Anemia? Iron Boosting Tips!

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Iron is an essential mineral for growth and development because it helps the production of red blood cells. Unfortunately, iron deficiency is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies in the world. As many as two billion people have anemia and yet the signs of iron deficiency can be so mild that it goes unnoticed. Common symptoms of Iron deficiency include weakness, trouble concentrating, dizziness, pale skin, easy bruising and fatigue.

Iron Foods

 Well, the problem is many people aren’t getting enough iron from their diet. There are two types of iron in foods: heme iron and non-heme iron. Heme iron is found in animal foods and is best absorbed by the body. Good sources include red meat, liver, and turkey.

- Plant foods on the other hand supply non-heme iron, a form that's less well absorbed which is a shame for vegetarians but they are just as important when it comes to getting iron from your diet. Good sources include lentils, beans, pumpkin seeds & spinach.

Cast Iron Skillet

If you want to increase your iron levels, cooking in a cast iron skillet is a must. That said, it is important you specifically incorporate acidic foods such as tomato sauce, lemon juice, and vinegars to help dissolve the iron so that it is absorbed into the rest of the food that’s in your pan. As tempting as the prospect of throwing a slab of steak in the skillet, it won’t do you much good in fortifying it with iron. Use it for stir fries, scrambled eggs, sautéed vegetables and pasta sauces.

Vitamin C

The acidity of vitamin C converts iron in food to a form that's readily absorbed, that is why Vitamin C is often found in iron supplements Excellent sources of vitamin C include cantaloupes, citrus fruits, strawberries, bell peppers and Brussel sprouts.

Tannins

Interestingly, the foods you can eat influence not just how much iron you consume, but also how well you absorb it.  If you're a tea, coffee or wine drinker, drink it away fro meals. They contain tannins, compounds that bind iron & prevent its absorption.

Supplements

Most people respond well to taking iron supplements, which are ideally taken on an empty stomach to maximize iron absorption.  However, Iron is known to cause an upset tummy and if that’s the case for you, then its best when taken with food, especially of course if that food is Vitamin C rich. Make sure to avoid calcium within one to two hours of taking iron supplements as it can impair absorption and most importantly, be sure to take only the recommended dose of iron.

Be patient. It can sometimes take several months of increasing your iron intake before you see a noticeable increase in blood iron levels. Make sure to also see your naturopathic doctor and/or family physician to rule out if there is an underlying cause for your iron deficiency, heavy menstruation, crohn’s disease, and or iron depleting medications are just some reasons why you may not be increasing your levels of this important mineral.

Daylight Savings: Rules To Bounce Back

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Our bodies follow a 24-hour day pattern, and an hour's difference can disrupt the body's natural rhythms, potentially causing sleep deprivation, headaches, heart disease and other health hazards. Sleep is essential for good health and yet I don’t think we fully appreciate it as many of us are already sleep deprived, so losing that additional hour of sleep can become a significant problem.

Stick to the Routine

We all have bedtime routines that we follow. Stick to the routine. The early bird gets the worm, adequate preparation goes a long way in ensuring that you are well rested. That said, your sleep environment can go a long way in triggering your readiness for sleep so make sure to invest in it.

Power down

Your bedroom isn't much of a sleep sanctuary if smartphones, electronics and television are brightening up your bedroom. They emit blue light, which is what fools your body into thinking its daytime, thereby prevents you from getting that quality sleep. 

Don't force it. 

If the body isn’t ready to fall sleep, there's little point in stressing over it, get out of bed and enjoy a relaxing activity. Sleep is like a train that comes on a schedule. If you miss one train you have to wait for the next one to arrive and it won't get there any quicker by tossing and turning and getting frustrated.

Recover with Sunshine

With the loss, there comes a gain. More Sunshine, and that is especially important for us Vancouverites that live in the Northern Hemisphere. Sunshine provides us with Vitamin D and it sets our circadian rhythm, a type of biological clock that determines our sleepiness and wakefulness over a 24-hour period. Our bodies respond to light so the very best thing you can do for your body’s rhythm is to wake up the same time every day and immediately give yourself five minutes of sunshine exposure. That will set your rhythm and help you bounce back from daylight savings.