Nutrition

image of a fresh banana on retro phone

Healthy eating advice

The foods you eat can affect your mental and physical wellbeing, so it’s important to understand how to eat the right balance of healthy and not-so-healthy cuisine. As long as you maintain a varied, balanced diet, you can reduce your risk of joint damage, with foods containing omega-3 fatty acids, as well as your risk of developing illnesses like diabetes, obesity, heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis and cancer (particularly bowel cancer).

image of an overweight man on the scales

What if I'm overweight?

In addition to the above, carrying too much weight can place extra strain on your joints, particularly your knees and ankles, thereby increasing the likelihood of bleeding and joint damage. Excessive weight also stresses soft tissues such as the tendons. If you’re overweight, controlled weight loss and muscle strengthening are important goals in the prevention of joint injury. An easy way to shed some pounds is to eat a balanced diet, and to do some exercise (see Fitness). You can find out more about the general affects of being overweight and obesity here:
http://www.patient.co.uk/health/Obesity-and-Overweight.htm

Also, if you're concerned that your diet may not be as healthy as it should be, talk to your haemophilia healthcare professionals who should be able to give you some practical advice, or refer you to a dietitian or nutritionist who can help you further.

Which foods comprise a balanced diet?

You already know that, to get all the nutrients and fibre you need, it's important to eat a range of foods from the five food groups shown below.

image of a loaf of sliced bread

Starchy foods

Most of the carbohydrate in your diet should come from bread, cereal, potatoes, pasta or rice. Wholegrain varieties are better than bleached (white) versions, as they contain more nutrients and fibre.

image of a milk bottle

Dairy products

Milk and dairy produce are an important source of calcium, protein and vitamins. Choose lower-fat options such as semi-skimmed or skimmed milk, low-fat yogurts and cheeses (such as cottage cheese and Edam). Dairy products that are high in saturated fat, such as butter and cream, should be eaten in small amounts to reduce the risk of high cholesterol and other illnesses such as heart disease. These foods belong to the 'fats and sugar' food group.

image of a cow
Meat and other protein

Meat, including fresh, frozen or tinned fish, eggs, nuts, soya, pulses and beans (including bean curd [tofu]) are important sources of protein. For a healthier way of cooking meat and fish, cut off any extra fat and skin, don't add butter or oil, or use very small amounts if frying, and consider grilling, baking or poaching it.

  • Try to limit your intake of processed meats, such as burgers and sausages, as they often have a high fat and salt content
  • Try to eat at least two portions of oily fish per week as they are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which have a protective effect on your heart and joints
image of donuts
Fats and sugar

The foods we should consider ‘treats’ (i.e. butter, mayonnaise, crisps, cakes, biscuits and puddings) are normally high in saturated fat and/or sugar; enjoy them, but eat them in small amounts. Foods high in refined sugar (e.g. granulated, castor and powdered sugar) such as sugary drinks, sweets and alcohol provide ‘empty calories’; these foods give you energy but have low nutritional value. Frequently eating sugary foods also contributes to tooth decay and gum disease, so try to limit your refined sugar intake.

Some fat can be good for you
  • A certain amount of fat is essential for good health, but if you eat too much you're more likely to become overweight and may be at an increased risk of having a heart attack or stroke. However, it's not only the total amount of fat in our diet that influences your health but also the type of fat. Omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish and eggs, for example, help protect against heart disease and joint damage. Find out more about fats here:
    http://www.eatwell.gov.uk/healthydiet/fss/fats/
image of mixed fruit

Fruit and vegetables

This food group is a great source of nutrients (vitamins), minerals and fibre. Aim to eat as many portions of fruit and vegetables as you can each day; a diet high in fruit and vegetables can reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease.

The importance of vitamins and minerals

Most vitamins and minerals can be obtained from a balanced diet. The only exception is vitamin D. Making sure you get enough vitamin D can reduce your risk of developing a number of cancers and can maintain bone health. Although your body can make vitamin D itself when your skin is exposed to sunlight, and it’s found in some foods, most people don't get enough from these sources. Because of this, it’s recommended that at risk groups such as those over 65 years of age, or those who are pregnant or breastfeeding, take supplements containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D per day.

As recommended by the UK Food Standards Agency, people should never exceed 25 micrograms of vitamin D a day. Talk to your haemophilia healthcare professionals before taking vitamin D supplements, particularly if you’re taking diuretics for high blood pressure or have a history of kidney stones or kidney failure. You can read more about vitamin D here:


Important note for vitamin supplements

Always read the patient information leaflet that comes with your supplements. High doses of some vitamin supplements, such as vitamins A, B and beta-carotene may have damaging effects on your health. If you have any questions ask your haemophilia healthcare professionals for advice. You can find out more about vitamins from the NHS website: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/diet/pages/vitaminsandminerals.aspx

How to eat healthily

There's no secret formula to eating healthily, it just means that you should eat to a balanced diet. You don't even need to give up the less healthy foods you enjoy, just eat less of them in proportion to the amount of healthy foods in your diet. And if you’re stuck for healthy recipe ideas, we've put some useful weblinks together for you. If you're concerned that your diet may not be as healthy as it should be, talk to your haemophilia healthcare professionals. They should be able to give you some practical advice, or refer you to a dietitian or nutritionist who can help you further.

Recipes

  • BBC Food

    BBC Food

    A fantastic foodie website featuring recipes from top British chefs.

    Read more

  • Jamie Oliver

    Jamie Oliver

    Gastronomic delights from the man himself.

    Read more

  • Vegetarian Society

    Vegetarian Society

    Support and culinary inspiration for people who don't eat meat.

    Read more

  • Vegan Society

    Vegan Society

    Recipes and information for those who choose to live a lifestyle free of animal products.

    Read more