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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    What is G6PD deficiency?

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    Arlene is a registered practising dietitian, with a private practice in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney, and has built a strong business over the last … View Profile

    G6PD deficiency occurs when your body does not produce adequate amounts of glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase, an enzyme that assists proper red blood cell function. This inherited condition affects about 400 million people worldwide, according to the Deployment Health and Family Readiness Library. Although chronic stress, infections and prescription medications can initiate haemolytic episodes – periods when a lack of the G6PD enzyme can cause fatigue, jaundice, dark urine or an elevated heart rate – you can also experience these potentially life-threatening symptoms after ingesting certain foods. Therefore, it is wise to follow the recommended G6PD diet to remain asymptomatic.

    Approved Foods
    Consume fats from natural fat sources such as coconut oil, olive oil, palm oil or animal fat. Obtain your vitamins and minerals from natural sources such as bone stock soups. Eat a wide variety of vegetables, especially green, leafy vegetables, such as kale, lettuce, spinach and cabbage. Round out your diet with proteins and carbohydrates not found on the G6PD Deficiency forbidden foods list.

    Forbidden Foods
    The G6PD Deficiency website lists several foods that you should not eat at any time. Do not consume foods or supplements that contain large amounts of VItamin C, also called ascorbic acid, or artificial blue dyes. Do not eat menthol, or menthol-containing foods such as breath mints or candy. Do not eat legumes, such as lima beans, fava beans, kidney beans or soybeans. Additionally, do not consume any soy-containing products, such as tofu, bean curds, miso or textured soy protein. Also, do not consume not-easily-recognizable legumes such as alfalfa sprouts, peanuts, licorice or carob.
    Additional foods forbidden by include peas such as green peas, field peas and black-eyed peas, beans such as black beans or refried beans and edible pods such as Chinese pea pods and snow peas. Do not drink tonic water or eat bitter melon, a vegetable common in African and Asian cuisine. Finally, do not eat refined sugar, high-fructose corn syrup or white flour.

    Avoid already-prepared Chinese foods. These foods can contain herbs that could provoke a haemolytic episode. These herbs include Flos Chimonanthi praecosis, Rhizoma coptidis, margarita, Flos ionicerae and Calculus bovis. Furthermore, avoid packaged foods that might contain forbidden food ingredients. These foods include margarine, jarred salad dressings, canned soups, potato chips, canned fish and meats, hot dogs, sausages, processed meats, low fat cheeses and sauces such as sweet and sour sauce or Worcestershire sauce.

    Ask your doctor for an updated G6PD deficiency forbidden foods list every six months to ensure that you do not continue to eat foods shown to initiate haemolytic episodes. Your doctor might also suggest that you hire a registered dietitian familiar with this disorder to better ensure that your nutritional needs are met in relation to your other current medical conditions.

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