The Best Diet for Cancer Patients on Immunotherapy

Are you a cancer patient undergoing immunotherapy? Learn how to nutrition can help bolster your immune system and learn the best diet to eat while on immunotherapy.

Quick facts: Best Diet For Cancer Patients On Immunotherapy

  • ✅ Eating a plant-based diet may help reduce the severity of immunotherapy side effects such as diarrhea, nausea, and fatigue (Source: Oxford Academic).
  • ✅ Patients undergoing immunotherapy may benefit from eating a diet rich in fiber, healthy fats, and proteins (Source: Cancer Research UK).
  • ✅ Antioxidant-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can boost the immune system and help fight cancer (Source: American Cancer Society).
  • ✅ Adding foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids (such as fish, flaxseed, and olive oil) can reduce inflammation and fight cancer (Source: Harvard Medical School).
  • ✅ Eating a diet low in sugar, processed foods, and saturated fats can help to boost the effectiveness of immunotherapy treatments (Source: National Cancer Institute).
  • Introduction

    Immunotherapy is a type of cancer treatment where drugs or other substances boost the body’s natural defenses to fight cancer. It is becoming increasingly popular for many cancers, and has proven to be effective in managing some forms of cancer.

    While undergoing immunotherapy, it’s important that patients maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle to support their health and the effectiveness of this treatment. This article will discuss the best diet for cancer patients on immunotherapy and the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle while undergoing this treatment. It will also provide some tips on how patients can easily incorporate these dietary changes into their lifestyle.

    Nutrition Basics for Cancer Patients

    Cancer patients on immunotherapy need to take nutrition seriously. Eating a balanced, healthy diet while undergoing treatment is essential for maintaining the immune system and keeping their bodies strong.

    Here, we will explore the basics of nutrition for cancer patients, so they can choose the best diet to meet their needs.


    Macronutrients include carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, which are essential for health and energy. Carbohydrates provide energy and help build complex molecules, such as DNA. Fats are important for normal cell functioning and provide insulation for organs. Proteins are necessary for growth, tissue repair, and muscle building. Eating the right amount of macronutrients is essential to maintaining good health because each of these nutrients provides different benefits.

    For cancer patients on immunotherapy, an appropriate macronutrient balance should be considered in order to maximize health benefits and optimize treatment outcomes. Carbohydrates should make up 45-65% of total calorie intake. Fats should be 20-35%, and protein should be 10-35%. Even though carbohydrates provide immediate energy that can help sustain longer treatment sessions or appointments, it’s important to avoid refined sugars or processed carbohydrates as much as possible in order to prevent a sugar spike that could inhibit healing processes.


    Micronutrients are substances found in the food we eat and are important for maintaining a healthy diet. They consist of vitamins and minerals, which are essential for general health and well-being as well as to help reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancers.

    Many cancer patients who are undergoing immunotherapy may be at an increased risk for deficiencies in certain micronutrients which can result in fatigue, muscle aches and weak immune systems.

    It is therefore important that patients on immunotherapy receive adequate amounts of micronutrients to maintain optimal health throughout their treatment. Examples of important micronutrients include:

    • Vitamins A, C, E, and B-complex vitamins (such as folate or B9)
    • Zinc, iron, magnesium and selenium.

    These nutrients can be found in a variety of foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and fish, nuts/seeds and dairy products. Nutrition counselling may be helpful to ensure that appropriate servings from each food group are consumed to properly meet any individual’s nutrition needs.


    Hydration is a particularly important component of nutrition for cancer patients on immunotherapy. Research suggests that dehydration could lead to reduced effectiveness of immunotherapy treatments, so it is essential for cancer patients to stay well-hydrated throughout their course of treatment.

    The recommended intake of water for adult cancer patients is at least 8 glasses per day. Additionally, eating foods high in water content, such as fruits and vegetables, can help to meet the hydration need and also provide important sources of vitamins and minerals.

    If fluid intake is difficult due to side effects such as nausea or lack of appetite, people may consider:

    • Eating foods with high water content
    • Drinking fluids other than water (ex: broth)

    Finally, it can be helpful for people to limit their intake of caffeinated beverages as these can contribute to dehydration.

    Foods to Include

    Eating a balanced, nutritious diet can be important for cancer patients, especially those receiving immunotherapy treatments. Making sure to get enough calories and the right nutrients can help cancer patients better tolerate treatments and manage side effects.

    In this article, we will take a look at the best foods to incorporate into a diet for cancer patients on immunotherapy:

    Fruits and Vegetables

    Fruits and vegetables are essential for cancer patients on immunotherapy, as they contain a wide variety of vitamins, minerals and natural antioxidants. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables can help to reduce inflammation, which is associated with the development of cancer. Eating various types of these foods can help to replenish important nutrients such as vitamin C and E, zinc, selenium and other plant-based compounds that are known to have anti-cancer properties.

    Including plenty of leafy greens such as kale, spinach or Swiss chard can help detoxify the body naturally through their high antioxidant content. Fruits such as oranges, apples or blueberries also provide a range of nutrients that may aid in fighting off infection or inflammation related to cancer treatments. Additionally, cruciferous vegetables like broccoli are abundant in vitamins A, C and E which play an important role in maintaining healthy functioning cells.

    Whole Grains

    Whole grains are an important part of a healthy diet for cancer patients undergoing immunotherapy. Whole grains provide essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber to the body which helps to regulate digestion and protect against certain kinds of cancer. Additionally, whole grains may help reduce inflammation levels in the body when consumed regularly.

    Examples of whole grains include:

    • Oats
    • Wheat
    • Rye
    • Barley
    • Amaranth
    • Buckwheat
    • Brown rice
    • Wild rice
    • Quinoa
    • Millet

    Incorporating these into your diet can easily be done by opting for whole grain breads or pastas in place of refined versions; adding cooked steel-cut oats at breakfast time; topping salads with cooked quinoa or wild rice; or having a bowl of cooked brown rice as a side dish at dinner.

    Lean Proteins

    Lean proteins are essential for cancer patients receiving immunotherapy, as it helps to boost the immune system and provide the necessary building blocks for cell repair and growth. For a cancer patient, protein supplementation is recommended in order to maintain muscle mass and give the body its best chances at fighting off any unwanted diseases.

    Lean proteins can come from sources such as fish, poultry, or eggs. Other sources of lean proteins include nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, tofu, or tempeh. It’s important to incorporate an adequate variety of these into a cancer patient’s diet in order to ensure they’re getting all the nutrients they need. Furthermore, organic versions of these foods should be chosen whenever possible in order to avoid any added hormones or toxins that are often found in non-organic items.

    Eating lean proteins is an important part of keeping both the body and immune system healthy during the tough times of fighting against cancer.

    Healthy Fats

    Healthy fats are a crucial part of any diet, but especially when it comes to cancer patients on immunotherapy. They create energy, and can help reduce inflammation in the body.

    Healthy fats include:

    • Nuts,
    • Avocado,
    • Olive oil,
    • Fatty fish such as salmon and sardines,
    • Eggs, and
    • Flaxseed as well as natural nut and seed butters like almond or sunflower seed.

    It’s important to emphasize monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats over saturated fat sources like beef or pork. Also try to avoid trans fats which are found in baked goods and processed foods like potato chips or French fries.

    Not only do healthy fats provide the energy needed to go through treatments but they have also been associated with a lower risk of disease progression in some cancers.

    Plant-Based Protein Sources

    Plant-based protein sources are an important dietary component for cancer patients on immunotherapy. Immunotherapy treatments can leave patients feeling exhausted, which is why having access to nutrient-dense and easy-to-consume plant proteins can be vital.

    Examples of plant proteins that are recommended to include in a cancer patient’s diet during immunotherapy include:

    • Whole grains, beans, and legumes such as lentils and chickpeas;
    • Vegetables like broccoli, asparagus, cabbage, spinach, kale; and
    • Nuts such as almonds and walnuts.

    Eating a combination of these proteins will provide the most variety in terms of nutrition and help bolster the body’s defenses against the side effects of immunotherapy. Eating balanced meals that include all protein sources will also help reduce fatigue levels while on this therapy.

    Foods to Avoid

    For cancer patients on immunotherapy, it is important to eat a balanced, healthy diet that avoids certain types of foods. This is because certain foods can interfere with the effectiveness of immunotherapy.

    In this article, we will look at what foods to avoid while on immunotherapy:

    Processed Foods

    Processed foods are often high in sugar, unhealthy fats, and calories. This can affect your overall health and increase your risk of developing cancer. Processed foods are also often high in preservatives and chemicals that can cause harm to the body’s cells when consumed. Cancer patients taking immunotherapy drugs should avoid processed foods in order to get the most benefit from the therapy.

    The best way to protect yourself against cancer is to eat a diet rich in whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. Eating a variety of nutrient-dense foods will help you maintain a healthy weight and provide all of the essential vitamins and minerals that your body needs to function optimally during immunotherapy treatment.

    Refined Sugars

    Refined sugars are found in many processed foods and should be avoided by cancer patients on immunotherapy. Refined sugars provide empty calories and can lead to weight gain, diabetes, inflammation, poor gut health and an overall unhealthy lifestyle. Eating too many refined sugars can cause a spike in blood sugar levels which can weaken the immune system’s ability to fight off cancer cells.

    Additionally, the high glycemic load of refined sugars makes them a poor choice for anyone on immunotherapy. Finally, eating excess refined sugars can also lead to certain types of cancer such as breast and colon cancers.

    To avoid consuming too much refined sugar, choose natural sweeteners such as honey or maple syrup instead of white or brown sugar whenever possible.

    Trans Fats

    Trans fats are a type of fat that is chemically modified through a process called hydrogenation, which makes it more solid and stable at room temperature. High intake of trans fats has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. This can be especially concerning for cancer patients on immunotherapy, as they may already be at an increased risk for these issues.

    It is best to avoid foods containing trans fats such as processed snacks and baked goods, as well as fast food. Additionally, it is important to read ingredient labels and look out for ‘partially hydrogenated oil’ in the ingredients list. This indicates high trans fat content in the product.

    By avoiding trans fats and choosing healthier, whole food sources instead, cancer patients will be able to get the nutrition they need while minimizing their risk of complications from their treatments.

    Red and Processed Meats

    Red and processed meats are foods to avoid for cancer patients on immunotherapy. Research has shown that red and processed meats are associated with increased risk of certain cancers, such as colorectal cancer. They also contain saturated fats, which can lead to inflammation in the body that could interfere with the effectiveness of certain anticancer treatments. In some cases, these can even cause harm by weakening the immune system’s ability to fight off cancer cells.

    Processed meats such as bacon and deli meat are especially high in unhealthy fats and sodium, making them foods to avoid while undergoing immunotherapy. If you choose to eat red or processed meats, it is important to limit your intake and make sure they are part of a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables.

    Eating During Treatment

    While undergoing cancer treatment, it is important to maintain a healthy and balanced diet. Eating the right kinds of food can provide the necessary vitamins and minerals needed to support the body and assist in the recovery process. When it comes to immunotherapy, a particular type of diet can help patients during their treatment journey. Let’s discuss some of the best foods for cancer patients on immunotherapy:

    Managing Side Effects

    When undergoing immunotherapy for cancer, dietary considerations become key in managing side effects. One of the most common side effects from these treatments is fatigue, which can cause a lack of interest in eating and can weaken an individual’s immune system.

    It is important to include nutrient-dense foods that are easy to digest, such as

    • steamed vegetables
    • fruits and smoothies
    • lean protein sources including eggs
    • grains such as oats and quinoa
    • healthy fats like olive oil or avocados

    Additionally, it is important to drink plenty of fluids throughout treatment; water should be the primary beverage consumed and caffeine should be limited.

    Eating five or six small meals per day helps maintain energy levels throughout treatment and keeps the digestive system working properly; items like soup or yogurt served cold may also assist with appetite loss.

    Eating Enough Calories

    When undergoing cancer treatment, it’s important to make sure your body has enough energy from foods, so your body can work effectively. Eating enough calories is key for many treatment processes such as immunotherapy. For immunotherapy, people generally need at least 1,200-1,800 calories a day for women and 1,800-2,200 calories a day for men.

    It’s essential to keep these calorie guidelines in mind so that the body is able to absorb nutrition while on an immunotherapy regimen. Food sources such as lean meats and fish are recommended due to their high protein content which supports healing during cancer treatment. Complex carbohydrates such as potatoes, beans and whole grains are also beneficial sources of carbohydrates that can provide extra energy without increasing fat levels in the body. Fruits and vegetables are also essential foods that should be included in the diet of someone undergoing cancer treatment with immunotherapy.

    Eating to Boost Immunity

    Many cancer patients undergoing immunotherapy will experience side effects, including a weakened immune system. To counteract this, it is important for those on immunotherapy to eat a nutrient-rich diet that will boost their immunity and reduce chemotherapy symptoms.

    Eating foods that are high in antioxidants and vitamins A, C, and E are essential for fighting off illness and improving the body’s natural defense system. Incorporating more lean proteins, whole grains, fruits and vegetables into the diet will provide the necessary nutrients to fight off infections. Additionally, low-fat dairy products can help to reduce inflammation throughout the body.

    Lastly, eating organic whenever possible can help minimize exposure to potentially harmful toxins that can further weaken the immune system. Adopting an overall healthier lifestyle while undergoing immunotherapy is essential in not only managing chemotherapy symptoms but also in aiding overall recovery from cancer treatment.


    Patients on immunotherapy should focus on eating a nutrient-rich diet that is low in sugar, processed foods and refined carbohydrates. It’s also important to incorporate anti-inflammatory foods such as turmeric, ginger, green tea and cruciferous vegetables. Eating smaller meals more frequently can also help regulate blood sugar levels and maximize the absorption of nutrients from food.

    Finally, it’s important to avoid sugary drinks or any drinks with added sweeteners which may be harmful for immuno-oncology patients.

    By adhering to the recommendations outlined in this article, cancer patients undergoing immunotherapy can maximize the benefits of their treatment and enjoy a healthy diet while doing so.

    FAQs about: Best Diet For Cancer Patients On Immunotherapy

    Q: What foods should cancer patients on immunotherapy avoid?

    A: Foods that are high in trans fats, saturated fats, processed foods, and refined carbohydrates should be avoided by cancer patients on immunotherapy. Additionally, food and drinks that contain a lot of sugar, such as candy, soda, and juice, should be avoided.

    Q: What kinds of foods should cancer patients on immunotherapy eat?

    A: Cancer patients on immunotherapy should focus on eating a variety of nutrient-dense, whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Foods rich in antioxidants, such as berries, spinach, kale, and other leafy greens, can be beneficial. Additionally, consuming probiotic-rich foods, such as yogurt and kefir, can help to boost the immune system.

    Q: What kind of supplements should cancer patients on immunotherapy take?

    A: Cancer patients on immunotherapy may benefit from taking certain supplements such as omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, and probiotics. Additionally, certain herbs and spices, such as turmeric, ginger, and garlic, can be beneficial. It is important to speak with a healthcare professional before starting any supplement regimen.

    Similar Posts