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Anemia is a condition that occurs when you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells. It’s caused by several things, including iron deficiency, chronic infections, and autoimmune diseases like lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.
Anemia, commonly known as anemia, is a condition in which your blood has a lower than usual amount of red blood cells or in which your red blood cells lack adequate hemoglobin. Anemia symptoms often include muscular weakness, persistent tiredness or lethargy, cognitive fog, and mood disturbances since poor oxygen circulation is a side consequence of anemia.
According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, severe anemia or untreated anemia may lead to problems such as damage to the heart, brain, and other organs (NHLBI). Although uncommon, anemia that is left untreated may lead to death.
Given the severity of anemia and its prevalence among specific age groups — particularly women during their reproductive years or people over 65 with pre-existing health problems — you must learn to identify anemia signs in yourself or your loved ones. Learn about the most frequent symptoms of anemia, as well as the best methods to cure them and decrease anemia risk factors, including iron deficiency and eating a highly-processed diet, in the sections below.
What Is Anemia?
Anemia is defined as “a disease characterized by a lack of red blood cells or hemoglobin in the blood.” Hemoglobin is an iron-rich protein that is responsible for the red hue of your blood. In addition, it aids in the transport of oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body’s cells.
Anemia occurs when your body does not get enough oxygen-rich blood, leaving you exhausted and feeble. Hemoglobin is found in red blood cells. They are also necessary for immunity, which includes combating infections, blood clotting, and avoiding excessive bleeding.
Iron deficiency is strongly linked to anemia. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), iron insufficiency is the most prevalent dietary deficit in the United States. Because iron is required for the production of hemoglobin, the CDC estimates that almost 10% of women are iron deficient.
This is concerning, given the critical functions that iron performs, such as aiding oxygen transport. In addition, iron is required by your body for a variety of activities throughout the day. Many individuals, however, suffer from low iron levels as a result of causes such as blood loss (such as during menstruation), a poor diet, or an inability to absorb adequate iron from dietary sources.
Symptoms of Anemia
It’s challenging to provide enough oxygen to your brain, organs, muscles, and cells if your body doesn’t have enough oxygen-carrying red blood cells. For many people, feeling a bit “out of it” and weary is quite normal due to various factors. Stress, lack of sleep, fighting sickness, and a hectic work schedule are just a few examples. When deciding whether or not you should be tested for anemia, it’s essential to understand how anemia symptoms often develop and what distinguishes them from just feeling tired due to other life situations.
The following are some of the most frequent anemia symptoms in adults:
- Pale skin
- A rapid or irregular heartbeat is a sign that something is wrong with your heart.
- Shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, poor stamina, and decreased endurance are all symptoms of asthma.
- Pains in the chest
- Dizziness or a lack of balance
- Brain fog, difficulty focusing, and difficulty completing tasks are all examples of cognitive issues.
- Other symptoms of body temperature fluctuations include cold hands and feet.
You should also be aware that anemia may be so mild at first that it might go undetected for a long time, perhaps even years. On the other hand, anemia symptoms usually increase as the disease develops, mainly if more than one risk factor is involved.
A hematocrit test, as well as a hemoglobin test, may be used to determine whether you have low red blood cells.
There are three main reasons why you may get anemia due to a lack of red blood cells:
- First, there aren’t enough red blood cells in your body.
- Second, you’ve been losing too much blood due to an accident, menstruation, or other traumatic events.
- Third, due to changes in your immune system, your body is killing the red blood cells you have.
Factors at Risk
- Iron or vitamin B12 deficiency This may occur if you don’t eat enough in general, follow a rigorous diet or are a vegetarian/vegan who avoids animal products (since these are good sources of iron and B vitamins). To generate appropriate quantities of hemoglobin and red blood cells, your body needs enough iron, vitamin 12, folate, and other nutrients from your diet.
- Being a woman, women are more likely than males to acquire anemia.
- Pernicious anemia patients get adequate vitamin B12 but are unable to metabolize or use it effectively. As a result, their bodies are still unable to produce enough hemoglobin.
- Getting older. Anemia is more common in individuals over 65, according to research.
- Anemia may also be exacerbated by pregnancy.
- Candida may affect your ability to absorb minerals, especially B vitamins.
- Anemia may also be caused by other diseases such as autoimmune disease (such as lupus), HIV/AIDS, rheumatoid arthritis, renal failure, or cancer. Your erythropoietin — a glycoprotein that regulates red blood cell synthesis — may be out of whack if you have renal problems and anemia. It may cause anemia if your kidneys don’t generate enough of it.
- A digestive problem prevents nutrients from being absorbed, such as IBD, Crohn’s disease, or an ulcer.
- Taking over-the-counter pain medications regularly, particularly aspirin, blocks essential nutrients.
- Anemia is often genetically inherited. Therefore it’s less likely to be caused by your lifestyle or food. Aplastic anemia (in which your body does not produce enough red blood cells), bone marrow diseases such as leukemia and myelofibrosis, hemolytic anemia (in which red blood cells are destroyed faster than bone marrow can replace them), and sickle cell anemia (in which your body produces red blood cells that can’t be used, causing blood cells to die prematurely). Anemia may also be caused by a genetic disease called G6PD deficiency.
- Another disease that may cause anemia is thalassemia. This hereditary blood disease causes anemia by causing the body to have fewer red blood cells and hemoglobin than usual.
The Effects of Your Diet on Anemia
What’s one of the essential things you can do to combat anemia, apart from obtaining enough iron and B vitamins (more on that below)? First, as much as possible, eliminate processed and junk foods from your diet. Consuming many empty calories, such as processed and junk meals, refined grains, fast food, synthetic chemicals, or too much sugar, may lead to nutritional deficiencies, tiredness, weight gain, weakness, and even inflammatory bowel disease or candida.
Candida is a disease in which excessive amounts of yeast increase in the GI tract, disrupting the natural pH balance and mucosal lining. This affects the way you absorb nutrients. Anemia and digestive problems such as IBD or candida are often related, particularly in women. If you detect a white tint on your tongue or at the back of your throat, or if you tend to develop yeast infections, these are symptoms of candida. Along with digestive problems, brain fog is often misdiagnosed as a symptom of candida and IBD. IBD or candida overgrowth, like anemia, may result in a lack of concentration, poor physical coordination, trouble focusing on activities, and impaired memory.
It’s generally highly beneficial to try removing virtually all processed sugars and grains for at least a period to fight candida and associated digestive problems. In other words, attempting an “elimination diet” may significantly aid in symptom management. Sugary meals, pasta, bread, cereals, or any refined grain product or sweetener can feed yeast in your gastrointestinal system. This may prevent iron absorption and exacerbate anemia; therefore, improving your diet is essential for recovery. Fresh vegetables, lean protein, and healthy fats should be substituted for these problematic, low-nutrient meals. This will aid in restoring digestive/gut health and supply you with vital minerals such as iron.
Here are the foods to avoid if you have anemia:
- Sweeteners/sugar substitutes
- Grain that has been processed
- Chocolate with a dark hue. While chocolate is high in iron, it also includes tannins, an antinutrient that prevents iron absorption. To reduce tannin absorption, limit your intake, eat enough other iron-rich foods, and stick to milk and white chocolate types.
- Bran. Bran has a lot of insoluble fiber, which retains and eliminates iron from the body during digestion.
- Dairy in the traditional sense. Calcium binds to iron in meals, preventing proper absorption.
- Soda. Soda is rich in sugar, low in minerals, and inhibits the absorption of iron.
- Black tea with coffee Excessive coffee consumption may prevent iron absorption, so limit yourself to one cup per day.
The following are some natural methods to cure anemia symptoms:
1. Feed Your Spleen
The first natural therapy for anemia is to ensure that your spleen is adequately nourished. The spleen is an organ that produces red blood cells and keeps fluids in your body together. Unfortunately, one of the primary causes of anemia is a spleen that isn’t functioning correctly.
Some meals can feed your spleen and assist you in naturally overcome anemic symptoms. Squash, particularly pumpkin, acorn squash, butternut squash, spaghetti squash, and other bright orange-colored vegetables, are the first food category. Consider the autumn harvest! These meals are excellent for feeding the spleen. Aim for one to two servings of squash each day in your diet. Try my Butternut Squash Soup as a beginning if you need some inspiration.
Green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, and chard are high in nutrients, are another essential food category for feeding your spleen and red blood cell synthesis. One dish per day of these, such as a Kale Caesar Salad or sautéed spinach, is also perfect for your spleen.
Last but not least, bitter foods, such as romaine lettuce and arugula salad, are beneficial to the spleen. Bitter herbs may also be used as a supplement before a meal. However, anything with a bitter taste is perfect for the spleen.
2. Use Probiotics to Maintain Gut Health
The second step in naturally overcoming anemia symptoms is to improve your gut health using probiotics. Gut health is essential for nutrition absorption. “You are what you eat” is not the guiding concept. Instead, it’s a case of “you are what you eat.” You won’t absorb iron if you’re not digesting and absorbing and assimilating foods correctly.
Unfortunately, iron supplements may not be functioning as effectively as they should for many individuals. The reason for this is because their digestive system isn’t in good shape; they’re likely suffering from the leaky gut syndrome. A leaky gut makes it difficult to absorb iron and other vitamins and minerals such as vitamin B12, magnesium, and zinc.
According to Stanford medical research, when people take probiotics, their B vitamin levels and iron levels tend to rise. Instead of taking an iron pill without addressing the underlying issue, attempt to make adjustments that address the core cause of poor gut health. Probiotic-rich foods, such as genuine handmade yogurt, goat milk kefir, and sauerkraut should be included in your diet. Then taking a probiotic pill, usually containing 50 billion to 100 billion IUs per day, may significantly aid iron absorption.
3. Eat foods that are high in iron.
Consuming iron-rich meals is the next stage in overcoming anemic symptoms. Lean meat and shellfish are the best sources of heme iron (the more absorbable type) in the diet. Nuts, legumes, vegetables, and fortified grain products are all excellent sources of non-heme iron in the diet. About half of dietary iron in the United States comes from bread, cereal, and other grain products, but I suggest concentrating on healthier, easier-to-digest alternatives instead.
Beef liver and chicken liver are two of the finest iron meals. Liver? You may put the organic chicken liver in a slow cooker with chicken in similar proportions, or approximately a third liver and two-thirds chicken if you purchase it at your local farmers’ market or health food shop. Carrots, celery, onions, and sea salt are examples of veggies to include. Because it’s rich in iron, this is an excellent meal for replenishing your liver. Other iron-rich meals include organic, grass-fed meats such as cattle, bison, and lamb. Eat spinach, kale, and chard as well. Have a bison burger with spinach on the side, which is excellent for reversing anemia.
4. Stress Reduction
If you’re emotionally overwhelmed and have issues with forgiveness, anger, or persistent worry and anxiety, your spleen and liver will be depleted, and those organs will be exhausted. So, make sure you schedule some time for relaxation and enjoyment throughout your week. Additionally, get plenty of rest at night. Those items will significantly aid in the recharge of your system and body, as well as the reduction of tension. You’ll notice great success in conquering anemia if you do those things.
5. Supplements Should Be Considered
According to the NHLBI, you may certainly benefit from taking a B vitamin complex supplement that contains folate (not folic acid!) as well as an iron supplement in addition to making the holistic adjustments mentioned above.
Another extra tip on stress and spleen health: Anemia is strongly linked to the spleen in Chinese medicine. In addition, some medications, particularly ginseng, may assist strengthen the spleen. Ginseng is an adaptogenic plant that reduces cortisol levels. Thus, it may help your body in dealing with stress more effectively. Finally, nutrient-dense beets support a healthy circulatory system and iron levels.
Dietary Supplements to Help With Anemia
Even though anemia is so prevalent, most healthy individuals without severe diseases may avoid it by eating a nutritious, unprocessed diet. You’ve read about foods to avoid to control anemia and candida symptoms. Here are some of the most delicate items to add to your diet to help you get rid of anemia:
- Beef liver is rich in iron and vitamin B12, as well as several other essential nutrients. If you can’t eat cow liver, make sure you eat grass-fed, organic beef as a substitute.
- Brewer’s yeast is an excellent source of folic acid, vitamin 12, and iron. Toss in a bowl of cereal, a salad, or a glass of juice.
- Vitamin C-rich foods: Vitamin C aids iron absorption. If you’re eating a high-iron item like beef, try to pair it with vitamin C-rich food like tomatoes, peppers, or strawberries.
- Green leafy veggies: Green leafy vegetables are high in iron and folic acid. The oxalic acid in raw spinach may inhibit iron absorption; however, boiling spinach reduces this acid. Steamed kale and broccoli are two more green leafy veggies to add.
- Natural sweeteners (in tiny quantities): If you need a sweetener but don’t want to use sugar, consider blackstrap molasses or local raw honey in small amounts (about one tablespoon at most at a time). Due to its high iron content, blackstrap molasses may be consumed in daily doses of approximately one tablespoon. Local honey or stevia are two additional excellent choices for gently sweetening meals while avoiding too much sugar in your diet.
Although you may be able to cure anemia on your own by adopting dietary, lifestyle, and supplement adjustments, it’s also a good idea to see your doctor if you think you have anemia since the anemia may be a symptom of more severe diseases. In addition, you may be tired and having trouble concentrating for causes unrelated to anemia. As a result, don’t presume you’ve correctly diagnosed yourself. If your anemic symptoms continue after making the adjustments mentioned, get tested for nutritional deficiencies and seek medical advice.
- According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, anemia is a common disease that happens when your blood has a lower than usual amount of red blood cells or when you don’t generate enough hemoglobin.
- Anemia symptoms induced by this hemoglobin shortage include brain fog, tiredness, weakness, difficulty breathing correctly, headaches, and fluctuations in body temperature.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the 3 leading causes of anemia?
There are many causes of anemia. Some of the most common include iron deficiency, folate deficiency, and vitamin B12 lack.
What will happen if anemia is not treated?
If anemia is not treated, it will cause permanent damage to the red blood cells. This leads to a condition called iron-deficiency anemia which can be fatal if left untreated.
What are the 5 symptoms of anemia?
Some symptoms of anemia include fatigue, dizziness, pale skin, and shortness of breath.
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