Gert Coetzee, pharmacist and diet pioneer who founded The Diet Everyone Talks About comments on haemophilia and the nutrition suitable for it.  Haemophilia is a genetic disorder where your blood does not clot normally as it lacks sufficient blood clotting factors.  People with haemophilia bleed for longer after an injury as opposed to someone whose blood clots normally.  The biggest health concern regarding haemophilia is internal bleeding if you have suffered a severe injury.  This internal bleeding may be life-threatening as it can damage your tissues and organs.  It can also put pressure on the joints, resulting in painful and swollen joints.  Excessive weight puts strain on your joints and also increases the amount of replacement therapy needed to prevent or treat a bleed. 

The signs and symptoms of haemophilia can include:

  • Nosebleeds without a cause.
  • Large or deep bruises.
  • Swelling, pain and tightness in the joints.
  • Unusual bleedings after being vaccinated.
  • Excessive bleeding from cuts, injuries.

“People with haemophilia don’t need to be on a special diet but they need to eat well and maintain a healthy weight.  Eating a healthy diet strengthens your bones and joints, helps you maintain a healthy weight as well and also helps reduces your risks of getting chronic diseases,” says Gert.  Below he lists some diet and nutrition tips for people with haemophilia:

  • Increase your consumption of dark, green, leafy vegetables as they are very good sources of vitamins and minerals and fiber.
  • Choose lean protein such as chicken, eggs, fish, beans and nuts. Make sure you eat seafood at least twice a week.
  • Eat a lot of whole grain foods such as oats, brown rice, whole wheat bread and pasta as they stabilise your blood glucose levels and lower your cholesterol levels.
  • Avoid eating saturated fats. Pay close attention as some low-fat/fat-free foods may contain a huge amount of sugar. Unsaturated fats are healthier, and they are found in fish, avocados, olives and walnuts
  • Choose baking or grilling instead of frying when you cook lean meats such as poultry or fish. Also avoid using rich toppings, gravies or sauces as these are filled with calories.

When eating out:

  • Ask if wholegrain meals can be prepared.
  • Avoid high-fat condiments such as mayonnaise and ketchup.
  • Avoid fried side dishes, go for vegetables instead.
  • Avoid large meal portions as they may lead to you being overweight.
  • If you’re going to have a salad, choose salad dressing on the side.

Foods rich in calcium

People with haemophilia need healthy bones and teeth as dental work and gum disease can lead to bleeding.  Calcium is required to keep bones strong and to maintain healthy teeth.  Foods that contain calcium include:

  • Sardines
  • Greek yoghurt
  • Almonds
  • Beans and lentils
  • Low-fat cheese
  • Dark, leafy, green vegetables
  • Milk

Foods rich in iron

The body uses iron to produce red blood cells which carry oxygen to your muscles. Haemophilia is a bleeding disorder and people with bleeding disorders need to maintain normal blood volume and cell production.  Iron is lost when you bleed so iron-rich foods may help you recover faster if you bleed excessively are:

  • Lean red meat
  • Liver
  • Leafy green vegetables
  • Beans
  • Seafood
  • Peas
  • Lean poultry
  • Nuts and seeds