw or Undercooked Foods: Such as eggs, seafood, or meats can risk bacterial infection, especially for those with weakened immune systems due to treatments.


Best food during and after chemotherapy for cancer patients is a cornerstone of overall well-being and recovery journey. As chemotherapy interacts with the body’s normal functioning, understanding and adapting to dietary needs becomes paramount. By focusing on nutrient-rich, gentle, and hydrating foods, patients can not only foster a faster recovery but also improve their quality of life. The nutritional cancer treatment or cancer treatment by nutrition is highly beneficial for cancer patients. It’s always advisable for patients to work closely with healthcare professionals and nutritionists to tailor a diet that addresses individual needs, ensuring the body receives the vital nourishment it needs during this critical time.