Hemochromatosis is a hereditary disease that causes your body to absorb too much iron from the food you eat. Beetroot is a nutritious veggie with lots of iron so are beets bad for hemochromatosis patients?
As a dietitian with my own private practice, I work with patients in understanding their condition and changing their diet to improve their health. Hemochromatosis patients have a problem with foods that enhance the quick absorption of iron in their body. They need foods that slowdown that rate and beetroot is a good example. Besides being very nutritious beets help to reduce the amount of iron in your body.
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What is hemochromatosis?
This is a rare genetic disorder where your body absorbs excess iron from what you eat. A normal person absorbs only 10% of iron found in the food but a person with hemochromatosis can absorb even four times more. Your body can’t naturally get rid of the excess iron so it stores it causing it to accumulate in your liver, pancreas, and heart. If left untreated your major organs can fail to function. The only way to treat is by removing some of your blood to reduce iron levels. Some of the symptoms are irritable bowel syndrome, fatigue, immune dysfunction, hair loss, explosive diarrhea, and change in skin colour.
Click here to learn more about hemochromatosis.
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There are two types of iron found in food, haem iron found in foods like red meat, pork, oily fish, poultry, etc. and non-haem iron found in beets, green veggies, grains, brown rice, eggs, chocolate, beans, and nuts. Also found in flour and cereal.
Although both types of food have the same amount of iron, your body can easily absorb foods with haem iron. Which means hemochromatosis patients can eat more foods with non-haem iron. Hemochromatosis patients need to eat a balanced diet that includes foods with vitamins, minerals, and nutrients including iron for your body to function properly. No food is completely healthy or unhealthy, eating the right portions is what matters
Are beets bad for hemochromatosis patients?
Beets are included in foods with non-haem iron that slow down or prevent the absorption of iron into your body. So to answer your question, are beets bad for hemochromatosis patients, the answer is no. Such foods that slow down iron absorption are called inhibitors. Beets contain oxalates that inhibit quick absorption of iron in your body. They contain 4% per every 100g and your body only absorbs 5-15% of iron in foods with non-haem iron which is a very small portion compared to 15-35% of foods with haem iron.
Beets help to detoxify your body and liver to get rid of all the toxins that prevent your liver from functioning properly. They are known to be the best blood cleansers by purifying your blood and removing any build up on the artery walls to promote the smooth flow of blood and absorption of nutrients.
Foods you should avoid
Stay away from supplements that contain iron or iron supplements. Also, foods that are high in vitamin C and beta carotene because they increase the absorption of iron in your meals. Combining these vitamins and minerals will worsen your condition.
Red meat is a source of haem iron that your body can easily absorb. If you have hemochromatosis you are advised to stay away from red meat. Lamb and beef meat is said to contain more iron than poultry and pork.
Raw or undercooked shellfish may have bacteria mostly found in the warm coastal waters, Vibrio vulnificus. It causes a serious infection which can cause more problems if you have liver problems like hemochromatosis.
Alcohol enhances the rate of iron absorption from food not to mention the damage it can cause to your liver and heart. Avoid taking alcohol with your meals or an hour before or after your meals. If you have a liver problem it’s advisable to stay away from alcohol altogether.
Sugary foods and beverages are also not good if you’re suffering from hemochromatosis. Fruits contain fructose, a natural sugar that enhances the absorption of iron into your body. Sodas, fruit juices, honey, and molasses should be used sparingly.
Now, do you still believe that beets are bad for hemochromatosis patients?
If you have hemochromatosis you can enjoy your beets without worrying. Beets are great veggies that help to inhibit the fast absorption of iron by your body. They contain oxalates that are good in slowing down the process of iron absorption in your body that affects your condition. Beets help to detoxify your liver by removing all the toxins so that it’s able to function properly.
Can hemochromatosis be cured?
There is currently no cure for hemochromatosis but there are treatments to reduce the excess iron in your body. This brings you relief and reduces the risk of having damage to your vital organs.
Is beeturia a sign of hemochromatosis?
The answer is no, beeturia is the beet pigment found in your urine as a result of eating beetroot and hemochromatosis doesn’t cause any changes in your urine. This can only occur if you have untreated liver disease or diabetes.
What is the best treatment for hemochromatosis?
A safe and effective way of treating hemochromatosis is through a procedure called phlebotomy, removing blood from your body. This reduces the number of iron levels in your body to normal.
How serious is hemochromatosis?
The buildup of excess iron that is stored in your major organs like your liver, heart, and pancreas can over the years lead to severe organ damage. It can also lead to organ failure and other chronic diseases like diabetes, or cirrhosis.
Can eating beets help reduce excess iron in hemochromatosis patients?
Beets contain antioxidants that help to protect your body from any damage caused by oxidative stress. The iron in beets is not readily absorbed which helps to reduce iron levelsin your body.