So I know that this actually has got nothing to do with having ITP – but here at my house at the moment there has been a lot of talk about Paleo in our kitchen. After stumbling across an old interview from 1952 where Marilyn Monroe spoke about her oddly Paleo eating habits.
Feature image from PINTEREST
Calcium is the fifth most abundant element by mass in the earths crust. It is also the fifth most abundant ion dissolved in seawater. Calcium is essential for all living organisms; in particular their cell physiology, and humans are no exception. As a major material used in the mineralization of bones, calcium is the most abundant metal on mass in the human body. Without enough Calcium in your system you are in trouble. Did you know that Prednisone leaches calcium from your bones?
Taking Prednisone? Take Calcium too
If you are taking any amount of Prednisone on a daily basis then you absolutely need to be increasing your calcium intake, either through diet or with a supplement. There seems to be a grey area in the Medical profession at the moment about how much prednisone requires a Calcium and Vitamin D supplementation. All I can say about this is that any amount of Prednisone is too much and every possible precaution should be taken to avoid developing Steroid-Induced Osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis is a weakening of the bones, which causes them to lose their density and become brittle and more susceptible to fracture. Your bones are the organs that produce your blood. Your bones make your platelets! Your bones are not something that can be replaced with metal if they are broken or too weak. Long-Term steroid use weakens your bones, as the Prednisone will leach Calcium from them.
Calcium is absorbed in the small intestine. This absorption is aided by the presences of Vitamin D in your system at the time of the Calcium uptake. Most people on Prednisone will need between 1000 to 1500 mg of calcium per day.
The Top 5 ways to increase you Calcium, Naturally
Milk (Dairy ) So the best source of Dietary Calcium is of course Dairy. Australians are very lucky with the quality and quantity of Dairy products available here. We are able to access a variety of milk, yoghurt, cheeses, cream and curds. If you are looking for more calcium, then this is where you find it. However, if like me, you have switched to an anti inflammatory diet such as the Paleo Diet, then you will need to look for non dairy sources of Calcium. I still consume a bit of milk cause I love the Vitamin D + Calcium combo, but a small amount of milk is not enough.
Tiny fish (with the bones) These tiny fish would include Anchovies, White Bait or Sardines. Canned salmon and other fish are also sold with the bones included, but you would need to read the label. Eating these fish will provide you with a nice dose of fish oil, probably a bit of Vitamin D, and a whole lot of Calcium. What better food to eat for bone health than another animal’s healthy bones. If you are looking for the next best source of Calcium after dairy, then this is it.
- Seaweed Sushi rolls, Japanese – get the fatty fish and the seed weed together. The only chance I get to eat seaweed is in Japanese and Korean restaurants. If anyone knows any great Nori recipes please let me know.
- Seeds If you are a vegetarian or Vegan, then the Calcium in seeds will be a great natural healthy source. Seeds can sometimes be overlooked because they are so small, but it is because of their size that they can easily be incorporated into any dish. They are easy to sprinkle over salad or add to sauces and bakes, mash up with vegies, or include in a stir-fry – actually everything could benefit from a little sprinkling of seeds. Seeds high in Calcium include Chia Seeds, Flax Seeds or Linseeds, depending on where you are from and Sesame Seeds or Tahini will work just as well.
Almonds Almonds are the Paleo Dieters dream. These tasty little nuts may be used for sweet and savory dishes, blended into a baking meal or eaten by the handful between lunch and dinner. Aim to always have a supply of Almonds in your house, just stay clear of the salted kind – Salted Almonds are moreish and a huge no no for people taking Prednisone. To read more about staying away from Salt, click here.
Warning – This article contains spoilers of what might be install for you. If you wish to remain ignorant then don’t read on. You can’t un-know something.
A few days ago, I received a harmless email from our assistant Charmaine, saying she had written up a summary of the research I asked for. It wasn’t a big deal. A few weeks ago I asked her to investigate the impact of ITP on predicted life expectancy for a blog post I wanted to write. This one. I had told her there was no rush with the research and to send it through when she had found something.
I did not expect her email to change how I thought about my life.
This is what she sent me. ‘Based on the conducted research, Cohen, et al. predicted that a 30-year old woman remaining thrombocytopenic due to ITP would lose 20.4 years (14.9 quality-adjusted life years) of her potential life expectancy. At age 70, predicted loss was 9.4 years. So, if a woman in her 20’s finds out that she has ITP, her predicted life span would be up to her 50’s.’
She concluded that a persistently low platelet count was a grave prognosis.
As you can imagine I completely flipped out. Fuck! I am 28 years old now. If I continue to act like an average person, then I will have an average of 22 years left…from now. I couldn’t believe it. I felt so sad and then suddenly annoyed. I felt cheated that nobody had told me this sooner, and stupid for not searching myself. I felt so naive for never asking more questions and confused about what it all really meant.
I wished I never knew…
…And then, I sat down, made a plan and decided to get to the bottom of where this number came from and how I could make it disappear.
My Own Research
I followed up the articles that Charmaine had sent me. I slowly read through each of them, trying to digest the dense medical terminology. I got very confused and found myself getting mixed up between life expectancy and life quality; the difference between Chronic ITP and Acute ITP. I am not a doctor and could not read the articles, but I tried.
My eyes where hurting and I had 6 different tabs open on the internet, I leaned back in my chair and told myself I couldn’t do this… And that’s when I noticed something interesting.
The article I was reading was published in 2006. It was old. It was 8 years old! Another article was from 2000.
Yes! I thought – Surely things have improved in the last few years. Medical research is developing quite rapidly I would think. My prognosis must not be all that bad after all…But I kept reading. Everywhere I looked it was evident that ITP would have an impact on my predicted life expectancy.
Obviously the Internet is the worst place ever to investigate medicine, so I asked my doctor(s).
They made it clear that those figures where indeed older than they should be; and that yes, things have improved and are always improving for ITP patients.
‘How much of an improvement?’ I asked.
‘We don’t know.’
My doctors stressed that these number where just averages. I am sure they were trying to make me feel better but all I took from the conversation was that a lot of people must be dying earlier too! Fuck again!
My doctors said it is very important to not get carried away with numbers and averages and studies on people that aren’t you – Everyone is different. If you never heard this number before – It wouldn’t matter. The facts would still be the facts and you may or may not outlive your life expectancy. They all told me the best thing you can do is to live a healthy life and take care of yourself and your body.
The Problem the Research is…
The problem with reading the research is, statistics can be made to show anything. Research can be flawed. Tests are performed on very small testing groups. Patients with ITP are hard to find and even harder to test on. Everyone with ITP is different. The selection pool is little and the statistics are tiny.
A Medical Research Scientist contacted me by phone a few months ago to see if I would be interested in participating in a clinical trial for ITP. I said, ‘Yes’. He then asked me a number of questions to make sure I was eligible.
- I had to be within a certain age range – TICK
- I had to have had ITP for more than 2 years – TICK.
- I had to not be pregnant or breastfeeding – TICK
- I had to have a platelet count lower than 50 – TICK
- I had to not be receiving any medical treatment or taken any treatment in the last 6 months…… UM – WHAT???
This man could not find anyone to participate in his study. He doubted he would find anyone to participate. People with ITP are hard to find, and when he does someone to study – they are not eligible. ITP behaves and manifests itself so differently in all of us.
This scientist was taking his findings back to the medical research board to explain the problems he was having in finding candidates. ‘Would you be interested in not taking medication to participate?’ he asked as a very last chance. ‘Um…No’ I replied.
The Good News – Choosing not to be ‘Average’
So I started to feel better. I decided that this number was not for me. I was not having it.
If you are wondering why no doctor has told you your dramatically shortened life expectancy – It’s because it doesn’t apply to you. Not anymore. Not if you are smart and healthy and take care of yourself. Not if you start to understand your body and educate yourself about how to be ‘well’.
There are always things you can do to change your diet, take vitamins and supplements such as Blood Well. To be aware of this number, I started to think is quite liberating. After making peace with it, I now have the motivation I was looking for to take on more holistic forms of treatment. I am going to really learn what it is to be healthy.
Feature image from NERIDA
Coconut oil is defiantly trendy right now. But the great thing about the Coconut oil Fad is that everyone is 100 % correct. Coconut oil is Amazing!
All fats are not created equal
Coconut oil contains short term medium-chain saturated fatty acids (MCFAs), which is a “healthy” form saturated fat compared to trans fat. Trans fatty acid consumption is linked with heart problems, depression and increased cholesterol levels. What does consuming MCFA fats in coconut oil mean for your body? Our body metabolises these fats in the liver, immediately coverting this into energy (fuel for the brain and muscle function) rather than it being stored as fat.
Coconut oil Supports Immunity
Coconut oil is made up of healthy fats lauric acid, caprylic acid and capric acid which contain antifungal, antibacterial, antiviral prosperities to boost the immune system. Lauric acid contains the highest concentration of MCFA fatty acids, approximately 75 per cent. The body turn this fat into monolaurin which is claimed to help heal viruses such as herpes, influenza, cytomegalovirus, helicobacter pylori and candida.
Stops Sugar Cravings
Instead of reaching for the lollie jar for an afternoon sweet hit, try eating a teaspoon of virgin coconut oil to beat sugar cravings. This is because good quality fat is more satiating than carbs, so if you cut down on sugar you will feel less ‘ravenous’. Most of us do not realize but constant hunger is a major clue that your body is not being fed correctly. With the proper amounts of fats and protein, you can fuel your energy reserves properly, and come off the sugar roller coaster that many of us are on.
Balinese Banana & Coconut Smoothie
- Frozen bananas
- Roasted Cashews
- A table spoon of coconut oil.
Blend all the ingredients in a blender until the oil has emulsified and the mixture looks smooth and creamy. Order COCONUT OIL to come straight to your door – Amazing!
Coconut Oil Pulling
For when your platelets are so low you don’t want to brush. An option for people with low platelets then OIL PULLING is a great way to maintain dental hygiene without a mouth full of the blood.
Grapefruit? What’s the Problem?
The other day I found myself with a grapefruit in my hand and an old wives tale in my head. I don’t know why it came to me, but something was telling me not to eat the Grapefruit; something about grapefruit making the pill not work, like St John’s wort?
Then I doubted myself. How can a grapefruit be an evil kind of citrus when all the rest are fine?
What was I going to do with the Grapefruit tree in my back yard, plumb and ladened with the most burdensome of citrus? I started to ask a few friends if they had heard of this medication mixing myth.
I Started to Hear Conflicting Stories –
- A friend of mine told me her mother could not drink Grapefruit juice while she was being treated for Breast Cancer – Apparently the nurses where quite insistent.
- Another friend told me to eat plenty of Grapefruit as it is listed as a great food to eat on the alkaline diet, with mangos, limes, lemons and papaya.
- ‘Grapefruits? Oh yes, you should eat one every day – Very good for the fat burning’ they told me.
- ‘Grapefruit? Oh no! Stay away from that one.
My current contraceptive pill warns me to stay away from St John’s Wart, but there is not mention of Grapefruit on the instructions –
Is it just an old wives tale?
I decided to find out weather or not the humble fat busting little sour drum could really cause that much damage. I had to do some research.
I googled ‘Grapefruit and Medications’ Wow!
There is a lot of information out there to confirm that Grapefruits do in fact effect a lot of prescription medications.
‘Today, more than 30 commonly prescribed drugs carry a warning against mixing their use and grapefruits or grapefruit juice. This is not innocuous, because so many Americans have grapefruit for breakfast at a time when they also take their medications.'(1)
Here is the confusing part – Grapefruits do not interact with every drug.
Reactions between Grapefruit and prescription drugs was first documented in 1989 by a Canadian Medical Scientist,who discovered that when he took felodipine with grapefruit juice his blood-concentration of the drug was four times as high as it should have been. In other words, a standard dose combined with grapefruit juice was four times as potent as it was without grapefruit juice. (2)
‘Grapefruit juice blocks special enzymes in the wall of the small intestine that actually destroys many medications and prevents their absorption into the body. Thus, smaller amounts of the drugs get into the body than are ingested. When the action of this enzyme is blocked, more of the drugs get into the body and the blood levels of these medications increase. This can lead to toxic side effects from the medications.’ (3)
What I found was that grapefruits seem to have the most disastrous effects on the drugs that people would probably keep quite private. Drugs and medications used to treat mental health are the most susceptible to the enzyme dissolving grapefruit juice. You just never know what people are taking…
What about other citrus?
Well it looks like it is just Grapefruits. There is an emzyme in grapefruits that are not found in any other fruit at all. Weird. but true.
The truth is that Grapefruits might not have any effect on the medications and drug you are taking – But really? they aren’t that nice. I am going to just steer clear I think.
Other Medication-Effecting Foods
While researching I found this list that outlines others foods that may also effect medication and prescription drugs – Please note that this is only a small sample of medication-effecting foods and should not be taken as the only risk.
Grapefruit juice: Some statin drugs to lower cholesterol, such as simvastatin (Zocor), atorvastatin (Lipitor), and pravastatin (Pravachol); some blood pressure-lowering drugs, such as Nifediac and Afeditab ; some organ transplant rejection drugs, such as Sandimmune and Neoral (both cyclosporine); some anti-anxiety drugs, such as BuSpar (buspirone); some anti-arrhythmia drugs, such as Cordarone and Nexterone (both amiodarone); some antihistamines, such as Allegra (fexofenadine); the anti-malaria drugs Quinerva or Quinite (quinine); and Halcion (triazolam), a medication used to treat insomnia.
Licorice: The sweetening compound glycyrrhizin in black licorice may reduce the effects of some blood pressure drugs or urine-producing drugs including Hydrodiuril (hydrochlorothiazide) and Aldactone (spironolactone). It may increase the toxicity risks from Lanoxin (digoxin), used to treat congestive heart failure and abnormal heart rhythms.
Chocolate: Antidepressant Monoamine Oxidase (MAO) inhibitors (such as phenelzine (Nardil, Nardelzine) and tranylcypromine (Parnate) are just one category of drugs that shouldn’t be consumed with excessive amounts of chocolate and other caffeinated foods. Caffeine can also interact with stimulant drugs such as Ritalin (methylphenidate), increasing their effect, or by decreasing the effect of sedative-hypnotics such as Ambien (zolpidem). Using bronchodilators with caffeinated foods and drinks can increase the chance of side effects, such as excitability, nervousness, and rapid heart beat.
Potassium-rich foods (such as bananas, oranges, and green leafy vegetables): Can add to high potassium levels in the body caused by ACE (Angiotensin Converting Enzyme) inhibitors including captopril (Capoten) and enalapril (Vasotec) prescribed to lower blood pressure or treat heart failure. Too much potassium can cause an irregular heartbeat and heart palpitations.
St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum): Can reduce concentrations of medications in the blood, including digoxin (Lanoxin), used to treat congestive heart failure and abnormal heart rhythms; the cholesterol-lowering drug lovastatin (Mevacor and Altocor), and the erectile dysfunction drug sildenafil (Viagra).
Vitamin E: Taken with a blood-thinning medication such as warfarin (Coumadin) can increase anti-clotting activity and may cause an increased risk of bleeding.
Ginseng: May increase the risk of bleeding when taken with anticoagulants (blood thinners such as warfarin and heparin). Can also increase the bleeding effects of aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen, naproxen, and ketoprofen. Combined with MAO inhibitors such as Nardil or Parnate may cause headache, trouble sleeping, nervousness and hyperactivity.
Ginkgo biloba: High doses can decrease the effectiveness of anticonvulsant therapy in patients taking seizure-control medicines Tegretol, Equetro or Carbatrol (carbamazepine), and Depakote (valproic acid). (4)
Grapefruit and Prescription Drugs: Mix Carefully – By Mark Bloom HealthDay Reporter, (1)(2)
Grapefruit Juice Can Interact With Medicines! – Original Medical Author: William C. Shiel, Jr, MD, FACP, FACR Medical Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD, (3)
Grapefruit not only food that can Effect Medication – Michelle Healy, USA TODAY (4)
Feature image from ITPANDME
Prednisone may cause sodium (salt) and fluid retention, which can raise blood pressure and contribute to swelling. The good thing is that, as you reduce the amount of salt you are consuming you will also reduce your taste for the salt and smaller amounts will taste stronger than before.
Most of us consume much more salt (sodium chloride) than our body needs. Normally, our kidneys keep our body in balance any excess salt is excreted in the urine. Prednisone causes sodium retention and potassium loss which may lead to fluid retention, weight gain, bloating and low blood potassium levels. . It may be helpful to add high potassium foods such as bananas, citrus fruits, melons, and tomatoes to your diet.
High Blood Pressure
In some patients, this can cause high blood pressure or worsen a pre-existing condition. We suggest a no-added salt diet and avoidance of highly salted pre-packaged convenience foods.
Be sure that your blood pressure is checked regularly, perhaps every time your platelet count is checked.
Tips and Ideas for Cooking – Use fresh herbs whenever possible – Read food labels – You should be doing this anyway – Don’t add salt to your cooking – Remove the salt shaker from your table – For More help reducing Sodium in your diet, take at look at The Low Sodium Diet – The 101 best foods. It is available on Kindle for $3 AUD – Click here to Purchase
Drink more water. Your body is retaining a lot more salt with the Pred and therefore will also retain a lot more fluid. Feeling a bit fat? Your probably are. The best thing you can do is to teach you body, through habit that you will not let yourself go thirsty and you body will eventually trust you, knowing that more water is always coming and wont need to keep so much of an emergency store of it over your body.
It is important that you do actually keep up with drinking lots of water and to be reliable and consistent with it – Or your body just wont trust you and will try and solve the problem on its own.
Store your water in steal glass or aluminium bottle in your bag always. Have a bottle of water at your desk. Get rid of the plastic and go bpa free.