wellness, tcm

Treating Anemia [Iron Deficiency] Naturally with Diet


WHAT IS ANEMIA? & DO I HAVE IT?

There are many different types of anemia, some related to absorption, others to an increased demand your body is having for iron. For that reason it is really important that if anemia is suspected you obtain/interpret blood tests from your GP. 

This Guide is very comprehensive and will help guide you through what your GP discusses in terms of potential anemia. It's important to note that none of these conditions on their own confirm anemia and that blood tests are really the most accurate form of diagnosis. 

If you are diagnosed with anemia or on the low end of having an iron deficiency, I would advise seeing a dietician or practitioner who will properly be able to guide you through integrating changes in diet back home - as your GP may not have the time to walk you through everything.

Common Symptoms of Anemia Include:

  • Easily Fatigued / Tired / Low Energy

  • Shortness of Breath or Headache

  • Dizziness / Light headed on standing

  • Pale Skin / Palor Complexion

  • Leg Cramps

  • Insomnia / Difficulty sleeping

WHAT TO EAT IF YOU HAVE ANEMIA:

AVOID:

  • Tannin rich products inhibit absorption - mainly limit tea and coffee if you drink these regularly. Other examples include: grapes, pomegranates, apples, barley, nuts, chocolate, and many legumes.

  • Phytates - A type fiber can reduce iron absorption by up to 80%. Some examples are: almonds, beans, brazil nuts, hazel nuts, lentils, corn, peanuts, peas, rice, sesame seeds, soybeans, tofu, walnuts, wheat.

  • Calcium can also affect iron absorption. However note that If you are taking calcium for other issues you can just take it a few hours after you've eaten OR at bedtime.

  • Disrupt Iron Balance: Alcohol, Animal fats & Refined Sugar.


EAT MORE:

  • Vitamin C rich foods which helps with absorption, such as: brasaic vegetables (Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower), Green/Red peppers, Spinach, cabbage, turnips, citrus fruits like orange and lemon etc.

  • B12 rich foods like, which helps in the production of iron, like: animal liver or kidney, clams, beef, tuna, trout, fortified nutritional yeast.

  • Iron rich foods - animal liver, red meats, pumpkin seeds, spinach, shellfish, beans and lentils. 


HOLISTIC PERSPECTIVE ON BUILDING BLOOD WITH DIET:

From a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective certain foods can help improve the quantity and quality of blood. Combatting Iron deficiency anemia by tonifying the organs related to the production of blood in the body. See the list below and try incorporating some of these blood building foods into your diet in addition to the above recommendations.

  • Grains - barley, oats, corn

  • Vegetables - alfalfa sprouts, artichoke, beetroot, cabbage, celery, dark leafy greens, shiitake mushroom, spinach, watercress.

  • Fruits - apple, apricot, dates, fig, mulberry, go ji berry,

  • Beans - aduki, black soya, kidney; nuts/seeds - black sesame and almonds.

  • Meat - all red meats especially bone marrow and liver of beef/pork/sheep, eggs.

  • Herbs - nettle root, parsley.

  • Condiments - molasses; Beverages - soya milk. 

HERBAL TEA’S FOR ANEMIA & STINGING NETTLE:

Stinging nettle is a herb that may help build blood from a TCM perspective; though there is limited research into whether it actually helps with anemia from a allopathic perspective. In the beginning try small amounts to see how well tolerated this tea is for you.