Chemotherapy is an effective treatment for cancer. Unfortunately, this medication reduces your number of white blood cells, which weakens your immune system and increases your risk of infection. But fortunately, there are ways to rebuild your immune system after chemo and lower your chances of becoming ill.
- Skill level:
Get active. A sedentary life or being overweight can weaken your immune system. Engage in physical activity to improve your immune system. Exercise for at least 30 minutes three times a week or participate in other forms of physical activity such as gardening, sports or dancing.
Eat a healthy diet. A diet rich in antioxidants and omega-3 lowers your risk of cancer and inflammation and promotes a healthy immune system.
Drink plenty of fluids. Fluids such as orange juice, water and tea can help build your immune system after chemo. Orange juice contains vitamin C--a widely known immune booster. Water flushes toxins from your body, whereas tea contains antioxidants that ward off germs and infections.
Take a multivitamin. Talk with your doctor to see if a multivitamin is right for you. Vitamins useful in improving the immune system after chemo include vitamins A, B-complex and C. Necessary minerals include zinc, iron and selenium.
Reduce your fat intake. A high-fat diet can lower your immune defences. Choose low-fat alternatives such as lean meats, and limit your intake of trans- and saturated fats.
Increase your intake of protein. A low-protein diet results in a reduction of white blood cells and increases the risk of infection. Good sources of protein include seafood, poultry, beans, eggs and soy.
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