Low Bacteria Diet

A low-bacteria diet is a healthy diet for people who have weak immune systems. Apart from choosing and avoiding certain types of food, this healthy diet pays great attention to how food is processed.

What is

A low-bacterial diet prioritizes the consumption of hygienic foods that avoid bacterial contamination. This diet, also known as the “neutropenic diet,” is useful for reducing the risk of infection and food poisoning in people with weak immune systems.

In implementing a neutropenic diet, it is necessary to select and prepare food as hygienically as possible to reduce bacterial contamination.

A low-bacterial diet is recommended for patients with the following conditions.

  • Chemotherapy and radiation patients.
  • Blood, marrow, and organ transplant recipients.
  • Neutropenia or too few neutrophils.
  • Problems with the protective lining of the intestines.

Recommended Foods

The neutropenic diet uses ingredients that have been cooked and washed clean. The following are recommendations for types of food on a low-bacterial diet.

1. Animal sources and alternatives

This is animal intake and alternatives that are allowed while on a low-bacterial diet.

  • Red meat with steak doneness of well-done
  • Cooked chicken and fish where the flesh is whitish all over and the fibers may separate
  • For cooked eggs, the white part is not transparent and the yolk is solid.
  • Cooked tofu.

2. Processed flour and grains

Here are some foods made from flour, starch, and grains that are recommended on a neutropenic diet.

  • Bread without filling or cream spread.
  • Processed whole grains and mature starches, such as rice, oats, pasta, popcorn, and potatoes.

3. Dairy-based products

Dairy products and their derivatives are required to use pasteurized milk, namely milk that is heated using an ultra-high temperature (UHT) process.

Below are some types of dairy products that are allowed on a low-bacterial diet.

  • UHT cow’s milk.
  • Packaged cheddar and mozzarella cheese.
  • Packaged ice cream.
  • Packaged yogurt.
  • Whipped cream or whipped cream.

4. Nuts

We recommend that you only eat nuts that have been cooked or processed to minimize the risk of bacterial contamination. You can select from the following peanut products.

  • Nuts are cooked or roasted.
  • Packaged peanut butter.
  • Cooked nuts in bakery products.

5. Processed fats and sauces

Recommendations for processed fats and sauces for a low-bacterial diet should also come from packaged products, here are the types.

  • Butter.
  • Margarine.
  • Cream cheese.
  • Bottled sauce.

6. Vegetables and fruit

You can still eat fruits and vegetables, but a low-bacterial diet requires that you process food ingredients until they are cooked.

So, you should eat a selection of fruits and vegetables as below.

  • Cooked vegetables and fruit.
  • Canned vegetables and fruit.
  • Pasteurized juice.
  • Moldy fruits and vegetables, even though the mushrooms have been removed.

7. Drinks

Not only food, but you also need to pay attention to the type and processing of drinks. The following drinks are allowed while on a neutropenic diet:

  • Tea is brewed with hot, boiled water.
  • Bottled mineral water and canned drinks
  • Pasteurized honey.
  • Powder drink.

Foods to Avoid

The main goal of this diet is to reduce bacterial contamination in food to a minimum. So you need to avoid raw foods.

Some foods can even be more easily exposed to disease-causing bacteria. Those of you who want to go on a low-bacterial diet need to avoid these types of foods; here’s the list.

1. Animal sources and alternatives

Here are the animal sources you need to avoid.

  • Cake made with meringue or egg white foam
  • Half-boiled egg.
  • Meat with a maturity level of below is well done.
  • Sushi and sashimi.
  • Tempeh.
  • Miso.

2. Processed flour and grains

It is best to avoid foods containing the following flours and grains:

  • Raw grains.
  • Bread with pieces of fruit.
  • Bread with cream that must be frozen.

3. Dairy-based products

Several types of dairy products should be avoided because the way they are processed increases the risk of bacteria.

  • Moldy cheeses, such as blue cheese, stilton, Roquefort, and gorgonzola.
  • Raw cheeses, such as brie and camembert.
  • Yogurt with active, live cultures.
  • Mass-produced ice cream and yogurt without product packaging.
  • Cheese containing chili powder, spices, and raw vegetables.

4. Vegetables and fruit

Stay away from the following types of vegetables and fruit:

  • Raw sprouts.
  • Raw or cold-pressed fruit and vegetable juices.
  • Salad.

5. Drinks

Stay away from these types of drinks when you want to go on a low-bacterial diet.

  • Tea and coffee can be cold-brewed or steeped overnight in cold water.
  • Unfermented apple cider vinegar.
  • Herb.

There are several other types of intake that you should stay away from, namely:

  • sauce with raw eggs,
  • herbal supplements,
  • sprinkles of spices, and
  • raw peanuts.

How to Process Food

Proper food processing is useful for preventing the growth of bacteria and fungi. This also reduces the risk of transferring bacteria from the cooking area to the food.

These are hygienic cooking tips for following a neutropenic diet.

  • Wash hands and cooking utensils with soap.
  • Clean the food ingredients in running water.
  • Discard vegetables if they look worn, bruised, slimy, or moldy.
  • For vegetables and fruit that are difficult to clean, soak and rinse twice.
  • Make sure you store milk, dairy products, or leftovers in the fridge below 4.4 ºC.
  • Thaw chicken, beef, and fish in the warmer section of the refrigerator. Do not immediately thaw the meat at room temperature.
  • Use separate plates and containers for each raw ingredient.

Know this Before Going

Indeed, the neutropenic diet is useful for reducing the risk of bacterial and fungal infections in people with weakened immune systems.

However, several studies suggest that this diet does not have a large impact on the incidence of food poisoning.

Research published in the American Journal of Clinical Oncology (2019) shows that giving a neutropenic diet to cancer patients is not associated with a reduction in food-borne infections.

Another study published in the Journal of Hospital Medicine (2018) even states that this diet can reduce the nutrients the body needs, thereby increasing the risk of malnutrition.

Experts prefer a low-bacterial diet for patients with severe neutropenia, a condition in which the levels of neutrophils (a type of white blood cell) become very low.

Low neutrophils make a person very vulnerable to exposure to bacterial infections. A neutropenic diet can help reduce this risk.

That’s a complete guide to a low-bacterial diet that prioritizes food hygiene and safe processing.

This diet is beneficial for people who have immune problems. Even so, it still needs further research to know the benefits for sure.

So, always consult a nutritionist before adopting a certain diet. It is useful to know the overall benefits and risks of your condition.

Low Bacteria Diet, Here’s the Complete Guide
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