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Nutritional deficiencies are common in people with Thalassemia, an inherited blood disorder that affects the body's ability to produce hemoglobin and red blood cells. Some thalassemia patients, especially those with thalassemia major, need regular blood transfusions, but it makes them prone to developing iron overload. For this reason, thalassemia major patients are usually advised to avoid iron-rich foods as these can worsen the complications. “It is recommended that patients going through blood transfusion should opt for a low iron diet. Avoiding iron-fortified foods like cereal, red meat, green leafy vegetables & Vitamin C-rich foods is the best option for thalassemic patients,” said Dr. Ganesh Jaishetwar, Consultant Hematologist, Hemato-Oncologist & Bone Marrow Transplant Physician, Yashoda hospitals Hyderabad. Below, Dr. Jaishetwar has shared a list of food items that blood transfusion patients should avoid and foods they should include to their diet.
According to Dr. Jaishetwar, blood transfusion patients should avoid iron-rich food items such as watermelon, dates, green and leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cabbage, peas and every type of beans like chickpeas, black-eyed peas, kidney beans, soybeans, raisins, red meat iron, peanut butter, etc.
Dr. Jaishetwar recommends patients suffering from Thalassemia to eat foods that are rich in vitamin D and calcium. Due to the affliction, bones tend to become weak and fragile, and as such, calcium-rich foods are highly recommended to strengthen the skeletal system of the body, he said.
Along with the specific diet, there are certain home remedies that may help relieve the symptoms of thalassemia. “The best home remedy to cure thalassemia is to consume a healthy and balanced diet to enhance the immunity of the body. Also, it helps prevent and cure weakness and fatigue, the prime symptoms of thalassemia,” said Dr. Jaishetwar.
According to Dr. Jaishetwar, intake of foods rich in folic acid also helps alleviate the signs of thalassemia. These include lentils, egg yolk, dried beans, sweet potato, wholegrain bread, soya products, split peas, nuts, bananas, and peaches, among others.
Drink two glasses of milk everyday
Thalassemia patients must avoid junk food as these foods can interfere with the normal functionality of the body, making it fragile and weak. You must also avoid carbonated or aerated drinks (attributed to their high content of preservatives), asserted Dr. Jaishetwar.
Certain yoga poses make your muscles and bones stronger. However, there is a disclaimer here. Such exercises should not be performed until advised by a doctor and must be carried out under the supervision of a certified yoga trainer.
Another effective remedy to relieve the symptoms of thalassemia is to consume ginger. Ginger serves to enhance the immunity of the body as well as enhance the appetite. You may also include lemonade in your diet to regulate a variety of processes and mechanisms in the body, helping alleviate the signs of thalassemia, the expert stated.
Minor habits like maintaining good hygiene can go a long way in protecting a thalassemia patient from other infections which would worsen the condition
Apart from the regular home remedies, you may deploy herbal treatment to cure thalassemia. Some of the herbs used for curing thalassemia are: Folic acid: Folate or folic acid is a component of vitamin B-complex and helps alleviate the symptoms of thalassemia. As such, you may consume certain herbs which supplement folate in the diet. Some such herbs are red clover leaves, nettle leaves, and oat straw, among others. Zinc supplement for thalassemia patients: You may also provide thalassemia patients with Zinc supplements as some of them have low zinc levels in the body, hindering normal cell metabolism and lowering general body immunity. Some of the herbs rich in zinc content are alfalfa, rose hips, parsley, dandelion, chickweed, and burdock root, among others.