Eating right

Good nutrition can help to prevent clots when you have an MPD.

Dr Maria L. Collazo-Clavell of the Mayo Clinic MD (Medical Doctor) contributed these nutrition tips for people with MPDs. Dr Collazo-Clavell is an endocrinologist with the Mayo Clinic.

We all need good nutrition to keep our health at its best – food is our body’s basic fuel. “Our food choices can improve our health or increase our health risks,” says Dr Collazo-Clavell.

Why eating right is so important

It’s true that changing what we eat won’t reduce our platelet or red cell counts. But eating right is essential for several reasons:

  • Reduce risks Maintaining a normal body weight and a healthy body composition can reduce the risk of clots in all people, including those with MPDs.
  • Deliver vital nutrients Staying lean helps our heart pump blood throughout our bodies and deliver vital nutrients to our tissues.
  • Prevent double-trouble Good nutrition prevents other diseases that increase the risk of clots, such as atherosclerosis and diabetes. These disorders are double-trouble when you have an MPD.

Two kinds of clots

There are two kinds of clots that concern us as MPD patients. As MPD patients we want to reduce the risk of both kinds of clots.

  • Arterial clots include for example heart attacks and strokes. High amounts of body fat (lipids) and high cholesterol contribute to arterial clots.
  • Venous clots (in the veins) include deep vein thrombosis (DVTs) Venal clots can be related to body weight and activity levels.

Nutrition prevents problems

Some diseases that are often associated with growing older have nothing to do with MPDs – except that they compound the risks we face as people with MPDs. Good nutrition goes a long way toward preventing common diseases that increase our risk of clots, including:

  • Atherosclerosis a long-term illness that causes our arteries to harden and develop deposits (plaques) that can break off and cause heart attacks and other clots.
  • Diabetes is a illness often caused by overweight, and this condition also increases the risk of clots.

These disorders prevent blood from reaching vital organs, and add to the “blood stickiness” problems that we have as people with MPDs. The good news is that these problems – unlike MPDs – are preventable. For detailed information on good nutrition and how to maintain a healthy weight, please visit the NHS Health Living page (UK) or the Mayo Clinic (US).

What to eat

The first step in any nutrition programme is always to have a frank talk with your GP or primary care doctor. Your doctor can give you tips to help build the right nutrition plan for your personal situation. Most adults benefit by following these tips:

  • Add micronutrients Eat more fruit and vegetables to provide you with the protective micronutrients that you need.
  • Control cholesterol Reduce your levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol in your diet and increase “good” HDL cholesterol. Lower your consumption of animal products such as red meat, whole milk, cheese and butter. Choose fish, lean cuts of meat or poultry, fat-free dairy products and olive oil.
  • Choose whole foods Choose whole grains in modest portions. Reduce consumption of white flour, sugar and processed foods.
  • Be alert to what you are drinking Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water, and reduce consumption of caffeinated drinks and alcohol if necessary.
  • If needed, reduce salt If you’ve suffered a heart attack or if you have high blood pressure, you may also need to reduce consumption of salt. Be careful with processed foods as these often contain high levels of sodium.

If you are losing weight

If you have myelofibrosis or another MPD and are losing weight, or if you are undergoing active chemotherapy treatment, you may need to eat more food to sustain your weight. Please talk with your care team if this is your situation.

Whatever positive change you are able to make is to your benefit.