So you’ve been feeling a bit under the weather and the doctor runs some bloods. The results are in! Low. Iron. Levels. Apparently thats why you’ve been feeling so tired and low on energy lately. Thats why your sleep has gone terrible, you are struggling more than usual at the gym and your hair falls out in clumps when you wash it (scary stuff for us ladies)!
Iron-deficiency symptoms are so similar to a whole host of other medical issues it really is impossible to diagnose without a blood test. Then unfortunately the doctor will send you off with a prescription for some horrible harsh iron tablets that really block you up and cause terrible stomach issues for some people. Now I am not saying you should stop your prescription, it really is a matter of personal choice and depends how severe your iron issue is. I am just making people aware of the other options out there to give you CHOICE over how you heal.
WHY DO WE NEED IRON?
Iron is the second most important mineral in the body (after calcium). It is essential for a number of proteins and enzymes, especially hemoglobin, which carries oxygen, and myoglobin, a protein that supplies oxygen to muscles. Iron assists in many biochemical reactions in the body such as regulating cell growth. If you are in good health, you can usually get enough iron from your diet. Menstruating or pregnant women and children, from infants to adolescence, are at higher risk of developing a deficiency because their iron needs are higher.
SYMPTOMS OF LOW IRON
Heavy menstrual periods/ spotting
Dark circles under eyes
Ridges in your nails
Decreased aerobic capacity of your muscles
Impaired immune function
THE LINK BETWEEN FOOD INTOLERANCES/ALLERGIES & IRON DEFICIENCY
I was diagnosed with borderline anaemia 5 years ago. After being on the prescribed iron tablets for a long period of time and significantly increased the amount of iron-rich foods I was eating, but not having any significant improvements, the doctors just kept giving me more iron! I knew I needed to take different action. I started looking into the links between food intolerances/ allergies and other autoimmune diseases such as anaemia and was not surprised to find a link.
Research has shown food allergies and intolerances can cause iron deficiency. This is because food intolerance or allergies can cause malabsorption. Celiac disease, Crohn’s disease and colitis are malabsorption syndromes that result from food intolerances. These diseases can cause inflammation of the small intestine and prevent nutrients, such as iron, from being absorbed. The inflammation can also result in intestinal bleeding, which can cause anemia and further lower iron levels.
HOW CAN YOU INCREASE IRON LEVELS NATURALLY?
Based on this, it didn’t matter how much iron I was eating or taking in the form of supplements, my iron was still low because my gut wasn’t DIGESTING or ABSORBING it properly.
- Heal and help your gut. Avoid all foods you know you are intolerant to to allow your gut to heal. You may decide to get a test to learn what to avoid to reduce autoimmune responses. You may also need to help your gut by adding a digestive enzyme to your supplementation, to help digest and absorb the iron supplement/ increased iron in your diet.
- Adjust your diet: increase your leafy greens, red cabbage, spinach, cucumbers, fish, coconut and eggs.
- Eat your beets! Some people swear by beetroot and a tablespoon of black strap molasses a day to increase iron levels naturally.
- Take a natural ‘gentle iron’ supplement. Check the label for the amount of “elemental” iron, not the total iron content. Elemental (iron in the salt form) is the only type we can absorb.I used Solgar brand.
- Iron is better absorbed when taken with Vitamin C– drink with a glass of orange juice to increase the potential for absorption.
- Avoid dairy, coffee, tea and wine when taking iron as they impair the absorbency (no red wine with your high iron fillet steak!).
If you have any other tips please comment and share them with us!
Love Natasha x
P.S. If you want to boost your health, lose weight and feel great in just 21 days…. check out my health plans HERE 🙂