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Can Diet and Exercise Help Essential Thrombocythemia?

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Published on August 27, 2020

Is There a Recommended Diet or Exercise for People with Essential Thrombocythemia (ET)?

What is the best diet for essential thrombocythemia patients? How important is daily exercise if you have an MPN? Are there supplements patients should take? In this segment from a recent MPN Answers Now program, host Andrew Schorr talks to Dr. Ellen Ritchie from Weill Cornell Medicine about what essential thrombocythemia patients can do to stay healthy. Watch to learn more.

This is Part 4 of a 4-part series. Watch the complete series below:

This program is sponsored by Bristol Myers Squibb. This organization has no editorial control. It is produced by Patient Power. Patient Power is solely responsible for program content.

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Transcript | Can Diet and Exercise Help Essential Thrombocythemia?

Investigating Diet and Nutrition for ET Patients

Andrew Schorr: 

Everybody always wants to know what they can do. So, part of what they can do is, is there a supplement or a diet that is ET-friendly that is going to help me live better?  

Dr. Ritchie: 

Your biggest risk with ET is having a thrombotic complication, having an arterial or venous thrombosis, so a diet and a lifestyle which is aimed at controlling your cardiovascular risk factors is really, really important.  

Not smoking is probably the most important thing that anyone with ET can do. If you smoke, you're definitely increasing your risk of a blood clot, on top of your ET, so don't smoke. The other is, choose a cardiovascular-friendly diet, so something like a Mediterranean diet. Not too many refined sugars, not too many white flours; going for whole grain, Mediterranean-style diet, with a non-saturated fat-dominant, like an olive oil or a canola oil. Those are the recommendations for patients who have cardiac disease, and I think it's important for patients who have ET to try and incorporate that 

Lastly, the value of exercise is tremendous, and so, to keep your heart and your vessels happy, you need to exercise. So, incorporating into your daily life an exercise regimen, on top of a cardio-friendly diet, and not smoking, is the best way that you can achieve a good long-term outcome. 

Andrew Schorr: 

What about some kind of supplements? Fish oil capsules or stuff like that? 

Dr. Ritchie: 

Everything that you put into your body is important. You have to realize that supplements are not even governed by the FDA. You can't actually know for sure what's in an individual supplement that you're buying at the CVS or at the health food store. So, it's best to just eat a healthy diet, not to smoke, and to exercise regularly.  

Andrew Schorr: 

Okay, couple more things: somebody just wrote in about diet. They said, elderberry syrup, or curcumin...I understand it's anti-inflammatory, so are those things in your diet, anti-inflammatory kinds of things? 

Dr. Ritchie: 

I mean, an anti-inflammatory diet is really eating a cardio-healthy diet. You'd have to eat a lot of curcumin, and it's probably not any better than eating a cardio-healthy diet.  

I think that the other aspect here is, again, you're willing to pop a supplement, but you might not be willing to get off your behind and walk five miles every single day, which is probably much more valuable than any supplement that you can take. There's no pill that actually substitutes for your getting out and walking five miles, or riding your bike 10 miles, every single day. 

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.


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