Busting Iron Myths

Iron has always been a hot topic of discussion and it will always be. There is something about it that keeps people thinking or rather confused on what to eat, how to eat and what to avoid! As a result of this knowledge deficit, most over 30% of the world’s population has become deficient in this very important mineral [according to WHO-World Health Organisation].

So I thought let’s see what all foods people think are super rich in Iron, but sadly aren’t:

  1. Spinach: We all at some point in our lives have believed that spinach is a great source of iron. But that is simply NOT TRUE. Mr. Popeye had got it all wrong. Spinach has a compound by the name of ‘oxalates’ which binds with the little amount of iron present in it and inhibits it’s absorption in the body. Oxalic acid cannot be absorbed by the body. top-view-1248955_960_720Also, the confusion started because a scientist by the name of von Wolff forgot to correct a decimal error, leading to people mis believing that spinach was a rich source of iron! He certainly forgot to mention the low bio availability too. Sad! But nonetheless it being a green leafy vegetable is a great source of Vitamin A helping your skin glow and vision sparkly and at the same time making your immunity strong too! Much love to Vitamin A.

    2. Iron cooking pots: Many people think that cooking in an iron pot helps in transferring the iron from the vessel to the food one is making. It’s got to be a magical pot then!

    cooking-pot-165097_960_720Well, truth being, this was a ritual of an ancient era with no scientific backing. Moreover, cooking in such pots causes ‘Iron Toxicity’. So excess of anything is really bad so to say! Stay away from this myth, far far away!

     

    3. Milk: As a nutritionist it feels really odd when you hear people talking to each other and saying “have milk, your anemia would go away” and I’m left gaping at them and thinking what is wrong with this world!!milk-518067_960_720Milk has NO IRON. It is but an amazing source of Calcium, Protein, Vitamin A and essential fatty acids. So yes it will make you taller, stronger, and you always have some almonds walnuts and Sudoku puzzles to make you sharper! Yay!

    4. Beetroot: Someone has rightly said, “Everything that glitters is not gold”. A red coloured food, won’t necessarily make blood or iron in the body. It’s said [by most people, not us] that beetroot is a good source of iron. I really cringe when I hear that!beetroot-687251_960_720

    For a second even if I agree with you that it has some iron, but it’s of no use. Now the science behind that is, it contains a substance called “oxalic acid”, which interferes with the iron absorption in the body and hence it doesn’t even get absorbed! Came as a surprise didn’t that? But having said that, it musn’t stop you from having it! It’s rich in a number of antioxidants which help you in fighting from free radicles, is rich in zinc, phosphorus and gives a wonderful amount of fiber too!

     5. Apples- “An apple a day keep the doctor away”

    apple-1589874_960_720 It stands true in more respects than one. It’s rich in antioxidants, rich in cholesterol lowering fiber, has a good amount of Vitamin E and Vitamin C too. But, what it is not rich in, is Iron. We studied the process of rusting in class 5th or 6th which stated when an iron metal came in contact with air, it turned brown. They were talking about metal dearies, and not about the fruit! And it turning brown is related to something known as “enzymatic browning”.

    6. Bananas: Bananas are a great pre and a post workout meal and supply you with the requisite amount of energy that is required by the body during workouts.

    bananas-1642706_960_720 They help you through the muscle cramps, blood pressure, provide you good amount of potassium, magnesium, Vitamin B6 and Vitamin C as well. Though bananas are not rich in iron, due to the presence of Vitamin C only help in the absorption of iron.

    So many myths about so many foods, one really needs to know what is the real story. You have the right to know the foods that you have!

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Getting to the roots..

Iron deficiency anemia is the most common of all. To alleviate it, the Mother Nature has provided us with a lot of natural foods….let’s have a look at some of them:

  1. Lotus stem: Also known as “kamal kakdi”, its powdered form is highly rich in iron and has a high bio availability. It almost has 60.6 gms of iron and also is easily available in the market. The Kashmiri’s eat a lot of dishes made of this stem, also taking into account at the altitude they live at, they could be prone to anemia.
  2. Dates: Also called “khajur” is easily available in the Arab regions and has greatly made its presence felt worldwide. It consists of a plethora of minerals like selenium, magnesium, potassium, along with iron which is highly bio available.
  3. Raisins: This small and sweet dry fruit comes packed with the nourishing iron required in our daily life. This would also cut your craving for sweet unhealthy foods, keeping your weight in check. What more could one ask for!
  4. Figs: These small goblets called as “anjeer” for a part of numerous sweet dishes. One fig each day would take care of all symptoms of anemia.
  5. Prunes: Fondly called “Aalu Bukhara”, this small fruit is our another powerhouse performer. A half cup of prunes would provide you about 0. 81mg of iron, would contributing highly in aiding digestion, improving your bone health along with your vision as well.
  6. Dried Apricots: It is known to contain almost 15% of the daily iron requirement of the body. Its other benefits include it being good for the eyes, the heart and the digestive system as well.

 

Their are other sources that do provide good enough amount of iron, but these are the top 6 natural sources that would definitely get you results.

Like it is with medicines, they need to be taken before or after food, with our iron rich sources, citrus fruits like amla, orange, kiwi, guava are important so that the iron is easily absorbed.

Also, avoiding tea, coffee with the meals helps in further absorption of the precious iron in the body.

Anemia As We Know It!!

Now probably we are at a stage where we have heard the word anemia in all sorts of phrases and not just the medical sense.

Even though the numerous medical jargon’s tend to make our life difficult in a lot of ways, but somewhere, they are really required to actually make us sit and look up like really what they are.

Anemia is not just pallor or the pale color of your skin, even though that one little word helps us in defining it or maybe even noticing it, but has a deeper connection directly linking it to your well being per se. Medically, defined as the decrease in the number of red blood cells in the body. (RBC’s are our hero’s, and help in delivering a very important element i.e. oxygen to all parts of the body. Life really is difficult without it.)

The symptoms could be very slow setting or might set in at an unimaginably fast pace. Feeling weak, tired, (if you are reading this at the end of a very hard day, don’t worry, you are simply tired! Not anemic! Yay!!) , not being able to give your 100% while exercising are just simple generalized symptoms and the signals that the body is trying to give you. A fast setting in anemia might just make you feel dizzy (which you could be for a 100 other reasons as well, but here we do need to see the frequency as well), or a feeling of losing consciousness.

Its rightly said that your face is the mirror to your soul, or maybe whatever is happening in your body is immediately reflected on your face, but in this case a lot might have already happened inside the body till the time it actually reflects on your face.

So, getting to the point, it is very important that we listen to our body signals. The basic signals that a body gives during an anemic stress is a feeling of breathlessness, weakness, getting tired very easily, not being able to concentrate on work or studies, increased thirst and of course the color of our skin turns pale.

Now, a person could get anemic due to various reasons the major being loss of blood during a surgery, an accident, hookworm infestations and menstruation (especially in the case of women).  Diagnosis of anemia in men is based on haemoglobin (it’s our iron containing oxygen transporter) of less than 13 to 14 g/dL, while in women, it must be less than 12 to 13 g/dL. Further testing is then required to determine the cause.

The most common sort of anemia is iron deficiency anemia, in which a person is deficient in iron. So most people turn to iron pills, which do give results but for some, create bowel issues. But, instead of focusing on short and quick results, the only thing that would help us in the long run would be to turn towards our mother nature.

Nature has a cure for almost every imaginable disease. Instead of popping pills lets focus on the dietary aspect of your life. Is the food that you eat really rich in the important vitamins and the minerals that are really required for the proper functioning of the body?

Let’s look into it in the upcoming sections of the blog!!