ITP is an autoimmune condition where the blood doesn’t clot because of low platelet levels. This can result in excessive bruising or bleeding. Certain eating patterns may be helpful for reducing bleeding in some cases.
Immune thrombocytopenia (ITP) is a blood clotting disorder caused by low platelet levels. It happens when your immune system accidentally attacks your platelets. This lowers the number of platelets in your blood.
Platelets are a part of the blood that helps it clot, making it harder to stop bleeding. This excessive bleeding can occur internally or on or under the skin.
Medications or blood transfusions may help increase platelet count. In extreme cases, the spleen — which makes antibodies that accidentally kill platelet cells — may be removed in some cases.
Along with treatment, you may have questions about whether diet can help reduce bleeding. Some people feel that certain diets can help reduce their bleeding symptoms.
While there’s no research that suggests one specific diet can help manage ITP, certain dietary changes may help manage your symptoms.
Keep reading to find out what we know so far about whether diets may play a part in ITP management.
There’s not enough evidence to confirm whether there’s a best way to eat to reduce bleeding symptoms in ITP.
The Platelet Disorder Support Association (PDSA) conducted a survey to determine whether people with ITP felt that a certain diet reduced bleeding symptoms. Results showed that 40% of people who responded felt that certain diets reduced their bleeding. The diets believed to be beneficial were the macrobiotic diet or a blood type diet.
There are also some general eating patterns that may support platelet health. A
This way of eating is high in healthy fats from:
- fatty fish
- olive oil
It’s also high in fiber from:
- whole grains
These nutrients can help reduce inflammation, which may reduce the immune response that destroys platelets in ITP.
Here’s a closer look at the four diets that were part of the PDSA survey and whether there’s any evidence that they may help reduce bleeding symptoms in ITP.
The idea behind the macrobiotic diet is to bring balance to physical and emotional health. Any toxins in the diet or through personal care and cleaning products are to be avoided. The diet emphasizes organic foods and is a mostly vegetarian way of eating.
A macrobiotic diet includes:
- a variety of vegetables, mostly locally grown and organic
- whole grains
- some fruit, nuts, and seeds, but not daily
A macrobiotic diet is associated with
There’s no specific evidence that a macrobiotic diet will improve ITP symptoms. But some people surveyed felt that it did improve their bleeding symptoms.
There’s a risk of not getting enough calories and nutrients with a macrobiotic diet. This way of eating may feel restrictive for some people.
The blood type diet is based on the book, “Eat Right 4 Your Type” by naturopathic physician Dr. Peter D’Adamo. In his book and website, he claims that there are certain foods you should eat or avoid depending on your blood type.
In the PDSA survey, some people felt that a blood type diet helped to improve their bleeding symptoms. However, there’s no scientific evidence to support this idea.
The specific blood type diets are as follows:
- Type A: People are encouraged to follow a lower fat, mostly vegetarian diet.
- Type B and AB: Although there are some foods to avoid with each type, people with these blood types are recommended to eat an omnivorous diet.
- Type O: This is a higher-protein, lower carbohydrate eating plan.
The PDSA survey didn’t show which blood type diet the people who responded to the survey were following. We don’t know exactly what types of dietary changes people were making that may have helped with their bleeding symptoms.
All the blood type diets emphasize a variety of vegetables. A high intake of vegetables is
At this point, there isn’t enough evidence to widely recommend the blood type diet to people with ITP.
Most people have heard of the Atkins diet and many have tried it. It’s a low carbohydrate diet that eliminates almost all sources of carbohydrates, especially in the early phases of the plan. It’s similar to a ketogenic diet, which has seen some recent popularity.
An Atkins diet includes:
- meats, poultry, fish, seafood
- full-fat dairy products without added sugar
- nuts and seeds
- non-starchy vegetables
Some people follow low carbohydrate diets for years. For other people, this way of eating is too restrictive to be sustainable.
There isn’t any evidence that an Atkins diet will help with the symptoms of ITP. In the PDSA survey, Atkins wasn’t one of the diets that respondents felt were helpful for their bleeding symptoms.
Future research may help determine whether a low carbohydrate, ketogenic diet may be helpful to raise levels of platelets.
In a 2022 study, mice with low platelet levels due to chemotherapy were fed a ketogenic diet. This raised platelet levels in the mice. In the same study, humans who followed a ketogenic diet also had higher platelet levels. It’s important to note that the humans in the study didn’t have any type of platelet disorder.
The Zone diet is a structured diet that stresses the importance of a specific breakdown of nutrients at meals:
- 40% carbohydrate
- 30% protein
- 30% fat
It shares some similar concepts with a Mediterranean diet. They both encourage an intake of healthy fats, including:
- fatty fish
- plant based oils
- nuts and nut butters
Despite encouraging 40% of a meal to be carbohydrates, there are barely any carbohydrates as part of this plan. They recommend portions of the meal be non-starchy vegetables, some fruits, and a few whole grains. It suggests that other starchy foods should only be eaten rarely.
As with the other diets, there’s no evidence that the Zone diet will help with bleeding symptoms in ITP.
The Zone diet claims to lower inflammation in the body. Since there are some similarities with a Mediterranean diet, this way of eating may provide some benefits. As with any diet plan, the restrictions can make it tough to follow in the long term.
Calcium is a mineral that we need to maintain bones and teeth. Some people with ITP take a medication called eltrombopag (Promacta) to increase platelet production.
If you take this medication, you’ll need to be aware of calcium sources. Eltrombopag (Promacta) needs to be taken at least 2 hours before or 4 hours after calcium containing foods or supplements.
Calcium sources to be aware of include:
- dairy products, such as milk, yogurt, or cheese
- milk alternative beverages with added calcium
- calcium supplements
- multivitamins that contain calcium
- antacid medications that are calcium-based
If you need to get enough calcium in your diet for other health reasons, make sure you space it properly to ensure your medication can work properly. Eltrombopag (Promacta) is a medication you take once a day. Many people take it first thing in the morning, then wait 2 hours before having any sources of calcium.
ITP is a blood clotting disorder caused by low platelet levels. There’s no specific diet recommended to reduce the bleeding symptoms of ITP.
The Mediterranean diet is a pattern of eating that may help reduce inflammation. This may help reduce the immune response that destroys platelets.
You can always experiment with dietary changes to determine whether it makes any difference in your symptoms. Consider working with a dietitian who can support you through the process.