Managing anemia

Anemia is a blood condition characterized by an abnormally low red blood cell or hemoglobin count that disturbs oxygen supply to body cells and manifests itself as fatigue and tiredness in the inflicted. It can happen due to various reasons- genetic factors, natural conditions like menstruation and childbirth, slow, undetected loss of blood over a period of time, due to severe medical conditions and so on. To that extent, anaemia or anemia is much more a manifestation of different conditions than a disease in itself; and hence ways of managing anemia would differ from case to case- depending on what your trigger really is. However, certain lifestyle and diet patterns can benefit anemia patients to stay healthy- take a look.

Managing anemia through diet

When you talk of anemia, the most important nutrients that need to be consumed are iron, folic acid and vitamin B12. Vitamin C is also required because it helps the body absorb iron completely. While you may consult your doctor and consider supplements, it is always a good idea to derive these nutrients from your daily diet.

Also, if you’re keen on managing anemia with diet, it pays to know that eating several small meals throughout the day benefits your body more than two or three big meals.

Anemia foods to eat

Since most grain products in the United States are fortified with folic acid, you can get your dose of folic acid from foods such as pasta or breads. While it is important to eat a lot of fruits and green veggies, dark leafy greens and legumes (they are a rich source of iron), remember that a vegetarian diet does not provide adequate vitamin B12. An adequate amount of vitamin B12 is also needed for iron absorption- so you may consult your doctor regarding the need for supplements. Try eating more high-energy foods like pulses and sprouted seeds- avoid in excess, drinks like tea and coffee and some foods like eggs and milk that may block iron absorption. Beets are a wonder veggie- while they will not prevent anemia, they can increase oxygen uptake in red blood cells by 400%. Finally drink lots of water and keep yourself well hydrated.

Anemia and exercise

Studies show that exercising, in moderation, can go a long way to reduce depression, promote sleep quality and boost energy. The catchword is ‘in moderation”. Since anemia often tends to tire you out hopelessly and increases the body’s iron requirements, over exercising may get unreasonably demanding on your heart or other organs, which in turn could be harmful. Try indulging in some light exercise every day- start with a 15 minute walk, and then slowly and gradually take up activities like swimming, biking, step aerobics, yoga etc- whichever form of exercise you enjoy.

Anemia and sleep

It is important to get a good night’s sleep- eight hours of quality sleep is ideal. Exercise and maintaining a regular schedule through the day ensures you get good quality sleep at night. If you face problems like diarrhea, neck lipo, pain or unusual dreams that interfere with your sleep, consult your doctor.

In general, lifestyle precautions include limiting or completely stopping habits such as smoking, drinking alcohol or consuming illegal drugs. Certain non-prescription drugs or natural remedies may also adversely affect anemia patients. It is hence advisable to consult your doctor before taking any herbal o nonprescription drugs.

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