How to Increase Iron with Plants and Prevent Anaemia
One of the most common health issues out there is iron deficiency, but it's also one of the most misunderstood.
Iron is a critical component of haemoglobin, a substance in the red blood cells that transports oxygen from the lungs throughout your body.
Haemoglobin makes up about two thirds of your body's iron. And if you don't get enough, your body can't produce enough healthy oxygen-carrying red blood cells.
When this occurs, you suffer from a condition known as anaemia - a common blood disorder that affects millions of people (many of whom don’t even realise they have it) around the world.
Common signs you have Anaemia include:
- Regularly short of breath
- Constant fatigue
- Physical weakness
- Pale skin
- Brittle nails
- Sugar and Processed Food Cravings
- Headaches and Dizziness
All of this symptoms can stop you from living your healthiest life, so it pays to know how to prevent and remedy Anaemia by build and maintaining your iron stores.
These natural solutions will give you more energy and vitality, and no supplements are needed at all!
What Causes Anaemia?
Anaemia literally means to have a lack of blood, but more specifically it’s a lack of red blood cells and/or haemoglobin. This results in a reduced ability of blood to transfer oxygen to the tissues.
Haemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying protein in the red blood cells, has to be present to ensure adequate oxygenation of all body tissues and organs.
Anaemia can develop from a variety of underlying causes, and can develop from genetic factors or nutritional deficiencies. Anaemia is classified according to the size of the red blood cell: decreased (microcytic), normal (normocytic) or enlarged (macrocytic or megaloblastic).
Each of these three types can have different causes, from iron deficiency to low b12, blood loss, chronic disease, and more.
Anaemia can also be caused by bleeding from menstruation, haemorrhoids or because you take aspirin. It may also be that your bone marrow simply isn’t making the right kind of blood.
The simplest cause to fix is nutritional deficiencies, and this one is at least completely under your control.
Learn more in 5 Daily ‘Musts’ to Boost Your Energy Naturally.
Symptoms of Anaemia
The symptoms of anaemia can be quite vague, which makes it harder to diagnose and detect. In fact, millions of women are iron deficient and not even aware of it. Knowing the common symptoms of anaemia can help you help yourself better.
Most commonly, a feeling of weakness or fatigue is reported and sometimes a shortness of breath. It can cause headaches, stomach issues, a loss of sex drive, and it can make you pale, weak and drowsy. Very severe anaemia prompts a compensatory response where cardiac output is markedly increased.
This leads to palpitations and sweating and can even lead to heart failure in elderly people.
How to Increase Iron Naturally
1. Vitamin E
Vitamin E is a very important nutrient that can actually help prevent anaemia. It improves circulation, is necessary for tissue repair and is useful in treating a number of disorders. It promotes normal blood clotting and healing, reduces blood pressure, and more.
When there is vitamin E deficiency it may result in damage to red blood cells. The signs of vitamin E deficiency include infertility in both men and women, menstrual problems, shortened red blood cell life span, miscarriage, uterine degeneration, and of course, anaemia.
You can get plenty of vitamin E from whole food sources like:
- Healthy vegetable oils e.g. Rice bran, Wheat germ, Grape seed & Safflower
- Dark leafy greens e.g. Spinach, Kale & Chard
- Legumes and Beans
- Nuts & Seeds - Almonds, Peanuts, Sunflower Seeds, Pumpkin Seeds etc.
- Sweet potatoes
Learn more in The Truth About Vitamin Supplements.
One of the best things you can do for your health and to ensure you live a long life is to eat more fibre.
Fibre helps improve transit time, meaning the time it takes for food to be digested and passed. Fibre helps move food through your digestive system, reducing “internal sludge” that can build up and lead to disorders and diseases, including anaemia.
With better transit time, your food will be absorbed better and then expelled in a timely manner so that toxins don’t have a chance to breed and build up.
Be sure to eat plenty of whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables and you'll ensure that you're getting enough whole fibre in your diet.
If you're carrying excess weight, constantly fatigued, suffer from skin disorders and/or poor digestive function, consider doing a colon cleanse to clear your digestive system of accumulated waste. This will allow your body to reset and able to absorb nutrients more efficiently.
Our hand crafted Cleanse Me, which is prepared from Australian Bentonite Clay, Ground Psyllium Husk, Ground Flax Seed and Dried Apple, Cinnamon and Ginger, is an ideal protocol to achieve this periodically.
3. Iron Rich Foods
It's a common misconception that you need to eat meat in order to get sufficient iron. However, plant sources of iron are among the most bioavailable and easy to digest, including:
- Green leafy vegetables
- Black cherries
- Dried fruits
- Whole wheat
- White onions
- Rye bran
- Beet juice
Another wonderful iron rich plant food is parsley: a half cup fresh or one tablespoon dried has about ten percent of your iron daily requirements.
Plus, parsley has the vitamin C your body needs to absorb that iron.
Interestingly, Apricots have a good amount of copper in the fruit making iron available to the body, producing haemoglobin could be increased in the body by liberally using apricots.
Also high in iron, bananas can stimulate the production of haemoglobin in the blood. Quinoa is loaded with iron: it has four milligrams of iron per serving helping to keep anaemia at bay and give you a burst of energy from the high protein.
Iron deficiency affects even those without anaemia, so it’s important to eat iron-rich foods whether or not you have anaemia. If you’re not eating enough iron, your stamina level could drop and leave you less energy for simple, routine tasks.
Chlorophyll is the essence of plants, just like blood is the essence of humans. The structure of chlorophyll is similar to hemin, a component of the haemoglobin in blood that carries oxygen. This means that anaemic people are able to build iron-rich blood simply by increasing their intake of chlorophyll.
Alfalfa and all the grasses top the list with incredible amounts of this essence of plants, which is liquid sunshine distilled into food through photosynthesis. These are also our best sources of vitamin B12, which is also important for preventing anaemia.
Chlorophyll-rich drinks made from:
- Wheat Grass
- Watercress and
- Spinach ...are incredibly helpful for people suffering from anaemia.
2 tbsp Parsley
1 bunch Kale or Collard Greens
1 handful Alfalfa sprouts
1 bunch Spinach
1 handful Wheatgrass (optional)
2 Green Apples
It doesn’t get any greener than this! Juice these ingredients, ideally in a cold press juicer or use regular juice machine (if that's all you have access to). This drink contains the highest dietary sources of chlorophyll, arguably the most effective nutrient for treating anaemia.
Foods to Avoid
While it’s important to get enough foods that increase iron naturally and prevent anaemia, it’s also important to know what to avoid.
Certain foods have been found to interfere with iron absorption in the gastrointestinal tract, and these foods should be avoided, such as:
- Commercial Grade Coffee & Chocolate
- Refined Sugars and Artificial Sweeteners
- Processed packaged foods with chemical additives and preservatives
- Packaged breakfast cereals (usually made from GMO grains)
- Refined Flour
- White Pasta, White Rice
- Soft drinks
- Candy and Lollies laced with food colouring
Learn more tips in 6 Caffeine Alternatives to Boost Your Energy.
Alcoholism has been shown to actually cause a certain type of anaemia, so by reducing or cutting out alcohol entirely, you can help reduce your risk of developing anaemia or worsening an existing condition. As always, if you are going to enjoy a drink in moderation, be sure to opt for preservative-free and additive-free, naturally brewed and fermented beers and wines.
Increasing iron naturally is easy if you're conscious of your diet and lifestyle.
The problem is too many people are counting on a quick fix in the form of a pill of prescription, not realising that this will do little long term to address the problem and may even lead to a life time of dependency on supplements and drugs, when the true answer lies with dietary changes.
Embrace some of these suggestions and you'll go a long way to making iron deficiency a thing of the past.
Tolman Self Care.