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.
Spicy Chawli Leaves and Spinach Stuffed Parathas
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. Include Greens Daily for Sure - Green leafy vegetables are the one of the iron rich plant source in ones diet. The simplest way is to make a subzi using a new green veggie daily.
Cauliflower Greens, Methi and Palak Healthy Subzi
While most of you are aware that spinach and fenugreek are good sources of iron, other greens like cauliflower greens, dill leaves and chawli leaves are also a very good source of iron. Include these greens in the form of Cauliflower Greens, Methi and Palak Subzi and Chawli Leaves Paratha.
Chawli Leaves Parota, Healthy Bengali Recipe
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.
Halim Drink Recipe, Best Source Of Iron
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.
Make a habit to squeeze fresh lemon juice on dals and subzis or make them a part of salad as we have done in the recipe of Matki Salad.
Matki Salad, Healthy Moath Bean Salad
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, especially when making a dal or subzi. Try Suva Moong Dal Subzi.
Suva Moong Dal Subzi
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.
Plain flour and Sugar
6. Beware the calcium effect - Don't combine iron rich meal with too many cheese sauces and milkshakes. Milk and cheese can infact slightly inhibit iron absorption, primarily because of the high calcium and phosphate content.
Beware the Calcium Effect
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.
Dont go Overboard with Fiber.
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.
Tea and coffee
9. Include iron rich oil seeds in your diet - Sesame seeds, also called as til, is one of the very good sources of iron. Make Nachni Sesame Khakhra and carry it to work to avoid binge eating and instead make up for your iron stores.
Nachni Sesame Khakhra ( Iron and Calcium Rich Recipe )
10. Stock up on healthy grains and flours - Grains and flours like those of bajra, whole wheat flour, jowar flour, buckwheat etc. are rich in iron. So stock up your grains wisely.
You can make a variety f delicacies with these flours... Buckwheat Dosa and Bajra Moong Dal Khichdi are some delicaices you should not miss out on trying.
Bajra Khichdi with Green Moong Dal
11. Include sprouts as much as possible- The process of sprouting increases the nutritent content by manifold, including the iron levels. Learn to sprout a variety of pulses like moong, matki, chana etc. Further use them more creatively in you kitchen. Some ideas are Sprouted Kabuli Chana and Palak and Sprouted Matki Poha.
Sprouted Kabuli Chana and Palak, Folic Acid Rich Recipe
12. Take supplements if required - Pregnant women need iron supplements since its extremely difficult to meet the increased demand for iron only through meals. However take any supplements as per your doctor's advise only.
More information on Iron.
Sources of Iron Rich Food
Iron Rich recipes
Iron Rich Breakfast recipes
Daily Iron Requirements
We would love to hear from you if you liked the article. Please post your comments. Thanks!