UNDIAGNOSED ANEMIA: FIVE MILLION AMERICANS SUFFER
Feeling fatigued, out of breath, agitated; suffering from headache, nausea or loss of appetite, depressed or confused? Strange as it may seem you may be suffering from the insidious disease called the hidden hunger by The World Health Organization.
Anemia a more prevalent condition than most realize has a variety of underlying causes. Once the cause has been established, most forms can be easily managed. The key is not to allow it to go undiagnosed.
Regardless of the kind of anemia or cause the symptoms are pretty much the same. The symptoms are directly related to a low red blood cell count which reduces the amount of oxygen the blood can carry to the tissues. This is why the symptoms can be so varied and systemic.
Iron deficiency anemia is by far the most common form. Those most at risk are women of child bearing age, children with poor diets, cancer patients, patients using certain kinds of drugs and the elderly. Yet another large group of individuals suffering from iron deficiency anemia is the average middle aged American consuming a diet of junk food. A diet high in meat (a staple of the junk food dieter) does offset the risk of anemia, yet if food quality is so poor or appropriate enzymes and stomach juices are not present, meats will not be digested or absorbed and iron stores will be tapped until seriously reduced or depleted.
Anemia can also be an indicator of more serious diseases that need immediate attention. Hidden bleeding, a cause of anemia may be a symptom gastric ulcer disease, reflux esophagitis or various cancers, especially colon, stomach or intestinal.
Pernicious anemia most common in the elderly occurs from a lack of vitamin B-12. This important vitamin is not absorbed due to poor digestion of proteins. Injections of B-12 will quickly correct the symptoms and the individual can usually switch to a small tablet that dissolves under the tongue. If the cause of pernicious anemia is directly related to poor powers of digestion the better long term fix is a digestive enzyme that includes hydrochloric acid necessary for the digestion of proteins.
Milder forms of anemia related to poor dietary habits can be addressed with digestive enzymes containing hydrochloric acid, betaine and foods rich in iron. Although animal proteins are rich in iron, if your diet is already high in animal protein dont expect the consumption of more animal proteins will fix the problem. Vegetable sources of iron are easier on the digestive system and more available for absorption. Try some dark leafy green vegetables including kale, sea vegetables and parsley; pile some alfalfa sprouts on a sandwich, use broccoli, humus or cherries. Dont forget the beets. Although low in iron the iron stored in the lowly beet is highly usable by the body.
Other vitamins and minerals important for the absorption of iron are: a high quality balanced B vitamin, vitamin C, Folic acid, zinc, selenium, copper and vitamin E. Important as these supplements are, nothing will substitute for a high quality diet containing foods rich in iron.
If you think you are suffering from anemia your doctor can do a simple blood test that will correctly diagnose it. If you cannot afford to see a physician, many county health departments can do the appropriate screening. Unchecked anemia can lead to more serious illness. Dont let this hidden hunger rob you of your health. Till next time, Rebecca
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