Foods to Eat or Avoid With Immune Thrombocytopenia


Foods to Eat or Avoid With Immune Thrombocytopenia

Foods to eat for ITP include avocados, nuts, seeds, and leafy greens.

Living with chronic immune thrombocytopenia can be frustrating in many ways, including wondering if there are any lifestyle measures you can take to help get your platelet count up.

One area many people who have ITP are eager to explore is their diet, potentially including dietary supplements. But advice that you may find in this area is often contradictory and may not be supported by evidence.

“I think we all wish there were one food you could eat or one thing you could do” to help ITP, laments Ginger Hultin, RDN, the Seattle-based owner of Champagne Nutrition and a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “But the fact of the matter is, what we’re trying to do is support the body’s natural ability to create the type of cells that it needs.”

Hultin notes that for people who have ITP, probably the most important aspect of eating is getting enough calories and protein to support your body’s normal functions and a consistent energy level. “This is a population that I really think should be eating on a regular basis,” she urges. “So breakfast, lunch, dinner, and probably a snack or two in between.”

While it can be frustrating that there isn’t a dietary magic bullet for ITP, “Diet does matter, and there are things you can do,” Hultin emphasizes.

Beyond the foundation of eating enough and eating regularly, Hultin says, there are specific nutrients found in foods that may help support platelet production or clotting, as well as things you should avoid.

Start with this list of foods and beverages to consider including or limiting in your diet.

1. Eat: Fresh fruits and vegetables

One nutrient that may support platelet production and function is folate. “That’s actually really easy to get as long as you’re eating fruits and vegetables,” explains Hultin, especially if you’re eating leafy green vegetables.

But nearly all fruits and vegetables, Hultin says, contain a variety of nutrients that can help your blood function as well as possible.

2. Avoid: Concentrated foods that may interfere with clotting

Certain foods, including red grapes, blueberries, garlic, onions, and ginger, may interfere with clotting when consumed in large quantities. But in most cases, small amounts of these foods in your diet shouldn’t be a problem, explains Hultin.

“If you have low platelets and you eat a little bit of garlic in food, I’d be surprised if that would drastically thin your blood,” Hultin notes. “Where I’d be more worried is a supplemental form, or if you’re using lots of garlic powder. That’s more concentrated than a garlic clove.”

When in doubt, Hultin says, talk to your doctor about any foods you should be avoiding.


3. Eat: Foods that contain healthy fats

Healthy fats include nuts and nut butters, seeds, and avocados, which provide not just unsaturated fat, but a wide range of other helpful nutrients, says Hultin.

What’s more, Hultin says, these foods can help you consume enough calories and provide an antidote to the fatigue many people who have ITP experience. “With fatigue, people need to focus on getting enough calories,” she emphasizes. “You’re not going to feel energized if you don’t get enough calories.”

4. Avoid: Foods high in saturated or trans fat

While avoiding unhealthy forms of fat is good advice for most people, this precaution may be even more important for people who have ITP because of the long-term corticosteroids sometimes prescribed for the condition, Hultin notes. People who receive corticosteroid treatment “could be at an increased risk for high blood pressure, so looking at heart-healthy foods” is recommended, she says.

Saturated fat can be found in meat and high-fat dairy products, while trans fats are found in processed foods that contain the word “hydrogenated” before a type of oil in the ingredients list.

5. Eat: Lean sources of protein

Including protein in your diet not only provides the critical building blocks for many processes in your body, but can also help ensure that you avoid spikes and dips in your energy level throughout the day.

Meat provides an easily absorbed form of iron, although Hultin notes that you can get enough iron in your diet from other sources, including plants. Plus, “One of the biggest challenges with red meat, from a health standpoint, is saturated fat,” she says.

Quality sources of lean protein to include in your diet are poultry, fish, beans and lentils, nuts and seeds, and soy products.

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