How to correct anemia with a good diet and supplements

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Anemia or anaemia as said by the British is when blood in the body has lower than the average or supposed amount of red blood cells (RBC). RBC as we know are important for the body’s immunity, blood clotting and preventing excessive bleeding.

Anemia can also be a result of having lower haemoglobin also spelled hemoglobin which is an iron-rich protein present in red blood cells. It carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body and it gives the RBC its red color.  

Haemoglobin also carries carbon dioxide from around the body to the lungs so that we exhale carbon-di-oxide. Lowered haemoglobin in RBC can make it strenuous for the body to effectively carry out this very important activity.

Haemoglobin levels vary from person to person and it is noted that men have higher haemoglobin than women. You can read more about it on the NCBI website.

Some types of anemia

  • Iron deficiency Amenia
  • Low haemoglobin anemia
  • Vitamin deficiency anemia
  • Low red blood cells anemia etc.

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Anemia prone people

Among the human population, some are more prone to being anemic than others as a result of many factors. Those that are most prone to being anemic are:

  • Pregnant women,
  • Women,
  • Those with digestive issues that inhibit the absorption of nutrients e.g ulcer,
  • Those that have frequent medication usage the block nutrient absorption e.g aspirin,
  • Ageing i.e over 65 years old etc.

Symptoms of Anemia

When the body is not receiving oxygen-rich blood, it makes it weak. The following symptoms tend to appear: 

  • Paleness; a yellowish tint or loss of color
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Hair loss
  • Shortness of breath
  • Poor appetite
  • Headache
  • Muscle weakness etc.

Causes of anemia

Most cases of anemia are caused by the following:

  • Poor diet
  • Blood loss from injury, menstruation and other means
  • Some nutrient deficiency e.g iron, folate, vitamin B12
  • Sickle cell anemia
  • Some cancers e.g leukemia
  • Kidney disease
  • Smoking
  • Burns
  • Extreme physical exercises
  • Liver disease etc.

Untreated anemia can severely impact life and health. It can cause complications in places like the heart, brain, and other important organs. Anemia is a very serious issue as blood and oxygen are the lifelines of the body.

Supplements vs diet: which is better for anemia

I remember 2 years ago when I was dealing with anemia for the first time in my life. I had to research the question; should I use supplements or just eat an iron rich diet?

The truth is that you might need to use supplements in the beginning especially for those with severe anemia. This is because it might take a week or more of eating a good iron-rich diet to start seeing positive results.

Iron is stored in the body unlike other nutrients so once you exhaust your supply, you will need a quick and easily digestible dose of iron to help your system recover faster and for symptom relief.

However, you cannot continue to take supplements forever. It is important that you make some permanent improvements to your diet to prevent the future occurrence of anemia while using supplements in the beginning.

This will make your recovery faster. After you finish using the supplements as directed on the supplement’s bottle (You don’t even have to finish the bottle. I didn’t. Once you feel better, you can just complete your recovery with a good iron diet), you can then simply rely on your diet for your iron and other vitamins.

Home remedies and supplements for anemia

There are easy and enjoyable remedies with quick results that can be employed when anemic including:

Iron-Rich Diet

Iron is very important in the body because it helps the body produce adequate haemoglobin and boosts the production of red blood cells among other important functions.

Foods that are a good source of iron include meat (especially lean meat i.e turkey), dark leafy vegetables, chicken, beans (chickpeas and black-eyed beans have the highest iron content), fish and seafood, eggs, dates, nuts, and seeds (pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, hemp seeds, and flaxseeds have the highest iron content among nuts and seeds), etc.

For some, they might choose to take iron supplements which have to be used with caution. They are not as safe as the vitamin C we casually take. The overuse of iron supplements can cause constipation, nausea, diseases, liver disease, etc.

Please remember that an iron supplement has to be taken over a period of 3-4 weeks or more as its effect is in the body is gradual and not immediate. Some doctors might recommend months of using iron supplements to replenish the body’s storage of iron.

So, it might be faster for you to use supplements for immediate relief. But remember just because you are taking an iron supplement and other vitamins don’t mean that you don’t need to improve your diet.

The diet method of getting rid of anemia can stand alone without using any iron supplement.

IRON-RICH Anemia smoothie

This anemia smoothie is very effective for improving your iron levels which is the main nutrient needed to combat anemia. You can take it once a day before meals for seven days. Make it at least 1 hour before meals and do not eat for at least 1 hour after taking this smoothie.

The recipe is simple. It is comprised of a green vegetable (spinach, moringa, kale, beet greens, etc.), seeds (pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds, hemp seeds, or sesame seeds), nuts (cashew nut, macadamia nut, almond, pine nut), and an iron-rich fruit (prunes, apple, pomegranates, mulberries, blackcurrants, etc.).

You don’t have to follow the recipe to a T. Just substitute with similar options

Ingredients:

  • Spinach leaves – 1 bunch – washed and cleaned
  • Almonds – 1/2 cup
  • pumpkin seeds – raw or toasted -1/3 cup
  • prunes – 1 cup
  • 1-2 cups of water

How to make:

  • Place all in a blender and blend till smooth
  • Pour into a cup and enjoy

Using the guideline above, you can make a variety of this smoothie easily to your taste. Let me know in the comments below if you enjoyed it.

Cow liver

Organ meat is not for everyone. In many parts of the world, they are not even classified as meat. However, for Asia and Africa, it is a very popular and common food.

Liver is probably the most popular organ meat not just for its high iron, vitamin A and folate content but because it is delicious especially in sauces.

Other iron rich organ meats you can try are the heart and the kidney.

*Caution*: The liver is one of the body’s filter in both man and animals which is why it is important to properly cook and handle it with salt as there some diseases that can be contracted from eating an unhealthy liver.

Keep to this caution and you should be fine. This caution applies to other organ meats as well.

Beetroot

Beet root is a pinkish/purplish looking vegetable from the radish family that many swear by and studies (1 , 2, 3, etc.) have shown that it can significantly improve anemia especially in women. 

The studies show that the continuous use of beetroot across 4-6 weeks can help anemic patients. Beetroot contains iron, nitrate, sodium, potassium,  fiber, folate (Vitamin B12), vitamin C, etc.

I will recommend the juicing of the vegetable or eating it raw as the best method of consumption. Heating/cooking most of our foods especially fruits and vegetables depletes their nutrients.

Black strap molasses 

This a very healthy and natural sweetener that is often used as an alternative to white sugar. Black strap molasses is made from cane sugar or sugar beets. It is a thick syrup that has higher nutritional content than bleached white sugar.

Just 2 tablespoons of black strap molasses contains about 1.8 mg of iron which is about 10%-30% of the recommended daily intake depending on the quality of the product.

You may want to substitute this for your sugar while trying to improve your iron intake at least for the time being. You even can add it to the smoothie recipe above if you wish

Other iron-rich foods

There are many foods rich is Iron which is why it is difficult to list out all of them. Some other iron rich foods that you need to be eating while trying to improve your iron level are:

  • Red meats
  • Quinoa
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Oysters and shellfish
  • Broccoli
  • Dried thyme
  • Dark chocolate with at least 40% cocoa (don’t forget that)
  • Soybeans
  • Oats
  • Oyster mushrooms and white mushrooms
  • Tomato paste – it has to be a concentrated tomato paste
  • Lentils etc.

Vitamins for nutrient absorption

Vitamin C, A and beta-carotene are very helpful in improving anemia. While these vitamins do not directly cure anemia, they help the body to improve the absorption and utilization of iron and other useful nutrients from our diet.

Hence, they can be effectively and efficiently utilized by the body.

Beyond just eating iron-rich foods and using supplements, it is important that we remember that the body has to absorb the nutrient into the blood so that it can boost your red blood cells, its haemoglobin and end anemia. Without it, these remedies will only be half as efficient.

Sources of vitamin A, C, and beta-carotene in our foods are liver, fish, green leaves, carrot, moringa leaves, baobab fruit, citrus fruits, spinach, pumpkin, mangoes, sweet potatoes, etc. respectively.

You can choose to buy these vitamins from the pharmacy shop if you wish but still, it is important that you eat a good diet.

Conclusion

The good news is that in most cases of anemia, they are easy to treat and correct with the above remedies suggested. However, if after using these supplements and improving your diet for 2-4 weeks you still struggle with anemia, then it is time to see a doctor soonest for further investigation.

All the suggested remedies and supplements are easy to get from pharmacies and the local diet from around the world. So go ahead and make your favorite nutrient-rich dish from the suggested foods above and enjoy. Correcting anemia in the body doesn’t have to be tedious and boring.

I hope you enjoyed your time here with me. Kindly rate this article below. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, let me know in the comments section.

Have a nice day and bye for now!

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