So, I had my yearly physical a week or so ago. Complete with blood tests, EKGs, etc.
I’m happy to report that all turned out very well – the only little thing is that my iron levels are a little low. It may not be sufficient enough to have to take an iron supplement – which is good, because I don’t like the effect those have on me (mind you, there are ways to mitigate that which I was too lazy to try).
So, I asked the doctor if I could try it through my diet. He agreed to let me give it a shot – we’ll test again in a few months.
So, I consulted with a few dietitians and my doctor. Apparently, it’s relatively easy to increase your iron intake by eating foods that are richer in iron.
To be responsible, I should say that this is my research, for me only – if you suspect you have an iron deficiency, get yourself and your levels checked. This isn’t medical advice.
Some really good sources of iron-rich foods include beef, pork, lamb, chicken and organ meat, like liver. In the case of chicken, the darker meat is richer in iron than white meat. You can also get iron from fish and seafood, like clams, oysters, shrimp and tuna.
On the veggie side, green leafy vegetables, nuts, dried fruit and iron-fortified foods like cereals and grains can boost your iron intake as well. If you’re going to eat these, though, try to consume more vitamin C, as it can help you absorb more of the iron in your foods. Coffee and tea can contribute to problems absorbing iron, too – so lay off the caffeine for a while.
I was surprised to learn the “whys” of iron importance – we need iron in our blood to make hemoglobin, which is what makes red blood cells red. Hemoglobin carries oxygen to your organs and muscles. Sometimes your brain’s neurotransmitters need iron, too, to help carry information from one nerve cell to the next.
So, the main advice I’m getting is to be smart with food choices – vary the iron-rich foods with foods that are higher in vitamin C. So, this week’s menu includes:
- Whole wheat pasta with spaghetti sauce made with ground chicken
- Chicken roll ups with spinach and broccoli
- Cereal with raisins
- Beef with lentils
I’ll keep you posted!