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All about the neutropenic diet

The Neutropenic diet emphasizes choosing foods and preparing them in a way that reduces the risk of food poisoning. (Photos: Envato Elements)

What is a neutropenic diet?

The low microbial diet is another name for the neutropenic or neutropenia diet. The neutropenic diet is a nutritional plan for people with weakened immunity. The Neutropenic diet emphasizes choosing foods and preparing them in a way that reduces the risk of food poisoning. If your immune system is weak, your doctor may recommend that you follow a neutropenic diet to limit your exposure to harmful microbes and bacteria.اضافة اعلان

A neutropenic diet can be used to help people with cancer as they may have weakened immunity; chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and stem cell transplants can also cause weakened immunity causing some to follow the neutropenic diet.

The basic principles of a neutropenic diet

The basic principles of this diet include proper food safety practices and avoidance of foods that are likely to be exposed to microorganisms and bacteria. For example, people who have had a stem cell transplant are usually advised to avoid foods that have been cooked in restaurants and other facilities for around 100 days.

The guidelines of following a neutropenic diet can be divided into three categories: foods to avoid, food processing, and food storage.

Foods to avoid

·       Avoid raw or poorly cooked meat, deli, processed or hardened meat (salami, bologna, hot dogs, ham, etc.).

·       Avoid smoked foods.

·       Avoid raw fish and shellfish. 

·       Avoid raw or undercooked eggs. 

·       Avoid salad buffets and buffets in general.

·       Avoid pasteurized dairy products (milk, cheese, etc.) and non-pasteurized products such as honey, juice, and cider.

·       Avoid expired fresh and packaged foods.

·       Avoid eating all kinds of raw bean sprouts, including clover, radishes. 

·       Avoid leftovers that are more than 48 hours old.

If you plan to reheat food or store leftovers, it is important to follow proper food storage and reheating guidelines.

Food processing guidelines

·       Proper handwashing is the first important step in food safety; this consists of washing your hands with warm soapy water for 20 seconds.

·       Rinse fresh fruits and vegetables well with warm running water.

·       Scrub or brush the product to remove excess dirt. Even melons, oranges, and other thick-skinned fruits that have been peeled before consumption need to be washed to prevent bacteria from entering the fruit during peeling.

·       Use separate chopping boards for meat and produce and avoid wooden chopping boards.

·       Use clean dishes to serve cooked food.

·       Do not use dishes that previously had raw meat or fish without washing them properly with soap and warm water.


Food storage guidelines

·       Avoid leaving food on the counter for longer than necessary

·       Check if the refrigerator is set below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Bacteria usually best grow between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

·       Make sure to store fresh or frozen foods properly immediately after purchase. 

·       Cool or freeze leftovers within two hours, and make sure that leftovers are consumed within 48 hours and are reheated only once. This includes open packages of over-the-counter hot dogs, pork, cheese, and other packaged items.

·       Refrigerate or freeze products as soon as you purchase them.

·       Thaw foods in the refrigerator, cold water, or microwave, and cook immediately after thawing. Do not thaw food on the counter.

·       Do not put hot food in the refrigerator, as the internal temperature may rise. 

·       Put hot food in a shallow pot or bowl to cook.


General tips

·       Avoid uncooked or rare-cooked meat, fish, and eggs. Meat must be thoroughly cooked or considered “well-done”.

·       Ensure eggs are cooked thoroughly, with no runny yolk present.

·       Avoid salad bars, fruit bars, and deli counters. Buy vacuum-packed deli meats instead of freshly sliced deli meats.

·       Avoid uncooked nuts. 

·       Ensure all dairy merchandise you buy is pasteurized.

·       Avoid yogurt and yogurt merchandise with live and active cultures.

·       Wash and sanitize all surfaces and utensils properly before use.

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