How to safely enjoy fruits and veggies after a transplant

Adapting to life post-transplant means focusing on whole-body wellness. Getting your strength back will require plenty of rest — and a diet packed with the nutrients your body needs.

When meal planning, remember the medications that keep your body from rejecting a transplant can also suppress the immune system. This makes it easier to get sick from food poisoning.

Unwashed produce can contain bacteria, like salmonella. But don't shy away from adding plenty of colorful fruits and veggies to your plate. You can safely enjoy all their health benefits with these tips from transplant recipients on Mayo Clinic Connect, an online community for patients and caregivers.

Start with a good hand-washing

Before starting any food prep, wash your hands with soap and rinse with warm water. Don't cut it short — be sure to wash for at least 20 seconds.

Clean your produce

Running water is all you need to thoroughly wash your produce. You can use a clean cloth or vegetable brush to clean the skin.

One note: Avoid bean sprouts and alfalfa sprouts. They carry a higher risk of food poisoning, and even a good cleaning might not be enough. Cut these sprouts from your diet until your doctor says otherwise.

Make sure your food prep area is clean

Countertops, cutting boards, plates and knives should be clean. Wash your countertop with hot, soapy water. You can do the same with your cutting board, plates and knives — or just run them through the dishwasher to make sure they're sanitized.

Pro tip: Have one cutting board for foods like raw meats, seafood and eggs, and have a different cutting board for items that are already safe to eat, like clean produce or breads.

Even canned fruits and veggies need a bit of cleaning

If you're buying canned fruits or vegetables, make sure the cans aren't dented or misshapen. And before opening, wipe down the lid. This helps avoid possible contamination when you take the lid off.

Be proactive when eating out

Going out to eat? Talk to your server and let them know your needs.

Ask about the specific ingredients in salads or prepared fruit and vegetable dishes. You can also ask how they clean produce.

Don't be afraid to ask to speak to the chef. It's your health, after all.

To get more tips from the transplant community, search for the Mayo Clinic Connect community online.