Anaemia Causes, Symptoms, Tackling, Do's and Don’t
Iron Deficiency Anaemia
Iron Deficiency Anaemia (also called IDA) is a condition where a person has inadequate amounts of iron to meet body demands. It is a condition where there is a decrease in the amount of red cells in the blood caused by having too little iron.
3 Causes of Iron Deficiency Anaemia
1. Not eating enough iron rich foods, for example those on restrictive diets.
2. Increased demand for iron, for example to replace blood loss ( e.g. during menstruation) or in times of growth (such as childhood, adolescence) or increased physical activity (athletes).
3. Poor absorption of iron by the body in elderly people, due to ulcers/ haemorrhoids or use of certain medicines.
If iron is lacking in the diet, iron reserves of the body are used. Once this supply is depleted the formation of haemoglobin is affected. This means the red blood cells cannot carry oxygen needed by the cells. When this happens, iron deficiency occurs and anaemia results.
9 Symptoms of Iron Deficiency Anaemia
Anaemia is a silent attacker. Often we are not aware that we are suffering from anaemia. Test for Anaemia if:
1. You have pale skin and dull eyes.
2. Your tongue appears redder than usual.
3. Your constantly tired and lethargic.
4. Even minor activities results in breathlessness and a racing heart beat.
5. You find it difficult to concentrate , resulting in poor academic performance.
6. Your prone to irritability and moodiness.
7. You have strange food cravings.
8. You experience loss of appetite.
9. Some people with IDA always feel cold. They feel cold because iron plays a role in regulating the body's temperature.
It's all in the diet. Getting the right amount of iron and other nutrients from food is very important. As we grow older we need more iron and nutrients, but tend to pay less and less attention to what we are eating. A little care can help keep anaemia at bay.
Iron is found in two different forms of foods. They are called "Haeme" and "Non Haeme" iron. Animal foods like meat, fish, poultry, eggs etc contain iron in its haeme from while non haeme form of iron is found in all plant foods.
Haeme is more easily absorbed than non-haeme iron and hence, animal foods are considered to be a comparatively better source of iron. But vegetarians needs not despair as there are plenty of iron rich plant sources such as Garden cress seeds, cauliflower greens, cow peas, Poha, parsley, Dill leaves etc.
9 Do's and Don't of Anaemia
1. Eat iron rich legumes - Pulses and legumes are the most iron rich plant source in ones diet. Soya and its byproducts is a valuable source of iron, B-complex vitamins and protein. To combat anaemia add a quarter cup of soybean in the form of chunks or flour to your diet everyday. The simplest way is to add 100 grams of soya flour to 1 kg of wheat flour to make chapatis.
2. Power of garden cress seeds (hails/aliv) - Garden cress seeds being the richest source of non-haeme iron tackles anaemia by improving the haemoglobin levels. It is advisable to have 1 tablespoon of garden cress seeds soaked in 1 cup of lemon/ lime water (Vitamin C rich foods) for half an hour daily to improve iron absorption, refer Halim recipe.
3. Add on Vitamin C - Good news for vegetarians. Vitamin C enhances the absorption of non-haeme iron from vegetables, fruits and fortified cereals. A glass of fresh orange juice with breakfast can more than double the amount of iron the body absorbs. Remember that Vitamin C and iron work only when eaten together.
4. Cook in Iron Pots - In the old days the iron that leached into the foods from iron cooking pots and pans was the best unintentional fortification. Although an iron pot can only add non-haeme iron, it can make a big difference to your diet. So try to use iron pots and pans whenever practical.
5. Try to avoid refined and processed foods - Go easy on maida, pasta, noodles, polished rice, ready to eat foods, etc. Since processing results in loss of iron, try to replace sugar with jaggery, which is one of the good sources iron.
6. Beware the calcium effect - Don't combine iron rich meal with too many cheese sauces and milkshakes. Milk and cheese can infect slightly inhibit iron absorption, primarily because of the high calcium and phosphate content.
7. Don't go overboard with the fibre - Too much fibre hinders the absorption of iron. Some types of fibre like bran bind to nan-haeme iron and move through the digestive system quickly, giving the iron little chance to be absorbed.
8. Don't drink tea or coffee with your meals - The tannins in these beverages bind with iron, making less of it available to your body. A cup of tea with breakfast can block three-fourths of the iron that you would have otherwise absorbed.
9. Take supplements if required - Pregnant women need iron supplements since its extremely difficult to meet the increased demand for iron only through meals. It is advisable to take supplements at night, 1-2 hours before going to bed, along with some orange juice to avoid a stomach upset and ensure maximum absorption.
More information on Iron.
Sources of Iron Rich Food
Iron Rich recipes
Iron Rich Breakfast recipes
Daily Iron Requirements
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