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Full Adult AML Chapter Event: Nutrition for AML from Diagnosis Through Transplant
Posted: Apr 28, 2022
Full Adult AML Chapter Event: Nutrition for AML from Diagnosis Through Transplant image

Watch the Full Event Here:

Recorded on April 11th, 2022

Event Summary

During this Adult AML Chapter Event, Joy and Victoria, blood cancer dietitians from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, taught us about some very important nutrition topics that will help support you throughout your treatment. Joy and Victoria:

  1. Described what aspects of nutrition after an AML diagnosis have the greatest impact on patient outcomes and positive preparation for stem cell transplant.
  2. Reviewed the roles of vitamins, minerals, and other supplementation during treatment for AML.
  3. Identified evidence-based nutrition information resources to use and to share with your family and friends.

Here are some of the highlights:

  • You have access to a registered dietitian through your clinic or hospital. Request to speak with them in order to receive personalized nutrition recommendations for your specific treatment path and situation.
  • Your nutrition needs change depending on where you are in your cancer continuum.
  • Most recommendations you often read online are based off of what we know about cancer prevention or cancer survivorship. Nutrition needs during active treatment and recovery are actually quite different and unique. When reading recommendations, identify which part of the cancer continuum these recommendations are based on.
  • The major goal during active treatment and recovery is an emphasis on optimizing nutrition that prevents malnutrition, specifically getting adequate amounts calories and protein.
  • Self-blaming yourself for your nutrition choices as a way to explain why you were diagnosed with AML is not helpful. There is no one food choice you made that caused your AML. Instead of feeling guilt about your AML diganosis, use your food choices during your active treatment and recovery phase to help you feel empowered as something you have control over.  
  • A major goal during the treatment phase is for you to maintain lean muscle mass. People who are able to do this tolerate their treatments better, have less rates of infection, fewer hospitalizations, and improved ability to recover after finishing treatment. In order to maintain lean muscle mass, focus on getting enough calories and protein and engaging in regular physical activity. Your registered dietitian is the best person to help you determine your own personal calorie and protein goals.
  • Malnutrition occurs at ALL body sizes. Everyone going through AML treatment is at risk for malnutrition no matter what you weigh. 
  • It's important to intervene early instead of waiting for malnutrition to occur. Make nourishment a high priority from the very beginning of your treatment. You are the best person to know if you are not eating the amount that's normal for you, and that it's time to ask for help. 
  • There may be times during treatment when there is very little variety in your diet, but if you are still able to meet your calorie and protein requirements, then that's okay.
  • Have easy to prepare, high protein foods readily available to you. 
  • Give yourself some grace. The "healthy" diet that you ate prior to your AML diagnosis may not be very feasible during your treatment. The term "healthy" changes and is very relative. Try not to associate foods as "good" or "bad", "healthy" or "unhealthy". 
  • 65% of our protein intake during active treatment should come from animal sources. Here are sources of animal and non-animal protein:
  • The best place to obtain vitamins and minerals is from food. Taking supplements without medical advice may not always be helpful and can actually be harmful. They may interact with your AML treatments. Vitamin C supplementation specifically can make chemotherapy less effective. On the other hand, vitamin D is often supplemented during treatment. Low vitamin D levels can lead to complications following transplant. Always consult your doctor and dietitian before starting any sort of supplementation.
  • Utilize evidenced based, reputable resources when learning about nutrition and cancer. Examples of reputable, useful resources include the Oncology Nutrition group within the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the American Institute for Cancer Research, and the Cancer Dietitian.

Want to learn about more important adult AML topics?

Join the Adult AML Chapter!

We hope to see you at future events.

The author Katie Braswell

about the author
Katie Braswell

Katie joined HealthTree as the Community Director for AML in 2021. She is a registered dietitian who previously worked at the VA hospital in Dallas, Texas where she coached veterans with blood cancer on how to use nutrition to improve their treatment outcomes and minimize cancer-related side effects. Katie is passionate about health education and patient empowerment. In her spare time, she loves to experiment with new recipes in the kitchen, spend time running outdoors and travel to new places.

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