While diet has been associated with some cancers as a potential trigger, this is not the case with myelodysplastic syndrome, or MDS, and aplastic anemia. However, a balanced diet is important to maintaining health and well-being and this is especially vital during treatment. By giving your body the fuel it needs, you can help to minimize treatment side-effects and fatigue.
Follow the steps outlined below to maximize your health before, during and after treatment.
Try to eat enough food to maintain your weight during treatment and don’t be surprised if the amount of food you need is increased. If nausea or diarrhea hit you during treatment, eating smaller, more frequent meals that are lower in fiber to ease digestion. Discuss taking a general multivitamin with minerals with your oncologist or dietitian, to ensure you are meeting all your nutrient needs. If you are not having any side effects, eat a variety of minimally processed foods that focus on non-starchy vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean proteins. Try to include non-meat alternatives on occasion such as beans and nuts. Limit sugary beverages and focus on water for hydration instead.
Some specific dietary adjustments may be needed in special situations.
- If you are on steroids or cyclosporine-A, a low sodium diet can decrease your risk of high blood pressure as well as minimize water accumulating in you limbs. Limit sodium intake to no more than 2000 mg per day. The following chart provides a quick reference to minimize sodium in your diet.
|canned vegetables||fresh or frozen vegetables|
|Pre-packaged rice or pasta||pastas with homemade sauces (no added salt)|
|bacon, sausage, hot dogs||fresh, unprocessed meats|
|crackers, chips||toast or unsalted popcorn|
|canned beans/lentils||dried versions|
- For those who have bone marrow failure or receive a bone marrow transplant, you may have a weakened immune system. Following food safety guidelines will decrease your risk of food poisoning. Some simple steps include:
- Wash your hands, utensils and counters before meal preparation.
- Have two cutting boards: one for raw meat and one for all other food preparation.
- Thaw meat safely, either in the refrigerator or microwave and cook them immediately.
- Pay attention to “use by” and “sell by” dates.
- Keep hot foods hot (>140° F) and cold foods cold (<40° F).
- Throw away left overs that are more than 48 hours old.
Take the next step:
- To know how to optimize your diet before, during or after treatment, make an appointment with one of the Cancer Center Dietitians at 1-877-907-0859.
- Learn more about food safety from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.
Registered dietitians who are specially trained in the field of oncology nutrition provide cancer nutrition services at the Comprehensive Cancer Center. They focus on assessing the individual dietary and nutrition needs of each patient and providing practical, scientifically sound assistance.
The University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center’s 1,000 doctors, nurses, care givers and researchers are united by one thought: to deliver the highest quality, compassionate care while working to conquer cancer through innovation and collaboration. The center is among the top-ranked national cancer programs, and #1 in Michigan according to U.S. News & World Report. Our multidisciplinary clinics offer one-stop access to teams of specialists for personalized treatment plans, part of the ideal patient care experience. Patients also benefit through access to promising new cancer therapies.