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What kind of juice is good for chemo patients?


Chemotherapy treatment can cause many side effects that make eating and drinking difficult for cancer patients. Staying hydrated and getting proper nutrition during chemotherapy is very important, but the side effects of chemo like nausea, vomiting, appetite changes, and taste alterations can make it challenging to get the fluids and calories needed.

Drinking fruit and vegetable juices can be a good way for chemo patients to get hydration and nutrients. Juices that are high in calories, protein, vitamins, and minerals may be particularly beneficial. However, with certain types of cancer and chemotherapy regimens, there are some juice ingredients that should be avoided. Patients should always talk to their oncologist about the best juice choices for their individual situation.

Benefits of Juice for Chemo Patients

There are several reasons why juice can be advantageous for those undergoing chemotherapy:

  • Juices can supply hydration, which is critical during chemo treatment when patients are at high risk for dehydration from vomiting, diarrhea, and low fluid intake. Dehydration can lead to serious complications.
  • The nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals in juice can help support the body during this taxing treatment.
  • Drinking juice requires less energy and digestion than eating solid foods, making it easier when appetite and energy levels are low.
  • Juice may be easier to consume and keep down when nausea is present.
  • The taste of juices may be appealing when chemo has altered taste sensations.
  • Juices with ginger may help reduce nausea associated with chemotherapy.
  • Fruit and vegetable juices can help balance blood sugar levels, which can be disrupted during cancer treatment.
  • Juice can provide antioxidants to help fight cancer cell growth and boost immunity.

Getting an array of different fresh juices can allow patients to obtain a wide range of vitamins, minerals, and beneficial plant compounds.

Nutrients to Focus On

There are certain key nutrients and ingredients to emphasize in juices for chemotherapy patients:

Protein – Protein is vital for healing, immune function, and maintaining muscle mass when appetite is reduced. Juices made with protein sources like Greek yogurt, milk, silken tofu, and nut butters can provide protein.

Calories – Getting adequate calories can help prevent cachexia and unwanted weight and muscle loss. Adding ingredients like avocado, nut butters, coconut milk, seeds, and plant-based protein to juices boosts the calorie content.

Potassium – Chemotherapy patients are at risk for potassium depletion. Bananas, dates, potatoes, spinach, tomatoes, oranges, and sweet potatoes are high potassium juice ingredients.

Iron – Anemia is a common side effect of chemotherapy. Spinach, Swiss chard, collard greens, dried apricots, and cherries can increase the iron content of juices.

Folate – Some chemo drugs interfere with folate absorption. Folate-rich options for juices include spinach, kale, broccoli, citrus fruits, and avocado.

Vitamin C – Important for immunity and antioxidant status, vitamin C is plentiful in citrus fruits, kiwi, strawberries, tomatoes, bell peppers, and broccoli.

Ginger – Has natural anti-nausea and anti-inflammatory properties. Fresh ginger root can be juiced and added to other juices.

Calories – Getting adequate calories can help prevent cachexia and unwanted weight and muscle loss. Adding ingredients like avocado, nut butters, coconut milk, seeds, and plant-based protein to juices boosts the calorie content.

Juice Recipes to Try

Here are some nutritious juice recipe ideas for chemo patients:

Green Protein Power Juice

  • 1 cup kale leaves
  • 1 green apple, cored
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 1⁄2 avocado
  • 1 cup coconut water
  • 1 tbsp hemp seeds
  • 1 tbsp spirulina powder

This green juice is packed with antioxidants, protein, potassium, and electrolytes.

PB&J Juice

  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 cup strawberries
  • 2 carrots, peeled
  • 1 banana
  • 1 tbsp almond butter
  • 1 cup almond milk

With banana, berries, nut butter, and almond milk, this juice mimics the flavor of a classic PB&J sandwich.

Carrot Turmeric Juice

  • 5 carrots, peeled
  • 1 apple, cored
  • 1⁄2 lemon, peeled
  • 1⁄2 inch fresh turmeric root
  • 1⁄2 inch fresh ginger root
  • Dash of cinnamon
  • Dash of black pepper

Anti-inflammatory turmeric and ginger pair nicely with immune-boosting lemon and carrots.

Orange Beet Juice

  • 3 oranges, peeled
  • 1 beet, peeled
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 1 inch ginger root
  • 1⁄4 tsp cinnamon

This vibrant juice delivers folate, potassium, vitamin C and antioxidants.

Banana Berry Breakfast Juice

  • 2 bananas
  • 1 cup strawberries
  • 1 cup raspberries
  • 1 cup milk of choice
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter

With banana, berries, yogurt, flax, and peanut butter, this juice makes a nutrient-packed breakfast.

Foods to Avoid Juicing

There are certain foods chemotherapy patients should avoid juicing because they can interact with treatment or increase risk for infections:

Food Reason to Avoid
Grapefruit Interferes with metabolism of some chemotherapy drugs
Cruciferous veggies (kale, broccoli, cabbage, etc.) May interfere with effectiveness of certain chemo drugs like 5-FU
Raw sprouts High risk for bacterial contamination
Wheatgrass May contain bacteria like E. coli
Unpasteurized juice Potential exposure to harmful pathogens

Patients should always check with their oncologist about any dietary restrictions and juice precautions for their specific chemotherapy protocol.

Tips for Making Juices during Chemo

Here are some useful tips for preparing juices during chemotherapy treatment:

  • Always wash produce thoroughly before juicing.
  • Use organic ingredients when possible to limit pesticide exposure.
  • Peel produce when appropriate to decrease pesticide residues and bacterial contamination.
  • Use a slow juicer rather than a centrifugal juicer, when possible, to retain more nutrients.
  • Juice in small batches and drink immediately for maximum nutrient retention.
  • Store leftover juice in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 24-48 hours.
  • Add a squeeze of lemon juice to prevent oxidation and browning of the juice.
  • Use ginger liberally in juices to combat nausea and vomiting.
  • Adjust juice combinations to suit changes in taste and appeal during different stages of treatment.
  • Add extra ingredients like coconut water, nut milks, avocado, and nut butters to increase calories, protein, and nutrients.

Should Juice Replace Meals during Chemo?

While juices can be an excellent source of hydration and nutrition for chemotherapy patients, they should not fully replace meals and solid foods during treatment. Some important considerations:

  • Juices lack protein and fiber which are abundant in whole foods like meat, fish, eggs, beans, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and produce.
  • Chewing solid foods provides needed stimulation of saliva production which can decline during chemo.
  • The concentrated sugars in fruit and carrot juices can potentially impact blood sugar levels.
  • Drinking only juices makes it more challenging to meet daily calorie needs.

For these reasons, juices are best as a supplement to a balanced diet of solids. They can be used strategically when appetite is very poor or nausea, vomiting, mouth sores or swallowing problems make eating solids difficult. Adding protein, fat, and fiber to juices helps transform them into more complete meal replacements when needed. But juices alone should not make up the entirety of nutritional intake during chemotherapy. Close monitoring of nutritional status by an oncologist or dietitian is recommended.


Drinking fresh fruit and vegetable juices can provide many benefits for chemo patients including hydration, nutrients, antioxidants, and anti-nausea properties. Focusing on ingredients that provide protein, calories, potassium, iron, folate, ginger and vitamin C can help target some of the nutritional deficiencies associated with chemotherapy. While juices can be a valuable part of the diet during cancer treatment, they should not wholly replace solid foods which offer protein, fat, fiber and chewing benefits. With a doctor’s guidance, incorporating a variety of fresh, homemade juices into the diet can significantly support a patient throughout their chemotherapy regimen.