What Is a Low-Bacteria Diet?
A low-bacteria diet excludes foods that are most likely to contain bacteria or other infection-causing microorganisms.
Why Should I Follow a Low-Bacteria Diet?
If you have a weakened immune system, following this diet will reduce your risk of becoming ill from eating food. This diet is often recommended before and after certain cancer treatments. Talk with your doctor about whether you need to follow a low-bacteria diet and, if so, for how long you should follow it.
Low-Bacteria Diet Basics
Bacteria and other harmful microorganisms are most likely to be present in raw or fresh foods. Thoroughly cooking foods destroys these microorganisms. For example, fresh vegetables should be cooked until tender, meats should be cooked until well-done, and eggs should be cooked until the yolk is firm.
Certain food products, such as milk, are treated with a method known as pasteurization. Pasteurization briefly exposes food to high heat that kills any bacteria, without cooking the food. Look for dairy products, juices, and ciders that have the word “pasteurized” on the label.
Eating Guide for a Low-Bacteria Diet
|Food Category||Foods Recommended||Foods to Avoid|
Meat and Beans
Fats and Sweets
Here are some general suggestions and guidelines for eating a low-bacteria diet. Consider meeting with a registered dietitian to learn more about this diet and how to make it fit with your lifestyle and eating habits.
When preparing food:
- Wash hands before and after preparing food.
- Thoroughly cook foods and then keep hot until eaten.
- Do not make bread that has yeast as an ingredient.
When food shopping:
- Avoid salad bars, bulk food bins, and food samples.
When storing and handling food:
- Keep refrigerated foods cold (below 40˚F).
- Promptly refrigerate or freeze leftovers.
- Refrigerate foods after opening (eg, salad dressing, apple sauce, and soy sauce).
When dining out:
- Avoid salad bars, delis, and buffets.
- Use single-serve condiments (eg, ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, soy sauce, steak sauce, salt, pepper, and sugar).
American Cancer Society
American Dietetic Association
Canadian Cancer Society
Dietitians of Canada
Diet guidelines for immunosuppressed patients. Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center website. Available at: http://www.fhcrc.org/science/clinical/ltfu/patient/diet_guidelines.html. Accessed April 23, 2007.
French MR, Levy-Milne R, Zibrik D. A survey of the use of low microbial diets in pediatric bone marrow transplant programs. J Am Diet Assoc. 2001;101:1194-1198.
Low bacterial diet. The Ohio State University website. Available at: http://medicalcenter.osu.edu/patientcare/healthinformation/education. Accessed April 23, 2007.
Last reviewed May 2008 by Dianne Scheinberg, MS, RD, LDN
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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