Diet restrictions can definitely help those suffering from hemochromatosis live with this condition in a much healthy way. Here, we will try to understand how to minimize the consequences of hemochromatosis with the help of a diet.
Hemochromatosis is a condition wherein the body absorbs and stores too much of iron, which can cause a lot of adverse consequences on human health. The body of an affected person finds it difficult to release the absorbed iron which is almost 4 times the amount of iron that is normally absorbed. Consequently, the iron gets stored in the body organs like the liver, heart and the pancreas and can cause organ failure or cancer.
Sources state that this condition is more prone among people who come from an Irish descent and is a hereditary disorder passing on from generations. While this condition only shows during midlife, there are chances that this condition may also appear during infancy or childhood. Which is why, if there is a family history of the same, it is important to get oneself tested for this condition. Though diet is not the only remedy to treat this condition, certain restrictions can definitely contribute towards minimizing the health risks and complications.
Dietary Restrictions for Hemochromatosis
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are approximately 32 million silent carriers of hemochromatosis in the United States. It is said to be one of the most common genetic disorders in the United States of America. So how can a hemochromatosis diet help in curbing the iron levels in the body? What foods can you avoid to help your body cope with the excessive iron?
No Heme Iron Foods and Supplements
There are two kinds of irons that we eat. There are foods rich in heme iron, which usually consists of red meat and animal fats, and there is non-heme iron that is found in plants. When a person is suffering from hemochromatosis, they should avoid foods rich in heme iron like red meat and other forms of animal fats. Also limit your daily iron consumption and make sure that you don’t eat too much of iron rich foods and iron rich supplements. The recommended dietary limit for iron is – 8 mg daily for men aged between 19-50, and 18 mg for women within the same age group. After menopause, women can reduce their iron intake to 8 mg. Children aged between 4-8 years need 10 mg of iron daily due to their growth needs. From 9-13 years, the quantity can be reduced to 8 mg.
Watch Out on Your Vitamin C Intake
Vitamin C intake should be limited to 500 mg per day. This is because consumption of vitamin C increases the absorption of iron in the intestines of the body. So make sure that you stick you dosage to limited amount only.
No Raw Shellfish or Oysters
Eating raw shellfish or oysters while suffering from this condition can prove to be fatal. This is because these food items contain a bacterium known as Vibrio Vulnificus which can prove to be extremely dangerous for people suffering from hemochromatosis. So make sure that if you have to eat these foods, you cook them thoroughly.
Eat Fiber Rich Foods
Fruits and vegetables are the best option when it comes to eating healthy foods with high fiber content. Though there can be certain food items that can consist iron. The iron would be non-heme iron which is fine. Spinach is a really good food option as it contains oxalate which blocks the absorption of iron in the body. Also eating a lot of cereals, grains, rice, beans, and nuts is a good option for people suffering from this condition.
No Alcohol…Tea and Coffee is Fine!
One must also avoid the consumption of alcoholic beverages as they can speed up the process of iron absorption in the body. Apart from that, it can severely damage the liver of the person and further complicate the situation. However, once your condition starts to improve, and the liver starts to heal, drinking moderate amount (one glass) of red wine which is a good source of tannin can be acceptable. Drinking tea and coffee can also be of help as they contain tannin which proves helpful in binding iron in the body. But then again, people with liver damage should not consume too much of tannin as well. So, make sure you consume these things moderately, and that too when the liver is healed.
Though this condition cannot be handled or controlled by merely diet alone, you can definitely help yourself by taking care of these minor details while choosing the ingredients of your menu. Apart from diet, we cannot ignore the importance of phlebotomy in balancing the iron overload. So make sure that you do all that you can when it comes to eating right. Avoid foods rich in sugar, iron, vitamin C, and fats. Also try to cook your food in vessels that are not make of cast iron.