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Myelofibrosis is a rare blood cancer that’s part of a group of disorders known as myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPN). People with MPNs have bone marrow stem cells that grow and reproduce abnormally, leading to symptoms such as extreme fatigue, fever, and bone pain.

Inflammation also plays a role in MPNs like myelofibrosis. It may increase symptoms of myelofibrosis and play a role in disease progression. The foods you eat can affect the level of inflammation in your body.

There’s no specific myelofibrosis diet. But eating a balanced diet that’s rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, protein sources, and healthy fats may help lower inflammation and help people with myelofibrosis have more energy.

Read on for the current research on what foods to eat and avoid if you have myelofibrosis.

Cytokines are proteins released by cells that play a role in cell signaling. Some promote inflammation. Studies show inflammatory cytokines are abnormally high in people with myelofibrosis. Inflammation has been shown to affect the symptoms, progression, and outlook of MPNs like myelofibrosis.

Eating a well-balanced diet that’s rich in nutritious foods that are high in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds may help reduce inflammation in the body and improve other aspects of health.

Maintaining a balanced diet is important for people with myelofibrosis as proper nutrition can help support energy levels, immune function, and more.

Research on the effect of diet on MPN symptoms and health outcomes is limited at this time. However, healthcare professionals who specialize in treating people with myelofibrosis tend to recommend overall healthy dietary patterns, such as the Mediterranean diet.

Healthcare professionals also recommend people with myelofibrosis focus on consuming nutrient-dense foods rich in anti-inflammatory compounds like fruits and vegetables.

Also, experts recommend that people with myelofibrosis focus on consuming foods rich in specific nutrients that support the health of the blood and the immune system, including:

  • iron
  • vitamin B12
  • vitamin A
  • vitamin C
  • vitamin D
  • vitamin E
  • folate
  • copper

The MPN Research Foundation recommends including the following foods that are high in nutrients important for people with myelofibrosis:

  • fruits like berries and citrus fruits
  • vegetables like greens, carrots, peppers, and broccoli
  • legumes
  • nuts and seeds
  • whole grains like oats and quinoa
  • healthy fats, such as olive oil and avocado
  • protein sources like fish, beef, Greek yogurt, chicken, and eggs

People with myelofibrosis may experience symptoms like early satiety and weight loss. If a person with myelofibrosis is experiencing weight loss or a decreased ability to eat from feelings of early fullness, their healthcare team can help them come up with solutions to ensure proper nutrient intake.

Experts recommend that people with myelofibrosis reduce their consumption of ultra-processed foods that may contribute to inflammation and other health concerns.

In general, a nutritious diet limits the following foods:

  • fast food
  • sugary foods and beverages
  • ultra-processed snack foods
  • heavy amounts of alcohol

Even though the foods listed above are best to limit for anyone, some people with myelofibrosis may only be able to tolerate specific foods, some of which may not be considered “nutritious.”

For example, a person with myelofibrosis may need to depend on high calorie, easy-to-eat foods like ice cream or milkshakes to keep up their body weight.

People with myelofibrosis can work with their healthcare team to develop a meal plan that supports healthy body weight maintenance and energy levels that meets their specific health needs.

Myelofibrosis treatments may also weaken your immune system and increase your risk of infection. Try to avoid eating:

  • raw meat, fish, or eggs
  • unpasteurized dairy
  • unwashed fruits and vegetables

A person with myelofibrosis should work with their healthcare team, including a registered dietitian, to come up with a dietary pattern that works best for their specific health needs.

Good nutrition and eating habits can help you maintain a moderate weight. A 2020 study found being either underweight or overweight may worsen symptoms for those with myelofibrosis.

Dietary choices that may help you maintain a moderate weight include:

  • adequately hydrating
  • choosing nutrient-dense foods
  • eating smaller, more frequent meals if experiencing early satiety
  • choosing high calorie foods if experiencing weight loss
  • supplementing with specific nutrients to avoid becoming deficient

An ongoing trial is exploring whether the Mediterranean diet may benefit people with MPNs, including myelofibrosis. Researchers with the NUTRIENT Trial hope this diet pattern will reduce inflammation in the body to improve MPN symptoms.

They believe the Mediterranean diet might change the course of diseases like myelofibrosis by reducing the risk of blood clots, abnormal blood counts, and spleen enlargement.

Talk with your doctor about the best diet for you. Most experts suggest the best diet for myelofibrosis is a well-rounded, nutrient-dense diet that provides optimal nutrition to support health.