Low Bacteria Diet and Cancer

Breast Cancer and Nutrition

Breast cancer has and always will play a huge role in my life. My grandmother and aunt both had breast cancer and my own mother had a close call with the disease as well. This being said, I knew that I wanted to help people with cancer, some way and somehow. Last year, when speaking to my aunt about nutrition diets that coincided with breast cancer, I decided to pick her brain. Since my aunt is a Registered Nurse from New Jersey, I knew that her conversation wasn’t only coming from a helpful aunt but, also coming from a breast cancer survivor. So, she re-introduced me to the “Low Bacteria Diet” that many cancer patients going through treatment, adhere to.

What is a “Low Bacteria Diet”?

A low bacteria diet includes eating healthy foods with low amounts of bacteria, or germs. These germs are normally found on the hands of a person preparing foods, or in the food itself. When patients follow this diet, they need to choose foods with little amounts of bacteria. Foods also need to be prepared and cooked in ways to keep the amount of bacteria low. The goal of a low bacteria diet is to keep the patient from getting infections. These bacteria in food or beverages can cause infections in their body. Healthcare providers suggest the low bacteria diet if their patient has a problem with their immune system. Since the immune system protects your body from infections and most cancer treatments decrease the immunity of patients undergoing them, abiding by this diet can prevent illness and even death.

Here are some guidelines for a “Low Bacteria Diet”:

–        Keep hot foods at hot temps (above 140 degrees F)

–        Keep cold foods at cold temps (below 40 degrees F)

–        Throw away shelf unstable food that’s been sitting out for more than 2 hours

–        Pay attention to dates listed on food packages like: “Sell BY” and “Use By”

–        Refrigerate leftovers ASAP

–        Avoid salad bars

–        Avoid any fruits/veggies that have been cut at the grocery store

–        Avoid raw fruits/veggies

–        Avoid delis and buffets

–        Ask for food to be prepared fresh

–        Ask for single serve condiment packages

–        Avoid these dairy products:

  • Unpasteurized products
  • Homemade eggnog or ice cream
  • All Caesar dressings
  • Brie, camembert, feta, sliced deli cheese, Queso, blue cheese, gorgonzola, aged cheese, Stilton

–        Avoid these meat & meat substitutes:

  • Raw or undercooked:
    • Beef & poultry
    • Pork, ham, & sausage
    • Fish & shellfish
    • Tofu
    • Eggs and egg substitutes
  • Refrigerated smoked seafood
  • Pickled fish
  • Tempeh products
  • Deli meats that are not reheated

–        Avoid these fruits and nuts:

  • Unwashed raw fruits
  • Raw fruit that cannot be washed well, like raspberries
  • Unpasteurized fruit juice, like apple cider
  • Uncooked raw nuts
  • Roasted nuts in the shell
  • Raw peanut butter that is stored in the refrigerator

–        Void these vegetables:

  • Unwashed raw veggies
  • Raw veggies that are hard to wash:
    • Broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, green onions, pre-cut bagged lettuce, spinach
  • All raw sprouts:
    • Alfalfa, radish, mung bean
  • Salads from the deli, salad bars, or restaurants
  • Fresh salsa that is sold in the refrigerator case

–        Avoid these grains:

  • Raw grain products
  • Contact with raw yeast
  • Do not mix or knead any bread dough product that contains raw yeast

–        Avoid these misc.:

  • Anything containing raw or undercooked eggs
  • Salad dressings with:
    • Blue cheese
    • Raw eggs (Caesar dressing)
  • Homemade mayo
  • Unpasteurized beer- homemade
  • Fountain soda pop
  • All miso products
  • Raw or non-heat treated honey




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