Until last week I have never even thought about doing a blood test. I have generally felt great for years and have been very energised and active. Especially in the last 5 years when I upped my fitness game getting into running, gym, cycling every day and integrating pretty consistent yoga practice (at least in the winter). This winter though I have started feeling very tired. Even smallest things seemed to take a massive effort (I’m talking brushing my hair in the morning or even thinking about what I’m going to wear in the morning). I felt like I was surviving every day doing the bare minimum and having absolutely no motivation for any exercise.
And to add to that I have been feeling so cold I now carry a thin, but very warm blanket with me everywhere in case I need and that extra layer. I drink litres of hot water through the day and hot water bottle became my best friend. Yes, my feet are freezing, my hands are blue and I just about have enough energy to get myself to work and back. This felt like the longest winter and it took everything out of me to get out of bed some days.
I decided to investigate why I’m feeling so crappy and not feeling myself at all. Apart from the physical issues, it’s upsetting not being able to meet my friends because I just didn’t have the energy to go anywhere. Same with my projects. I’d love to get back to making videos and create more recipes, but no energy means little to no inspiration. It was the time to do something about it.
The first thing I did was I went to an Ayurvedic doctor in Brighton, which was recommended to me by many of my friends. The Vedic way of doing things seems to bring incredible benefits to my life and Ayurvedic pulse reading has been on my list to do for ages and now I have been given a reason to go. They say there are two motivators in life – pain and pleasure. Prevention is not always a good enough reason for us to look after ourselves and we have to experience pain before taking the first steps. I have now been taking some supplements for a month and have noticed some improvements, however I have been recommended by a couple of friends to also do a blood test and check for deficiencies.
Ayurveda works holistically and it has been cleaning and clearing toxins and mucus from the body, which has already resulted in a change of my pulse, even after a month! It is improving my digestion and hence helping the body to absorb nutrients better.
My blood tests, however showed that I am deficient in iron. So now I am on a mission to introduce more iron in my food and also take food state iron supplements combined with vitamin C and probiotics for better absorption. I got mine here.
To investigate the matter further I have gone to my favourite resource for all nutrition questions – Dr Michael Greger from Nutritionfacts.org. He always puts the information together so brilliantly and all of his data is research based saving all of us time-pressed humans who will never go through mountains of academic studies (let alone understand and draw any conclusions) the hassle.
I am going to summarize the iron situation in a simplest possible way. And if you want to watch the video I’m talking about you can find it here.
It is commonly thought that those who eat plant-based diets may be more prone to iron deficiency, but it turns out that they’re no more likely to suffer from iron deficiency anemia than anybody else. This may be because not only do those eating meat-free diets tend to get more fiber, and magnesium, and vitamins like A, C, and E; they also get more iron. But the iron found in plants is non-heme iron. Those eating meat-free diets don’t get any of the heme iron found in blood and muscle, which may be a good thing. The avoidance of heme iron may be one of the key elements of plant-based protection against metabolic syndrome, and may also be beneficial in lowering heart disease risk.
It’s recommended by the UK’s Department of Health that adults receive between 8.7mg – 14.8mg a day dependent on factors such as menstruation. And for vegan women it’s 18mg a day. Good plant sources of iron include dried fruits, whole grains (including wholemeal bread), nuts, green leafy vegetables, potatoes, seeds and pulses. Other foods rich in iron but which are usually eaten in smaller amounts include soya, some flours, parsley, watercress, dark chocolate, black molasses and edible seaweeds. You need to include foods rich in vitamin C to help your body absorb the iron in your meals.
I am going to list the best sources of plant-based iron in my next post together with a recipe full of high-iron foods.
Let me know in the comments if you ever had a vitamin or mineral deficiency and how long did it take you to balance it out? I am interested to hear your stories!
Have a beautiful day, Marina x