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What is Anaemia?


Anaemia is the term used for abnormally low levels of hemoglobin (Hb) in the blood. This is usually an impact from consumption of refined foods and is among the most common diseases affecting human beings. Hemoglobin is the red, iron-containing pigment that is stored in red blood cells. About half of the blood flowing in our veins and arteries consists of red blood cells, which carry oxygen from the lungs to all of the body’s tissues.

Tissues need oxygen to function, enabling them to 'burn' sources of energy (such as glucose) for work such as muscle contraction, production of secretions, conduction of nerve impulses, etc.

Approximately, one trillion new blood cells are formed daily in the bone marrow. The raw materials required in the production of these cells are iron, proteins and vitamins, especially folic acid and vitamin B12. Of these, iron and proteins are essential in building up the red coloring matter, called hemoglobin.

There are many causes of anaemia, but in all cases, red blood cells are lost more rapidly than they are replaced. Red cells live approximately 120 days and are being destroyed and replaced daily. The normal concentration of hemoglobin in the blood is 16 g/dl for men and 14 g/dl for women. Anaemia is a condition when hemoglobin concentration drops below 14 g/dl for men or 12 g/dl for women.

Symptoms of Anaemia:

1 Feeling of tiredness, lack of stamina, pale skin.

2 There is associated light-headedness, shortness of breath on slight exertion, palpitation of heart and chest pain.

3 Complaints of weakness, fatigue, lack of energy and dizziness are common among anaemic symptoms.

4 Jaundice, which causes a yellowing of the skin, can be present, if the anaemia is due to breakdown of RBCs (Red Blood Corpuscles).

5 The skin and mucous membranes look pale, the nails appear brittle and there may be sores at the corners of the mouth.

6 Other symptoms include a haggard look, premature wrinkles, dull and tired looking eyes, poor memory and headache; slow healing of wounds, and mental depression are signs to look out for.

Causes of Anaemia:

Lack of nutrition and a balanced diet are one of the key reasons that result in anaemia. Here we list some of the most common causes that contribute to an anaemic condition:

1 Low formation of red blood cells in the bone marrow, either due to defects in the bone marrow itself or to an inadequate intake of iron, vitamins and protein, is one of the main causes of anaemia

2 Intestinal parasites or worms are yet another cause of anaemia. Hookworms, pinworms, roundworms and tapeworms feed on the supply of blood as well as the vitamins. Symptoms of intestinal worms are itching at the rectum, restlessness during night with bad dreams, diarrhea, foul breath, dark circles under the eyes and a constant desire for food. Garlic, fresh papaya and grated raw carrot can help overcome some types of intestinal parasites.

3 Dietary lack of iron is the most common cause of anaemia, because the body needs iron to make hemoglobin.

4 Lack of vitamin B12 or folic acid in the diet can also cause anaemia. Infections, drugs, or other diseases can destroy RBCs.

5 Bleeding due to injury, bleeding piles or excessive menstruation are probable causes of anaemia.

6 Inherited diseases like thalassaemia, cancer and leukaemia can also cause anaemia.

7 Emotional strain, anxiety and worry which hinders the production of hydrochloric acid, which is needed for digestion of iron and proteins in the body, could also lead to anaemia.

How to tackle anaemia?

1 Iron tablets taken after meals to avoid an upset stomach.

2 Vitamin B12 or folic acid also can be given in tablet form. It is advisable to take the medication as prescribed.

3 Eating well-balanced meals, three or four times a day. Meats, fish, and poultry are iron rich foods. Other foods high in iron include raisins, sweet potatoes, beans, green peas, pulses, enriched cereals and breads and green leafy vegetables.

4 Females, particularly those with heavy menstrual periods, must have a higher intake of iron to prevent anaemia.

Dietary Treatment:

Diet is of the utmost importance in the treatment of anaemia. Refined foods like white bread, polished rice, sugar and desserts rob the body of the much-needed iron. Iron should always be taken in its natural organic form in food, as the use of inorganic iron can prove hazardous. Intake of inorganic iron may cause destruction of protective vitamins and unsaturated fatty acids, serious liver damage, miscarriage during pregnancy and delayed or premature births.

Diet for anaemia:

1 The diet should be predominantly alkaline. The emphasis should be on raw fruits and vegetables, which are rich in iron. Iron rich vegetables are spinach, green onions, squash, carrots, radishes, beets, celery, yams, tomatoes and potatoes (with jackets).

2 Fruits rich in iron include bananas, apples, dark grape, apricots, plums, raisins and strawberries. Bananas are particularly beneficial as they also contain, besides easily assailable iron folic acid and vitamin B- 12 both of which are extremely useful in the treatment of anemia.

3 Other iron-rich foods are whole wheat, brown rice, beans, soyabeans, sunflower seeds, molasses, eggs and honey. Honey is also rich in copper, which helps in iron absorption. The diet should also be adequate in proteins of high biological value such as milk, homemade cottage cheese and eggs.

4 Vitamin B-12 is a must for preventing or curing anemia. This vitamin is usually found in animal protein and especially in organic meats like kidney and liver. Consumption of meat comes with its own set of disadvantages as all meats are becoming increasingly dangerous due to widespread diseases in the animals, which are slaughtered. Other equally good sources of vitamin B 12 are the various dairy products like : milk, eggs and cheese.

5 Wheat germ , peanuts and soyabean also contain some B l2. Vegetarians should include adequate amount of milk, milk products and eggs in their diet. For prevention of anaemia it is essential to take the entire b complex range which includes B-12 as well as the natural foods mentioned above. Eating lacto-ovo products which are complete proteins containing vitamin B-12 is good insurance against the disease.

6 A liberal intake of ascorbic acid is necessary to facilitate absorption of iron. At least two helpings of citrus fruits and other ascorbic acid rich foods should be taken daily.

7 Mention must be made of beets, which are extremely important in curing anaemia. Beet juice contains potassium, phosphorus, calcium, sulphur, iodine, iron, copper, carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins, B2, niacin, b6 C and vitamin p. With its high iron content beet juice regenerates and reactivates the red blood cells and supplies the body with fresh oxygen.

Anemia diet plan

Anemia. A decrease in the number of red blood cells leads to a condition called anemia. Red blood cells play a very important role by carrying oxygen to various organs and tissues. Anemia leads to a decrease in oxygen flow through the body. This, in turn, can hamper the function and growth of various important organs such as heart, stomach organs, lungs, and the nervous system. Hemoglobin is the protein in red blood cells that acts as an oxygen transporter. Some individuals may suffer from a low hemoglobin count, indicating anemia. There are many forms of anemia, namely, iron deficiency anemia, sickle cell anemia, vitamin deficiency anemia, thalassemia, and aplastic anemia. As such, there are over 400 different types of anemia. Anemia maybe caused due to certain deficiencies and maybe fixed by including those ingredients in your anemia diet plan or through supplements. Some individuals may suffer from a family history of anemia and maybe at an increased risk of contracting the condition. In such cases, following certain precautionary measures and maintaining an anemia diet plan may help.

Anemia symptoms: If you are suffering from anemia, remember that aneamia may indicate both causes and symptoms of other medical conditions that you may not be aware of yet. Some anemia symptoms include

•   Constant fatigue or tiredness, loss of energy and alertness.
•   Foul breath.
•   An anemic patient may display symptoms such as pale skin. As a result, dark circles are a common feature of anemia. Due to pale skin, the delicate skin under the eyes looks darker.
•   Your doctor may recommend an eye tissue test to determine anemia symptoms through an eye examination. Your doctor may lower the skin just beneath the eyes. The color on the lower skin lining is used to determine signs of anemia in eyes. A red tone indicates healthy red blood cells, while a pale lining indicates anemia.
•   Other anemia symptoms may reveal poor eyesight. For individuals suffering from vitamin deficiency related anemia, eyes and eyesight health may deteriorate over time.
•   Some patients may complain of shortness of breath due to lack of oxygen supply to the lungs. For the same reason, anemic patients may also complain of dizziness or giddiness.
•   An irregular heartbeat and chest pain may indicate anemia.
•   Sudden headaches.
•   Cold and clammy hands and feet.

Different types of anemia may feature symptoms such as tingling sensation on the skin, lack of concentration, cognitive disorders, indigestion, or constipation problems. Anemia symptoms in men may occur when the hemoglobin count lowers to below 13.5 gram/100 ml, while women may show signs of anemia when the hemoglobin count is less than 12 gram/100 ml.

Anaemia causes and treatment: Hemoglobin in the red blood cells carries oxygenated blood from the lungs to various organs and brings carbon dioxide back to the lungs. The bone marrow produces these red blood cells at regular intervals, replenishing old or dying cells. A healthy, varied diet offers the body essential nutrients such as iron, proteins, vitamins, and minerals, which act to produce healthy red blood cells. In the absence of a well balanced diet, an individual may suffer from anemia. A shortage of iron in your body may cause iron deficiency anemia. This is the most common form of anemia and affects almost one to two percent of the adult population. Iron is an essential component for the bone marrow to produce oxygen-carrying hemoglobin. An absence of iron in your diet may lead to anemia. However, certain conditions may not allow optimum absorption of iron causing a deficiency.

What food robs iron from the body? Foods such as whole grains and bran, soy products, red wine, coffee and tea, vegetables such as spinach, chard, beet greens, rhubarb and sweet potato act as inhibitors for iron absorption. An iron deficiency anemia diet plan may curtail or prohibit you from eating these iron-inhibiting foods. Your body needs vitamins such as B 12 and folates to absorb iron and produce red blood cells. An anemia diet plan should be proficient in these vitamins and nutrients. A vitamin deficiency will hinder your body’s process to produce healthy red blood cells and hemoglobin, causing vitamin deficiency anemia. Other causes of anemia are as follows:

•   Kidney disorders and kidney failure often manifest as anemia in their early stages.
•  Certain fatal diseases such as HIV/AIDS, cancer, Crohn’s disease, and other inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis may affect your body’s potency to produce healthy red blood cells, thus leading to chronic anemia.
•   Aplastic anemia and other autoimmune disorders may result in lower levels of white and red blood cells and platelets, which help to clot the blood.
•  Cancer of the bone marrow and different types of cancer such as leukemia or tumors may obstruct the body from producing cancer and disease fighting red blood cells. In some cases, it may dangerously shut down all blood making process with fatal consequences.
•   In some cases, red blood cells are destroyed before newer blood cells can replace them leading to a condition called hemolytic anemia. Autoimmune disorders and even certain medications may fight your body’s own red blood cells destroying them.
•   Sickle cell anemia has been diagnosed as an inherited disease. The red blood cells taken on an abnormal semi circle (or sickle) shape and die prematurely lowering the red blood cells in the body.
•   Mutant and defective hemoglobin are also responsible for conditions such as thalassemia.
•   Anemia causes in men may follow any of the above-mentioned causes, while women are at a greater risk of anemia during pregnancy, menstruation and menopause. Anaemia causes in men may relate to the abuse of alcohol, which is an iron absorption inhibitor.
•   A vegetarian diet low in iron, proteins, vitamins, and other essential minerals may also cause anemia. Your doctor may recommend the intake of vital supplements to cancel the risk of anemia in vegetarians or vegans. Poor diet in general is a major cause of anemia. Young children, older individuals, sick or convalescing patients, pregnant or menstruating women must pay careful attention to an anemia diet plan.

Anemia diet plan: Before you follow an anemia diet plan, consult your doctor about your anemia symptoms and causes. Anemia treatment may require medication and intake of supplements, depending on the specific cause or disease. However, you may be able to prevent anemia through a healthy diet and lifestyle. Consume foods that are rich sources of iron. Beef and other meats provide plenty of protein and iron. If you follow a vegetarian diet, ensure that it contains iron rich foods such as dried beans, various lentils, nut and nut butter or oil, dry fruits such as walnuts, almonds, and pecans, and dark leafy vegetables. Your doctor may also recommend that you consume iron fortified cereals and other products.

Vitamin B 12 found in meat and diary products, folates in citrus juices and fruits such as orange, cantaloupe, strawberries, grapefruit and banana, and vitamin C from melons and berries are all essential for an anemia diet plan to succeed. In some cases, it may be essential to consume iron or vitamin supplements. However, talk to your doctor about the need for supplements, their daily intake requirements, and any side effects. While a genetic cause for anemia maybe difficult to prevent, common causes such as iron and vitamin deficiency maybe addressed through a well balanced diet.

Submitted on January 16, 2014