People with hemophilia don’t have specific dietary guidelines to follow, but there are reasons to make healthy food choices. Eating healthy and maintaining a healthy weight can help you avoid a cycle of damage to your joints:
- Extra weight can strain your joints and muscles.
- Extra weight can lead to other problems, like bleeds.
- When you have a bleed, you might be less active.
- When you are less active, you may not burn enough calories to stay at a healthy weight. This starts the cycle all over again.
Using some basic tips for healthy eating can help you get the nutrition you need and stay at a healthy weight. The key with eating well is moderation; if you try to make sweeping changes to your diet, you’ll be less likely to stick with them.
Guidelines for healthy eating.
Here are some guidelines for getting the most out of your nutrition, while keeping a good variety of foods in your diet.
- Eat fresh fruit and vegetables. Fruit provides nutrients that most of us don’t get enough of, like potassium, fiber, folic acid and vitamin C. Vegetables provide potassium, fiber, folic acid, vitamin A, and vitamin C. All kinds of vegetables can be part of your diet, including broccoli, kale, spinach, corn, peas, carrots, squash, peppers, all varieties of beans, and avocado.
- Choose whole grains for at least half your grains. Whole grains provide fiber, B vitamins, iron, magnesium and selenium. Some examples are whole wheat flour, bulgur (cracked wheat), oatmeal, whole cornmeal, and brown rice.
- Bake, boil, or grill lean or low-fat protein. Protein gives you B vitamins, vitamin E, iron, zinc and magnesium. The following proteins in moderation are part of a well-balanced diet and will help keep your daily calorie intake in check:
- Meat and poultry: Lean or low-fat cuts of beef, lamb or pork; eggs, chicken, turkey
- Seafood: Haddock, herring, salmon, snapper, clams, crab, scallops, shrimp
- Beans and peas: Chickpeas, falafel, pinto, soy, white and split peas, which are also part of the vegetable group
- Soy products: Tofu, veggie burgers, tempeh
- Nuts and seeds: Almonds, peanuts, sunflower seeds, walnuts; choose unsalted to keep sodium low
- Choose low-fat or fat-free dairy options. Dairy gives you calcium, potassium, vitamin D and protein. Some dairy products, like whole milk and some cheeses, have high fat content, but the following are healthier choices:
- Milk: Skim, 1 percent, 2 percent, lactose-free
- Milk-based low-fat desserts: Pudding, frozen yogurt, ice cream, ice milk
- Soy milk: Calcium-fortified (calcium added)
- Cheese: Low-fat cheddar, mozzarella, ricotta, cottage cheese
- Yogurt: Fat-free, low-fat, reduced-fat
Choose your cooking oil carefully. Some oils, such as those produced from canola, olive, safflower and sunflower, are relatively healthy. Avoid using butter, shortening, and higher fat oils to keep calorie counts down.
Eating for healthy blood.
You need many nutrients to help your body make blood. Here are some examples, and where to find them in the food you eat.
- Vitamin C: Citrus, red and green peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, greens, and some fortified juices and cereals
- Vitamin E: Vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, and leafy greens
- Vitamins B6 and B12: Poultry, meat, eggs, dairy, leafy greens, beans, peas, fortified breads and cereals
- Folic acid: Leafy greens, fruits, dried beans, peas, nuts, fortified breads, and cereals
- Iron: Liver, lean red meat, chicken, turkey, leafy greens, broccoli, dried beans, grains, and raisins
- Calcium: Low-fat and non-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese
- Copper: Various foods in a healthy diet
Taking a supplement can increase nutrients when you don’t get enough of what you need from food. However, taking a supplement can cause you to get too much of some nutrients. For example, people with hemophilia should avoid vitamin E and fish oil supplements because they can increase your risk of bleeding. Be safe with all supplements and check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking them.
Nutrition and exercise are part of a healthy lifestyle and can help you stay at a healthy weight. Regular exercise can help build strong muscles and help prevent joint problems. Talk to your doctor about what exercises you can do safely, and which exercises to avoid.
Trying something new? Check with your doctor first.
Be safe. Always check with your doctor before you start any new exercise, diet, prescription medication, or over-the-counter medication, vitamin, supplement, or herb.
If you have any questions, talk to your doctor or contact the CVS Specialty Hemophilia CareTeam at 1-866-RxCare-1 (1-866-792-2731). Our Hemophilia CareTeam representatives are ready to help.