The following is a guest post from writer Zendaya Doyle. We connected recently because I was looking for more writers to contribute on health topics. As someone who is anemic, I found this very helpful! Enjoy 🙂
About 3 million Americans are diagnosed with anemia and millions more in the world. It’s the most common blood disorder characterized by the lack of healthy red blood cells in the body. It can be caused by the body’s inability to create an adequate supply of red blood cells, the destruction of red blood cells, or loss of blood. It goes without saying that red blood cells are important in one’s health!
The upside is that anyone with anemia can live a normal and healthy life by making certain lifestyle changes. This includes sticking to a healthy diet that’s rich with iron and other essential vitamins that stimulate the production of red blood cells. If you have been recently diagnosed with the disorder, the following are the food groups you need to incorporate into your diet:
Eating more vegetables is a must for staying healthy as an anemic. More specifically, you need to eat more leafy greens such as spinach, kale, and Swiss chard. If you don’t eat enough greens, try sneaking them into your morning energizing smoothie or a delicious salad! These are great for vegetarians who don’t get enough iron from eating a meatless diet. Health experts say that these are best paired with food rich in Vitamin C for better absorption of the iron found in greens. Squeeze a lemon into your salad, blend some berries into your smoothie, and eat oranges as a snack.
• Whole grains
Unrefined or whole grains are not only rich in fiber and antioxidants. It turns out, they also have high iron content especially when compared with processed grains. Amaranth, spelt, oats, and quinoa are some of the best grains to include in an anemic’s diet. These can be easily prepared in small rice cookers which are designed to cook a variety of grains to perfection. Cooking with grains can also allow for more versatility — a simple change in protein or dressing can turn the same type of grain into an entirely different and inventive meal.
Legumes are a food group consisting of different kinds of lentils, peas, and beans. They are some of the healthiest and flexible ingredients to cook with, vegetarian or not. To cook beans, for example, all you need is a trusty crockpot, some water or broth, and your favorite herbs and spices. They can be eaten as is or used for a variety of dishes, such as healthier burgers!
• Meat, poultry, seafood
If you’re not on a strict plant-based diet, you need to incorporate healthy animal protein to boost your body’s red blood cell production. Meat, poultry, and seafood are, of course, high in iron as well as Vitamin B12 that can combat anemia. According to nutritionists, the best sources are red meat, lamb, chicken, shellfish, tuna, and salmon. You can literally cook hundreds of creative and nutritious dishes from these protein sources, which also happen to be very rich in iron. For example, you can make lemon chicken in an Instant Pot, which also contains Vitamin C to help your body absorb the iron!
Living your life to the fullest when you have anemia is very doable. Make sure to include these food groups into your diet and you can remain healthy, energized, and happy!