What foods to avoid if you have hemochromatosis?

Hemochromatosis is a genetic disorder, where your body absorbs too much iron. A proper hemochromatosis diet is frequently based upon certain nutrients that increase or decrease the body’s uptake of iron.

Before we get into what foods to avoid, another important factor to keep in mind is your iron overload level. The following aspects can be crucial to how lenient or strict your diet should be:

  • Iron metabolism
  • Genetics
  • Lab test results

Iron metabolism denotes the use, absorption, and storage of iron, while genetics relate to homozygote, heterozygote, or compound heterozygote. Finally ferritin levels and transferrin saturation are important lab test results.

Your gender, age, current treatment state, and how long ago you were diagnosed also matter.

Basically, you need to avoid iron supplements, alcohol, and raw seafood completely if your level of iron overload is high. Supplements can contain copious amounts of iron that is maximally absorbed.

Alcohol can be hard on the liver, which is more sensitive to iron overload than any other organ in your body. Moreover, alcohol enhances iron absorption, making for an undesirable combination.

Finally, raw seafood contains Vibrio Vulnificus, a bacterium that flourishes in an environment of excessive iron. Admittedly, this bacterium is very rare, but it can be present, and if it is, it can cause serious complications.

Limit Intake of the Following Iron Rich Foods

  • Iron Fortified Foods
  • Heme Iron Containing Foods
  • Non-Heme Iron Containing Foods

Animal foods contain heme iron, while plant-based ones contain non-heme iron. You need to avoid Vitamin C, beta carotene, and other nutrients because they increase iron absorption from meals. Although they are important to consume – in fact, people cannot function without them – a combination of these minerals and vitamins taken in simultaneously can have a pronounced effect on iron absorption.

What should we eat then?

Some nutrients specifically reduce absorption of iron from meals. We recommend including them whether from food or from a supplement source. These healthy nutrients can be life-saving! People who are in good health have plenty of them in their diet and supplement regimen.

  • Milk Thistle
  • Turmeric
  • Calcium
  • Green Tea
  • Oxylates and Phytates
  • Polyphenols and Tannins

On a final note, always consult a physician if you have hemochromatosis before you start any diet, supplement, or exercise routine.

You can enjoy your diet despite hemochromatosis! There’s no need to make it stressful and overly restrictive.