The majority of people are probably more familiar with the term ‘neutropenia’ than they are with ‘neutropenic diet’, but you need to know what each one means. If you are a cancer patient and need to follow an ‘anti-neutropenic diet’ to gain better health outcomes, this article will tell you exactly what you need to do.
What Is Neutropenia?
Neutropenia is the condition in which the white blood cell count is below 1500 cells/µL, as indicated on a complete blood count (CBC). It is most often caused by chemotherapy or radiation therapy, although cases have been reported in people with no history of cancer. The incidence of neutropenia is approximately 7.9% to 15.4% in people who receive chemotherapy. With each cycle of chemotherapy, the risk of developing neutropenia increases.
People with neutropenia are at risk of infections, particularly in the context of an immunocompromised state. If you have neutropenia, you should always try to maintain a healthy balance between your immune system and your white blood cells. This can be achieved by closely monitoring your blood counts and taking appropriate action as and when needed.
What Is a ‘Neutropenic Diet’?
A neutropenic diet is a special diet developed to help fight cancer in patients with neutropenia. There is a clinical trial that indicates a neutropenic diet can improve the outcome for certain types of cancer patients. However, expert opinion is still divided on whether this diet can have a general application for all types of cancer patients.
The neutropenic diet is based on the premise that the majority of cases of neutropenia are caused by chemotherapy and radiation therapy. These therapies destroy the bone marrow, which is the organ responsible for producing white blood cells. As a result, the number of white blood cells in the body is greatly reduced. The goal of the diet is to help restore some of the lost white blood cells by encouraging the body to produce new ones.
The general guidelines for a neutropenic diet are as follows:
- No red meat
- Only fruit and vegetables
- Olive oil as the primary source of fat
- More fish than usual
- More dairy than usual
- A high-fiber diet
- Avoidance of all refined sugar
- A high-dose vitamin C regime
- A calcium-rich diet
- An iodine-rich diet
A dietician can help you develop a tailored plan to meet your specific goals and needs. For more information, you can contact the American Cancer Society Dietitians’ Cancer Survivorship Program at 1-800-227-2345. They can provide you with specialized nutrition therapy for cancer patients, aiming to improve their quality of life and help maintain healthy lifestyles as they go through treatment. For more information please visit: http://oncenutrition.org/
How To Build A Neutropenic Diet
To establish the proper diet for a cancer patient with neutropenia, you should first identify the type of cancer you have. This is essential because different types of cancer require different dietary approaches. While some forms of cancer are easily treated with surgery, in others, medical therapy is necessary. In rare cases, a combination of the two approaches may be required.
Once you know the type of cancer you have, you can determine how severe your neutropenia is and whether or not you need to follow a special diet. For example, patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) often have severe neutropenia during the course of their treatment. As a result, they must strictly avoid foods with high levels of saturated fat and instead rely on a parenteral nutrition program if they want to experience a successful treatment outcome.
When To Follow A Neutropenic Diet
Depending on your cancer type and how severe your neutropenia is, you may need to follow a neutropenic diet for some, or all of the time during your treatment. You should first assess your neutropenia after each cycle of chemotherapy, as well as at the end of each cycle. This will tell you how well your body is responding to the treatment and whether or not you need to make any adjustments. If you are severely neutropenic, you may need to follow a strict diet, including the general guidelines listed above. However, if your neutropenia is not as severe, you may benefit from some dietary modifications, such as increasing the amount of fruit and vegetables you eat.
Why Do Cancer Patients Need A Neutropenic Diet?
There is a wealth of scientific evidence supporting the use of a neutropenic diet for cancer patients. Certain types of cancer, such as AML, require a very low-calorie diet while others, like lymphoma and multiple myeloma, require a high-protein diet. Some types of cancer, such as colorectal and gastroesophageal cancers, are better treated with a combination of chemotherapy and radiation therapy. The key factor in determining which diet plan to follow in relation to your cancer type is to be sure you are actively fighting it.
For more information, you can contact the American Cancer Society Dietitians’ Cancer Survivorship Program at 1-800-227-2345. They can provide you with specialized nutrition therapy for cancer patients, aiming to improve their quality of life and help maintain healthy lifestyles as they go through treatment. For more information please visit: http://oncenutrition.org/
As a cancer patient, you will eventually need to come in contact with many different types of medical professionals. One of them may be a dietitian. If you ever have questions about what to eat or what not to eat, how to get the best out of your diet, or what type of diet is appropriate for your condition, be sure to contact the American Cancer Society. They can provide you with a wealth of information and, most importantly, connect you with other patients who are also going through the same thing. You can also find and contact other cancer support groups around the country that may be able to provide you with helpful tips or information about your specific type of cancer.