CLL and the Immune System
CLL is a blood cancer that often leads to a weakened immune system. Patients are encouraged to eat nutrient-dense foods to support their immune system in order to fight off illness, infections, reduce inflammation, and help reduce fatigue.
"Nutrient-dense foods are foods that are rich in vitamins, minerals and other nutrients important for health, without too much saturated fat, added sugars, and sodium." AHA
Examples of Nutrient-Dense Foods
Some nutrient-dense foods CLL patients can incorporate into their diet include:
- Whole grains (whole wheat products, oats, quinoa, barley, and brown rice)
- Leafy green vegetables (kale, spinach, collard greens)
- Lean meats (seafood, chicken, turkey)
- Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage)
- Berries (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries)
- Legumes (lentils, chickpeas, black beans)
- Nuts and seeds (almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds)
- Fermented foods (yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut)
- Plant-based fats (extra-virgin olive oil, avocado oil, sesame oil)
Veggies Difficult to Eat? Cooking Tips to Enjoy Your Meals
Seasoning vegetables with herbs, spices, a dash of healthy oil like extra-virgin olive oil, and cooking via sauteeing or baking can help improve the flavor of a meal so you can enjoy what you eat and even add additional vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Water and Your Immune System
Staying hydrated throughout the day is also important for strengthening the immune system.
- Water helps flush out toxins and waste, helping your body to function properly
- Water helps regulate body temperature
- Water is a key component of lymphatic fluid which contains white blood cells that help the body fight infection
- Water helps the body transport nutrients through the bloodstream and absorb them
- Water supports the health of mucous membranes which act as barriers to protect the inside of the body
Tips to increase fluids
- If drinking water is boring, flavor it by adding a splash of 100% fruit juice
- Eat foods that are naturally high in water content like cucumbers, strawberries, watermelon, and tomatoes
Consult Your Doctor and Dietitian Before Trying Supplements
Supplements can be a helpful way to achieve nutrient density if your appetite is poor. However, if taking supplements, consult with your doctor and/or dietitian to review any that should be avoided while on certain CLL medications.
Help support your weakened immune system to better fight against illness by including nutrient-dense foods and water throughout your day!
about the author
Megan joined HealthTree as a Community Coordinator for CLL in 2022. She is the daughter of a blood cancer patient and has found a passion for helping support patients and caregivers to advance research for their cure and improve their quality of life. In her spare time, she loves to be around family, sew, and cook.