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Anemia and Diet as Natural Home Remedy



There are significant dietary factors to look at when faced with anemia.  Diet is by far the best natural home remedy for anemia. 

Anemia from Intestinal Blood Loss

If you are suffering from blood loss due to gastrointestinal issues, you must seek medical help and change your diet.  It is imperative that you examine your diet and evaluate the type of foods that you eat, because these foods can cause a myriad of health problems like hemorrhoids, diverticulosis, colitis, and ulcers.  The incorrect foods can actually cause injury to the intestines and there can be blood loss that is actually invisible to the naked eye.  Despite the fact that the amount of blood that is lost is small, this small amount builds up over time and can eventually lead to anemia.  The severity of the anemia can be very significant.  Women can also suffer from anemia with their monthly menstrual period because of the significant amount of blood loss. 

Iron Deficiency in Diet

When anemia is because of iron deficiency, this is because there is a low level of iron in the body.  Iron is obtained by eating animals that are fed with plants, or by eating plants that have high levels of iron.  Iron is absorbed in the body and the amount absorbed is dependent on the need for iron posed by the body.  It is absorbed in the upper gastrointestinal tract.  It should be noted that iron (and other minerals) absorption is passive, not active.  When the body has adequately high levels of iron stored, the body will only absorb about five percent of the iron that is available in the ingested food.  When the iron levels are low and the person is at risk for iron-deficiency anemia, the amount of available iron in food will be absorbed at a rate of about twenty percent.  Typically, about one to two milligrams of iron is absorbed daily, and about six milligrams of iron is absorbed when the body is in its deficient state. 

There are also tertiary factors that can affect the amount of iron that is absorbed by the body from the foods that have been ingested.  Some of these include the type of iron (the form of iron, whether it is non-heme or heme), how much fiber is in the diet, what kinds of amino acids are present in the foods, the amount of vitamin C (ascorbic acid) and the acidity level of the stomach.  Vitamin C can be one of the biggest catalysts of the absorption of iron, and can be ingested in large amounts from fruits and vegetables.  Foods that do not have adequate amounts of ascorbic acid include dairy foods (which also have a low level of iron), fish, poultry and red meat.  These foods can actually hinder the absorption of iron that can be found in other foods.  Tannic acid and coffee will also keep the body from absorbing iron in foods. 

A theoretical debate has raised some concerns regarding what effects plant food fibers can have on the absorption of minerals by the body.  It has been shown that fibers can hinder absorption by binding the minerals.  This debate is theoretical because there have not been any documented cases of iron deficiency due to fiber presence.  It is also important to note that there have been long term studies that show that vegetarians do not have iron deficiencies, despite eating high fiber foods.  This is extremely important in the case for eating fruits and vegetables for iron absorption to naturally treat anemia. 

High Fat Diet Cause of Anemia in Women

Anemia due to iron deficiency is extremely common (seen at a rate of about twenty percent) in women that are of childbearing age in the United States.  This is typically due to the fact that lots of women in America eat a high-fat diet that tends to cause an increased level of estrogen in the body.  This then causes a thicker buildup of endometrial tissues, which is the lining of the uterus.  This is what is shed when during a monthly menstrual cycle.  When the endometrial lining is thicker, a woman's monthly period will be longer and the flow will be heavier.  This causes more iron to be lost as opposed to women that have lighter menstrual periods.  Men tend to suffer from iron deficiency anemia though hemorrhoids, ulcers and other common disorders that lead to blood loss. 

Dairy Products in Diet as Cause of Anemia

Iron can be lost due to bleeding in the intestine from microscopic tears.  The most common causes of these small rips in the intestinal tract are dairy products.  This has been extensively studied in young children, as it has been found that milk products are the cause of approximately half of the documented cases of iron-deficiency anemia in young children.  While these findings have not been studied with adults, there have been correlations made between populations that ingest large amounts of dairy products with populations that have high instances of  iron-deficiency anemia.  Eating foods that are high in fat (namely, dairy products) will also increase the levels of estrogen in women, which in turn, increases the amount of blood lost during a menstrual cycle.  Dr. McDougall believes that dairy products will eventually be recognized as the leading cause of iron-deficiency anemia in women of childbearing age.  Rheumatoid arthritis and kidney disease can also be caused by following a harmful diet.  These diseases can be corrected by increasing the amount of iron in the blood, and by maintaining a healthy diet. 

Many people that eat traditional Western diets (high in fat and meat, and low in fresh organic fruits and vegetables) believe that the amount of iron that is found in the fruits and vegetables is not adequate to sustain the appropriate amount of iron needed.  Sadly, many people feel that meat is the only good source of iron.  Hemoglobin levels reflect the amount of iron that is in the blood, and several studies have shown that individuals that hemoglobin levels in vegetarians are comparable to those that eat a largely carnivorous diet.  The same studies have actually shown that reports of anemia are less in people that eat a vegetable and plant based diet, and those that are meat eaters tend to suffer from anemia more. 

Another phenomenon regarding people suffering from anemia has been found in distance runners.  There are more than thirty million distance runners in the United States.  Many of these individuals are suffering from a form of anemia that is not caused by diet or iron-deficiency.  Some experts credit this anemia to a diminished production of blood cells in bone marrow, a slower absorption of iron in the stomach, iron is lost in the sweat, blood is lost through the kidneys, or it could even be caused by the runner's feet hitting the ground so often.  This repetitive force on the feet, knees and legs can also destroy the blood cells.  While these are merely suggestions, there hasn't been a documented and proven cause for runner's anemia. 

There have been some recent studies that examine the stool of runners both before and after a long race or run.  It has been noted that there have been blood in the stools of the runners after the run that was not present before the vigorous exercise.  This can be explained by the simple fact that running for such a great distance will re-circulate the blood to the legs and the muscles that are doing the hard work for extended periods of time.  This can deprive the intestines of nearly eighty percent of their blood supply.  This causes the intestines to be under-nourished and deprived of oxygen.  During the vigorous exercise, the intestines can become frail and suffer from injury and begin to bleed because of the deprivation.

These studies have also noted that these runners that suffer from runner's anemia will not benefit from iron supplements.  Many runners will not simply give up their favorite sport (that has plenty of health benefits) because they are suffering from anemia.  It would be wise and prudent for the anemic runner to speak with their medical professional about how serious their anemia actually is.  They should also see their medical professional for routine examinations of their blood, to ensure that their anemia is not getting worse.  The medical professional may recommend that they switch to a less vigorous and demanding exercise or sport.  Running has many health benefits, but the runner suffering from anemia and iron-deficiency must decide whether marathons are worth the anemia. 

In all of our considerations regarding the cause of anemia, diet is the best natural home remedy, treatment and cure for anemia. 


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