World Thalassemia Day: What Food Is Good For Thalassemia?

World Thalassemia Day is observed on May 8th all around the year. The World Thalassemia Day 2018 theme is "Thalassemia past, present and future: Documenting progress and patient's needs worldwide". On the World Thalassemia Day, we will be writing about the foods to eat and avoid for thalassemia patients.

Thalassemia is an inherited blood disorder, and the person suffering from thalassemia will have at least one of the parents as the carrier of the disease. Genetic mutation can lead to thalassemia, which results in damage of the red blood cells and anaemia.

world thalassemia day

Thalassemia minor is a serious disorder and is a carrier state in which one of a pair of chromosomes carries the affected gene. People with thalassemia minor are healthy and have a normal life span. They don't require blood transfusions; but they are capable of passing the gene to the next generation.

Thalassemia major is when the child is unable to maintain a satisfactory haemoglobin level. The lifespan may be restricted to 3-5 years if left untreated. They require frequent blood transfusions, which leads to accumulation of iron in the liver, heart and other organs.

People with thalassemia can manage the condition by avoiding eating foods which are rich in iodine. Read here to know what food is good for thalassemia.

Foods To Eat For Thalassemia

With regular blood transfusion, there is an overload of iron in the body of the thalassemia patients. So, they should not be given iron-rich foods like oysters, pork, beans, animal liver, peanut butter, tofu, beef, flour tortillas, cream of wheat, watermelon, prunes, infant cereal, peas, spinach, raisins, broccoli and green leafy vegetables.

Calcium is an essential mineral, which is extremely important for thalassemia patients. Because of the affliction, bones tend to become weak and fragile and so, calcium-rich foods are highly recommended to strengthen the skeletal system of the body.

What food is good for thalassemia? 

1. Cereals - Wheat bran, oats, maize, rice and soy can decrease absorption of iron, but make sure these foods aren't consumed along with foods rich in Vitamin C such as orange juice. You can have cereals with milk, as it will help in increasing the calcium levels.

2. Tea, Coffee And Spices - Spices like oregano can decrease the absorption of iron. Drinking tea and coffee every day, particularly with snacks, will also decrease the absorption of iron in the body. It is better that you drink tea or coffee with milk.

3. Dairy Products - Milk, yogurt, cheese and other dairy products can decrease the absorption of iron in the body. Skimmed milk or low-fat milk is preferred for thalassemia patients to avoid weight gain. Dairy products are also high in calcium and so it's good to include as many dairy products as you can in your diet. Drink one pint of milk daily.

4. Vitamin E-rich Foods - People with thalassemia should have foods rich in vitamin E like nuts, cereals and eggs, etc. Olive oil contains high amounts of vitamin E that also can be consumed in order to increase your consumption of Vitamin E.

5. Calcium Containing Foods - Thalassemia patients are recommended to consume plenty of foods that are rich in calcium. Calcium aids in keeping the bones strong and healthy. Have dairy products and calcium-rich fruits and vegetables daily.

Foods To Avoid For Thalassemia

1. Vitamin C Based Foods - Vitamin C present in fruits, fruit juices and vegetables should be avoided by thalassemia patients. It is recommended to avoid drinking fruit juice, such as orange juice, with your meal or your breakfast in the morning. However, you could boil the vegetables, as the vitamin C content is decreased because the vitamin leaks out in the water.

2. Meat, Poultry and Seafood - Seafood, meat, poultry and fish not only contain a lot of meat iron, but they also help to absorb more of the non-meat iron from your food. It is better to avoid these foods completely.

3. Pickles, Soy Sauce, Vinegar and Alcohol - These foods enhance iron absorption in the body. The amount of iron absorbed is even higher when the pickled vegetables are added to bread and rye containing meals.

Diet Tips For Thalassemia To Increase Haemoglobin

  • Vitamin D should be included in the diet for thalassemia patients. As vitamin D helps in the absorption and assimilation of calcium in the body, which include foods like cod liver oil and soy milk.
  • Increased consumption of foods rich in folic acid also helps alleviate the signs of thalassemia. These foods include lentils, egg yolk, dried beans, sweet potato, wholegrain bread, soya products, split peas, nuts, Brussels sprouts, bananas and peaches, among others.
  • Drinking two glasses of milk every day helps cure thalassemia.
  • Avoid junk and processed foods, as these foods are known to interfere with the normal functionality of the body, making it fragile and weak.
  • Maintaining a good hygiene, consuming ginger and drinking honey with milk can go a long way in protecting a thalassemia patient from other infections, which would otherwise worsen the condition.

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ALSO READ: World Thalassemia Day 2018: Everything You Need To Know About Thalassemia

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