In anemia, the number of red blood cells or the amount of haemoglobin (oxygen-carrying protein) in red blood cells is decreased. Common causes of anemia are excessive bleeding, decreased red blood cell production, and increased red blood cell destruction. There are several types of anemia: iron-deficiency anemia, pernicious anemia, sickle-cell anemia, and hypoproteinemic anemia (lack of protein in the blood), as well as certain vitamin-deficiency anemia’s such as B-12 and folic acid deficiency anemia. Certain bleeding disorders, such as profuse menstrual bleeding, bleeding hemorrhoids, or bleeding gums, can lead to anemia due to blood loss. Symptoms vary, but may include weakness, fatigue, pale skin, shortness of breath, and dizziness. Supplementing with certain vitamins, minerals, and herbs can aid the body’s production of red blood cells.
Diet is of the utmost importance in the treatment of anemia. Almost every nutrient is needed for the production of red blood cells, haemoglobin, and the enzymes, required for their synthesis. Iron should always be taken in natural organic form as the use of inorganic iron can prove hazardous, destroying the protective vitamins and unsaturated fatty acids. The common foods rich in organic iron are wheat and wheat grain cereals, brown rice; green leafy vegetables, cabbage, carrot, celery, beets, tomatoes, spinach; fruits like apples, berries, cherries, grapes, raisins, figs, dates, peaches and eggs.
Different types of anemia have different causes. In general, anemia has three main causes
- Blood loss:
- Gastrointestinal conditions such as ulcers, hemorrhoids, cancer
- Heavy menstruation
- Excessive uterine bleeding
- Body cannot produce enough red blood cells:
- Bone marrow or stem cell problems
- Vitamin B12 or folate deficiency
- Iron deficiency
- Destruction of red blood cells( Hemolytic anemia):
- Inherited blood disorders like sickle cell anemia or thalassemia
- Autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, sjogre’s syndrome
- Severe hypertension
- Severe burns
- Certain chemicals
- Advanced liver or kidney disease
- Others are infection, drugs, venom from spider or snake
- Rarely spleen enlargement
Common types of anemia:
- Iron deficiency anemia- Caused due to inadequate iron
- Vitamin deficiency anemia- Caused due to vitamin B12, folate deficiency
- Pernicious anemia is a condition in which vitamin B12 cannot be absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract.
- Aplastic anemia- Can be caused due to infections, radiations, chemotherapy, autoimmune diseases, exposure to toxic chemicals, leukemia
- Hemolytic anemia- Caused due to faster blood cell destruction than the replacement
- Inherited hemolytic anemias examples are sickle cell anemia & thalassemia. They are the genetic disorders which is caused by errors in the genes for hemoglobin.
- Other causes include infections, autoimmune disorders, few congenital abnormalities in the red blood cell, heart valves problems or aneurysms
- Anemia caused by other diseases- Chronic liver disease, Immune disorders, endocrine disorders
- Pale skin
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Cold hands and feet
Home Remedies for Anemia
- Apple: Take freshly prepared apple juice an hour before meals or just before retiring for the night and also don’t take anything for about half an hour after the juice.
- Beetroot: Take juice of beetroot which is an excellent remedy for anemia. Beet juice contains potassium, phosphorus, calcium, sulfur, iodine, iron, copper, carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins B1, B2, niacin, B6, C and vitamin P. With its high iron content, beet juice regenerates and reactivates the red blood cells, supplies the body with fresh oxygen and helps normal function of vesicular breathing.
- Currants: Soak 10-12 currants in water overnight. Remove seeds and eat them regularly for four weeks.
- Stinging nettle: Drink a tea made from 1-2 gm of nettle twice or thrice daily. Nettle leaf is beneficial in treating iron-deficiency anemia due to its high concentration of iron.
- Yogurt: Eat a cup of plain yogurt with 1/2 teaspoon turmeric on an empty stomach.
- Brewer’s yeast: Add 1 tbsp to cereals, salads or juices daily. Brewer’s yeast is a good source of iron as well as other essential nutrients.
- Dates: Eat 6-8 dates daily which help to increase iron level in blood.
- Dandelion root: Take 3-5 gm of dandelion root per day. Dandelions have relatively good levels of iron, vitamins, and also detoxifies the liver.
- Indian Gooseberry: Mix one tablespoon Indian gooseberry (amla) juice with a ripe mashed banana with one tablespoon honey, take this mixture twice a day.
- Spirulina: Take 2 gm of spirulina daily to stimulate the production of red blood cells from bone marrow.
Do’s for Anemia
- Eat iron-rich foods, such as beets, carrots, grapes, prunes, raisins, and steamed green vegetables like spinach, broccoli and kale.
- Eat foods rich in vitamin C such as orange, strawberries to increase the absorption of iron.
- Take vitamin B 12 which is a must for preventing and curing anemia. This vitamin is usually found in animal protein and especially in organ meats like kidney and liver. However, equally good alternative sources of vitamin B 12 are found in dairy products like milk, eggs and cheese. Peanuts, wheat germ and soybeans also contain some B 12.
- Drink pomegranate juice and cranberry juice.
- Drink copper water. Keep water in genuine copper glass overnight, and drink it in the morning. Copper is essential for the utilization of iron in the building of hemoglobin.
- Do deep breathing and light exercise like walking and simple yoga asanas which should be undertaken to tone up the system.
- Short sun bath is beneficial as sunlight stimulates the production of red blood cells.
Don’ts for Anemia
- Avoid drinking coffee, tea, soda and calcium-rich foods or drinks with meals containing iron-rich foods as they interfere in the absorption of iron from the food.
- Avoid chocolate and bran. Bran is high in insoluble fiber that traps and removes iron during digestion.
- Avoid hot, spicy and fermented foods.
- If you suspect you have anemia, see your doctor. Anemia isn’t something to self-diagnose.
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