Fueling Your Fight: Dietary Choices for Multiple Myeloma

multiple myeloma diet

While the lifetime risk of developing multiple myeloma in the US is roughly 1 in 103 for men and 1 in 131 for women, individual risk can vary depending on specific factors. Multiple myeloma is a cancer of the bone marrow, the spongy center of your bones where blood cells are made. 

When dealing with multiple myeloma, selecting the right foods is very important for helping with treatment and staying healthy. Understanding which foods can potentially “starve” multiple myeloma cells and which to avoid is key to managing this condition effectively.

Diet Tips

A balanced diet tailored to the needs of individuals with multiple myeloma can help alleviate symptoms and support overall health. Here’s how you can structure your diet to optimize your well-being:

Foods for Anemia

Anemia is a common concern for multiple myeloma patients due to decreased red blood cell production. Adding these foods to what you eat can help fight anemia:

  • Iron-rich foods: Foods high in iron are important for making red blood cells. Lean meats such as chicken and turkey provide easily absorbable heme iron, while plant-based sources like spinach, beans, and fortified cereals offer non-heme iron. Incorporating these into your meals can help replenish iron stores depleted by myeloma and its treatments.
  • Vitamin B12: Vitamin B12 is vital for keeping your red blood cells healthy and preventing anemia caused by B12 deficiency. Foods such as fish (like salmon and trout), poultry, dairy products (like milk and yogurt), and fortified cereals are excellent sources of this vitamin. Including these items in your diet can aid in maintaining adequate B12 levels, crucial for combating anemia associated with multiple myeloma.
  • Folate-rich foods: Foods rich in folate help your body make red blood cells and prevent some types of anemia. Leafy greens like spinach and kale, citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruits, and beans like lentils and chickpeas are good sources of folate. Ensuring a sufficient intake of these foods can support overall blood health and contribute to managing anemia symptoms effectively.

Making sure you get enough of these nutrients can help control anemia and boost your energy levels.

Anti-Cancer Foods

Certain foods are known for their potential anti-cancer properties, which may benefit those with multiple myeloma:

  • Antioxidant-rich foods: Berries, tomatoes, and dark leafy greens help protect cells from oxidative stress and damage. These foods contain vitamins C and E, along with beta-carotene, which can help fight harmful molecules and strengthen the immune system in people with multiple myeloma.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids: Omega-3 fatty acids, which are plentiful in fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and trout, as well as in flaxseeds and walnuts, help reduce inflammation in the body. These healthy fats may help reduce inflammation associated with cancer and its treatments, potentially aiding in managing symptoms and enhancing quality of life.
  • Turmeric: This vibrant yellow spice renowned for its active compound curcumin, exhibits potent anti-inflammatory and potential anti-cancer properties. Adding turmeric to dishes or beverages can contribute to reducing inflammation levels and supporting immune function in individuals with multiple myeloma.

Adding these foods to your meals can help with treatment and improve your overall health.

Foods to Avoid

While focusing on beneficial foods, it’s equally important to be mindful of those that may hinder your health and exacerbate symptoms associated with multiple myeloma:

  • Processed meats: Processed meats like bacon, sausage, and deli meats have lots of saturated fats, salt, and additives. These compounds can promote inflammation and potentially worsen cancer-related symptoms. Eating less processed meats can reduce these dangers and promote better overall health.
  • Sugary foods and beverages: Eating candies, pastries, and soft drinks can quickly raise blood sugar levels. This may increase inflammation and worsen symptoms of multiple myeloma. Choosing whole fruits for snacks and drinking water or herbal teas instead of sugary drinks can help control blood sugar levels.
  • Alcohol: Drink less alcohol because it can affect medicines for multiple myeloma and weaken your immune system. Alcohol also contributes to dehydration and may exacerbate side effects of cancer treatments. Instead of alcohol, you can enjoy sparkling water mixed with a bit of fruit juice for a refreshing choice that won’t have the same bad effects.


Foods to Avoid During Chemotherapy

During chemotherapy, certain foods have the potential to interfere with treatment efficacy or exacerbate side effects. It’s essential to exercise caution and make informed dietary choices:

  • Raw or undercooked meats and seafood: These foods may have bacteria that can be dangerous for people with weak immune systems during chemotherapy. Ensuring all meats and seafood are thoroughly cooked reduces the likelihood of bacterial contamination and minimizes infection risks.
  • Raw sprouts: Eating alfalfa, bean, and clover sprouts could contain bacteria such as Salmonella or E. coli. These germs can cause serious infections, especially in people having chemotherapy with weaker immune systems. Cooking sprouts thoroughly before consumption can help mitigate these risks.
  • Grapefruit and Seville oranges: These contain compounds known as furanocoumarins that can interfere with the metabolism of chemotherapy drugs in the liver. This interference may alter drug effectiveness and potentially increase side effects. Choosing alternative fruits such as apples, bananas, or oranges not of the Seville variety can help avoid these complications during chemotherapy.

Opting for well-cooked foods and consulting with your healthcare team about dietary restrictions during chemotherapy can help ensure treatment success.

Supporting Your Health with the Right Foods

Cancer treatment is getting better all the time! There are new ways to fight cancer, like helping your body’s defenses attack it (immunotherapy) and using special medicines that target only cancer cells. Choosing wisely to support both the effectiveness of therapy and general well-being is part of navigating a diet designed for multiple myeloma. Your health journey may be optimized by including foods high in nutrients that fight anemia and encourage anti-cancer benefits while avoiding those that might impede treatment or worsen symptoms. Getting individualized nutrition guidance that meets your particular requirements requires speaking with medical experts.

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