Anemia is a condition that occurs when your body is not producing enough red blood cells or when the red blood cells are abnormal.
The most common cause of anemia is having too little iron in your blood.
Thankfully, it is treatable, and with some changes to diet and eating iron-rich foods, anemia can usually be put in its place.
There are two types of iron we can have access to in our diets.
The first type is heme iron. Heme iron is received from animal products, meat mostly.
Nonheme is the second type of iron and is received from plant materials.
Your body will absorb more iron from heme sources, but with some work, nonheme sources can provide more than enough iron to keep you on track.
Many people know that liver from beef or chicken is a great source of iron.
Some people will advocate eating raw liver, but in truth that can be a dangerous practice.
Uncooked internal organs of any kind can contain harmful traces of bacteria and bile, but cooking the liver ensures that these traces are abolished.
I don’t know many people that could stomach eating raw liver anyhow.
Cooking the liver does not destroy the iron content, what little it does lessen is barely able to be registered.
Liver, however, is not the only heme source of iron out there.
Shellfish, such as clams, mollusks, and oysters also make a great addition to your diet and are very high in iron.
They contain, in fact, as much iron as the liver ounce per ounce.
Three ounces of liver or shellfish will deliver the same amount of iron, which is about 3.5 milligrams.
The common adult male needs only about 8 to 11 milligrams of iron, the average adult female needs between 15 and 18 milligrams daily.
Another heme choice of iron is cooked beef.
Three ounces of cooked beef will net you about 2 milligrams of iron, as will three ounces of canned sardines.
Chicken, turkey, many kinds of fish and ham will also have iron, registering in at 0.7 milligrams per three ounce serving.
Most people believe that spinach is the optimum choice for nonheme iron.
While spinach is a good choice, it is not the best choice.
The best choices for nonheme irons are breakfast cereals fortified with iron, baby cereal fortified with iron, cooked beans, tofu, and seeds from squash.
These foods typically contain 3.5 milligrams of iron per serving, sometimes more.
One cup of cooked beans is a serving, one-half a cup of tofu is also a serving.
Cereal servings vary according to manufacturer, and one ounce of seeds is considered a serving.
While these foods rank high in iron, it should be stated that your body will not as readily absorb this form of iron, so it may take more of these foods to get the same effect that heme iron-rich foods would give.
Additional sources of nonheme iron are lima beans, kidney beans, and chickpeas.
One-half cup of these will make a serving.
Dried apricots are also a good source of iron, and you will need one cup to make a serving.
One potato also has a lot of iron. One cup cooked enriched egg noodles, or one-fourth cup wheat germ also rank in there.
Each of the above-listed foods will get you about 2 milligrams of iron.
So where does spinach rank? It comes in with the foods that will get you 0.7 milligrams of iron.
While the iron intake with spinach is lower, it does have other benefits that are beneficial to your daily diet besides iron.
Spinach contains several vitamins and minerals along with being fiber dense.
Other foods that will get you 0.7 milligrams of fibre are; one-half cup cooked split peas, one ounce of most nuts, one stalk of broccoli and one-quarter cup brown or enriched rice.
The key to staving off anemia is having a varied diet. Include lots of fruits and vegetables along with lean meats.
Sometimes diet is not enough alone, and supplements need to be taken.
There are many wonderful dietary iron supplements on the market.
The slow-release iron pills are usually the easiest for most people to take, as they lessen the cramps and sickness that are associated with the use of iron pills.
In severe cases of anemia, you may need to take iron shots along with a proper diet.
The shots can be painful, but they bring a much higher quality of life, eliminating the fatigue that can come from being lower in iron.
If you feel you have anemia, speak to your doctor.
A simple blood test can determine if you are iron deficient and to what extent, helping your physician style a plan that will work for you and get you feeling better.
Another aid to your diet is exercise, if you are anemic, exercise is crucial.
When we exercise, it helps push blood through our body, and the constant circulation of blood will aid to achieve a better dispersion of the iron you have.
Moving, and exercising will also help you to feel less lethargic.
Be patient, it takes time for these foods to start helping.
Rest assured that by improving your diet, you develop your overall health, and with a little time you soon will be feeling better and ready to paint the town red!