Seventy years of independence yet 50 per cent of Indian women (maximum number in the world) are anaemic (blood haemoglobin level below 12g/dl) and this has serious implications on the present and future of our country. A lot of children would not have lost their mothers and a lot of mothers would not have lost their babies during deliveries if only, we were sternly concern about the haemoglobin levels of potential mothers and pregnant women. Our children especially adolescent girls would not be dropping school taking frequent leaves due to illnesses, having poor academic or sports performances, if they were counselled well for managing anaemia.
Haemoglobin & Anaemia
The saddest part of this reality is the management of anaemia, in most cases, the first advice any anaemic person receives is taking IFA (iron-folic acid) tablets. Both medical and diet therapy practitioners wrongly believe that the mere consumption of these tablets would solve things.
Though iron supplementation is an efficient tool especially in vegetarians and brings positive changes for a certain period of time, it is definitely not a sustainable solution.
Another common approach is recommending daily supplementation which causes bloating, constipation, diarrhoea and other complications, resulting in poor compliance and of course stagnant anaemic incidence. Enough scientific evidence suggests that weekly supplementation (once a week) is far more capable of correcting poor haemoglobin levels and maintaining greater compliance.
Constant headaches, frequent breathlessness, poor concentration, irregular/troubled periods, persisting unreasonable lethargy and fatigue, should not be taken lightly and random multivitamin consumption is not a science-backed remedy. Therefore, first of all, you must get your haemoglobin levels checked; take professional help for a balanced healthy diet and suitable appropriate supplements.
Remember that iron absorption requires other nutrients so if your diet is imbalanced/incomplete, tablets/syrup will not work. A diet rich in greens, salads, lemons, fruits, pulses, legumes, curd, milk, cottage cheese is helpful in maintaining better nutritional status.
How To Maintain Haemoglobin
Fresh fruit juices in case of anaemia help as they are a mega dose of vitamin C and polyphenols which are a facilitator of iron absorption and red blood cell production like, pomegranate and beetroot juice despite having very low iron content showed effective results in correcting anaemia. Dried lotus stem (powdered or whole) a power pack of iron can be used in pakodas, sabzi, atta etc.
Counting too many calories while being anaemic is not at all smart, your winter diet must be filled with jaggery laddoo, til laddoo, peanut chikki, kinnows, sarson ka saag, choulai (Amaranthus) saag. People from parts of Rajasthan and Punjab use fresh turmeric roots as their main course vegetable (haldi ki sabzi) during winters, a cultural way of storing iron in their body.
Sprouts (Moong chat, chana chat etc) are another means of increasing vitamin C and protein in your diet which is helpful in iron absorption.
Tea/coffee is our go-to buddies during office breaks, boring meetings, or ever needed refreshments, but do not make it a cause for your poor haemoglobin, so, stop taking them during, or right after your meals as they are well-known iron robbers.Your physical dimensions is not an indicator of your blood levels, irrespective of your appearance is thick, thin, slim, fat, tall, short, you can or cannot be anaemic.
Being weight conscious may be beneficial, but poor physical and cognitive performances should not be the cost for your perfect waist. Most importantly if you are planning your pregnancy do visit your health care professional "prior conceiving", nutritional status of the mother at the time of conception make a big difference in the outcomes. Anaemia may not be life-threatening in general but has been an indirect killer, it jeopardizes your quality of life and put you at risk of many complications, do take it seriously.