Neutropenia is a condition in which the neutrophil count in your blood is abnormally low. Neutrophils are white blood cells that are capable of killing bacteria. When your neutrophils are low, a neutropenic diet may assist to lower your risk of food-borne illnesses. Raw, undercooked, or unprocessed meals, which may contain huge concentrations of dangerous bacteria and mold, are more likely to cause illness.

neutropenic diet

What is neutropenia?

Neutropenia is a blood disorder characterized by decreased neutrophil counts, which are white blood cells that defend the body from infection. Your body won’t be able to fight bacteria if you don’t have enough neutrophils. Neutropenia puts you at risk for a variety of infections.

Neutropenic symptoms

Symptoms of neutropenia can range from minor to severe. The symptoms get more severe as the neutrophil count drops. They include fever, pneumonia, sinus infections, otitis media,  gum inflammation, navel infection, and skin abscesses.

Severe congenital neutropenia can manifest itself in a variety of ways. Bacterial infections are common symptoms. These infections can form on the skin, in the digestive system, and in the lungs. Symptoms of cyclic neutropenia repeat every three weeks. When the level of neutrophils gets lower, infections can become more common.

What is a neutropenic diet?

A neutropenic diet is good for people suffering from neutropenia or compromised immune systems. Their body may have difficulty protecting itself from harmful bacteria if their immune system isn’t working properly. This diet allows them to completely destroy bacteria and other dangerous organisms in some foods and beverages before eating

A neutropenic diet lowers the risk of food poisoning by avoiding certain foods and practicing careful food handling and storage. This diet is most typically utilized in the following situations:

  • Patients with hematology
  • Cancer patients
  • Transplant recipients
  • Patients suffering from Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS)

Dietary limitations to decrease the risk of infection must be weighed against the need to ensure that patients receive appropriate nourishment, especially because some may have elevated nutritional demands. This is critical to ensuring that patients benefit from the treatment they are getting.

Neutropenic diet guideline

This diet’s core principles include practicing appropriate food safety and avoiding items that are more likely to expose you to germs and bacteria.

Foods to include

This is the list of foods recommended to include in the neutropenic diet:

  • Meat and alternatives: well-cooked meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and tofu; canned meat and meat products; roasted or cooked nuts, and seeds; packaged peanut butter
  • Milk products: Pasteurized milk products, yogurt, and cheese; ready-to-drink eggnog
  • Grain products: baked and well-cooked bread, pasta, rice, and cereals
  • Fruits and vegetables: well-cooked fruits and vegetables, as well as pasteurized fruit and vegetable juices; canned fruits and vegetables
  • Dessert: baked and shelf-stable desserts,  milkshakes prepared from packaged ice cream.
  • Drinking safe tap water from a city or municipal water system

Foods to avoid

When following a Neutropenic Diet, the primary foods to avoid include:

  • Seafood and raw meats (including sushi)
  • Fresh nut butter or raw nuts
  • Any foods containing raw eggs (including homemade mayonnaise)
  • Aged and soft cheeses
  • Unpasteurized cheeses, milk, fruit juices, and vegetable juices
  • Kefir and other fermented dairy products
  • Cereals and grains in bulk
  • Undercooked or raw brewer’s yeast
  • Non-refrigerated cream-filled pastries
  • Uncooked sprouts of alfalfa, bean, and clover
  • Honeycomb or raw honey
  • Lake, spring, stream, or well water
  • Water with herbal additives
  • Salsas from the grocery shop, refrigerated

Food preparation

Hand washing is the first and most critical step in food safety. For 20 seconds, wash your hands with warm soapy water. Rinse fresh fruits and vegetables well under warm running water. To eliminate additional dirt, scrub or brush the vegetables. You should even clean peeled melon, oranges, and other thick-skinned fruits before eating to avoid introducing bacteria into the fruit when cutting it. Separate cutting boards should be used for meat and produce, and wooden cutting boards should be avoided. To serve prepared food, use clean plates. Never reuse a dish that has previously held raw meat or fish unless it has been thoroughly cleaned with soap and warm water.

neutropenic diet

Food storage

In terms of storing foods, you should consider the following guidelines:

  • Keep food on the counter no longer than necessary.
  • Make sure you set the refrigerator to 40 degrees Fahrenheit (F) or lower.
  • Bacteria thrive at temperatures ranging from 40 to 140 degrees F.
  • Refrigerate or freeze fresh or frozen food as soon as possible after purchase.
  • Refrigerate or freeze leftovers within two hours after consumption.
  • Eat leftovers within 48 hours and warm only once. Open packets of commercially marketed hot dogs, deli meats, cheeses, and other packaged products are included.
  • Refrigerate or freeze food as soon as possible after purchase.
  • Defrost food in the refrigerator, in cold water, or by microwaving and then cooking immediately. Food should not be defrosted on the counter.
  • When putting hot food in a refrigerator, the temperature inside might rise. To fast chill hot food, place it in a shallow pan or dish.

Tips to follow a neutropenic diet

You can ask caregivers to prepare some of your favorite meals at home and try frozen or commercially prepared foods.

When you go out, you should bring snacks with you, such as protein bars, packaged roasted almonds, packaged crackers, canned soda, seltzer, or juice as well. When serving, make sure the meal is blistering hot and fully cooked. Select freshly prepared goods from trusted sources. Salad bars, street sellers, market stalls, and ice cream trucks should be avoided.

Moreover, it is critical that you eat healthy meals to assist your body in fighting bacterial illnesses, obtaining effective treatment, and enhancing overall body strength.

neutropenic diet

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