[ Inglese] Understanding the Physical and Emotional Impact of Diet in MPNs: An Expert Explains

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Diet choices may affect people living with a myeloproliferative neoplasm (MPN) in more ways than one, but luckily it is an area that patients have control over in their day-to-day lives. How can patients eat well with an MPN? Oncology dietician, Sommer Gaughan, from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, gives guidelines for developing positive nutritional habits that can help MPN patients tolerate and recover from treatment. What foods should patients avoid? Sommer also shares expert advice on the dos and don’ts of an MPN diet, eating organic and the “dirty dozen”, and recommendations for red meat consumption. Additionally, dedicated researcher Dr. Naval Daver, from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, discusses ways to maintain a healthy level of iron intake. 

Produced in partnership with the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. Sponsored by Incyte Corporation.

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Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

Andrew Schorr:

Can we talk about diet? 

Sommer Gaughan:        

Sure.  

Andrew Schorr:            

Okay. So, and hold the microphone real quick. So, we all want to know, “What can we do ourselves?” Can diet make a difference? Either physically or emotionally. 

Sommer Gaughan:        

I think actually, diet can do both. I think having a diet that’s balanced in nutrients that are feeding everything your body needs, so it can tolerate the treatments best, and recover from the treatments best, are really, really important. I often encourage people to avoid extreme diets that eliminate food groups, or even create fear with eating.  

Eating is pleasurable, and eating is nourishing your body, and is enjoyable, and so I think adding additional stress of a specific restrictive diet, or dos and don’ts, kind of takes away that pleasure. So, I think it’s an important piece. 

Andrew Schorr:            

But, you know, so we’re thinking, “Well, should we be paying more and just getting organic food?” 

Sommer Gaughan:        

Yeah.

Andrew Schorr:             

What’s the evidence?

Sommer Gaughan:        

So, the evidence is gray on that. There is a “dirty dozen” list that you can look up on the environmental working group, that they do every year to give you a list of foods that if you choose to do organic, those are the ones that are the better ones to go for. I always say, if eating only organic keeps you from eating fruits and vegetables, then we need to back up. 

Really, we want intake of fruits and vegetables of all kinds, every day. If you go off that Dirty Dozen to choose, if you choose to do organic, then that would be the place to start. I encourage people, especially this time of year, to go to farmers markets, finding your produce locally, but really, we want the intake of those fruits and vegetables. And eating an organic is not better than eating a non-organic piece of fruit. 

Andrew Schorr:            

When I began leukemia treatment years ago, I was not eating red meat. And I started craving it. And I had this idea in my head that if I ate red meat, because I had a blood cancer, it could help repair my blood. There’s no evidence for that is there?

Sommer Gaughan:        

There’s not. No. There’s not any specific food. I’ve had patients come to me eating large amounts of hummus, because there’s actually something on the Internet about that with platelets, eating a lot of hummus. I love hummus, but not that much. There’s not one food.  

If you look at general healthy recommendations, especially theAICR.orgit’s a great organization that gives a lot of nutrition information. The do recommend limiting intake of red meat to no more than 18 ounces a week, for a healthy balanced diet. Doesn’t say you can’t have it, but it’s really trying to choose it in moderation. And really, that’s for any of the animal proteins.

Andrew Schorr:            

But, Dr. Daver, we talked about iron earlier. And we can get low on iron, but if we eat red meat, or something, we think, “Well, we’re gonna get…” Or should we be eating spinach? Or what about that in the whole iron deal?

Dr. Daver:                     

I think it’s also a bit of an urban myth. So, there is increased iron in steak, but you know, when we’re talking about, let’s say iron tablet, you know one iron tablet has more than like 10 or 15 steaks, so it’s not—unless, you eat 10 steaks. Then okay, that’s not good. But yes, if you’re having an occasional, once a week steak, it’s not gonna push your iron levels very high. So, it’s okay. And the same with spinach. I think in moderation; all these things are okay. One does not have to restrict it but not overdo it as well.

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

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Page last updated on March 28, 2019