Low iron diet for hemochromatosis
The hemochromatosis diet aims to reduce dietary iron intake and absorption. It provides little iron and vitamin C and emphasizes dietary fiber and vegetable protein.
Key points of the hemochromatosis diet:
give priority to non-heme iron sources;
Decreased absorption of dietary iron.
Drink tea with meals.
Avoid vitamin supplements.
Limit alcohol consumption.
eat more dietary fiber;
Maintain optimum nutritional status.
Hemochromatosis and diet: nutritional recommendations
An iron-restricted diet for hemochromatosis aims to enhance plant protein sources of non-heme iron and incorporate foods that reduce iron absorption in the body.
Even in the absence of consensus on the matter, it seems clear that consumption of vegetable proteins should be preferred as part of a low-iron diet for hemochromatosis.
Plant proteins are sources of non-heme iron that the body absorbs much less than the iron found in animal products.
Proteins are essential to the body, so you should continue to eat enough of them.
The best sources of non-heme iron are:
tea and coffee
Drinking tea and coffee with meals helps reduce iron absorption due to the amount of tannins they contain.
This is also true for tea, which has more liver-healthy antioxidants and less caffeine than coffee.
Therefore, tea is a preferred beverage to include in meals as part of a hemochromatosis-specific diet.
Choose foods rich in fiber
Foods that are high in dietary fiber contain phytates and oxalates. Phytates form insoluble complexes with iron, which reduces its absorption. Oxalates also reduce iron absorption in the body.
Foods that are high in phytate and oxalate are:
whole grain products;
Wheat bran and oats.
Chocolate and cocoa
sweet potato ;
Calcium interferes with iron absorption and helps reduce it. In the case of a special hemochromatosis diet, it is recommended to include a source of calcium with each meal.
Dietary sources of calcium to fight hemochromatosis are:
Sardines and salmon
Calcium-fortified soy and other plant milks.
Other recommended foods
Food is not recommended to combat hemochromatosis
As part of an iron-restricted diet for hemochromatosis, it is important to reduce the intake of foods that are high in heme iron.
We will also avoid all foods that enhance iron absorption in the body or that can be dangerous for people with this disease.
Avoid eating iron-rich foods
Studies are contradictory regarding the consumption of heme iron in hemochromatosis. Heme iron is the form of iron that is best absorbed by the body.
It is mainly found in:
Foods that are a source of heme iron should not be completely avoided, as they also provide other essential nutrients to the body. However, they should be eaten more often and reduce portions (75g instead of 150g).
Here is a list of iron-rich foods to avoid in a hemochromatosis diet:
Poultry and beef liver.
pork meat ;
Avoid raw seafood
Raw seafood, especially oysters, can contain a bacterium called "Vibrio Vulnificus." They can be fatal for people with hemochromatosis, so they should be eaten thoroughly cooked.
Reduce and reduce alcohol consumption
Alcohol significantly increases iron absorption. In addition, excessive alcohol consumption can worsen the health of the iron-saturated liver in hemochromatosis.
It is therefore recommended that you drink no more than two glasses of alcohol per day. Be careful, people with hemochromatosis who have high levels of liver enzymes or conditions such as cirrhosis or fatty liver should completely avoid alcohol.
A glass of alcohol corresponds to:
25 cl of beer
12.5 cl of wine;
2.5 cl of spirits.
Reduce consumption of sugary products
As part of the hemochromatosis diet, it is recommended to avoid sugary foods and drinks. Sugar, fructose and sorbitol increase iron absorption.
Be sure to read labels carefully and avoid products that contain sucrose, added sugar, or glucose-fructose syrup (also called corn syrup).
Other foods not recommended in hemochromatosis
Saturated fat ;
Industrial and processed products.
Other advice in case of hemochromatosis
Instead of cooking with cast iron or stainless steel pots that add iron to preparations, choose glass or ceramic.
Vitamin and mineral supplements
As part of an iron-restricted diet for hemochromatosis, it is recommended that you not take iron supplements or multivitamins that contain iron.
It will also be necessary to avoid zinc supplementation, since its absorption is greatly increased by hemochromatosis.
Vitamin C supplements should also be avoided if you have hemochromatosis.
Vitamin C increases the body's absorption of iron. We will not limit the consumption of fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C, but it will be necessary to eat them between meals.
Practical daily tips for hemochromatosis diet
halve the servings of meat (75 g instead of 150 g);
red meat and offal should not be consumed more than once a week;
introduce more vegetable proteins into the diet: legumes, tofu, oilseeds;
add legumes to soups, salads and dishes;
Put a handful of oilseeds in salads, yogurts, and soups;
replace an aperitif containing alcohol with tomato juice;
systematically include a dairy product in the three main meals;
fruit consumption outside meals;
Get in the habit of drinking tea while eating;
Read labels carefully to avoid products that are too greasy and too sweet.
Hemochromatosis and diet: Can diet be sufficient?
Normally, excess iron in the diet is excreted in the intestines to get rid of it. In hemochromatosis, iron is absorbed and accumulates excessively in tissues. The excess iron must then be disposed of by phlebotomy.
Phlebotomy involves drawing blood regularly to lower the concentration of iron in the body.
Some dietary recommendations can help better manage this disease, but they have little effect compared to intravenous phlebotomy.
A low-iron diet for hemochromatosis lowers iron levels by 14 to 30 mg per week, while phlebotomy can lower iron levels by 250 mg per week.
In addition, the intestines of a person with hemochromatosis absorb 4 times more iron than normal, and a hemochromatosis diet can help, but not replace, hemochromatosis.