Tuesday, January 13, 2015



For some individuals, who have the "acute
porphyrias" (AIP, VP, HCP and ALAD), attacks can be brought on if carbohydrates and calories are restricted for prolonged
periods of time. For example, during the Atkins diet craze, many people with porphyria
were diagnosed when their reduction of carbohydrates precipitated attacks. This is
why fasting or major dieting is not recommended. Thus, to prevent and treat attacks,
carefully monitoring one’s diet can be especially important for these types of porphyria.
Why are these three porphyrias more sensitive to diet? The pathway in the liver that
makes heme from porphyrins and other substances is very sensitive to carbohydrates in
particular. Therefore, when less carbohydrate is taken, it appears that porphyrin production
is stimulated, and the body can't use them all effectively. This porphyrin overflow is what creates the symptoms
of an attack. Carbohydrates are the foods that contain starches or sugars. They are important in everyone's diet,
because they provide us with fuel for our bodies, as well as a wide variety of vitamins and minerals in many of the
carbohydrates. Starches are "complex carbohydrates" (l) and tend not to be as sweet as sugars. Starches are called
"complex" because they are larger molecules and take longer (compared to sugars) for our bodies to break them
down for use as an energy source. Some starchy types of foods include: potatoes, pasta and bread. Sugars are
"simple carbohydrates”, (l) meaning their molecules are not that big and are quickly broken down in the body. They are quickly absorbed into our bodies as an energy source. These sugars may be found naturally
in foods, such as fruit, fruit juice, some vegetables, and milk and milk products.
Sugars are also found in higher levels in foods like honey, table sugar, candy, syrups and
regular soda pop. Note that this last group of foods, although high in sugar, lack vitamins,
minerals and fiber. Starches and sugars eventually break down into a substance called glucose,
which is used as fuel by the body. When carbohydrates are broken down into glucose
in the body, it may help minimize the over-production of porphyrins in the liver. Because this
seems to be such a simple treatment, it is not adhered to by some who don’t understand that this simple treatment
involves a very complex mechanism. The guidelines suggest that when a person is having symptoms of porphyria,
the carbohydrate intake be increased. In fact, some people help prevent attacks by maintaining a high carbohydrate
intake daily.

"Remember.....Research is the key to your cure!"

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