Hemochromatosis is a health condition where your body retains more iron than it needs. This condition can lead to several life-threatening health challenges if left unattended. Hemochromatosis is a genetically inherited condition. You have to manage the condition by controlling your iron-intake since the condition cannot be fully treated.
The most significant part of controlling the amount of iron in your body is your diet. Your diet can make or break you in your fight against hemochromatosis.
Before we outline any foods and fruits that you should or should not eat, it is important to mention that you should consult your doctor concerning your diet. You doctor is in a better position to propose a proper diet for you. Other health conditions might affect what you can or cannot eat. Two people with hemochromatosis might have two completely different diet plans.
So, which foods and food should you stay away from?
In general, you should stay away from any foods that have a high content of iron and vitamin C. The goal here is to reduce your intake of iron.
It is easy to get confused when it comes to the diet because most foods contain iron. You still need to eat a balanced diet.
Dietary iron occurs in two types. Heme and nonheme iron. Non-heme iron is less bioavailable than heme iron. That means your body finds it difficult to extract iron nutrients from non-heme iron. On the other hand, it easily absorbs iron nutrients from heme iron.
It is often recommended that you take foods and fruits that have non-heme iron if you have hemochromatosis. Vitamin C can promote the absorption of iron from these foods. That’s why it is recommended that you don’t take anything rich in vitamin C.
Heme iron is present in red meat and seafood. You should stay away from such foods. You should also stay away from fortified foods as most of them have readily available iron. Over the counter supplements and multivitamins are not good for you as well. Most of them have readily-available iron and Vitamin C.
So, which foods should you eat?
You’ll be glad to know that you can eat a lot of natural plant-based foods. You can eat most fruits and vegetables. Leafy green vegetables such as kale and spinach are a perfect choice. Fruits such as oranges, bananas, and pineapples are great too.
You can also eat grains and legumes. Grain and legumes do not have readily available iron that can easily be absorbed by the body. You can also eat potatoes. They are digested and absorbed is the same way as the grains and legumes.
Is hemochromatosis going to force you to become a vegetarian? Does it mean that you cannot eat any animal-based food? These are most likely some of the questions you have at this juncture.
You’ll be glad to know that that is not the case.
You can eat eggs and drink milk. Yes, they have iron, but they also have a phosphoprotein called phosvitin. It inhibits the absorption of the non-heme iron in eggs and milk.
You don’t have to stay away from all meat either. Protein is important for your body and eggs and milk only might not provide you will all the protein that you need. You should go for meat with lean protein and low iron levels. Turkey, chicken, and tuna are great options.
Hemochromatosis should not be a sentence to a boring diet. You can still eat tasty and nutritious foods, and minimize the amount of iron you put in your body. As mentioned at the beginning, you must coordinate with your doctor or nutritionist to create the perfect diet plan for you. The goal should be managing the hemochromatosis condition without depriving your body of essential nutrients.
Keep your alcohol consumption low, and if possible stay away from alcohol completely. Hemochromatosis makes you vulnerable to liver diseases. You do not want to be stressing your liver further when it is already under strain. You could end up damaging your liver and causing life-threatening complications. You should avoid anything that puts stress on your liver or heart.