Foods to eat (and avoid) for pyroluria
by Sue Kira, Naturopath & Clinical Nutritionist
I’m often asked, what are the best foods to eat if you have pyrrole disorder or what foods to avoid, or what foods are rich in b6 and zinc to help balance pyrrole naturally.
Many find the best way to treat pyrrole disorder is with specific supplementation, however others react to these supplements, or can’t find the right dose, or simply can’t afford on-going treatment.
While a diet for pyroluria cannot replace a treatment program requiring high doses of supplements it is certainly beneficial – particularly for those with low levels of pyrrole who are managing stress and have addressed other health imbalances such as gut issues, and for children whose parents find it difficult to supplement in the usual way.
Indeed, an appropriate nutritional diet is excellent adjunctive therapy for those with pyrrole disorder, hormonal imbalances, digestion problems, neurotransmitter imbalances such as mental health issues and for general good health and vitality.
Foods and drinks to avoid:
First, let’s look at foods to avoid.
Pyrrole disorder is a condition associated with the liver (see pyrrole disorder article) so therefore anything that can affect the liver has a potential to undermine the good efforts done elsewhere to support the liver and pyrrole disorder. More often than not people with pyrrole disorder find that they are having increasing sensitivity to these substances anyway so it makes good sense to avoid them wherever possible.
These are alcohol, caffeine in coffee, black tea, caffeinated drinks, colas, sports drinks, energy drinks, and caffeinated pre gym workout mixes. Any drug, medication or pain killer can put extra stress and workload on the liver, but having said that, if you are on prescription medication you can’t just stop these without the recommendation from your health care practitioner.
Some are worse than others, for example, codeine and paracetamol strongly affect the liver and can also rob the liver of glutathione, a powerful antioxidant amino acid that the liver uses to detoxify. So other options for pain relief can be the ibuprofen class of drugs or anti-inflammatory herbs, spices and oils (as prescribed by your health care provider). Some of these will still affect the liver but not rob the body of as much glutathione.
The foods that seem to affect those with pyrrole are those that are more difficult to digest, or foods that you are intolerant or allergic to. Most common foods and food substances that are best avoided include foods containing gluten or dairy, foods that are heavily processed, or have artificial ingredients, food coloring and preservatives, nitrates from hams, bacons, smoked foods and small goods. The more natural and unprocessed a food is the better for the liver, pyrrole disorder and good health in general.
Then we can look at what foods are rich in the vital nutrients needed for pyrrole disorder. These being B6 and Zinc. Of course there are also other important nutrients such as magnesium, Vit e, selenium, boron etc, but we will focus on the main ones here today.
Foods rich in B6 and Zinc
B6 rich foods: (20mg per day is a good minimum)
Rice Bran – Rice bran contains the most vitamin B6 with 4.07mg per 100g serving and can make a nice breakfast cereal topped with one of the new blended coconut rice milks or almonds milks if no nut allergies.
Dried Herbs and Spices – Although dried herbs and spices are rarely used in large portions, adding in a few extra pinches to all your sauces, soups, and stews is a great way to get more vitamin B6 into your diet. Chilli powder contains the most vitamin B6 with 3.67mg of vitamin B6 per 100g. Paprika has 0.28mg per tablespoon, garlic powder 0.22 per tablespoon, dried tarragon, ground sage, dried spearmint, basil, chives, turmeric, bay leaves, rosemary, dill, onion powder, oregano, and marjoram (all around 0.1-0.2mg per tablespoon).
Pistachios – are a delicious snack and a great addition to salads. 100 grams of raw pistachios will provide 1.7mg of vitamin B6. Roasted pistachios will provide 1.27mg per 100 gram
Garlic provides a host of health benefits and is also a great source of vitamin B6. Raw garlic is a great base to salad dressings, and also makes a good condiment. 100 grams of raw garlic provides 1.235mg of vitamin B6, 0.04mg per clove or teaspoon.
Liver– is a vitamin rich food that is most commonly found in the form of pâtés and sausages. Most any kind of liver provides a lot of vitamin B6, but turkey liver provides the most with 1.04mg in a 100 gram serving, or 0.86mg in an average turkey liver. Beef liver provides 1.03mg of vitamin B6 per 100 gram serving. All organ meats are rich in B6.
Fish (Tuna, Salmon, and Cod) Fish is a heart healthy food and a good source of protein. Yellow-fin Tuna provides the most vitamin B6 with 1.04mg per 100g serving. Atlantic salmon provides 0.94mg per 100 gram serving, 1.45mg in half a fillet.
Sunflower and Sesame Seeds (e.g. as Tahini) Sunflower and Sesame seeds are great as an addition to salads, as well as a snack on their own. Sunflower seeds provide 0.81mg of vitamin B6 per 100 gram serving, or 1.1mg per cup. Whole roasted sesame seeds provide 0.8mg per 100 gram serving, 1.1mg per cup. Sesame butter, or tahini, will provide 0.15mg of vitamin B6 per 100 gram serving, 0.04mg.
Pork Tenderloin (Lean) Lean Pork Tenderloin, also a zinc rich food, provides the most vitamin B6 when cooked roasted. Pork tenderloin contains 0.74mg of vitamin B6 per 100 gram serving. Other grass fed meat is also rich in B6
Hazelnuts – Dry roasted hazelnuts provide 0.62mg of vitamin B6 per 100 gram serving.
Egg yolk – especially raw is a good source of B6 providing 0.05mg per egg
Zinc rich foods (15mg per day is a good minimum)
Seafood Zinc in 6 cooked Oysters 76.4mg Other Seafood High in Zinc – Crab and Lobster 2.5mg per 100g.
Beef and Lamb Zinc in 100g meat 5mg
Spinach – 0.8mg Zinc in 100g Cooked or Raw
Other Green Leafy Vegetables High in Zinc – Amaranth Leaves, Endive, Radiccio, Rocket 0.2per 100g
Pumpkin and Squash Seeds Zinc in 100g -10.3mg Other Seeds High in Zinc – Sunflower, Chia and Flaxseeds. Sesame seeds or tahini 7mg per 100g
Nuts – Cashews Zinc in 100g – 5g Other Nuts High in Zinc – Pine nuts , Pecans, Almonds, Walnut, Peanuts, and Hazelnuts av 1gm per 100g .
Pork & Chicken Zinc in 100g pork Steak 1.5mg. Chicken is also High in zincT 2mg per 100g
Beans – Mung Beans, Baked Beans, Adzuki, Chickpeas, and Kidney Beans. 0.5mg Zinc in 100g
Mushrooms Zinc Per 14g Mushroom 1mg