Hemochromatosis is a condition in which the body absorbs too much iron from the diet. The excess iron is stored in various organs, including the liver, heart, and pancreas. Hemochromatosis can lead to serious health problems, including organ damage, arthritis, diabetes, and heart disease. If left untreated, hemochromatosis can be fatal.
There is no cure for hemochromatosis, but treatment can help to control the condition and prevent serious complications. Treatment typically involves removing excess iron from the body through bloodletting or chelation therapy. People with hemochromatosis may also need to follow a special diet (a hemochromatosis diet) that is low in iron.
Iron Overload: Symptoms
The symptoms of hemochromatosis can vary from person to person. Some people have no symptoms at all. Others may experience a range of them, including:
- joint pain;
- abdominal pain;
- weight loss;
- heart problems;
If you have any of these symptoms, it’s important to see your doctor, so they can check for hemochromatosis. Many of these symptoms are also associated with other conditions, so it’s important to get a diagnosis from a healthcare professional.
A balanced diet is important for everyone, but it’s especially important if you have hemochromatosis. Eating a diet that is low in iron can help to control the condition and prevent serious complications.
What Causes Hemochromatosis?
Hemochromatosis is caused by a mutation in the HFE gene. This gene provides instructions for making a protein that helps to regulate iron absorption from the diet. The HFE protein is found on the surface of cells in the intestine. In people with hemochromatosis, the mutated HFE protein cannot properly regulate iron absorption. As a result, too much iron is absorbed from the diet and stored in various organs.
How to Maintain Iron Levels? Heme and Nonheme Iron
If you have hemochromatosis, it’s important to maintain healthy iron levels. This can be done by following a hemochromatosis diet. A hemochromatosis diet is a special diet that helps to control the amount of iron in the body. The diet should be balanced, but low in iron.
Heme iron is found in animal sources of food, such as meat, poultry, and seafood. Non-heme iron is found in plant foods, such as grains, beans, nuts, and seeds. Heme iron absorption is more efficient than non-heme iron. However, non-heme iron is still an important part of the diet. People who follow a hemochromatosis diet need to be especially aware of getting enough non-heme iron in their diet. This can be done by eating foods that are high in non-heme iron content, such as green leafy vegetables, legumes, and fortified cereals.
Hemochromatosis Diet: Avoid Iron-Rich Foods
There are many different types of foods that contain iron. These include red meat, poultry, fish, or shellfish. Meat is one of the best sources of iron. However, it’s also one of the highest in saturated fat. For this reason, people with hemochromatosis should limit their intake of red meat.
Due to the way hemochromatosis affects the liver, it’s important to avoid alcohol. Alcohol can damage the liver and make hemochromatosis worse. If you have hemochromatosis, it’s best to avoid alcohol altogether. Alcohol is also said to increase the iron levels in the body.
People with hemochromatosis should also avoid sugar. Sugar can cause weight gain and make hemochromatosis worse. It’s best to limit your intake of sugary foods and drinks.
Choose Low-Fat Foods
When following a hemochromatosis diet, it’s important to choose low-fat foods. Fatty foods can make hemochromatosis worse. Choose lean meats, low-fat dairy, and healthy fats, such as olive oil.
Eat Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are an important part of a healthy hemochromatosis diet. They’re low in calories and fat, and high in nutrients. Fruits and vegetables are also a good source of fiber. People with hemochromatosis should make sure to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.
Get Enough Protein
Protein is an important part of a healthy diet. It helps to build and repair tissues, and it’s necessary for the production of enzymes and hormones. People with hemochromatosis need to make sure they get enough protein. Good sources of protein include nuts, beans, and dairy.
Foods to Eat: Decrease Iron Absorption
One of the ways that you can manage hemochromatosis is by eating foods that decrease iron absorption. There are certain foods and compounds that can bind to iron and prevent it from being absorbed by the body.
Even though a certain food can be high in iron, it may not be a good source of iron if it also contains a compound that decreases iron absorption. For example, phytic acid is found in whole grains, beans, and nuts. Phytic acid can bind to iron and prevent it from being absorbed by the body.
Tannins are another type of compound that can decrease absorption of iron. Tannins are found in tea or coffee. They can also be found in some fruits and vegetables, such as grapes and corn.
Compounds that decrease dietary iron absorption are not necessarily bad for you. In fact, they can actually be beneficial in your hemochromatosis diet. Phytic acid and tannins have antioxidant properties. They can also help to prevent cancer and heart disease.
Foods That Increase Iron Absorption – Foods to Avoid
People with hemochromatosis absorb too much iron from their diet. Fruits and vegetables high in vitamin C can increase iron absorption, so they should be avoided by people with hemochromatosis. Some examples of these foods include citrus fruits, tomatoes, or bell peppers.
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