Anemia is one of the most common health problems in the world today. The number is actually staggering with around 2 billion people suffering from the disorder. If you have been recently diagnosed of anemia, you are not alone, and in this article, we’re going to talk about the causes of this condition and how you could treat it using natural means.
The Definition Of Anemia
Anemia is a condition that is marked by a deficiency of hemoglobin in the blood. If you have anemia, it means your blood has a lower number of red blood cells than normal. One of its side effects is low oxygen circulation, which often results to weariness and pallor, brain fog and mood changes. In severe cases, anemia may sometimes lead to complications, including brain damage and heart problems. In short, anemia has the potential to be deadly when unabated or left untreated, although it’s quite rare for that happen.
Interesting Facts About Anemia
- It is not a disease. This is a misconception. Anemia is more like a deficiency rather than a disease. An average person’s bone marrow is expected to produce the right amount of hemoglobin needed to circulate oxygen throughout the body. When the body does not receive adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals, the bone marrow might not function properly and stop producing enough red blood cells. Existing red blood cells can also become weak or die early as a result.
- It is not caused by iron deficiency alone. Iron deficiency is one of the major causes of anemia, but it’s not the only thing that could cause anemia. There are other possible causes of anemia, including a lack of vitamin B12 or folate deficiency. This causes the production of enough red blood cells, but also
- Young women have the highest risk of developing this condition. The monthly menstrual cycle of a young woman explains this. Sometimes, there can be an excessive loss of blood, which results to anemia.
- Most people do not know they have anemia. A lot of cases of anemia are mild and many people who have it don’t realize they do until they have been officially diagnosed. The symptoms of anemia in both severe and moderate cases can develop slowly, so that they are not recognized easily. Sometimes, the symptoms are so subtle that they are not felt at all.
- Anemia can be caused by a severe illness. As mentioned a while ago, iron deficiency is not the only cause of anemia. Severe illnesses can also result to low red blood cell count. A person recovering from cancer, kidney failure, or heart attack, for instance, may also need to be treated for anemia.
What Causes Anemia?
Anemia can be caused by three primary reasons:
- The first is that you’re probably not producing enough hemoglobin or red blood cells.
- A second reason is that you have been losing too much blood as a result of injury, or in the case of younger women, natural monthly cycles.
- The third reason is that you may be suffering from an illness that causes your immune system to destroy your body’s red blood cells.
In terms of risk factors, individuals who have iron deficiency have a higher risk of developing anemia. Iron deficiency usually happens if you have a restrictive diet or if you’re simply not eating enough foods high in iron.
Women also have a higher risk. Pregnancy, in particular, can increase a woman’s chance of having anemia.
There are also cases wherein anemia is genetically inherited and is not a result of diet or lifestyle factors. In aplastic anemia, for instance, the body simply doesn’t produce enough hemoglobin. In bone marrow disease such as myelofibrosis and leukemia, on the other hand, red blood cells are eliminated as fast as they can be replaced.
How To Know If You Have Anemia
Anemia does have symptoms but can go unnoticed for a period as it develops mildly. It sometimes even takes years for it to develop, although symptoms are likely to worsen as the condition does. You might want to watch out for these symptoms to find out whether or not you have anemia:
- Constant headaches
- Dizziness and loss of balance
- Chest pains
- Shortness of breath
- Low stamina
- Reduced endurance
- Fatigue and weakness
- Irregular heartbeat
- Cold hands and feet
- Body temperature changes
- Cognitive problems (brain fog, difficulty concentrating, inability to complete tasks)
If you are experiencing a majority of these symptoms, it’s important to seek medical help immediately. Your doctor will determine whether you have anemia by checking your family and medical history, as well as running some tests and procedures.
A CBC test is usually the first test used to diagnose anemia. If it shows you indeed have anemia, further tests may be recommended, including hemoglobin electrophoresis, reticulocyte count, and possibly serum iron and serum ferritin tests.
The Best Natural Treatments For Anemia
Anemia is generally a curable condition. There are different types of anemia, but most of the cases can be treated naturally. Since the common cause is deficiency of iron and other nutrients, the best way to approach it is by supplying essential nutrients to your body. Here are some natural remedies for anemia.
Increase Consumption Of Iron-Rich Foods
One of the best steps in overcoming anemia symptoms is increasing your consumption of iron-rich foods. The richest source you could possibly find includes seafood and lean meat. Other sources include fortified grain products, beans, nuts, and of course, vegetables. Beef and chicken liver are also excellent sources of iron. The key is to opt for organic and grass-fed meats like lamb and beef. Including more chard, kale, and spinach to your diet will also help reverse anemia. In addition, you would also want to avoid these foods as they have the potential to remove iron from your body:
- Sweeteners or added sugar
- Processed grains
- Bran – this is high in insoluble finer and may trap iron and remove it during digestion
- Dairy – conventional dairy is high in calcium that binds with iron, leading to poor absorption.
- Coffee, soda, and black tea – either of these three may also hinder proper iron absorption.
Keep Your Gut Healthy With Probiotics
Gut health is crucial for proper absorption of nutrients. If you have a weak gut, you will be susceptible not only to anemia, but to other types of deficiencies and illnesses as well. You may take iron supplements all you want, but if your gut is not functioning properly, it’s might not work well for you. If you have anemia and supplements may not seem to be working, consider getting to the root of the problem, which is probably a leaky gut. In a study done by Stanford, researchers found that individuals with excellent probiotics intake tend to have an increase in vitamin B and iron levels. Of course, it’s because probiotics help keep the digestive system healthy and helping it absorb nutrients, including iron, more efficiently. To increase your probiotics intake, add more probiotic-rich foods to your daily diet. This may include sauerkraut, goat milk kefir, and homemade yogurt. It will help you absorb iron well and you’ll be amazed at the results.
Maintain A Healthy Spleen
The spleen is an organ located in the upper left part of your abdomen that plays multiple supporting roles. Its main purpose is filtering red blood cells as part of the immune system. It’s where old red blood cells are recycled and where white blood cells are stored. It’s basically a very important organ in the body, and yet most people do not know it. In reality, a weak spleen is often one of the first factors that can cause anemia. The good news is that there are specific ways you can keep your spleen healthy.
- Chew your food thoroughly. This will help the spleen in properly assisting in digestion.
- Do not overeat. Overeating can weaken the spleen overtime.
- Nourish your spleen with whole foods. Add more carrots, squash, apples, and green, leafy vegetables to your diet.
- Drink little water with meals. This will help prevent your spleen from being flooded with liquid.
- Avoid eating food and drinking beverages that are too cold. Your digestive system, including your spleen, uses extra effort in heating cold food and drink.
Finally, keep in mind that any type of food that’s bitter such as romaine lettuce and bitter gourds are great for your spleen.
Beat Stress, Beat Anemia
Stress plays a really large role in increasing a person’s chances of developing anemia. It obviously worsens the condition as well. Long-term emotional and mental stress can have a huge impact to the health of your bodily organs, particularly the liver and the spleen. Therefore, see to it that you always find time to play and relax and just relieve yourself of all the stress of work. Getting plenty of sleep is also crucial to beating stress. If you can find ways to reduce stress levels in your life, you’ll be on your way to beating anemia as well.
Try These Superfoods For Anemia
- Sesame Seeds. These are rich in iron and can easily be combined with honey and water to produce a honey-sesame paste.
- Spinach. Spinach is rich in vitamins A, B9, C, and E. It’s also high in calcium, iron, and fiber. You will only need half a cup of spinach a day to treat anemia.
- Pomegranate. Pomegranate is a superfood as it contains a combination of protein, carbohydrate, fat, fiber, iron, and calcium. It increases red blood cells and promotes healthy circulation.
- Tomatoes. It’s not enough to consume more iron to fight anemia; your body should be able to properly absorb it, too. That’s where tomatoes come in. They are rich in Vitamin C, which is needed to help the body absorb iron efficiently.
- Parsley. Another superfood, parsley can provide 5.5 mg of iron per 100 g of serving. It’s also high in Vitamin C.
- Dates. Dates make a good remedy for anemia. 100 g of dates can contain 0.90 mg of iron and is excellent in increasing hemoglobin the body.
- Raisins. Just like parsley and dates, raisins are very rich in iron. A hundred gram of raisins is enough to provide 1.88 mg of iron, which is why they are used in traditional medicine to treat anemia.
- Wintermelon. Also known as ash gourd, winter melon has been used for centuries to treat various ailments. It’s especially rich in calcium, iron, phosphorus, niacin, riboflavin, and vitamin C.
Final Thoughts On Treating Anemia Naturally
Anemia is a curable condition, and the best part is that it can be treated and prevented using natural methods like the ones mentioned in this article. Such methods include lifestyle changes and diet changes. However, it is also an excellent idea to talk with your doctor if you are experiencing symptoms of anemia. A medical professional is the only person who could give you an accurate diagnosis. Getting a doctor’s opinion is all the more important if you’ve tried the treatments suggested here and your symptoms still persist.
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