Eating for Myeloma: Tips for Creating Sensible Diet Habits

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What small changes can multiple myeloma patients make to their diet for better health outcomes? Can certain spices benefit patients during treatment? Myeloma survivor and lifestyle columnist, Danny Parker from MultipleMyelomaBlog.com, shares simple steps patients can take in the kitchen to increase the body’s access to useful nutrition. Danny also discusses what types of food to emphasize and what to avoid while going through treatment and why. Watch now to learn how you can switch up your diet to eat well with myeloma.

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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:         

You're living it, right? You're saying, "I wanna do everything I can." You're a research scientist kinda guy. Danny, how do you process this insane, "I'm gonna do what makes sense but I'm not gonna go crazy." 

Danny Parker:            

Well, that's a great point, which is, I think, since most myeloma patients are older, we're pretty ensconced in our habits in terms of what we like, what we don't like, in diet.

Although once you're diagnosed, you may be saying to yourself, "Oh, I wanna make some extreme changes," I don't really think that that's all that helpful. I think it's better to make some incremental changes respecting what brings you happiness and appreciation in your life.

Food is a really fundamental part of living for us, and so I like the idea of making incremental changes, which might be to add things that you think will be helpful. That almost always means excluding something that might not be as helpful, like, for instance, simple carbohydrates.

I've tried to mention some of the things that look like that they were associated with not being so great for myeloma. This one, I'm pretty sure, is not great if you're taking dexamethasone (Decadron).

If you're taking dexamethasone, and all myeloma patients will be taking steroids at some point, likely, on those days, it's very important that you try to limit simple carbohydrate and sugar so that you don't experience high glucose spikes while the steroid's making its way through your body.

This can be adverse for your body, and your vision, and various other things. Then also, looking at myeloma itself, if you look at the evidence, it looks like that a lot of candy consumption was one of the few things that could be found consistently as not so great.

Now, most of us are not eating candy, so you basically say, "Well, maybe I'm trying to not fudge this. I'm trying to really make that so that's not happening that much, but I'm going to—and, on my carbohydrates, I'm just going to make a small change so that I'm gonna have more complex carbohydrates."

If I'm having pasta, maybe I'll either have less of it, or I'll have a thicker pasta, or I'll have whole wheat pasta, something like that, so that this digests more slowly, the glycemic index is lower.

One of the things that I advocate for myeloma patients is if you wanted the short answer for what might be helpful with myeloma, it would be to emphasize certain spices, and herbs, and also, at the same time, to reduce simple sugars in your diet, similar to what you'd have with a diet for Type 2 diabetes.

Andrew Schorr:         

Okay, Chef Danny. What are your favorite spices? I gotta ask you.

Danny Parker:            

Well, I love lots of—I love basil. Basil's one of the things that researchers have looked at as—ursolic acid, which is contained in various vegetable products, looks like that it might be helpful relative to some of the myeloma drugs that we take.

For instance, we take lenalidomide (Revlimid), a modulatory drug, but it looks like that it may be trebled by ursolic acid. There's a large research trial looking at this. Now, where do you get ursolic acid? From apple peels, from basil, from rosemary, from sage. You end up saying, "Well, let's have those things liberally in our diet," and that's gonna be a pretty easy thing to stomach if you like basil, and I do.

Anyway, you try to make these small changes, and at the same time, trying to also make a reasonable diet to eat, one that's not so different than what you have now that you don't feel like, "Oh, I'm really just suffering, and this is another part of the insult of having this disease."

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 September 12, 2018