Do you know that anemia has impacted millions of women globally? This condition means you have a lower than normal red blood cell (RBC). Anemia may also result from a low level of hemoglobin, which is the protein that transports oxygen to the body. Iron deficiency anemia is a common type of anemia that is due to insufficient amount of iron stored in your body, which causes the blood lack the adequate amount of healthy red blood cells. Red blood cells carry oxygen to the body’s tissues; when their capacity is affected, this can lead to chronic fatigue, lack of energy, short of breath, headaches, reduced appetite and even poor sleep quality.
Many people who suffer from chronic anemia jump to the conclusion that lack of adequate amounts of iron storage in the body is the cause of iron deficiency anemia. This is why the iron supplements have been one of the bestselling products in the drug stores in the past few decades. However, iron pills are not the solution for the chronic anemia. According to the Traditional Chinses Medicine (TCM), the spleen system is the key to generating the blood and controlling its quantity in the body. Additionally, the Qi or energy in the spleen system holds the blood in the vessels. As a result, if the Qi or energy in the spleen system is weak, there may be a loss of blood in the body and causes anemia.
In the western medicine, most people think that the spleen is mainly responsible for the immune system and produces the lymphocytes. According to TCM, the spleen is paired with the stomach and pancreas, all of which are important organs in our digestive system. The Spleen system is a very important system in the production of Qi or energy, which is called the “Foundation of Postnatal Existence”. In order to keep a sustainable life, our body has to be nourished by the energy that is derived from the food. We must rely on the nutrition from the food in order to stay alive. This is why the spleen is called the source of postnatal energy. Therefore, if the Qi or energy is weak in the spleen system, this can impact the quantity and quality of the blood in the body and leads to anemia.
So the first the step to prevent chronic anemia is to boost the Qi or energy in your spleen system. How to do it? Here are a few tips.
1. Be mindful
Let’s first talk about the mind control, according to TCM, the spleen system governs “thinking”. If you have a tendency of overthinking, this can weaken the energy flow in your spleen system, which in turn affects your spleen function. One of the best things that you can do to improve your spleen system is to be mindful of everything you do, including mindful eating. Mindful eating is also the key to prevent eating disorders and overeating habits.
If you have a tendency of overthinking, your sleep quality may be compromised. Here are some natural solutions to improve your sleep quality.
2. Worry less
All the organs are associated with emotions according to TCM, the spleen is associated with the emotion of worry. Do you know that 80 to 90 percent of your worries never happen? The mind is everything that creates our reality. The key to stopping worrying is to be mindful of the present moment and stay present.
3. Massage your belly
Massaging your belly will help enhance the function of the digestive system and improve the absorption of nutrients. You may ask why tochoosethe belly. There are many important acupoints around the abdomen, by stimulating these acupoints, you will feel calm and ease for the rest of the day. This exercise can help prevent constipation, enhance the digestive system, improve the sleep quality and also prevent cramps during the menstruation cycles for women.
There are many ways to massage your belly. One simple way is to lie down and relax your whole body by taking a few deep breaths; then warm up your hands by rubbing your palms against each other. Use one hand to massage your abdomen clockwise for 100 times, then use another hand to massage your abdomen counterclockwise for another 100 times. In order to achieve the best result, you should focus your attention on your abdomen and visualize that your belly becomes flat and the energy is flowing smoothly as you move your hand. You can do this exercise twice a day, right after you wake up in the morning and before you sleep at night. If you practice this on a daily basis, soon you will notice that your digestive function is improved, so as the detoxification process in your body with an efficient bowel function. In addition, your sleep quality is improved as well when you practice this before you sleep.
4. Nourish your spleen with food
Foods with the orange color can nourish your spleen system, such as yam, squash, pumpkin,and grains. There are certain foods that may hurt your spleen system, such as cold beverages and drinks, cold raw food, deep fried food, processed food, and alcohol. A little sweetness is just all right to nourish your spleen, but too much sugar like desserts can hurt your spleen system.
After taking good care of your spleen system, now let’s talk about the foods that will help you fight against iron deficiency anemia.
Red beetroots have a significant amount of iron. In addition, consuming beets and drinking the beet juice can help in the regeneration of red blood cells.
Beets are said to have grown originally in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Elizabethans used to enjoy beets in stews and tarts. Medieval cooks used beets in cooking and preparing pies. Beets are a prehistoric and ancient food that grows naturally in Asia, Europe,and North Africa coastlines.
The beet greens were the ones originally consumed. The red and sweet beetroot that most individuals think as “beets” today was not cultivated until the ancient Rome Empire. By the19th century, however, the natural sweetness of the beets started to be appreciated and beets began to be utilized as a sugar source.
These days, beets are raw materials utilized for sugar production, and many people don’t include beets in their regular diet. The truth is that there is a good reason to include beets in your regular diet because they contain varieties of health-boosting nutrients. Plus, beets are definitely delicious.
Here are some nutrition facts about beets.
Beets deliver proven health benefits including the following:
- Beets lower blood pressure. Its significant iron content helps regenerate red blood cells and break down calcium deposits in the arteries. Beets are also one of the most effective detoxifiers due to its ideal choline content, which can aid digestion and improve liver function.
- When combined with carrot juice, the beet juice has the capacity of cleansing the kidneys and gallbladder by flushing all the waste and toxins out of the body. This also helps treat gout due to its effective cleansing action. Simply add one squeeze of lime juice to your beet juice to experience its incredible cleansing effect. You can even combine beet juice with other juices derived from fresh vegetables. No sweetening needs to be added because beets contain a high amount of natural sugar.
- Beets also contain essential nitrates, but not similar to the ones added to the cold cuts, processed meats,and hot dogs. These nitrates aid in utilizing oxygen content in the blood so that you will gain more stamina and energy.
- Magnesium, phosphorous, fibers, vitamins, iron, folic acid,and beta cyanin are just a few of the many essential nutrients found in beets. These are also beneficial to the pregnant women as beets play an essential role in the growth of new cells during the period of pregnancy.
- Beets can be natural remedies for anemia due to its great cleansing properties with higher iron content, restoring red blood cells while increasing blood count and supplying oxygen.
With these enormous benefits, you have many good reasons to consume beets. They not only help you prevent anemia, but you can also benefit from various essential nutrients in the beets for better health in general.
There are other foods that can help you prevent iron deficiency anemia.
If your body is not absorbing the iron, adding iron to your diet will be useless. Citrus fruits and bright color vegetables such as oranges, peppers, papaya,and strawberries are great sources vitamin C (ascorbic acid), which is known to facilitate iron absorption. Lemon juice has shown more efficiency to exert this effect due to the acid in the lemon, which can help change the iron from non-absorbable ferric iron to the more absorbable ferrous iron.
Dates are not only rich in iron; they also contain a variety of antioxidants that can help boost the energy. Dates also contain magnesium, manganese, and selenium. Selenium is known to prevent certain cancers. These minerals are necessary for healthy and strong bones.
Figs are a good source of iron.Half a cup serving of dried figs contains 1.5 mg of iron.Figs are rich in minerals and vitamins such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, copper, vitamin A, E,and K, which contribute to our vision, heart function and bone health.
Avocados are loaded with a variety of nutrients. They are a great ofsource of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, including omega-3 that can benefit your heart function and reduce chronic inflammation. They also contain a large amount of iron to boost your iron intake. Avocados are rich in antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E, Lutein, and Zeaxanthin, which are important for the eye health. Their vitamin C content can promote the absorption of non-heme iron, which is ideal for the vegetarians.Heme iron is the type of iron that presents in animal foods like red meats, fish, and poultry. Non-heme iron is the iron found in plants, and non-heme iron is absorbed in a lower rate than the heme iron in the body. Since you have difficulty to eliminate the excess iron from the body, this gives the non heme iron a significant advantage over heme iron because your body can moderate the absorption of non-heme iron better.
A high protein diet
Hemoglobin is an iron-containing oxygen-transport protein in the red blood cells that carries oxygen to your body’s organs and tissues and transports carbon dioxide from your organs and tissues back to your lungs. If your protein intake is low, it will affect the production of hemoglobin in your body. Therefore, to prevent iron deficiency anemia, you need to keep up both of your iron and protein intakes. Seafood and lean meat are all great sources of protein. If you are a vegetarian, you can get sufficient amounts of protein from dairy products, beans,and lentils, spirulina, hemp seeds, chia seeds, quinoa, tofu, nuts,and seeds, etc. They are all good sources of protein.
Several herbs are excellent complementary choices to help boost your iron intake. Just list a few examples here
Also known as stinging nettle, this herb has very high iron content. It also contains other nutrients such as vitamins A, C, K, and vitamin B group. As we know that Vitamin C can improve iron absorption in the body. You can take it either as tea or as a supplement to boost your iron intake.
Parsley is a popular herb in your kitchen. But do you know it is a great source of iron? An easy way to get the iron from this nutritious herb is to drink parsley juice or tea. In addition, parsley displays excellent anti-inflammatory properties due to its rich content of flavonoid antioxidants. The vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants found in parsley such as vitamin C, A, K, Folate, and Niacin can help strengthen our immune system. It also aids digestion; we just cannot get enough of this amazing herb, isn’t it?
If you have trouble to absorb the iron, dandelion can help. This medicine herb not only containsa high level of iron, but it also enhances your body’s ability to absorb the iron. How amazing is that? Dandelion is also rich in calcium, which can strengthen your bones. Another surprising health benefit of dandelion is itsdiuretic and antimicrobial properties, it can help eliminate the toxic substances in the kidneys and the urinary tract, and it also inhibits the microbial growth in the urinary system to prevent bladder infection and urinary tract infection.
What is the real culprit of bladder infection and urinary tract infection? Probably not what you think.
Here are some foods that may affect your body’s abilities to absorb the iron.
Food with high insoluble fiber such as bran, the insoluble fiber in the food can remove iron during the digestion process.
Calcium-rich foods such as dairy products, calcium binds with iron in foods and inhibits the absorption of both non-heme and heme iron.
Food high in oxalates such as tea, chocolate, rhubarb, and wheat bran. Oxalates affect the absorption of non-heme iron.
Polyphenol-rich foods such as cocoa and coffee, polyphenols can inhibit iron absorption in the body. According to the Iron Disorders Institute, cocoa can inhibit 90 percent of iron absorption in the body, while one cup of coffee can prevent iron absorption as much as 60 percent. If you are a chocolate or coffee lover, you will have to give up some of your chocolate or coffee for the sake of the iron storage in your body if you suffer from chronic anemia.
In summary, the first step to prevent iron deficiency anemia is toboost your spleen function, then combine a high protein diet with a sufficient amount of iron intake from iron rich food resources, iron deficiency anemia can be treated in no time.
What are your tips to manage anemia? Please share with us.
If you are interested in more tips about health from the Traditional Chinese Medicine, check my ebook “Harness the Magical Power of Ancient Chinese Medicine”. This book gathers the wisdom from ancient Chinese medicine, including how to balance the Yin and Yang energy, how to work on the energetic points of different meridian systems and how to harmonize the Five Elements such as the Fire, Water, Wood, Earth, and Metal in our body. It provides a framework to help you develop an easy to follow daily routine that not only cures chronic conditions but also prevents illnesses down the road, and achieves optimal health.
“To enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to one’s family, to bring peace to all, one must first discipline and control one’s own mind. If a man can control his mind he can find the way to Enlightenment, and all wisdom and virtue will naturally come to him.” ~Buddha