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Supplements To Boost Immune System During Chemo

Cancer Diet: Foods To Add And Avoid During Cancer Treatment

Can supplements boost our immune system to battle COVID-19

Cancer can affect every aspect of your health, including your appetite and diet. Selvi Rajagopal, M.D., a specialist in internal medicine at Johns Hopkins Medicine, explains why your diet is so important during cancer treatment, and provides tips on foods to add and avoid.

Supplements And Vitamins To Help Chemotherapy

Nothing makes me angrier than bad medical advice. And theres one particular recommendation that has me fuming.

Cancer doctors are telling their patients to avoid nutritional supplements because theyre dangerous.

And that is simply not true.

If youre having chemotherapy and your doctor told you nutritional supplements could harm you or interfere with the chemo, heres my advice: Find a new doctor.

Because I can tell you this notion is not just completely wrong, but dangerous to your health, as well.

Ginger Supplements May Relieve Nausea Associated With Surgery And Chemotherapy

What is ginger?

Renowned for its stomach-settling properties, ginger is native to parts of India, China and Jamaica. As a spice, ginger adds a hot and lemony flavour to foods. Medicinally, ita used by mainstream doctors and plays a major role in traditional healing.

What does ginger do?

For thousands of years, ginger has been popular as a treatment for digestive problems, ranging from mild indigestion and flatulence to nausea and vomiting. Its also been used to treat morning and motion sickness.

Clinical studies of women undergoing exploratory surgery or major gynaecological surgery showed that one gram of ginger taken before an operation could significantly reduce post-operative nausea and vomiting. Ginger also appears to counter the nausea created by chemotherapy.

How to take ginger

  • To relieve chemotherapy-related nausea, take a single dose of 1.5 grams of dried root. When taking ginger for this purpose, take it with food.
  • Buy ginger supplements standardized to contain pungent compounds. These consist of gingerols or their breakdown products shogaols, the active ingredients that give ginger its healing properties.

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Foods To Boost Immunity In Cancer Patients

Cancer patients are at increased risk of catching infections due to low immunity. Here are must-have foods to boost immunity in them.

It is important for people with cancer to have a nutritious diet to keep their immunity strong and prepare them better for fighting the disease. There are a number of factors that may put cancer patients at a disadvantageous position compared to others as far as immunity is concerned. The disease and its treatment may also change the way the body’s immune system works. Immune system is a bodys defence mechanism which might get affected in people suffering from cancer. Adopting the right eating practices may not help in getting rid of the disease, but it will certainly help the body deal with the ordeal better. Pumpkin seeds, garlic, olive oil, broccoli are among the foods with essential nutrients to help build immunity in cancer patients.

Should You Take Supplements During Cancer Treatment

Onco Nutritional Supplements

If youre not eating as much as usual during treatment, or if you have side effects like vomiting and diarrhea that cause you to lose vitamins and nutrients, you might consider taking a multivitamin.

Vitamin D tends to be the most common vitamin deficiency, says Rajagopal. Vitamin D helps keep your immune system strong, reduces fatigue and supports bone health. Especially if youre on steroids, youll be at risk for bone density loss.

Talk to a registered dietitian and your oncologist before adding any vitamins or supplements to your diet.

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How To Nourish Your Body Before During And After Chemotherapy

While good nutrition is always important, its essential during cancer treatment. Maintaining a healthy diet can help you feel better and recover faster, as well as minimize your side effects and improve the effectiveness of treatments. During chemotherapy, your body needs more calories and nutrients to heal tissues and fight infections. So give your body a helping hand by helping yourself to the right types of foods. If its difficult to get enough nutrition through food alone, speak to your cancer care team about getting the nutrients you need with IV therapy at the biostation.

As a woman, you may be used to caring for everyone else, but now is the time to take care of yourself. To conclude our October Womens Wellness series, weve prepared these useful tips to give your body the nutrition it craves at every stage of treatment.

Vitamins Minerals And Antioxidants

Getting enough vitamins and minerals is critical to overall health. Following a well-rounded diet is the best way to ensure a person has an optimal intake of vitamins and minerals. However, some people with cancer may need to supplement with specific vitamins and minerals.

Depending on the type of cancer, 3090% of people may have an inadequate diet. This can increase the likelihood of nutrient deficiencies. For example, people undergoing chemotherapy are more likely to be deficient in several nutrients, such as magnesium, iron, vitamin D, and folate.

Antioxidants neutralize free radicals, stopping them from damaging healthy cells. They include certain vitamins and minerals, such as:

People can consume more antioxidants by eating a variety of fruits and vegetables. Doctors do not usually recommend taking large doses of antioxidant supplements during chemotherapy.

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Cancer Patients Need Protein

When Dr Greg Ogilvie was head of internal medicine and oncology at Colorado State University, he researched the correlation of diet to cancer. One of his big findings was that the byproducts of grain metabolism glucose and lactate feed cancer cells.

Dr Goldstein strongly recommends avoiding grains and other carbohydrates for all dogs, but especially for cancer patients.

If your dog has cancer, he really needs a high protein, high fat diet containing raw meat and its fat, as nature intended.

The immune system is a protein-based system. In cancer patients, the body is constantly searching for more protein because the immune system is failing so it draws protein from the muscles.

This is why cancer is a wasting disease and why so many cancer patients become extremely emaciated.

There is an exception to the rule of feeding a raw meat diet to a canine cancer patient. If your dog becomes anorectic and doesnt want to eat this diet, its really important to get ANY food that he will eat into him.

Mind, body and spirit are all important in cancer patients, so if your dogs losing his appetite and theres a food he loves eating, let him have it, even if it doesnt seem like the healthiest option.

Adjunct Nutrition Support For Cancer Patients

Boost Your Immune System

It was estimated that about 30%-90% of patients believed that they had inadequate diets leading to nutritional deficiencies and poor immune functions some cancer patients were obviously cachexic. Micronutrient deficiencies do have negative impacts on immunotherapy as the hosts immunocompetence is weakened. There is also an increased risk of developing irAEs and a negative impact on the patients quality of life. Nutritional deficiencies can be reversed early if adjunct micronutrients are given before and during oncology treatments. Some chemotherapy drugs may have side effects of depleting certain micronutrients. This tends to worsen the nutritional deficiency, e.g., cyclophosphamide and paclitaxel can deplete vitamin D by an increased breakdown of calcidiol and calcitriol. A cohort study from the Mayo Clinic has shown a 26% reduction of non-small cell lung cancer mortality with improved quality of life and prolonged survival through micronutrient supplementation. Apparently, immunonutrition has the potential to modulate the activity of the immune system by interventions with specific nutrients. It may be applied with immunotherapy to improve immune functions, modulate the acquired immune response, decrease treatment toxicity, and enhance patient outcomes. Micronutrients such as selenium, vitamin C, and vitamin D have been found to be effective and safe for patients undergoing oncological intervention.

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Supplements For Cancer: Green Tea

Green tea contains substances called polyphenols that are believed to have powerful anti-cancer abilities.

Cancerous tumors rely on fast-growing networks of blood vessels to sustain their rapid growth rate. Green tea compounds may possess the ability to help slow or prevent this rapid growth. âGreen tea seems to inhibit the development of new blood vessels in tumors, and provides one more approach that can be used to strangle tumors,â Birdsall tells WebMD.

Because it would take the equivalent of drinking 10 to 12 cups of green tea each day to obtain the cancer-fighting levels of green tea compounds, Birdsall recommends that his patients take green tea in extract form. Be aware, there are some concerns about green tea extracts and liver toxicity. Also, a recommendation of 10 to 12 cups of green tea per day would be for cancer treatment, not cancer prevention.

Drinking green tea may increase the survival rates of some cancer patients. One study of women with ovarian cancer found that women who drank green tea were more likely to survive three years after ovarian cancer diagnosis than women who did not drink green tea. The survival rates increased with higher consumption levels of green tea.

Summary Of The Evidence For Cancer Therapy Interactions With Foods And Dietary Supplements

To assist readers in evaluating the results of human studies of integrative, alternative, and complementary therapies for cancer, the strength of the evidence associated with each type of treatment is provided wheneverpossible. To qualify for a level of evidence analysis, a study must:

Separate levels of evidence scores are assigned to qualifying human studies on the basis of statistical strength of the study design and scientific strength of the treatment outcomes measured. The resulting two scores are then combined to produce an overall score. For an explanation of the scores and additional information about levels of evidence analysis, see Levels of Evidence for Human Studies of Integrative, Alternative, and Complementary Therapies.

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Ginkgo Biloba Supplements May Reduce Side Effects From Chemotherapy

What is ginkgo biloba?

This popular herbal medicine is derived from one of the oldest species of tree on earth. Today, its widely marketed as a general memory booster. The medicinal form of the herb is extracted from the leaves of the ginkgo biloba tree. A form of the herb called ginkgo biloba extract is used to make dietary supplements. GBE is obtained by drying and milling the plants leaves and then extracting the active ingredients in a mixture of acetone and water.

What does ginkgo biloba do?

Ginkgo may have beneficial effects on the circulatory and central nervous systems. It increases blood flow to the brain, arms and legs by regulating the tone and elasticity of blood vessels. It also acts like aspirin by helping reduce the stickiness of the blood, thereby lowering the risk of blood clots.

Ginkgo appears to have antioxidant properties as well, mopping up the damaging compounds known as free radicals and aiding in the maintenance of healthy blood cells. Some researchers report that it enhances the nervous system by promoting the delivery of additional oxygen and blood sugar to nerve cells.

How to take ginkgo biloba

Satisfy Your Bodys Needs During Treatment:

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Eat well and eat often. A healthy diet helps your body function at its best and lets you build up your reserves to maintain your strength, rebuild your body tissue and protect yourself from infection. Plus, eating well can help you handle any side effects and may make your treatments more effective. Just as important as eating well is getting enough calories to maintain your weight and help you heal faster. So when its time for treatment, keep these healthy hints in mind:

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How To Start A Conversation About Supplements With Your Health Care Team

Deciding if, when, and how to use a dietary or natural product during cancer treatment can be difficult. After doing the research outlined above, talk to your health care team about any supplement products you would like to take. One professional who can provide information is an oncology pharmacist. Make sure to always:

  • Discuss your choice with your doctor.

  • Make sure they understand the reason why you want to use a supplement.

  • Ask about other, safer alternatives. For example, yoga or meditation is safer than a supplement for sleep problems and have been found effective.

Questions to ask your health care team before taking a supplement include the following:

  • What are the possible benefits and risks of taking this supplement, based on my medical history?

  • Could it interact with my cancer treatment? If so, how?

  • What are possible side effects of taking this supplement?

  • What dosage and how long can I take a supplement?

  • Is there any new information available about this supplement?

  • What are other options to help me with cancer side effects?

What Do I Eat After Chemotherapy And For The Next Few Days

  • Eat small meals and snacks throughout the day .
  • Eat lower fat, blander foods!
  • Try colder or cool foods these give off less odor and aroma and are especially important if you feel nauseous. Hot foods can have a more pronounced odor, therefore causing an aversion to certain foods.
  • Drink fluids frequentlythis will prevent dehydration and remove some of the byproducts of the chemotherapy. Water is the best, but there are other sources of fluids such as:
  • Apple and grape juice
  • Herbal teas, such as ginger and mint
  • Weak black teas

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Vitamins Diet Supplements And Cancer

Vitamins, minerals, essential fats and amino acids are important nutrients for our bodies. Eating a varied amount of these nutrients gives us energy and helps our bodies to grow and repair.


  • Try to eat a balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables.
  • Low levels of nutrients can make you feel ill.
  • Use supplements under the supervision of your medical team and a dietitian.

Research Into Dietary Supplements And Cancer

The Right Supplements For Your Immune System

There is no reliable evidence that any dietary supplement can help to prevent cancer. Some research has found that taking certain supplements could increase the risk of some cancers developing.

There is evidence that a healthy diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables can reduce your cancer risk.

Research has looked at whether certain vitamins and supplements can help to prevent cancer in certain groups of people.

A study looked at vitamin D supplements in preventing cancer and heart disease. The researchers found that vitamin D supplements did not lower the incidence of cancer or heart disease.

An organisation called The Cochrane Collaboration carries out systematic reviews. These are overviews of all the research into a specific issue. The reviews look at the published results of all the trials that have investigated a certain treatment in a particular situation. They pull all that information together and draw conclusions.

A Cochrane review published in 2018 looked at an essential mineral called selenium. They wanted to see if selenium supplements could reduce cancer risk. After looking at all the information they found that selenium did not reduce cancer risk. Some of the trials reported a higher incidence of high grade prostate cancer and type 2 diabetes in people who took selenium supplements.

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More Information About Vitamins And Minerals

MedlinePlus in the USA has information about vitamins and minerals used as dietary supplements. They provide information about possible side effects and research about vitamins and cancer.

  • Cochrane Systematic Review, January 2018.

  • Vitamin D supplements and prevention of cancer and cardiovascular diseaseJ.E.Manson and othersNew England Journal of Medicine, 2019. 380 33-34

  • The Vitamin epidemic: what is the evidence for harm or value?M. Kennedy

Withania Supplements May Help Reduce Weight Loss As A Result Of Cancer Treatment

What is withania?

Withania is a perennial with small, yellow and green flowers, and an orange berry. The root is used medicinally but the berries, leaves and bark are sometimes used too. It contains steroidal lactones, flavonoids, alkaloids, phytosterols and iron.

What does withania do?

Withania is thought to be capable of modulating the bodys response to stress-in the brain, it appears to stimulate the GABAergic system, the system involved in calming and quieting brain activity. By acting on the adrenal glands, it may also reduce blood levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which is raised in chronic stress and can cause adverse effects.

Experts think withania may help support people with cancer. For instance, it may reduce the weight loss that commonly occurs with this condition. More importantly, it may help reduce the toxic effects of chemotherapy on the bone marrow, which is where red and white blood cells are made.

How to take withania

  • Dried root: take 3 to 6 grams a day in capsule form or as a tea.
  • Fluid extract : take 5 to 13 millilitres a day.
  • Your health-care practitioner can prescribe a specific dose, possibly coupled with other appropriate herbs, to suit your specific needs.
  • If you are having chemotherapy or radiotherapy or taking immune-suppressing drugs, consult your specialist before taking withania.

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What Vitamins Can Help Prevent Covid

Because COVID-19 comes with cold and flu-like symptoms, Vitamins B, C and D, as well as zinc may be helpful in boosting your immune system and fighting the illness in the same way they can help you get over a cold or flu.

Vitamin C

Generally, vitamin C can help you fight a cold faster or ease your cold symptoms if you were taking it prior to getting sick. As an antioxidant, vitamin C can help reduce inflammationand lung inflammation is a severe symptom of COVID-19, which can lead to respiratory distress or even death. So if youre still healthy, it doesnt hurt to start taking vitamin C now.

Vitamin D

The primary function of vitamin D is to help your body maintain optimal blood levels of calcium and phosphorous, which you can get through exposure to the suns ultraviolet rays, or through supplements and the foods you eat.

Getting enough vitamin D can also protect you from respiratory infection. Vitamin D supplementation significantly decreases the chance of respiratory tract infections, based on clinical studies published in the Journal of Pharmacology and Pharmacotherapeutics.

B Complex vitamins

Vitamin B6 is essential to keeping your immune system in top condition. Be sure to get enough vitamin B as a supplement, as part of your daily diet or in a multivitamin.


Zinc has also been found to help produce and activate T-cells , which trigger the body to respond to infections, according to the NIH.

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