Anemia is a condition wherein a person does not have enough red blood cells. Not having enough blood cells means that a person’s organs are unable to receive sufficient oxygen in order to function normally.
Worldwide, 1.62 billion people or roughly 24.8% of the global population have some form of anemia. It mostly affects women and estimates put their number at 468.4 million worldwide. For the most part, the symptoms of anemia are mild. Initially, those with anemia may not display any symptoms, but as the condition worsens, they may experience:
- Fatigue (very common)
- Weakness (very common)
- Low body temperature
- Pale or yellow “sallow” skin
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat
- Shortness of breath or chest pain, especially with physical activity
- Brittle nails
- Pica (unusual cravings for ice, very cold drinks, or non-food items like dirt or paper)
Thankfully, anemia is a treatable and preventable condition. And there are a number of different ways of how to prevent anemia naturally that are simple, yet effective.
By following these tips, you can significantly lower your risk of developing anemia.
How to prevent anemia naturally? Just follow these tips!
Be mindful of your symptoms
One great tip on how to prevent anemia naturally would be to take note any peculiar symptoms you are experiencing.
If you notice blood in your stool, or if you have especially heavy menstrual periods which are out of the ordinary, it would be a good idea to talk to your doctor. These things could affect the level of iron in your body and lead to anemia if not addressed immediately.
Other health problems and illnesses such as malnutrition, kidney disease, cancer, and HIV can also cause anemia. So always take note of any strange goings on in your body, and be sure to talk to your doctor about it.
Change your diet
The most common type of anemia is what’s known as iron deficiency anemia. This is a type of anemia wherein the person lacks iron due to losing too much blood, being pregnant, or not having enough iron in the diet.
This means that the most straightforward and simple way of preventing iron deficiency anemia would be to eat foods that are rich in iron. These foods include dark green leafy vegetables, lean meat, chicken, beans, and fish. By adding a substantial amount of these iron-rich foods in your diet, you can lower the risk of developing anemia.
Eat more foods that help you absorb iron
Sometimes, eating foods that are rich in iron are not always enough. There are health conditions such as Crohn’s disease that can inhibit a person’s ability to absorb iron from the food they eat. This means that even if you are eating a diet that’s rich in iron, your body is unable to absorb enough iron from the food you are eating.
This is why it is also crucial to supplement your diet with foods such as oranges, strawberries, broccoli, and fruits and vegetables that are rich in vitamin C, as vitamin C aids in the absorption of iron.
Folate and B12 are also important when it comes to your body’s ability to make hemoglobin and healthy red blood cells. Folate can be found in dark leafy vegetables, and vitamin B12 can be found in animal products such as milk, chicken, and fish.
Take iron supplements
Some people might have food allergies or dietary restrictions that can limit their intake of iron-rich foods. In these situations, taking an iron supplement can help provide some much needed iron to their body.
Taking iron supplements can also add a boost of iron to your diet, and women who have particularly heavy periods can sometimes benefit from taking these supplements. However, it is important to note that the best way to acquire iron is still from your food, and it is not always enough to rely on supplements.
Your doctor may recommend iron pills to help build up your iron levels. It’s important to take note that taking iron pills can cause side effects, such as an upset stomach, constipation, and diarrhea. And if taken as a liquid, iron supplements may stain your teeth.
There are steps you can take to reduce these side effects:
- Start with half of the recommended dose. Gradually increase to the full dose.
- Divide your doses. If you take two pills daily, take one after breakfast and the other after dinner.
- Take iron with food.
- If one type of iron pill causes side effects, ask your doctor for another type.
- When drinking iron as a liquid supplement, aim it toward the back of your mouth to avoid staining your teeth. You can also brush your teeth after taking the medicine
Avoid certain food and drinks
Some food has been shown to impair iron absorption. For example, you should not take calcium and iron supplements at the same time. In addition, you may want to avoid or limit these items:
- Food items with tannin, like coffee, tea and some spices
- Egg whites
- Fiber; however do not eliminate fiber from your diets as it is essential to maintain healthy digestion and prevent constipation which may occur when you take iron supplements
- Soy protein
- Drinks with caffeine such as tea, coffee, and energy drinks. These can affect your body’s ability to absorb iron.
Pregnant women need to be especially mindful
Pregnant women especially need to be aware of how to prevent anemia naturally. This is because during the latter part of pregnancy, a woman’s body creates more red blood cells to provide for the mother and the baby, and the body needs iron to do so.
However, the body does not naturally create iron on its own. It depends on external sources such as iron-rich foods and iron supplements. If a pregnant woman does not have enough iron in her body, she might suffer from anemia as the body struggles to create more red blood cells.
This is why taking iron supplements is recommended for pregnant women. Folic acid supplements can also help not just with making hemoglobin and red blood cells, but also with making sure that the baby is developing normally.
If you are pregnant and you suspect that you might have anemia, be sure to increase your iron intake and talk to your doctor about your symptoms.
Some types of anemia can’t be prevented
Lastly, some types of anemia cannot be prevented. Some hereditary disorders, such as sickle cell anemia, can cause a person to have anemia, and there is no way to prevent it since it’s something that a person is born with. If you have hereditary anemia, consult your doctor on how best to treat your condition.
As always, it is important to be mindful of your symptoms, and to talk to your doctor if you feel that there is something wrong.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.