G6PD Deficiency is a genetic disorder that involves the X-chromosome. There are over 600 million adults in the world affected by this deficiency. The number of infant patients is also rising. Affecting over 12% of the population, G6PD deficiency is said to be the most common genetic enzyme deficiency in the world.
The most common symptom of G6PD deficiency is hemolytic anemia, which in turn causes jaundice, lethargy, and exhaustion, among others. These symptoms can manifest from time to time, especially when exposed to certain factors.
G6PD deficiency is a life-long condition with no known cure. There is only one way to control its symptoms, and that is to avoid substances which cause oxidative stress. Patients must also follow a strict diet. A list of foods to avoid when you have G6PD deficiency is found below.
Fava beans are known to trigger the symptoms of G6PD Deficiency, especially in children and infants. Consumption of this ancient type of pea is associated with favism, a hemolytic condition known to exist since antiquity. Fava beans are the sole food products that can induce an anemic response in G6PD deficient people. Two compounds called vicine and isouramil present in the beans are identified as the causative agents.
Not only do fava beans trigger symptoms by ingestion, but also through inhalation. The pollen of the flava bean also causes hemolysis in G6PD deficient individuals. Studies show that cases of favism brought by fava beans are more prominent in the Middle East and Mediterranean areas than Southeast Asia.
Similar to fava beans, legumes such as black beans is a food group that G6PD deficient patients should avoid. While some doctors consider hemolysis in patients as all or nothing, research shows that this is not true. Hemolysis affects the body even at low levels and can cause danger over time. As it happens, legumes induce low level hemolysis in G6PD deficient individuals.
Sulfites found in drugs, preservatives, and common foods are also included in our list of foods to avoid when you have G6PD deficiency. People afflicted with this genetic disorder are sensitive to sulfites, mainly because G6PD is used to reduce sulfa compounds to a usable form, sulphate. Sulfite sensitivity can show up in a number ways, including asthma, headaches, and even hemolysis. A common sulfa drug, Celebrex, is prescribed to arthritis patients. Sulfites as preservatives come as potassium metabisulfite, potassium bisulfite, sodium metabisulfite, sodium bisulfite, sodium sulfite, and sulphur dioxide. Meanwhile, common foods with sulfites include dried potatoes, dried fruits, corn starch and syrup, wine, golden raisins, and wine vinegar. If you show symptoms of sulfite sensitivity when ingesting these foods, meds, and preservatives, it’s best to find alternative.
Foods containing menthol should be avoided as much as much as possible. Menthol is known to induce symptoms of this genetic disorder. G6PD deficient patients are advised not to eat nor inhale products with menthol. This may prove to be difficult since there a lot of foods and common daily products we use containing menthol, such as toothpaste and mouthwashes. However, alternatives to these products are available and recommended to G6PD deficient patients.
Ascorbic acid can cause hemolysis when taken in large doses. It plays an important role in iron absorption and transport. Large doses of iron is not a problem for healthy individuals, but people with blood disorders including G6PD deficiency cannot tolerate it.
Products containing Vitamin K is included in our list of foods to avoid when you have G6PD deficiency. Menadione or Vitamin K3 has been reported to cause hemolytic anemia. When administered to newborns with G6PD deficiency, adverse outcomes such as neonatal brain or liver damage, hemolytic anemia, and even death can occur.