Anaemia is common and affects many people around us. It is primarily defined as a condition of having low levels of hemoglobin in the blood. There are several reasons which contribute to an anaemic condition including- low level of iron because of the lack of high-quality protein in our daily diet; low level of vitamin B6 as Vitamin B6 helps in the synthesis of hemoglobin; and lack of vitamin C in our daily diet since vitamin C helps in proper absorption of iron in our body. Insufficient intake of Vitamin B12 also leads to anaemia.
Anaemia is a type of condition which can occur to every person, but it is more common in children and women, especially pregnant mother. Different surveys have suggested that almost 65 percent of women in Asia suffer from anaemia. As per the National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) a large percentage of adolescent girls suffer from anaemia as well. Today, however, we will focus our discussion only on anaemia caused by iron deficiency.
Iron deficiency anaemia is very common and can be reversed by following a proper diet and lifestyle. There are different causes of iron deficiency anaemia:
Lack of iron intake: People generally eat cereal-based food and ignore foods that are rich in iron. Iron-rich foods like dates, raisins, and rice flakes are generally absent from normal diet. Animal proteins are a good source of iron and this iron is easily absorbed by our body. But many people are vegetarians and therefore don’t consume animal protein. The problem is – the lack caused by the absence of animal protein is often not compensated by plant-based protein, which leads to anaemia, as the equilibrium of a balanced diet is disturbed.
Improper utilization of iron: There are different reasons for the improper utilization of absorbed iron in our body. Several gastrointestinal problems, like inflammation of gastrointestinal tract, often lead to improper utilization of iron in our body.
Blood loss: It can occur due to accidents, intestinal bleeding, and other surgery-related issues.
Increased demand for iron: A particular age or a particular physiological condition may demand more iron than what is expected during normal times. For example: during pregnancy in women; among adolescent girls during their menses; and in infants during the period of their rapid growth and development, – the demand for iron drastically increases. Women following a weight loss diet plan should make sure to have a sufficient quantity of iron in their diet.
Improper absorption: This is another reason that makes people suffer from iron deficiency anaemia. People may intake sufficient amount of iron but due to lack of other nutrients in our body, iron is not absorbed properly. There are other physiological conditions which also lead to improper iron absorption like chronic renal diseases, severe diarrhea, and gastrectomy, etc. Some other anti-nutritional factors also inhibit iron absorption like- phytates, phosphates, and tannin.
Symptoms of iron deficiency anaemia:
The initial symptoms of Iron deficiency anaemia are very mild but when the deficiency of iron in our body is increased then the symptoms begin to appear gradually. The main symptoms are as follows:
- Weakness and fatigue.
- Pale color of skin and eyes.
- Tingling sensation in hand and feet.
- Headache and dizziness.
- Shortness of breath
- Poor appetite
How to overcome this condition:
Iron deficiency anaemia can be reversed by proper diet. Regular consumption of iron-rich foods, along with essential vitamins and minerals, help increase iron levels in our blood. Now, I would share the dietary guidelines necessary for the prevention of iron deficiency anaemia and at the same time suggest foods that help increase iron level in our blood.
Protein: First and the most important thing is protein. Include protein rich foods in your daily diet. Animal proteins like egg, fish, and lean meat should be eaten for reversing the effects of iron deficiency anaemia. For vegetarians, they can eat dal and dal products like rajma, chana, chickpeas, mung dal, and lentils. But please note that plant protein is not easily digested and absorbed by our body, so you have to include some vitamin C rich fruits like lemon in your daily diet for proper protein absorption.
Iron: Iron is the key component which is required for red blood cell formation, so lack of iron in your foods is directly linked with anaemia. Iron-rich foods like dates, rice flakes, raisins, and dark green leafy vegetables should be included in your diet.
Vitamin C: This is another important vitamin for preventing anaemic condition. Vitamin C helps in proper protein absorption and enhances the function of iron in our body. Vitamin C rich foods like Amla, guava, sweet lime, green chili and other fresh vegetables which are green in color should be included in your diet.
By including the three above mentioned nutrients in your daily diet, you shall be able to prevent or reverse iron deficiency anaemia.