The power of a healthy lifestyle is undeniable for anyone. While there’s no single diet or regimen that will relieve the symptoms of ITP, you can support your immune system by making your lifestyle a healthier one.
Eat Right, Feel Better
If you have ITP, you might wonder if eating certain foods can raise or lower your platelet count. Although there is no scientific evidence about specific foods being able to improve or boost a low platelet count, certain types of diets have shown to be helpful with easing ITP’s symptoms.
PDSA’s Survey of Non-Traditional Treatments in ITP showed 40 percent of the responders reported some improvement in their bleeding symptoms and their platelet count with either the macrobiotic diet or the diet recommended in Eat Right for Your Type by Peter J. D’Adamo, ND, MIFHI. Less success was reported for the Atkins and Zone diets, which focus on a high protein, low carbohydrate approach.
If you’re thinking about making changes to your diet, it’s recommended you make the changes slowly so your body can adjust. Sometimes diet changes can cause withdrawal and detoxification symptoms as new foods are introduced and your old diet sources are eliminated.
The recommendations listed below are helpful guidelines based on principals from the macrobiotic and “Eat Right” diet, general nutritional research and research linking the impact of diet changes on other diseases that have common features with ITP; be sure to discuss any diet changes with your physician.
Wide variety of fresh, “whole foods”
- “Whole foods”—or those from as close to their natural source as possible—including vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts and legumes hold their fiber as well as the beneficial phytochemicals and nutrients often removed in processed foods.
- Choose cold pressed oils such as olive or canola for cooking and baking.
- Leafy greens, including kale, collard greens (collards) and spinach are a great source of vitamin K, calcium and minerals, which promote clotting and can also help fight fatigue. Sea vegetables like seaweed are also beneficial. .
Organic, unsprayed foods
- Choose unsprayed foods grown using natural fertilizers to help avoid chemical pesticides and herbicides that have been shown to exacerbate autoimmune diseases and lower platelets. Additives and preservatives can increase the disease-causing free radicals in your body.
Canned and frozen foods and leftovers
- The nutritional value of food deteriorates with time.
White flour, white rice and processed foods
- Processed grains are stripped of their natural nutrient-rich coating.
Hydrogenated, partially hydrogenated or trans-fats
- It’s recommended to eat very little or no hydrogenated, partially hydrogenated or trans-fats, which have been shown to contribute to free radical damage. Also try to reduce the amount of deep fried food that can add to the free radical load.
- Reduce the amount of white refined sugar as well as fructose, corn syrup, honey and other sweeteners; also limit fruit and fruit juice. Sugar has been shown to alter internal pH levels resulting in a more acidic body, which is believed to promote disease.
- Reduce or eliminate milk, cheese, ice cream and yogurt from your diet based on your reaction to these foods and other dietary needs. Dairy foods have been shown to contribute to mucus formation and exacerbate some autoimmune diseases.
- Rely on lean, white fish, whole grains and beans and some nuts for protein. Meat is often laced with residual antibiotics, hormones and saturated fat.
- Can damage bone marrow
Foods that can interfere with blood clotting
- Blueberries, red/purple grape products, garlic, onions, ginger, ginseng, and tomatoes have all been shown to prevent blood clotting.
- Avoid food and drinks containing quinine, including tonic water and bitter lemon and drinks; these can lower platelets.
Drink plenty of filtered or bottled water at room temperature or above
- Taking periodic sips of hot water can cleanse impurities from the body; ice water can slow and hinder the digestive process. Tap water may also contain small amounts of harmful chemicals.
Chew your food well
- Chewing each bite until it is liquid can aid digestion, aid the passage of nutrients into your blood stream and promote healthy alkaline blood chemistry.
Many people have delayed food allergies that produce vague and difficult-to-diagnose symptoms
- If you don’t feel well, consider having a food allergy test.
Lifestyle Tips: 20 Steps to Better Health
When you have ITP, feeling better is often the result of the combination of many small lifestyle changes that make a large impact. Here’s a list of suggestions that are easy and affordable—and just might unlock your healing response.
Just pick a few of your favorite ideas and try them—you can always add more. And, if you get your family and friends to join you, everyone can benefit.
- Take 20 minutes a day to just breathe slowly and deeply, raising and lowering your abdomen. Breathing slowly reduces stress and activates neurotransmitters found in the lungs.
- Take the natural approach with products including natural cleaning products, natural pesticides, low volatile paints and organic fertilizers. Avoid perfumes and scented products. Chemicals and pesticides have been shown to interfere with the immune system and create unhealthy free radicals in the body.
Avoid Plastic Containers
- Store food in ceramic or glass dishes and containers. The chemicals in plastics have been shown to interfere with cell development.
- Look at the people and situations that create stress in your life and try to find ways to reduce the stress, which have been shown to aggravate many diseases. Yoga and meditation often help.
- Replace any negative thoughts with positive ones—especially the positive things you want to happen in the future. According to many studies, positive thinking can enhance your chances of feeling better.
Connect to a Higher Power
- Pray or seek other spiritual guidance consistent with your beliefs. Research has shown that this type of connection can assist in improving health.
Consider Energy Therapy
- Reiki, Qi-gong, and other subtle energy therapies can activate a healing response. You can learn some of these and use them on your own, or you can seek a qualified practitioner.
- Find an exercise program you like and that fits your health situation. It could be walking, yoga or dancing—use your imagination and do what you like best!
Breathe Clean Air
- Avoid smoky (and smoking), musty, dank, dusty environments. Particulates and mold have been shown to exacerbate autoimmune diseases.
- If you need a tooth filled, avoid mercury fillings. Avoid eating fish that is high in mercury, including swordfish, tuna and grouper. Dispose of mercury thermometers. Mercury has been shown to exacerbate autoimmune disease.
Listen to your body
- Stay in touch with your inner self and follow your body’s suggestions for what your health needs. Sleep when you need rest. Eat when you’re hungry. Stay in the sun when your body wants the warmth.
Be with People who Enliven You
- Sometimes you feel better after being with someone. Other times you may feel deadened and drained. Choose to be with people who brighten your spirits.
Take Time for your Favorite Things
- Bring as much joy into your life as possible. Listen to music. Grow flowers. Watch the birds and rabbits. Sing. Make your own list—the options are limitless.
Reduce Negative Input
- Reduce the amount of time you spend watching the news, reading scary stories and watching TV shows with violent themes. These have been shown to promote stress reactions.
Live in a Positive Space
- Remove clutter from your environment. Clean and organize your things. Fix anything that’s broken. Surround yourself with items that help you smile and feel good. Check out books on Feng Shui for additional suggestions.
Get Your Sleep
- Try to get at least seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Research has shown that both too little and too much sleep can aggravate health problems. Ayurvedic medicine recommends that you go to bed before 10 p.m. and rise around 6 a.m. for optimal health.
Avoid Allergic Triggers
- Find out if you have allergies to foods or other sources, then eliminate or avoid them, if possible. For example: If you’re allergic to dust, use a HEPA filter vacuum and/or air cleaner and dust protectors for pillowcases.
Do Fun Things
- Create opportunities to smile and laugh. Know what brightens your spirits and puts a grin on your face and find time to do these things. Norman Cousins set the standard with his book, “Anatomy of an Illness” when he described how watching Marx Brother’s films helped him heal.
Avoid Drugs That Can Interfere with Platelets
- Medical literature is filled with accounts of prescription products that can reduce platelet counts or inhibit their action. While some of these are allergic reactions and will not apply to everyone, it is good to know the possibilities.
Get Help and Hugs
- Find others who will listen. Talk about your feelings. Ask for help when you need it and accept the help that’s offered—and bask in hugs and warmth.