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9 Food Restrictions After Chemotherapy, Cancer Patients Must Know

Paying attention to proper nutritional intake is something that is important so that cancer treatment is more effective. So, what are the foods after chemotherapy that should not be consumed? Check out the list below

9 Food Restrictions After Chemotherapy, Cancer Patients Must Know

Foods that Chemotherapy Patients Should Not Eat

Basically, there is no significant difference in the diet for patients undergoing chemotherapy or chemo. Patients can eat any home-cooked food, as long as the calorie needs and nutritional composition are properly met.

In general, you are advised to avoid food which are at risk of containing poisoning-causing bacteria. This is based on the fact that chemo patients usually have a weak immune system.

In addition, chemotherapy can cause nausea and vomiting, so you must eat foods that are safe for the stomach.

The following is a list of food restrictions after chemotherapy that are important for you to know, including:

1. Unpasteurized Milk

Avoiding unpasteurized dairy products is important for chemo patients to avoid bacteria. Pasteurization is a food sterilization technique to kill disease-causing organisms, including bacteria, viruses, protozoa, molds, and yeasts.

Dairy products that should be avoided are home made yogurt from raw milk, cheese made from unpasteurized milk such as blue-veined (a type of blue cheese), brie, camembert, feta, goat cheese, and queso fresco/blanco.

Therefore, chemo patients with weak immunity should avoid these two types of cheese because of the mold content.

2. Half Cooked Eggs

You are not recommended to eat eggs that have not been cooked. Raw egg yolks carry bacteria Salmonella which causes food poisoning.

3. Raw Seafood

The next food taboo to avoid is raw seafood, sushi or sashimi. Some raw foods are at risk of causing poisoning due to listeria, salmonella, vibrio, and clostridium bacteria. In fact, shellfish can also carry the hepatitis A virus.

In addition, some types of marine fish—both raw and cooked—may contain high levels of mercury. High mercury exposure causes damage to the digestive tract, nervous system and kidneys.

4. Raw Meat

Not only seafood, food after chemotherapy that should be avoided is undercooked beef (especially ground beef).

Consuming raw meat is at risk of contracting the disease. This is because raw meat is susceptible to contamination by bacteria, viruses, toxins and parasites.

Also Read: Recognizing the Differences of Chemotherapy and Radiotherapy

5. Unwashed Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and leafy vegetables such as melons, lettuce or cucumber carry the risk of bacteria Escherichia coli (E. Coli) And Salmonella. Therefore, before consuming it rinse with running water.

6. Raw Honey and Related Products

Raw honey products can carry bacteria Clostridium botulinum which causes botulism. This condition can make a person sick. This is also the same reason why babies should not consume honey.

7. Raw Peanuts and Peanut Butter

Raw peanuts, especially peanuts, can be contaminated with bacteria that pose a risk to health, such as E. Coli And Salmonella.

Peanut butter can also be contaminated with bacteria Salmonella causing several symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. Therefore, chemo patients should avoid it.

8. Cold Food

Some chemotherapy drugs can cause cold food intolerance. So, follow the diet recommended by your doctor to avoid very cold foods, including ice cream, popsicles or frozen fruit.

9. Sour and Spicy Foods

Chemotherapy patients often have eating problems which can lead to stomach acid. For this reason, doctors recommend avoiding acidic foods and drinks, including lemons, limes, tomato sauce, oranges, orange juice, and other foods with a sour taste.

Apart from sour foods, chemotherapy patients should also avoid spicy foods which can trigger an increase in stomach acid.

In addition to the foods and drinks mentioned above, there are other types of food that are prohibited from eating after chemotherapy.

These foods include: smoked fish, dried preserved raw salami, unpasteurized juice or fruit juice, fast food, to canned food (especially those with dents)

Even if slightly dented food cans appear to be safe, dents in cans can actually compromise the integrity of the canned food contents and allow bacteria to form inside. Therefore, damage to food packaging is also a taboo for chemo patients.

Also Read: Signs of Your Chemotherapy Success and How to Know It

Why Are Certain Foods Banned After Chemotherapy?

Chemotherapy is a treatment that can suppress the immune system. This is the reason why one should avoid certain foods until the body’s immunity returns to function properly and improves.

Most people experience neutropenia related to chemotherapy. Neutropenia is a condition in which there is a reduced number of white blood cells (neutrophils), blood cells that are useful for fighting bacteria that enter the body.

When consuming foods that contain harmful bacteria, usually white blood cells will fight dand you may not be aware of its existence.

If the immune system is already struggling with another condition, the illness can be more serious than diarrhea or an upset stomach.

A person with a weakened immune system is at risk for severe illness, hospitalization, and even death with one of the foodborne illnesses.

Not only are common infections worse than they should be, but patients are more likely to develop infections—even if their immune systems are healthy.

  1. Anonymous. 2020. Chemotherapy. (Accessed July 29, 2021)
  2. Bauer, Amber. 2014. Foods to Avoid During Cancer Treatment. (Accessed July 29, 2021)
  3. Dixon, Suzanne. 2023. Expert Tips on Eating Well During Chemotherapy. (Accessed 9 February 2023)
  4. Wilkinson, Julie. 2020. Foods to Avoid During Chemotherapy. (Accessed July 29, 2021)

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