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Leukemia Diet

Nutrition is an extremely important part of care given to a patient suffering from leukemia or any other type of cancer. Nutrition can help in the prevention, and treatment of various conditions, including some cancers. Nutrition also helps with supportive palliation. However, it is important to exercise caution when considering the use of alternative or unproven nutritional therapies for cancer care. There are many diets available in the market, some of which are marketed as super foods that can help cure or treat cancer.

While most claims of this type are unfounded and unscrupulous, the importance of diet cannot be understated and it would be wise for you to consult with your doctor to find out exactly what kind of foods to eat as a part of your cancer care.

A proper diet for leukemia patients is extremely important because the nutritional status not only helps determine the outlook of the treatment, but can also reduce the risk of therapy related toxicity. It is essential to identify nutritional problems very early on in cancer patients and intervene promptly. Proactive nutritional care can prevent complications and even reduce them drastically. In order to assess the cancer patient’s exact nutritional requirements, doctors use a number of nutritional screening and assessment techniques. Patients should ideally include foods that fight leukemia in their diet. These could include berries, fish oils and foods rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients. All of these are extremely healthy and the high antioxidant content may help reduce the risks of complications. Foods to Include

Apart from the supplements and vitamins, the doctors will also give you a large list of foods to include in your diet. The National Cancer Institute recommends consuming specific foods to improve appetite. Once you have a normal appetite, additional health foods can be consumed. It is important for you to plan a daily menu, well in advance. In addition to that, eat small and frequent meals that are high in calories. Try and add a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables to your diet. The best fruits and vegetables to add to your daily meals include apples, oranges, bananas, berries, grapes, dry fruits, melons and leafy greens. You should also snack in between meals and add extra protein to your meals. Ideal choices for proteins are lean cuts of white meat such as chicken and turkey. Avoid red meats if you can, but if you find this to be too difficult, choose only fresh and lean cuts that are very low in fats.

Some of the snacks you can eat include cheese and crackers, puddings, muffins, yogurt, milkshakes with added proteins, ice cream and other health finger foods such as finger sandwiches with spinach and corn or devilled eggs. To increase the protein content in foods, add powdered milk to milkshakes and puddings or any other recipes that use milk. Additionally, you may substitute butter with protein rich peanut butter. You may also eat small amounts of chocolate to improve or change the taste in your mouth.

If you haven’t been consuming much fruits and vegetables, try and increase your intake gradually. Avoid consuming frozen, canned or preserved fruits and vegetables.

Foods to Avoid

When you have cancer, your immunity is compromised and your body is not as strong as it used to be. Therefore, it becomes all the more important to avoid certain foods that may cause health problems. The University of Michigan Integrative Medicine recommends special caution when consuming certain fruits and vegetables that could contain residual pesticides and other chemicals. These foods include peaches, cherries, apples, pears, kale, strawberries, sweet bell peppers, celery, grapes, lettuce, carrots and nectarines. These are not necessarily foods to avoid, but you should only buy the organic varieties and not the commercial ones.

Avoid consuming junk foods, especially foods that have been fried. Cut down your sodium intake by reducing the amount of salt you use in your meals. Additionally, you should also avoid processed and preserved foods that may contain preservatives and added flavors. While ready to eat meals can be really convenient, avoid them as far as possible. Instead opt for fresh foods prepared at home.

Leukemia Diet Chart

Your doctors and healthcare practitioners are the best sources of information on a leukemia diet chart. The ideal diet contains large amounts of proteins and carbohydrates, dairy, fruits and vegetables and very small amounts of fat. Because of the severe side effects and risks from conventional leukemia treatment you need to closely coordinate with your dietician. Nutritional therapy may be a form of alternative treatment but it is essential to stave off the ill effects of medications and therapy. Make sure you consult with a dietician for a personalized leukemia diet chart, with all your food options for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks clearly listed.

Leukemia Health Tips

Apart from giving special consideration to your diet, also consume healthy amounts of rehydrating solutions throughout the day. Treatment for cancer can be very harsh and can cause severe side effects such as diarrhea and vomiting, which can ultimately lead to dehydration. To reduce the effects of dehydration, consume sufficient amounts of water throughout the day. Water and fluids also help reduce the amount of toxins in your blood. Increase your fiber intake if you suffer from constipation and heartburn. However, do this gradually as consuming lots of roughage can confuse your metabolism and cause other complications such as increased nausea. It is important to remember that the goal of a leukemia diet is not to gain or maintain your weight, but to counter the ill effects of conventional cancer treatment.

Additional Info


The exact causes are not understood, but risk factors could include:

  • Smoking
  • Exposure to radiation
  • Chemical exposure – benzene or formaldehyde
  • Genetic factors


  • Weight loss and fatigue
  • Fevers and night sweats
  • Frequent infections

Diagnosis & Treatment

Diagnosis typically involves physical examination, blood tests and bone marrow tests. Treatment options include:

  • chemotherapy and radiation therapy
  • Stem cell transplant
  • Biological therapy


There is no way of preventing the condition as we do not know the causes, but it may help to avoid exposure to known risk factors.



Fruits and vegetable in the prevention of cellular oxidative damage. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2003; 78(suppl): 570s-578s

Ottery FD: Rethinking nutritional support of the cancer patient: the new field of nutritional oncology. Semin Oncol 21 (6): 770-8, 1994.

Submitted on January 16, 2014