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General Practice 2023

How to relieve the side effects of chemotherapy

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How to relieve the side effects of chemotherapy
How to relieve the side effects of chemotherapy

During cancer treatment, discomforts such as dry mouth, vomiting, diarrhea and hair loss may arise, but there are some strategies that can be adopted to alleviate these discomforts through diet.

The diet for these patients should include nutritious foods such as fruits, vegetables, meats, fish, eggs, seeds and whole grains, giving preference to organic foods. However, in some cases, supplementation is necessary to ensure that the patient receives all the nutrients they need, and it is important to seek advice and follow-up from a nutritionist or doctor.

Food can help alleviate the side effects of chemotherapy, with specific recommendations for each side effect experienced by the person:

1. Dry mouth

To avoid dry mouth due to chemotherapy sessions, it is recommended to drink small sips of water several times a day and avoid sugary drinks, such as soft drinks, for example.

You can also use strategies such as putting small ice cubes in your mouth, made with water or natural fruit juice, and eating foods that dissolve in your mouth, such as gelatin, and that are rich in water, such as watermelon, orange and greens, for example. Check out a list of foods rich in water.

2. Vomiting

To avoid vomiting, you should eat and drink in small amounts, in addition to avoiding very hot foods, as they stimulate the vomiting reflex. The ideal is to eat before or wait at least 1 hour after chemotherapy, and you should not drink liquids with food or lie down right after meals.

You should also avoid foods with a strong smell or foods that are highly seasoned and difficult to digest, such as pepper, fried foods and red meats, so that they do not cause nausea and do not trigger the urge to vomit.

3. Diarrhea

To control diarrhea, the patient needs to eat foods that are easily digestible and low in fiber, such as cooked rice and pasta, pureed vegetables, cooked or baked fruits, fruit compote, rice or cornstarch porridge, bread white and plain cookies. It is necessary to avoid fatty foods such as red meat and fried foods, raw vegetables and whole foods, as the fibers in these foods accelerate intestinal transit and favor diarrhea.

4. Constipation

Unlike diarrhea, to treat constipation, you should increase the consumption of fiber and whole foods, such as flaxseed, oatmeal, chia, whole grains, bread, wholegrain rice and pasta, fruits and vegetables, especially raw salads.

Along with fiber intake, it is very important to drink plenty of water, as it is the combination of fiber + water that will help speed up intestinal transit. In addition to food, the practice of physical exercises, even if it is just stretching or light walks, also helps in controlling constipation.

5. Anemia

To treat anemia, you should eat foods rich in iron and folic acid, such as meat, liver, beans and dark green vegetables. When consuming these foods, you should also eat citrus fruits, such as oranges and pineapples, as they favor the absorption of iron in the intestine. Know what to eat for anemia.

6. Hair loss

Hair loss is one of the most frequent side effects of chemotherapy and it can directly influence the self-esteem of women and men. However, it is possible to control hair loss through food through the consumption of rice, beans, lentils, soy, apple cider vinegar, rosemary, seafood and milk and derivatives. These foods are rich in proteins and minerals that help strengthen hair, as well as increase blood circulation to the scalp, which helps nourish hair and prevent hair loss. Check out some recipes to prevent hair loss.

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