Low Microbial Diet

What Does the Term “Low Microbial” Mean?

Microbes are tiny living organisms, such as bacteria and fungi, found in foods and liquids. In most processed foods (e.g. canned foods, cooked foods) microbes have been eliminated, reducing the risk of food-borne illness. These “low microbial” foods are safer to eat than raw, fresh or unprocessed foods (e.g. untreated fresh fruits and vegetables, raw or undercooked meats or tap water) which – if not handled properly – have a greater potential for causing infection and food-borne illness.

Why do I Need to Follow a Low Microbial Diet?

Cancer treatment with high-dose chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and/or bone marrow transplant can destroy cells your body needs to fight infection. As a result, you are more susceptible to food-borne illness, especially while you are neutropenic (e.g. low neutrophil/White Blood Cell count).

How Long do I Need to Follow a Low Microbial Diet?

For patients that have had an Autologous Stem Cell Transplant, you must remain on this diet for 3 months after day zero (e.g. the day of transplant).

For patients that have had and Allogeneic Stem Cell Transplant or Cord Blood Transplant, you must remain on this diet until you are off immunosuppressive therapy (e.g. finished with your Tacrolimus/FK-506, and/or steroid therapy).

What Foods / Beverages Are Safe to Eat?

The following chart lists foods which are safe to eat and foods which should be avoided while on the low microbial diet during your hospitalization.