Hey guys -
I went paleo / Primal about 8 months ago. Today I got diagnosed with Hemacromatosis (elevated Iron in blood). Does anyone has experience with this? or Have any useful info?
Could this be a bi-product of Paleo?
Any info is greatly appreciated
asked byTodd (5838)
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on September 11, 2010
at 05:09 PM
You may be from a FINE line of Northern warriors who survived battle wounds, vitamin C deficiency and neolithic grains!
My wealthy uncle (a warrior in the business arena) has it and has a phlebotomy when required. (he's not paleo... fyi I haven't verified but he said that certain red wines are iron rich?)
Med Hypotheses. 2008;70(3):691-2. Epub 2007 Aug 8.
Hemochromatosis: a Neolithic adaptation to cereal grain diets. Naugler C.
Department of Laboratory Medicine, Dalhousie University, 5788 University Avenue, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada B3H 2Y9. email@example.com
Abstract The Neolithic period in Europe marked the transition from a hunter-gatherer diet rich in red meat to an iron-reduced cereal grain diet. This dietary shift likely resulted in an increased incidence of iron deficiency anemia, especially in women of reproductive age. I propose that hereditary hemochromatosis and in particular the common HFE C282Y mutation may represent an adaptation to decreased dietary iron in cereal grain-based Neolithic diets. Both homozygous and heterozygous carriers of the HFE C282Y mutation have increased iron stores and therefore possessed an adaptive advantage under Neolithic conditions. An allele age estimate places the origin of the HFE C282Y mutation in the early Neolithic period in Northern Europe and is thus consistent with this hypothesis. The lower incidence of this mutation in other agrarian regions (the Mediterranean and Near East) may be due to higher dietary intakes of the iron uptake cofactor vitamin C in those regions. The HFE C282Y mutation likely only became maladaptive in the past several centuries as dietary sources of iron and vitamin C improved in Northern Europe.
PMID: 17689879 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
on September 11, 2010
at 03:22 PM
As far as the fighter theory goes, I think there is plenty of evidence for it. Remains in Celtic burial grounds show lots of healed fractures.
I was reminded of it when reading about Iceland recently:
Blood from a wound was examined to determine the extent of the injuries. In chapter 45 of Eyrbyggja saga, Snorri go??i examined the snow where Berg????r had lain after being injured in battle. Snorri picked up the bloody snow, squeezed it, and put it in his mouth. Realizing that it was blood from an internal wound, Snorri said that Berg????r was a dead man and there was no need to chase after him.
Saga evidence suggests that some men who suffered serious wounds continued to fight and were praised for their courage. In chapter 30 of Hei??arv??ga saga, ????roddur cut off ??orbj??rn's foot at the ankle. ??orbj??rn continued to fight, killing ????roddur, then turning to fight Bar??i.
Both the saga literature and forensic studies of skeletal remains show that people survived serious battle injuries and lived to fight again after their wounds healed. In chapter 23 of V??ga-Gl??ms saga, ????rarinn was struck by a blow that cut through his shoulder such that his lungs fell out. He was bound up, and Halld??ra watched over him until the battle was over. ????rarinn was carried home where his wounds were treated, and over the summer, he recovered.
The brothers V??glundur and Trausti were severely wounded in a fight described in chapter 16 of V??glundar saga. Their father helped them home and ??lof bound their wounds. It took them twelve months to recover their health.
Some skeletal remains show both unhealed battle injuries and healed battle injuries in the same skeleton, confirming the stories in the sagas. The injuries suggest that the man suffered a wound, recovered, and then fought again later in his life.
Either way, neolithic genetic adaptations are very real. It's likely your ancestors had trouble getting iron or had an advantage in having more (childbirth, menstruation, battle loss). If any diet surpasses the paleo diet, it will be one based on individual genetic analysis.
If you want to keep eating paleo you are going to need to give blood or to limit dietary iron.
on September 11, 2010
at 04:49 PM
Steffan Lindeberg in his book "Food and Western Disease" includes Heamochromatosis as one possible risk of a Paleolithic diet. By the way it is an excellent book.
In northern Europeans about 0.5% have two copies of the mutant gene and 10% have one copy, this is even higher in some places like Ireland.
The mutation causing it is thought to have arisen in northern Europe in the last few throusand years. One possible reason for its spread is that it protected against severe iron deficiency due to the heavily grain based, iron poor diet common in nothern Europe since the neolithic. Also a low intake of vitamin C reducing iron absoption and more intestinal parasites due to increased population density may have contributed.
In cereal (wheat, oat and barley) based farming communities the Heamochromatosis mutation could have given carriers a large survival advantage, particularly for women. An increased absorption of iron would have greatly reduced anemia.
A heavily meat and organ based paleodiet may not be as appropriate if you have Heamochromatosis. Monitoring your blood iron levels with blood tests and giving blood to keep iron levels normal is the normal treatment as far as I know.
on December 13, 2010
at 11:21 PM
I have hemochromatosis (homozygous for the C282Y mutation) and have had problems with my iron levels since beginning a paleo type diet.
When I was originally diagnosed, my transferrin saturation and total iron binding capacity (measures of circulating iron levels) indicated I was loaded with iron, but I wasn't storing any iron (normal ferritin). Given that elevated transferrin saturation is associated with increased all-cause mortality, increased oxidative stress, and can reduce your immune system's ability to fight against many common bacteria (staph, etc) I was keen to keep it low. Storing it makes these problems all worse.
After doing some research, I discovered that there are a few ways to reduce iron absorption from food. Here are a few of the basic guidelines I discovered:
Avoid: - Excessive red meat, organ, and egg yoke consumption - Supplemental vitamin C
Non-heme Iron (plant based iron sources): - Consuming with a type of phytic acid called inositol hexaphosphate markedly reduces absorption. - Consuming with calcium blocks absorption. - Consuming with tannins, such as those in black tea, slows absorption.
Heme Iron (animal based iron sources): - Not affected by phytic acid. - Reduced absorption by calcium, but not significantly.
Its worth noting that my hematologist advocates for a grain based vegetarian diet. I wasn't crazy about that, nor the other dietary interventions, and just decided to do phlebotomy more frequently. I eat less red meat and organs (per meal, not frequency), but
on September 12, 2010
at 12:21 AM
Supposedly, hereditary hemachromatosis cannot be adequately controlled by diet. You must give blood. However, not everyone gets liver damage and whatnot from high iron levels and not everyone with the genetics for hemachromatosis actually develops hemachromatosis. SO there is more at work than just two genes that are combined. There are other ameliorating factors. Some people have high iron levels but suffer no organ damage. Others have the genes for high iron but do not develop high iron. However, it seems that for those who already have high iron, diet control has only a small effect on iron levels. I guess you could try to eat very very low iron, but that would have other side effects because iron rich foods have many other beneficial nutrients as well. Cut them out, and you would be throwing the baby out with the bathwater. IMO, until science works out all the factors, giving blood is the best option and since it is also a service to humanity, you can feel good when you do it. You can drastically alter your diet, but most likely, the only thing you would accomplish is to have to give blood slightly less often.
Also to keep in mind, just because you have high iron does not mean you have a good supply of hemoglobin. Other things can cause anemia, like lack of b12 and so you can have high iron and still be anemic. Do not assume your hemoglobin levels are fine just because you have high iron. You still need to be watchful of healthy eating and other nutrient intake. Unfortunately, many doctors assume that anemia is always caused by low iron, but that is simply not the case.
on September 11, 2010
at 04:33 AM
My great-grandfather suffered from this condition and he treated it by donating blood regularly. He went in as often as they would let him. He lived to the age of 92 and died of another condition, not related to hemochromatosis. My mother has just hit menopause and is starting to show many of the symptoms, which worries me. But she refuses to get tested. I donated blood at the beginning of the summer and had an unusually high (but still normal) test rate for a woman, which makes me think I may also need to be worried. Women have a regulating system built in through the monthly cycle, which is why most women don't have problems until menopause (such as my mother). It is harder than you may think to cause iron overload through your diet. Usually you would have to have some sort of issue aggravating your body's natural storage method. You can easily ask for your doctor to order testing to verify that this is a condition you need to be worried about. Until then, I would start donating blood. It's a good service anyway, and if it helps you too then you get double bang-for-your-buck, so to speak.
As for the genetic adaption behind this - the reason for it being around is possibly as an adaption to assist women with keeping iron levels high even while menstruating. It certainly explains how it could continue to pass through genetically, as most women experience no problems until after their child-bearing years are over and their genes would have been passed on. It may have evolved as a way to counteract anemia in women that is caused by heavy menstruation. There is also the fact that the main population who deals with this is those of Celtic background, and the island may have had limited iron sources during our adaption time. But really, who knows?
on September 11, 2010
at 03:31 AM
If I was you, I'd start researching and then consult with an expert. I found one interesting source here: http://www.ironoverload.org/diagnosis.html http://www.ironoverload.org/facts.html which seems to indicate the problem can be caused be a variety of genetic processing problems and there are strong tendencies in some populations. Since you did not apparently have any testing done before paleo, it's hard to say if paleo is part of the problem or not but info on this site seems to suggest genetics are more of an issue. I think logic would suggest cutting back iron intake. Red meat and organ meat tends to have a lot of iron. Whereas fat does not. You could eat more fat and less red meat. The redder and darker the meat, the more iron is in there. However, according to that linked site, you will want to get specific testing to figure out exact parameters and if too high, start donating blood. A lot of sources are saying that diet changes will help only a little bit over the long haul and only giving blood will help significantly. This suggests to me that paleo is not the main problem here and genetics are the more likly culprit.
HOwever... interesting some of the things I read said in some populations, carrier rate of tendency to accumulate too much iron in the blood can be up to 25% of the population! What advantage would this carry for a population? Maybe better for fighters who might bleed a lot? Hmmm, seems a bit of a stretch. I think maybe there is a factor involved that is not fully understood. It doesn't make sense to me that such genetics would be preserved in a population without good reason. Maybe some populations had extremely iron poor diets and this was needed to survive? Or maybe there is some other factor that counterbalances iron accumulation, like maybe lack in other nutritional elements.
on December 31, 2010
at 04:16 AM
Check out Peoples Pharmacy
Iron Overload (Hemochromatosis) Cured by Cabbage http://www.peoplespharmacy.com/2010/03/08/iron-overload-hemochromatosis-cured-by-cabbage/
on December 14, 2010
at 03:33 AM
I actually have quite the opposite and no doctor can seem to figure out why. I've been following a Paleo diet fairly closely for about a year or so. About 18 months ago I was diagnosed as being iron deficient and anemic. The condition has not improved despite a a better diet. As such, I am coming to the conclusion that my low hemoglobin levels are diet related as I eat plenty of red meat and green leafy stuff. Even after two iron injections, I am still low, so as the responses above indicate, more than diet may be in play in your case.
on September 11, 2010
at 05:33 PM
Go donate a pint of blood. Problem solved, til next time.
There is a supplement -- inositol hexaphosphate or IP6 -- that is purported to act as a chelation agent against iron. You take it for a month only.
on September 11, 2010
at 03:00 PM
Other places to research, read, asks questions:
As for what causes it, the most common form of hemochromatosis is hereditary. If you were born with it, you will always have it. Fortunately hemochromatosis is relatively benign IF you catch it early and treat it right. But watching the iron in your diet will always be important (the typical American diet includes waaaay more iron than a normal human needs and for some people too much iron is as bad a too much sodium).