Anemia is the condition marked by a deficiency of red blood cells or of hemoglobin in the blood. Hemoglobin is an iron-rich protein that gives your blood its red color and helps cells bring oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body. If you have anemia, your body simply doesn’t receive enough oxygen rich blood, leaving you tired and week. Red blood cells contain hemoglobin. They are also important for immunity including fighting infections, as well as clotting blood and preventing too much bleeding.
Anemia is closely related to iron deficiency and according to the centers for disease control and prevention (CDC), iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency in the world. Iron helps produce hemoglobin, and therefore the CDC estimates that almost 10 percent of women are iron deficient.
Your body needs iron to perform many functions throughout every single day but it’s common for many people to live with low iron levels due to factors like blood loss (such as from menstruation), a poor diet or an inability to absorb enough iron from food source. You can also have anemia in pregnancy or in a disease for as sickle cell anemia.
Considering the seriousness of anemia and how common it is among certain age group especially women during reproductive years or adults with existing health conditions who are over 65 year, it’s imperative that you learn how to recognize anemia symptoms in yourself or your loved ones. Here are some of the most common anemia symptoms adults tend to experience.
- Pale skin
- A fast or irregular heartbeat
- Shortness of breath
- Trouble breathing
- Low stamina and reduced endurance
- Chest pains
Anemia symptoms typically worsen as the condition progresses, especially if more than one risk factors is contributing to the problems.
Diet that helps
Even though anemia is so common, it is possible for most healthy people without serious illnesses to prevent anemia by eating a healthy, unprocessed diet. Here are some of the best foods to include in your diet in order to overcome anemia.
Liver: Beef liver is very high in iron and vitamin B12 and a variety of other important minerals. If unable to consume cow liver, make sure you include grass –fed organic beef as an alternative.
Brewer’s Yeast: High in folic acid, vitamin 12 and iron. Add some to cereal salad or juice.
Foods high in Vitamin C: Vitamin C helps with iron absorption. If you are eating a high –iron food (beef), try to include a source of vitamin C at that same meal such as tomatoes, pepper or strawberries.
Green Leafy Vegetables: These provide a significant amount of iron and folic acid. Raw spinach is high in oxalic acid, which can reduce iron absorption: however, steaming spinach will reduce this acid.
Natural Sweeteners: (in small amounts) If you’re wondering what to do when you need to use some sort of sweetener but are avoiding added sugar, try blackstrap molasses or raw local honey in small amounts (about one tables poon at most at a time). Blackstrap molasses can be taken in servings of about one spoonful daily, as it is very high in iron.
Foods to avoid
- Chocolate: chocolate contains a substance that removes iron from your body, so it is best to avoid when you are trying to increase your iron levels.
- Bran: Bran is high in insoluble fiber that traps and removes iron during digestion.
- Conventional Dairy: Calcium binds with iron in foods and can lead to poor absorption.
- Soda: Soda is high in sugar and poor in nutrients and it blocks iron absorption.
- Coffee and Black tea: Excessive coffee intake may block iron absorption, so reduce it to no more than one cup per day.
Anemia treated or corrected through these natural dietary means can help reduce anemia symptoms and address underlying causes.