Porphyrias are a group of problems that affect the metabolism in a person. It is therefore a metabolic disorder and is a difficult condition to cure. Porhyrias occur due to an increased concentration of Porphyrins in the blood. The porphyrins are an important component that contribute to the formation of the Haemoglobin. There are various enzymes which help in the conversion of porphyrins into hemoglobin.
Due to the defective functioning of the various enzymes, there are four main types of porphyrias namely, ALDA Porphyrias, Acute intermittent porphyrias, variegate porphyrias and hereditary porphyrias. As per the nervous or cutaneous symptoms involved, porphyrias can be classified as acute or cutaneous.
In both the conditions, the acute symptoms need immediate treatment and hence, they should be monitored closely for better results.The diet in any case of porphyria should be formulated so as to reduce the risk of an acute attack which may include severe abdominal upset or any neurological outburst like paralysis or even heart arrhythmias. Here are a few things to remember for all patients of porphyrias in terms of the type of food and lifestyle they are consuming.
IMPORTANCE OF CARBOHYDRATES IN DIET
Patients of porphyrias should be consuming ample amounts of carbohydrates. This does not mean that this consumption should be in excess of the daily requirement of calories by the body. A balanced diet with easily digestible carbohydrates are ideal for consumption.Prolonged fasting and starvation can precipitate an attack. Therefore, it is very important to maintain a healthy and balanced diet.
Consumption of simple carbohydrates like honey and fruits, helps in reducing the levels of porphyrins in the blood. Complex carbohydrates however, should not be totally neglected. Try incorporating whole wheat breads for your daily dose of complex carbohydrates.
CONTROLLING SYMPTOMS OF NAUSEA AND INDIGESTION
Nausea and indigestion are a common feature in most patients. To control them, it is therefore, very important to eat light and frequent meals. Acidic and nauseating food products should be avoided to as far as possible.
Caffeinated drinks, sodas, soft drinks etc. should also be avoided.
LIMIT ALCOHOL INTAKE
Alcohol has been reported as a common trigger for an acute attack of porphyrias which may manifest itself in many ways. Alcohol intake should be limited to a minimum. If you do not drink, try and not become an alcoholic. For people who do drink, try and refrain yourself from drinking liquors with a high percentage of alcohol like red wine, whisky etc.
Common abdominal symptoms in porphyrias is a frequent constipation or diarrhea. For patients who feel constipated, there are many herbal remedies and dietary modifications that can help a lot in maintaining normal bowel movement.
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Begin your day with a glass or two of warm water on an empty stomach. You can also add a little lime or honey in it.
- You can also consume soft fibrous fruits and vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, beans etc.
- 1 – 2 tea spoon full of Vara churna at night can help in the smooth evacuation of stools at night.
Regular exercise is a very common condition that has to be maintained in order to maintain physical health as well as regular bowel movement. Sedentary lifestyle, is another factor that can aggravate your disease so you have to be regular with your workouts and take out time for yourself.
Light exercises like walking, light jogging can be done regularly to maintain fitness levels. You can choose an exercise routine that suits you best as per your Age and fitness levels.
CHOLESTEROL AND SALT INTAKE
Cholesterol levels need to be managed and the amount of fat in diet should be restricted to not more than 300 mg per day accordingly. Salt restriction is not a direct indication. It depends up on the involvement of other disorders like hypertension.
IRON AND CALCIUM LEVELS
Iron levels in blood should be especially managed to maintain optimum Hemoglobin levels in blood. People who deal with the acute on chronic attacks of Porphyrias, need to manage for any anemic conditions that may develop in them.
It is especially necessary to monitor Hb levels in women who suffer from heavy menstrual flow and blood loss due to other reasons. Calcium levels should also be maintained especially in female patients of porphyria.
These are some of the basic guidelines that are applicable to most patients of porphyrias in general. The rest of the specific details of the disease vary from person to person for which individual guidelines need to be formulated.