Best Life

Finding The Right Healthy Diet

Living Your Best Life with Superficial Siderosis

Our readers living with Superficial siderosis should be aware that living your best life means you need to look beyond simply treating the symptoms. Both your physical and mental health will benefit. By moving towards a healthier diet, exercising to your personal limits, and managing any other coexisting medical issues, you increase your chance of positively affecting your wellbeing. Conversely, smoking, an unhealthy diet, and little to no exercise increase the risk of aggravating your SS symptoms and speeding the disorder’s progression. This is the first installment of our BEST LIFE Series.

Finding The Right Healthy Diet

One of the first questions newly diagnosed SS patients often ask is, should I restrict my dietary iron intake? The short answer is no. The confusion concerning curbing your iron may be traced to diet time-frame recommendations if you are undergoing chelation therapy. So, we will circle back to diet and chelation. SS patients have surface hemosiderin deposits which are entirely different from people who suffer from an iron overload in their bloodstream.

Healthy dietary components, including vitamins, fatty acids (healthy fats), antioxidants, and protein-building amino acids, directly affect brain health. So, by keeping your brain cells at their peak through focused nutrition, you may just be giving yourself the edge you need to slow your progression. But, on the other hand, it stands to reason if the cells in your brain are in a consistently unhealthy state, they will succumb more rapidly to the effects of free-iron damage.

Superficial siderosis patients need the recommended daily amount of dietary iron for their gender and age.

Superficial siderosis patients should follow a healthy good-for-your brain diet.

Unfortunately, there haven’t been any studies on a recommended Superficial siderosis diet plan, so one option to consider is the Mayo Clinic’s MIND Diet. The MIND Diet is an adaptation of both the DASH and Mediterranean diets combined into a dietary recommendation for brain health. The goal was to slow age-related loss of brain functions while protecting against dementia.

The Mayo Clinics’ MIND Diet

The MIND diet is a predominantly plant-based diet that encourages limiting your servings of meat to seafood once and chicken or turkey three times weekly. This diet is easily converted to fit into a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle. Foods the Mayo Clinic prefers you include on a limited basis (or avoid) include red meats, butter, margarine, cheeses, pastries, candy, refined sugars, fried or fast foods.

This is not intended to become your whole diet. Still, you are encouraged to eat the recommended weekly servings per food grouping. The nutrients and antioxidants provided by this plan promote brain health by lowering cell stress, reducing inflammation, and slowing cognitive decline. No worries if you cannot eat every food on the list every week.

Recommended Foods

  • Leafy Greens: Six or more servings per week of kale, spinach, turnip greens, collard greens, mustard greens, brussels sprouts, and salads. Greens are packed with nutrients that improve brain health like folate, vitamin E, carotenoids, and flavonoids.
  • Daily Low-Starch Vegetable: One serving of a low-starch vegetable daily in addition to the leafy greens. High-starch vegetables might be limited if calories are a concern.
  • Berries: Berries should be eaten a minimum of twice a week. Frozen or fresh strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries are included for their antioxidant benefits.¹, ² A 20-year study including 16,000 older adults found those who ate blueberries and strawberries had the slowest rates of cognitive decline.
  • Nuts: Five servings of walnuts, almonds, or hazelnuts each week are best, but all nuts have benefits. If you choose nut butter as your serving, be careful to choose a brand that does not contain added sugars, high sodium content, or oils.³
  • Olive Oil: Use olive oil as your primary cooking oil. If you need a high-temperature oil, try expeller-pressed grapeseed or avocado oil.
  • Whole grains: Three daily servings of a whole grain like long-cooking steel-cut or rolled oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice, whole-grain pasta, or 100% whole-grain bread.
  • Beans: Your choice of beans should be eaten at least four times weekly. More often, if you’re vegan or vegetarian. This includes all beans, lentils, and soybeans.

Brain-healthy eating encourages consuming meat very sparingly. Red meat was eaten fewer than four times a week in the MIND diet study. Beans, lentils, and soybeans offer a vegetable-based protein and fiber-rich source. The Mayo Clinic investigated the MIND Diet vs. Alzheimer’s and dementia risk in a study of 923 participants, ages 58 to 98 years, followed on average 4.5 years.

  • Fish and Shrimp: The Mayo Clinic encourages you to include at least one weekly serving of omega-3 fatty acid-rich fish like salmon, sardines, trout, tuna, shrimp, or mackerel. *Note: If you are vegan or vegetarian alternate sources of omega-3 fatty acid foods are flax, chia, hemp seeds, seaweed, algae, edamame, avocados, and kidney beans.
  • Poultry: One serving of baked, sauteed, or air-fried chicken or turkey twice weekly. Conventionally fried chicken is not supported on the MIND diet.
  • Wine: One glass daily of red or white wine though research has centered on the resveratrol benefits found in red wine. 

Diet and Chelation

The MIND diet is packed full of iron, but since the majority comes in the form of non-heme, it really can work with a chelation diet schedule. In addition, we know more now about deferiprone than six years ago. Did you know it only takes an average of seven minutes from the time you take your dose of deferiprone for the molecules to cross the blood-brain barrier? It reaches a peak level in two hours and then heads towards your kidneys to exit your body through your urine.

If you follow a five-day on and two days off dosing schedule, it’s probably best to delay high iron-rich red or organ meats until you’re on your dosing break. Because of the fat and protein content, it may take your body up to two or three days to pull apart and wholly digest red meat. If you’re experiencing bowel motility problems, the time frame could be much longer. In contrast, beans are a high-fiber food that will move through your system at a much quicker rate.

What to do if you’re on a seven-day dosing schedule? You could possibly discuss splitting your daily dose schedule into twice a day, taking one-third early in the morning and two-thirds later, before bed. Or you could also choose to limit your red meat meals to the same two days every week, so you have five days to enjoy chicken, turkey, or seafood. But, again, be sure to talk it over with your physician before changing anything.

Deferiprone Information

  • Deferiprone is absorbed in the stomach and small intestine.
  • Absorption is quick.  On average, the maximum effect is accomplished in one hour during a fasted state and two hours during the fed state. A fasting state begins four to five hours after your last meal.
  • More than 90% of deferiprone is eliminated from your bloodstream within eight hours of dosing.
  • Superficial siderosis patients undergoing chelation therapy should avoid foods rich in vitamin C, iron, aluminum, and zinc for a two-hour window before and after their deferiprone dose to avoid binding to the deferiprone molecules and prevent the chelator from being absorbed.
  • Avoid the use of UGT1A6 inhibitors Diclofenac, Probenecid, Saw Palmetto, or Silymarin (milk thistle)
  • Polyvalent cation molecules will bind to deferiprone molecules and block the absorption of deferiprone into your system. Allow a four-hour window between deferiprone and other medications or dietary supplements containing these ingredients: chlorpheniramine, pseudoephedrine, antacids, iron salts, aluminum hydroxide, polyvalent minerals, sodium ferric gluconate complex, polysaccharide-iron complex, norethindrone, Ethinyl estradiol, ferrous fumarate, iron sucrose, sucroferric oxyhydroxide, ferric maltol, ferumoxytol, and zinc salts.
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Rori Daniel

Living With Superficial Siderosis began as a way to keep family and acquaintances updated after my husband Gary was diagnosed with Superficial siderosis in 2014. In 2019, became a partner in the Superficial Siderosis Research Alliance. Together our alliance has expanded into research, advocacy, and patient education. Rori Daniel, Editor,

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