Baby steps: Attitude and habits to fight anemia

Although my current quest is to understand (after decades of life existence) my cerebral palsy, recent bloodwork has shown that my body continues to flirt with anemia. I see my doctor at the end of the month.

It is time.

The last two years have been stressful— the dissolution of my marriage, a job that threatened my emotional wellness, helping teenager two, raising my own teenager, the pandemic, and the menagerie. This time frame has posed challenges and offered delights.

But the heavy fatigue I feel in my bones is not the change to a second shift schedule nor is it due to working in a warehouse with my disability.

I was diagnosed with anemia circa 2009-2010. My daughter was in kindergarten. I survived a stint in non-profits then, in a position that drove me to panic attacks.

Very similar to my situation today. Hopefully I have learned from my mistakes.

Emotional eating has been a huge part of my existence and unemployment may have also caused my nutritional habits to plummet. And now my body feels the loss.

My largest downfall— not including the impulsive fast food buys and late night junk food binges— is not liking fruit. Not a big fruit person. That brings me to anemia tip #1:

Vitamin C helps the body process iron.

Pair iron-rich foods with fruit or vitamin C laden fruit juice. Example: cream of wheat with fresh strawberries.

Symptoms of anemia, by the way, include mixing up words, not being able to move your body as quickly as you are used to, and fatigue not lifted by caffeine, sleep or sugar. Your nails can pale. Your hair can weaken. I also have increased balance issues.

So I am now recommitted to improving my eating habits. Luckily, a lot of my favorite foods are iron rich. I believe that’s my body saying I need more iron.

But I am not a big carnivore and typically people turn to beef and other meats. I move more toward nettle tea, dark leafy greens, nuts and beans.

I also bought some liverwurst. I’m not a fan of “sausage” or organ meats, but it contains close to 30 percent of your daily iron and lots of coblamin, part of the B-vitamins, which promotes healthy red blood cells.

“Whole Foods” and lots of fresh vegetables provide nutrients your body needs.

I’m a fan of spinach and kale wherever I can add it, and like mentioned above, iron-rich nuts or beans can top many dishes.

And even though it seems impossible to function, it’s important to limit caffeine.

Reducing coffee consumption can allow your body to absorb more iron.

But when you’re in the throes of anemia, coffee becomes an IV fluid. So it’s a double-edged sword.

And it’s important to know your particular symptoms and take supplements if needed— talk with your doctor and find out what supplements will benefit you.

You can often tell by your bowel movements if you are taking too much iron. The more iron in your system, the darker and harder your stool becomes.

Supplements can help, and can increase the body’s stored ferritin. Note that the body will deplete vitamin D before iron, so vitamin D supplements often go hand-in-hand with iron.

Regular blood work, a healthy diet and the right supplements can get your body back on track but it often can take months to fully recover.

And if it’s summer, the heat will sap your remaining energy.

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