Nutritional choices to help manage chronic myelogenous leukemia
Nutritional choices to help manage chronic myelogenous leukemia

Chronic myelogenous (or myeloid) leukemia is a type of bone marrow cancer that causes the increased production of white blood cells. This rare type of cancer is estimated to affect one in every 526 people in the country. And when it comes to dealing with any condition related to cancer, good nutrition is essential to effectively manage chronic myelogenous leukemia to help one feel better during the course of treatment.

Foods to eat
Nutrition is an essential part when undergoing treatment for any disease. Having the right foods is crucial as it helps increase the efficacy of the treatment, inhibits the disease, and provides relief from symptoms and potential side effects. The following foods can be beneficial for those undergoing treatment for chronic myelogenous leukemia:

Whole grains
Those with chronic myelogenous leukemia patients may experience body mass loss due to the disease and its associated treatment. Continuing with treatment despite mass loss can have severe effects. Hence, including foods that help maintain a healthy body-mass index is important. Whole-grain foods like brown rice, buckwheat, millet, and oatmeal are rich in fibers and carbohydrates, both of which are essential in maintaining body mass.
This probiotic food has healthy bacteria that assist our stomach in digesting and metabolizing the food we eat. A thoroughly digested food ensures proper absorption of nutrients, which further helps heal during the treatment for chronic myelogenous leukemia. One should try to include yogurt that has live and active cultures. Kombucha, kefir, miso, sauerkraut, and tempeh are other great sources of probiotics that can be included in daily meals.
Protein-rich foods like eggs or thoroughly cooked meat like chicken, turkey, and fish help strengthen the overall immune system. People looking for vegetarian sources of proteins can consider lentils, beans, soy, nuts, and low-fat dairy products like cottage cheese. A point to note here is that the amount of protein in a bowl of lentils and beans is less than the protein in a bowl of chicken. So, one needs to adjust portions accordingly.
Leafy greens
Vegetables like kale, spinach, collard greens, broccoli, and watercress contain abundant phytochemicals, vitamins, and other nutrients which are known to fight blood cancers like chronic myelogenous leukemia and maintain a healthy blood count when getting treated. While leafy greens are not known for their palatable taste, one can always toss them in yogurt and add some herbs to prepare a healthy salad.
Strawberries, cranberries, and raspberries are rich in nutrients like antioxidants and flavonoids. When people with chronic myelogenous leukemia undergo treatment in the form of chemotherapy, it damages healthy cells with cancerous cells, thereby increasing free radicals in the body. These free radicals can further degenerate healthy cells and damage the immune system. The antioxidants in these berries kill these free radicals and repair cells damaged due to cancer and its treatment.

Foods to avoid
While it is important to include foods that can assist in better management of disease, following foods can be harmful, especially when undergoing treatment for chronic myelogenous leukemia, due to their composition.

Processed foods
Chips, frozen food, cookies, desserts, canned tuna, and even granola bars contain additives like taste enhancers and preservatives to lock their flavor for longer shelf life. Moreover, these processed foods have low nutritional value, take longer to digest, and increase free radicals in the body, which is harmful to those with chronic myelogenous leukemia. Hence, it is highly recommended to steer clear of processed foods and swap them with freshly cooked options.
Cured meat
While meat is a good source of protein that can help maintain muscle mass during chronic myelogenous leukemia treatment, deli meats like bacon sausages, ham, corned beef, and beef jerky contain preservatives that increase their shelf life. These preservatives can suppress the immune system and increase the number of cancerous cells in the blood, which can be harmful to those undergoing treatment for chronic myeloid leukemia. Apart from deli meat, nutritionists recommended avoiding the consumption of raw eggs, mayonnaise, and raw cookie dough, as they might increase the risk of stomach infections.
Raw foods
Those with chronic myelogenous leukemia usually suffer from blood cell deficiencies like neutropenia and leukopenia due to the nature of the disease and its treatment. Extremely low blood count can compromise the immune system. While fruits, vegetables, and meats can help fight cancer, unwashed, uncooked, or undercooked foods do not remove dirt, pesticides, and other contaminants. Having such food worsens chronic myelogenous leukemia in an individual due to blood deficiencies, making them vulnerable to a host of infections, which can make it difficult to manage symptoms of the disease further.
Refined flour
Foods made from refined flour can increase blood sugar levels, which is dangerous when one is diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia. This food item is doubly worse for those with chronic myelogenous leukemia who are also allergic to gluten or diagnosed with celiac disease. Foods made from refined flour take longer to digest, which can overwhelm the digestive system and make it difficult to manage the disease further. Hence, those with chronic myelogenous leukemia and allergic to gluten should swap refined flour with whole grains and increase the number of foods that help them feel full for longer.

Being aware of food options to eat for better management of chronic myelogenous leukemia is undoubtedly imperative. However, keeping clinical options handy to treat severe symptoms is equally important. Tasigna® is one such clinical treatment option provided by Novartis. Nilotinib or Tasigna® comes in the form of capsules that inhibit disease progression by blocking cancer-promoting proteins called tyrosine kinases.