A person has anemia when the concentration of hemoglobin or the ability to carry oxygen in the blood is lower than usual. The deficiency of hemoglobin can be a consequence of a reduction of erythrocytes or of the decrease of hemoglobin within them.
Incidence and Types
Anemia is a disease that affects more than 24% of the world population. Preschool children and women who are not pregnant are the social groups with the highest incidence. There are different types of anemia that differ according to their origin:
- For blood loss
- Due to excessive destruction of erythrocytes
- Due to an alteration in the production mechanism of erythrocytes (due to lack of iron, vitamin B12, folic acid or vitamin C)
- Anemias derived from other diseases (infections, cancer, cirrhosis ...)
In this article we will focus on two types of "nutritional anemias" that appear as a consequence of inadequate intake of certain substances.
The body needs a certain amount of iron when and if not ingested in sufficient quantity, causes iron deficiency anemia. It is frequent that this type of anemia arises during menstruation, in multiple pregnancies or in ulcers. In the case of the youngest, iron deficiency anemia appears due to a lack of iron during the growing season. The most frequent symptoms are fatigue, dyspnea on exertion and pale nails and mucous membranes.
The treatment is based on the oral administration of iron, the problem is that sometimes the body does not absorb iron ingested. For this there are substances such as ascorbic acid although they have some side effects such as diarrhea, nausea or constipation. The positive side is that in a short time it is possible to recover the concentration of hemoglobin.
In contrast, when anemia is caused by a lack of folic acid, oral folate treatment is recommended. This type of anemia occurs mainly in pregnant women and infants, although it also usually manifests in patients with liver disease or on dialysis.. People who suffer from it feel fatigue, irritability and dyspnea.
Whatever the type of anemia, it is very important to keep in mind that a varied and balanced diet can improve the situation without resorting to pharmacological treatment. In addition, although the degree of absorption of iron depends on the initial levels that the person has, there are a series of practices that should be followed by those with anemia to reduce the effects:
- In the first place, it is important to know how to distinguish heme iron, provided by food of animal origin (meats, fish, poultry and seafood) and non-heme iron of vegetable origin (grains, vegetables and fruits), since the capacity of absorption of the latter is worse.
- Promotes the consumption of foods such as nuts and seeds, red meat, egg yolk or seafood among others. See attachments.
- Keep in mind that there are components that favor the absorption of iron such as vitamin C, fructose, citric acid, proteins (especially amino acids such as lysine, histidine, cystine or methionine)
- Avoid or reduce the consumption of foods that contain oxalic acid (spinach) tannins (coffee, tea), phytates (cereal wrapping fiber), or situations of lack of certain vitamins, excess of certain minerals or insufficient protein.
- Whole grains have more iron, vit B12 and folic acid than refined ones but due to its phytate content it is recommended not to abuse.
- Among the ideal desserts are citrus fruits for their contribution of vitamin C or dairy since they improve the absorption of folic acid.
- When you consume vegetables it is good to add some potato or rice to improve the quality of the protein and pepper or orange juice / kiwi in dessert for its vitamin C.
If you want to enjoy a good state of health, make a good diet, varied and balanced with a moderate consumption of all food groups. It will help you prevent health problems and keep you at a healthy weight. Use a specialist such as the Dietitian-Nutritionist if you want to improve your habits .