The Benefits of a Healthy Diet: How Nutrition Can Help Manage Radiation Side Effects

February 7, 2013 — 4 Comments

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The following post is a guest post by Kaitlyn Teabo from The Mesothelioma Center.

[Enter Kaitlyn]

Although radiation such as routine X-rays, injections of radioactive materials for imaging, and radiation used in cancer therapy is intended to help diagnose and treat illnesses and disease, it can also drain a patient’s body. To help offset some of the effects of radiation, a patient should maintain a nutritious and balanced diet.

Here are some common side effects of radiation and how nutrition can help manage them:

  • Fatigue: When experiencing fatigue, you should eat foods that are high in carbohydrates to maintain energy and protein to maintain endurance, such as toast with peanut butter, bagels, rice, noodles, eggs and lean proteins like nuts.
  • Nausea and Upset Stomach: Ginger is known to soothe stomach pain. You can hold a slice of fresh ginger in your mouth while undergoing therapy and when you become nauseous, chew on it. You can also eat dry and bland foods such as toast or cereal without milk. To avoid nausea and vomiting, stay clear of spicy and acidic foods.
  • Diarrhea: Try to eat foods high in potassium such as bananas. Water, about eight to 10 glasses a day, can also help relieve diarrhea. Try to avoid greasy or processed fast food and dairy, because these foods can make diarrhea worse.

Other side effects of radiation treatment include mouth sores, loss of appetite, hair loss near the radiated site, skin irritation, anxiety and depression.

Regardless of the present side effects, any patient who elected to undergo radiation should keep their protein and calorie intake high, because a common side effect of radiation therapy is weight loss and patients need the extra calories to maintain a healthy weight. Without the proper amount of calorie intake, it will make it harder for the body to heal and fight infections.

Even if overall appetite decreases as a result of radiation therapy, nutrition is highly important. When you do eat, try eating foods high in fat, protein and carbohydrates. This will give your body the nutrients it needs to sustain radiation treatment.

Good nutrition helps your body withstand treatment. You should keep in mind that your diet is one area in which you do have control, but remember to ask your doctor or physician before changing your diet.

Author bio: Kaitlyn Teabo is a writer for The Mesothelioma Center. She combines her interests in writing, cancer research and emerging scientific technology to educate the mesothelioma community about asbestos and its related diseases.

For more information on the latest mesothelioma related stories, please check out our News Section.


Courseault, Jacques. (2011, Jun. 28). Foods to Eat to Help With Radiation Treatments. Retrieved from

NIH. (2012, Dec. 5). When you or your child has diarrhea . Retrieved from

Zamora, Dulce. Fight Fatigue With Energy Foods. Retrieved from


4 responses to The Benefits of a Healthy Diet: How Nutrition Can Help Manage Radiation Side Effects


    Some of the side effects of radiation can be managed by getting enough rest and sleep. Eating a nutritious diet is a very important way to manage these side effects. Other side effects of radiation treatment can be managed with medication such as pain medicine and creams for the skin. These side effects are usually not permanent; they will go away with time.


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