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Helping Vegans Overcome Anemia. Iron deficiency got you down?

Author: Rebecca CardenJuly 27, 2017

helping vegans overcome anemia

Helping vegans overcome Anemia has become a bit of a pet project of ours because it really can suck the life out of you if you let it. Truly. Yet we can be so flippant and disregarding of it. 'Oh I've always had low iron' is what we often hear people say.

Iron is one of the few nutrients where a deficiency both immediately affects your health and is totally detectable. Few people realise just how dramatically a deficiency can impact our cognitive function and brain development as well as our physical capacity to simply operate and function well during our day.

Rates of anemia around the world are on the rise and some would argue that this is the result of more people swinging towards a vegan diet, not managing it properly in a nutritional sense and thus becoming deficient.

The WHO reports that iron deficiency is the most prevalent nutritional deficiency worldwide affecting 25% of individuals globally which is over 1.6 billion people. In India…over 55% of the female population and 75% of children are dangerously iron deficient to the point of disability.  It’s having a massive impact on productivity levels, 20% of maternal deaths were caused by it and IQ’s are underdeveloped as a very sad byproduct.

India is largely a vegetarian continent. Even though a vegetarian diet contains as much dietary iron as a non-vegetarian diet, an abundance of research has shown that animal-based iron (Heme Iron) is better absorbed (15-40%) than plant-based iron (Non-Heme Iron) (1-15%).

Which brings us to our point- we are receiving quite a number of emails from new and existing Vegan and Vegetarian customers stating that their iron levels are very low and they are under doctors orders to start including red meat again much to their dissapointment.

To those of you that have reached out to us recently- get onto our Vegan Bone Broth asap as a daily blood building protocol that will help support your system and energy levels. 

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In a recent study published, of the participants included- ALL Vegetarian/ Vegan individuals were anemic. 60% were mildly anemic and 40% were moderately anemic.

How do we fix this?

We owe it to not only ourselves but to society as a whole to function at our peak and thrive instead of surviving. That’s how positive community change occurs. Great people, feeling great, using our brains to think creatively and affecting positive outcomes. 

Getting through your day feeling tired, sluggish, lethargic, weak, brain fogged and confused is not what we want for you or our communities.

Let’s give you some pointers ok as helping vegans overcome anemia is the name of this game…. ** Eat plenty of kidney beans, lentils, kale and all other dark leafy greens (lightly cooked in fat is best), cabbage, broccoli, almonds and cashews, quinoa, prunes, blackstrap molasses, pepitas and sea veggies!!

** Start taking Moringa powder daily!! With 28mg of iron per 100g this stuff packs a seriously heavy punch. Add it to your smoothies, bliss balls or your fav green smoothie recipe.

BUT- that’s not enough…….

It’s all about how well we absorb iron, not how much we eat.

1. Making sure you add a squirt of lemon juice to every meal or some form of Vitamin C will enhance your non heme iron absorption by up to 5 times.

2. Avoid coffee or tea around meal times as the tannins present inhibit iron absorption.

3. Spinach is rich in oxalates that again, blocks iron absorption. Go easy and try to minimise eating it raw. Cooking spinach reduces the oxalate content but it’s water soluble so ditch the water if you are blanching or sautéing it ok.

4. Calcium blocks iron absorption so it’s best to keep your tofu and other soy products away from your iron super foods.

5. Look after your gut health. An irritated or inflamed gut is going to have trouble absorbing the goodness from any food you eat. Include plenty of fermented foods and glutamine rich foods such as those present in our vegan bone broth.

6. Medications that reduce the amount of acid in the stomach such as antacids or proton pump inhibitors can greatly impair your ability to absorb iron.

7. Be mindful of pyhtates such as those found on the outer layers of legumes, grains and nuts. Always properly prepare them by soaking with seaweed or activating before use.

By following these principles, eating good sources of iron throughout the day and keeping up with the absorption principles above….you are doing all you can to overcome anemia and maintain good healthy levels of iron in your body.All of that said, if you have any iron-deficiency symptoms, please don’t ignore them. 

We definitely recommend getting blood work done by your GP in conjunction with your Naturopath and organise a plan of attack to get you feeling full of beans again

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