Hemochromatosis is the condition where the body absorbs excess iron from foods. Normally, people absorb and lose around 1 mg of iron every day. However, a person with hemochromatosis absorbs up to 4 mg of iron every day.
Hemochromatosis is of two types, primary and secondary. Primary hemochromatosis is caused by genetic factors while secondary hemochromatosis is caused by medical conditions like anemia and liver disease.
The diet we follow plays a role in influencing hemochromatosis.
Plant Foods To Control Hemochromatosis
Although there isn’t any formal diet recommendation for hemochromatosis, the following plant foods are known to be beneficial.
Beans, Nuts, Grains, And Seeds
Legumes, seeds, grains, and nuts contain phytate or phytic acid that can reduce iron absorption. Heme iron and non-heme iron are the two types of iron obtained from foods. Our body can absorb heme iron more easily than non-heme iron. Plant foods only contain non-heme iron while animal foods like meat, seafood, fish, and poultry contain heme iron and non-heme iron.
Phytates reduce the absorption of non-heme iron from plant foods that you eat. Including grains, seeds, nuts, and beans in your diet help handle hemochromatosis better.
Fruits And Vegetables
Some vegetables and fruits like spinach, olives, and mushrooms are high in non-heme iron. But that isn’t something to worry about much as they contain non-heme iron that is not easily absorbed by the body. Hence their consumption is not going to alter our iron levels much.
Hemochromatosis is known to cause higher oxidative stress. Many vegetables and fruits are rich in antioxidants that are quite effective in checking oxidative stress and resultant cell damage.
Tea And Coffee
Although tea and coffee are not considered healthy drinks, they are effective in handling hemochromatosis. Tea and coffee contain tannins that can reduce iron absorption in the body.
What Foods To Avoid When You Have Hemochromatosis?
A plant-based diet could include animal foods but in moderation. If you are having such a diet, take care to limit or avoid the following animal foods to handle hemochromatosis.
Red meats like lamb, beef, and venison are high in heme iron. As heme iron is easily absorbed by our body, it is best to avoid red meat if you have hemochromatosis.
Shellfish like oysters, mussels, and clams contain the bacteria Vibrio vulnificus that causes vibriosis, a bacterial infection. Hemochromatosis makes you more susceptible to vibriosis infection. Hence avoid eating raw shellfish.
Planning your diet with adequate research can help you handle hemochromatosis effectively.