Low Iron level is one of the most prevalent nutritional disorder!
Low iron level or sometimes iron deficiency is a common nutritional disorder affecting 2 billion people or 30% of the world’s population. Vegetarians, women, children, and developing countries population constitute the highest numbers suffering from it. A person suffering from iron deficiency has the most common symptoms of fatigue, tiredness, and lost interest/focus.
In our previous articles within this series, we covered topics on the identification of the symptoms of iron deficiency and also to learn about the major causes of iron deficiency. In this article, we will focus on the natural foods and lifestyle changes that you can employ to boost naturally boost your iron level and overcome related health issues. As always FOOD and LIFESTYLE go hand in hand and at Medhya we are here to help you in both ways, so learn more here!!
How to naturally boost your Iron level?
When looking at ways to increase iron level, then one needs to focus on increasing both iron INTAKE and iron ABSORPTION in the body. At any time naturally occurring foods or an iron-rich diet is a much better source of iron over synthetic supplements.
Synthetic sources cause peripheral health issues such as constipation, bloating, much lower absorption of iron, and possibly interaction with other health conditions. On the other hand, nature has provided a balanced state of nutrients in both plant and animal based sources leading to no peripheral impact and much better absorption of nutrients.
Intake of Iron-rich foods
Here are some examples of iron-rich foods that you can incorporate on your diet on regular basis to upkeep with your iron level requirements.
Beetroot contains calcium, iron, Vitamins A, C and folic acid. It is also a very good source of fibre, manganese, and potassium. Betacyanin is the pigment that gives beetroot its colour and has powerful antioxidant properties.
Dark green leafy vegetables such as moringa oleifera (drumstick leaves), curry leaves, collard greens, kale and spinach are good sources of iron. All these vegetables are packed with vitamins A, C and k, folate, & fibre along with Iron & Calcium to help increase the absorption of Iron.
Nuts are packed full of protein and are a good source of healthy fats, iron and anti-oxidants. Cashews help the body utilize iron, eliminate free radicals, develop bone and connective tissue, and produce the skin and hair pigment melanin.
Seeds Pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, cocoa seeds, have much higher iron content per gram basis when compared across a realm of foods. Regular intake of seeds either with meals or as snacks can help to replenish not only iron but other vital minerals too.
Learn about the benefits of seeds.
Legumes are high in iron, zinc, calcium, as well as an excellent source of protein for vegetarians. Hence, legumes and beans are considered a good replacement for red meat.
The liver is full of iron. It is generally prescribed as a cure to a low iron level related health issues. Liver contains a high level of vitamin A which is beneficial in a number of ways like preventing asthma in children, prevent kidney stones, and regulate blood sugar and fats.
Enhance iron absorption from meals
Apart from dietary intake, one should also focus on enhancing the factors that would increase iron absorption and avoiding factors that suppress iron absorption.
- Caffeine in the form of coffee and tea greatly reduces iron absorption. Additionally, high fibre, calcium, and eggs also suppress iron absorption. So, one should avoid combining their iron-rich foods with mentioned food products and take them at different times of the day.
- When suffering from low iron deficiency, avoid blood donation as it will further lower iron levels in the body.
- Stop or reduce taking antacids as they will further suppress iron absorption by reducing the acidity levels of the stomach.
- Vitamin C is well revered to enhance iron absorption, hence combining iron-rich foods with Vitamin C rich foods is an excellent step to ensure higher bioavailability of iron and boost your levels naturally. For example, take a glass of orange/berry juice, Amalaki juice/dry Amalaki, curry leaves, moringa leaves with your legumes would be great for vegetarians.