What to Eat When You Have Multiple Myeloma

Dietary Recommendations for Better Management

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The symptoms and side effects of treatment for multiple myeloma, a rare form of blood cancer, can sometimes reduce your appetite, making it difficult to eat on a regular schedule and get the nutrients your body needs. Though it can be challenging, getting the right nutrients is an important step to feeling better. 

While there is no specific diet you must follow when you have multiple myeloma, some nutritional strategies may help reduce common symptoms, support your health, and keep you strong while undergoing treatment. Eating small meals throughout the day that are rich in protein, fruits, and vegetables can help nourish your body and improve your overall health and well-being. 

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Benefits

Eating a healthy diet may help improve some multiple myeloma symptoms. Eating well may also help alleviate some psychological symptoms, such as depression and anxiety, that many people with multiple myeloma can experience.

Eating well ensures you get the nutrients your body needs to boost your immunity, improve your strength, and positively impact your overall health and well-being.

Boost Immune System 

Cancer and chemotherapy treatments can weaken your immune system, making you more susceptible to getting sick.

Fruits and vegetables contain vitamins and minerals—such as vitamins C and E—that can help improve immune function and reduce the risk of getting sick.

Practicing food safety can also reduce your risk of infection. Wash your hands before handling food, and be sure all meats are cooked thoroughly before eating. Avoid raw eggs, sushi, and other raw foods (apart from fruits and vegetables), which may carry bacteria that can make you sick. 

Improve Kidney Health

Multiple myeloma can cause kidney damage in some people. When you have kidney damage, waste and fluid can build up in the body, causing stress on vital organs.

A kidney-friendly diet means you will limit certain foods and minerals to protect your kidneys. This will help prevent waste and fluid from building up in the body, causing further damage.

To help protect your kidneys, you should track your intake of protein, fat, carbohydrates, and sodium, which can overwork your kidneys.

Fiber for Regularity 

Chemotherapy can sometimes cause constipation. Increasing your soluble (dissolvable) fiber intake can help with the frequency and ease of bowel movements, and help prevent constipation.

Foods rich in fiber include: 

  • Apples
  • Berries
  • Dried fruits (e.g., prunes, figs, raisins) 
  • Beans and peas
  • Oatmeal 
  • Pears
  • Broccoli
  • Whole grains

Increasing your water intake may also help keep things moving in your digestive system. Prune juice can also help if you are constipated.

Reduce Inflammation 

Curcumin, the active ingredient in the spice turmeric, has strong anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects. A 2021 study found that curcumin helps slow the growth of cancerous cells.

Many patients with multiple myeloma experience a relapse (return of the cancer) due to acquired multidrug resistance (MDR). Studies have shown that curcumin supplementation may reduce the risk of becoming resistant to certain chemotherapy drugs and may even reverse MDR.

Many people with multiple myeloma find bland foods easier to eat. If you can, try adding turmeric to your meals. Some food products, such as ghee and cheeses, come with turmeric added to them. 

How It Works 

Living with multiple myeloma can make it difficult to eat due to the symptoms of blood cancer and side effects of treatment. There are steps you can take to ensure you get the proper nutrition to help you regain your strength and feel better, including:

  • Consume foods that are easy on your stomach.
  • Eat small, more frequent meals throughout the day.
  • Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables. 
  • Drink plenty of fluids (particularly water). 
  • Include protein-rich foods.
  • Limit processed foods and sugars.
  • Practice food safety (e.g., ensure meats are fully cooked, sanitize your hands before handling foods).

Duration 

Eating healthy foods rich in nutrients can be a lifelong journey, even long after you have completed treatment for multiple myeloma. Eating a balanced diet offers a number of health benefits and is good for your overall health and well-being.

Always talk to your healthcare provider before beginning a new diet, particularly when undergoing treatment. They may recommend you consult with a dietitian, who can help you come up with a diet strategy to ensure your body gets the nutrients it needs while going through cancer treatment. 

What to Eat

When following a multiple myeloma diet, you’ll focus on eating nutrient-dense foods while reducing your intake of processed foods, sugars, and refined carbohydrates.

Recommended foods include:

  • Apples 
  • Asparagus 
  • Beans 
  • Broccoli 
  • Eggs 
  • Leafy green vegetables
  • Lean meats
  • Lentils
  • Low-fat dairy 
  • Nuts 
  • Pears 
  • Whole grains (e.g., oatmeal, brown rice)

Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, which are rich in antioxidants and vital vitamins and minerals, can boost your immune system, keep your bowel movements regular, and improve your energy levels. 

Lean proteins (e.g., chicken, lentils, beans, white-fleshed fish) help your body build muscle, skin, and hair. They also help the body build antibodies to keep your immune system healthy. 

Nuts are high in fiber and healthy fats, which helps reduce inflammation and keep your bowels moving.

Foods and liquids not recommended include:

  • Alcohol 
  • Foods high in sodium (e.g., processed foods, sauces, packaged snacks)
  • Foods high in potassium (e.g., bananas, avocados, citrus fruits) 
  • Desserts made with processed sugars (e.g., baked goods) 
  • Raw meat 
  • Runny eggs
  • Soda and other sugar-sweetened drinks
  • Sushi
  • Unwashed fruits and vegetables

Recommended Timing 

Try eating small meals throughout the day to ensure you get adequate calories and nutrition. Multiple myeloma and cancer treatments tend to reduce your appetite, so it’s important to eat when you can.

Cooking Tips 

Multiple myeloma and cancer treatments can have an impact on your immune system, making you more vulnerable to infection. Practicing good food safety is important to keep you healthy.

Some recommendations include:

  • Wash your hands before handling food.
  • Use separate knives and cutting boards for meats and fruits and vegetables.
  • Cook all your foods to their proper temperature and ensure all meat is cooked thoroughly. 

Many people with multiple myeloma find it easier to eat and digest bland foods. Eat what you can and add spices only when you feel your stomach can tolerate it. 

Considerations 

Your dietary choices can make a big difference in your physical and emotional health. Food is an integral part of keeping your body healthy, so try to eat as many nutrient-dense foods as you can when you have an appetite. 

If you’re not accustomed to adhering to a specific diet, it can be challenging to eat whole, unprocessed foods at first. Change can be hard, but rather than focusing on what you can't eat, think about how your dietary changes will help you better cope with stress and feel stronger and healthier.

If you eat something on the “noncompliant” list, don’t beat yourself up. It’s OK to treat yourself from time to time. The important thing is to eat healthy, fresh foods more often than not.

Dietary Restrictions 

Aim to eat as many whole, fresh foods as you can. You’ll want to reduce your intake of processed foods whenever possible. Try to cut down on eating uncooked or cured meats, fast food, packaged snacks, and other processed foods that are high in sodium, sugar, and starches. Limit your intake of alcohol and sugar-sweetened drinks. 

Summary

Multiple myeloma is a rare form of blood cancer with symptoms and treatment side effects that can affect your appetite. Eating a nutrient-rich diet can improve your strength, boost your immune system, and reduce symptoms.

A Word From Verywell 

Multiple myeloma is a challenging diagnosis. Eating a healthy diet can help improve your energy levels, boost your immune system, and help protect your kidney health. Following these dietary suggestions may be difficult during treatment, particularly if you are experiencing nausea or loss of appetite. Remember to be kind to yourself and do the best you can. The best diet is the one that’s balanced and fits your particular lifestyle and needs. Talk to your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian if you are struggling. They can suggest nutritional strategies to help you through your cancer journey.

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6 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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