Iron is an essential mineral that binds with hemoglobin and transports oxygen to your cells. Without this vital oxygenation throughout the body we can fall ill to disease and other uncomfortable symptoms. It is important to eat a well balanced diet that properly nourishes the bodies systems. Without proper nutrition or supplementing you may experience uncomfortable symptoms that will not reside until taken proper care of through diet and supplementing if applicable.
I want to mention that symptoms are little cues that our body communicates with us. It is up to us to take the time to tap into these cues/symptoms in order to start healing from there. I like to encourage people to be empowered and take back your health into your own hands. When you feel something is not right, take the time to look within and ask yourself and your body where you may need most support. Instead of seeking outwards to heal, look within first in order to understand the root of your suffering. If you need help or guidance with finding the root cause, we offer programs and guidance from RN Herbalist Mike Schmidt, and Integrated Health Coach Shelbi Miller. Helping you tap into your own healing powers and intuition as a means to heal ourselves as opposed to seeking a western medicine approach. There is a time and place for western medicine, but for the most part it is just a matter of self-reflection, evaluation, time, effort, self-study and dietary/lifestyle changes that can truly make a difference between optimal health and disease...
Some symptoms that may be experienced include:
Chronic fatigue or tiredness
Shortness of breath
Brittle nails and hair
Increased sensitivity to cold
Frequent headache or migraines
Restless leg syndrome
There are two types of iron sources:
Heme iron. This type of iron is very well absorbed in the body. However, it’s only found in animal foods, with red meat containing particularly high amounts.
Non-heme iron. This type, found mostly in plant foods It is not absorbed as easily into the body as heme iron.
Iron Rich Plant-Based Food
You want to ensure you're incorporating high iron foods such as: Legumes, tofu, tempeh, natto, soybeans, lentils, beans, peas, pumpkin, sesame, hemp and flaxseeds, cashews, pine nuts and other nuts, leafy greens, tomato paste, potatoes, mushrooms, palm hearts, prune juice, olives, mulberries, amaranth, spelt, oats, quinoa, coconut milk, chocolate and dried thyme.
Food Combining and Preparation
There are certain foods we can combine or remove from our meals to improve iron absorption as well as the way we prepare it.
1. Combining foods that are high in vitamin c can increase the absorbing or iron. Some foods that are high in vitamin c include; bell peppers, kiwi, broccoli, brussel sprouts, citrus fruits and strawberries.
Spinach salad with bell peppers, onion and tomatoes
Marinara sauce cooked with onions, garlic and bell peppers over spaghetti squash
2. Soak any dry foods such as your legumes an grains before preparing. Soak for at least 4 hours or preferably over night. This will lower the phytate acid in these foods that compromise iron absorption.
3. Avoid drinking liquids at meal time, especially tea and coffee as this can lower absorption up to 90%
Try hydrating 1-2 hours before and after meal times. If you need liquid during meals try sipping water.
4. Invest in a cast-iron skillet to cook your foods in. The iron from the skillet absorbs into the food you prepare.
If your body needs an extra boost of iron, you may want to look into a high quality iron supplement. However, keep in mind that supplementing iron can be dangerous and toxic if your body doesn't need the high dose. It is smart to consult your physician and run blood test before introducing an iron supplement.
If you feel you are deficient in iron, the first step is to integrate more iron through diet. If this isn't sufficient enough then go for an iron supplement. Be sure to keep your dosing small and don't take it indefinitely. Try supplementing for a week or so and then back off once you feel your symptoms have subsided. In other words, bring your body back into balance through supplementing and then maintain through diet.