What Is a Neutropenic Diet?
A neutropenic diet is a type of diet that helps to lower your risk of infection. It is often recommended for people with weakened immune systems, such as patients undergoing cancer treatment. The goal of a neutropenic diet is to reduce your exposure to bacteria, viruses, and other organisms that could cause infection for cancer patients.
Why Do People With Cancer Need to Follow a Neutropenic Diet?
People after chemotherapy are often neutropenic patients. The treatment lowers the number of infection-fighting white blood cells in their body. White blood cells are an important part of the immune system and help to fight infection. A neutropenic diet is usually recommended for a period of time after chemotherapy, until the white blood cell count returns to normal.
Foods to Avoid – Reduce Infection Risk
There are a few things you need to keep in mind when following a neutropenic diet. First, you should avoid raw fruits and undercooked vegetables. This is because they may be contaminated with bacteria or other organisms that could cause infection. Instead, you should eat cooked fruits and vegetables. You should also avoid unpasteurized dairy products, as they may contain harmful bacteria. It’s important to drink only pasteurized juices and eat only cooked meat, poultry, and fish.
People with a weakened immune system should not eat dairy products, such as yogurt, ice cream, and cheese. This is because these products may contain live bacteria that could cause infection.
Food Preparation Guidelines for People With Neutropenia
It is very important to practice good food safety when following a neutropenic diet. This means taking care to avoid cross contamination of food. Cross contamination is when bacteria or other organisms are transferred from one food to another. This can happen if you use the same cutting board for raw meat and fruits or vegetables, for example. To avoid cross contamination, you should use separate cutting boards for raw meat and cooked or ready-to-eat foods. You should also wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling raw meat.
Cooking food properly is also important. You should cook meat, poultry, and fish until they are cooked all the way through. This means that there should be no pink in the center of the meat. If you are reheating food, make sure that it is piping hot all the way through before eating it.
Following a neutropenic diet can be challenging. But it’s important to remember that the diet is only for a short period of time. Once your white blood cell count returns to normal, you can start to eat a normal diet again. If you have any questions about the neutropenic diet, talk to your doctor or registered dietitian. They can help you create a meal plan that meets your needs.
Food Storage Guidelines: Food Safety Guidelines
Bacteria can grow quickly in food that is not stored properly. To help prevent the growth of bacteria, you should follow these food storage guidelines:
- Refrigerate perishable foods, such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy products, within 2 hours of buying them or preparing them.
- Freeze meat, poultry, and fish within 2 hours of buying them or preparing them.
- Throw away any food that has been in the “danger zone” (between 40 °F and 140 °F) for more than 2 hours.
- Do not taste food to see if it is still good. Bacteria can cause illness even if food smells and tastes normal.
- Never leave food out overnight.
- When in doubt, throw it out! If you are not sure whether food is safe to eat, it is better to throw it away than to risk getting sick.
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