What Not To Eat When You Have Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma?

When you have non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) you should not eat food items which:

Lower Your Immunity Further: Your immune system is already weakened by non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, also by chemotherapy and radiation therapy if you have received it, therefore you shouldn’t consume food that further lowers it down. Most of these foods are also not healthy food; therefore, its best you avoid them even after successful treatment.

Food that interfere with medicines used in the treatment

Foods That Lower Your Immunity

Fast Foods: Regularly having fast foods can reprogram how the immune system reacts to threats; put your immune system in a state of “unnecessary high alertness”. Studies done on animals have shown animals who have been regular diet on high sugar, refined oils, and low fiber diet showed significant differences in their body. The immune system was acting as if they were constantly fighting off microbes and even after introducing a healthy diet this didn’t change. So avoid French fries, burgers, processed foods, quick snacks.

Food with MSG: MSG can give a delicious taste to your food, but it’s quite harmful to the body and to the immune system. Studies have shown it cause significant oxidative strain and disrupt the function of your thymus and spleen. This can reduce your immunity significantly as these organs fight and destroy foreign organisms. This is reversible once you stop consuming food with MSG.

Alcoholic Beverages: Alcohol lowers the immunity by reducing the activity of the macrophages, reducing the number of immunoglobulins and cytokines and reducing the creation of T & B cells. It also disturbs your sleep. It’s best not to consume alcoholic beverages when you are on non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma treatment and it helps for healthy life styles as well.

Caffeine: Caffeine increases the levels of cortisol in your body. High levels of cortisol, regularly circulating in your body reduce your immunity. Caffeine also reduces the T cell production, suppress the function of the lymphocytes and reduce interleukin production.

Fruits And Vegetables Ripened Artificially With Pesticides: The gastrointestinal tract has many immune cells and 80% of immunity is hosted there. The friendly microbes work with the immune system to protect the gut barrier and destroy the organisms that enter through the barrier. Organic fruits and vegetables are very good and it makes the immune system strong. But fruits and vegetables which are artificially ripened contains high amount of lectin, which destroys the probiotics and mess up the microbial balance in the gut.

Sugary Snacks: Bacteria feed up on sugar and pathogenic bacteria can grow and outnumber the normal flora. Vitamin C is an essential core nutrient of the immune cells. More sugar in your systems makes it harder for the immune cells to get vitamin C.

Refined Oils: Oil is not bad but most oils are refined, meaning that they have been produced in a way that strips out the nutrients and mutates the natural molecular structure of the oil. This can reduce the immunity.

Food That Interfere With Medicines Used In The Treatment

Grapefruit, Blackberry, Pomegranate, Some Types Of Grapes: A protein CYP3A helps in the breakdown of certain drugs used in the non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma treatment. These fruits blocks CYP3A and less amount of the drug is absorbed into your body. So, avoid these fruits.

Alcoholic Beverages: Alcohol also interfere with some drug metabolism; therefore, it’s best to avoid it.


When you have non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) you should avoid food that reduce the immunity and food that interfere with medicine used in the treatment. The food items that reduce the immunity are fast food, food with MSG, alcoholic beverages, caffeine, artificially ripened fruits and vegetables, sugary snacks and refined fats. Foods that interfere with medicine used in the treatment are grapefruit, blackberry, pomegranate, some types of grapes and alcohol.

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Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 31, 2021

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