20 Easy Ways to Increase Haemoglobin Without Medication
From lethargy and pale skin to dizziness and organ damage, low haemoglobin levels can pose several health hazards. But the good news is that there are ways to raise the count of haemoglobin in your blood, without any medication. Haemoglobin, an iron-rich protein present in red blood cells, is responsible for transporting oxygen from the lungs to the body’s tissues. It also helps carry carbon dioxide from the cells back to the lungs. The normal levels of haemoglobin in the body range from 14-18 g/dl (grams per decilitre) in males and 12-16 g/dl in females. If the levels drop significantly, the condition may be diagnosed as anaemia. Fatigue, shortness of breath, dizziness, headaches, pale skin, rapid heartbeat and poor appetite are among the first signs of low haemoglobin. It is a common occurrence among women during pregnancy and menstruation. In some cases, the cause could be cancer, kidney problems, arthritis, diabetes, stomach ulcers, or diseases affecting the bone marrow. Blood loss during surgery or blood donation can also upset the haemoglobin count. However, the most common cause for low haemoglobin levels is nutritional deficiencies of iron, folic acid, vitamins C and B12. One way to remedy the problem is to take nutritional supplements, after consulting with a doctor. And for those who aren’t thrilled about popping pills and then dealing with its many side-effects, there are easy, yet effective, ways to augment haemoglobin count the natural way. 1. Iron all the way Iron deficiency is known to be the number one cause of low haemoglobin. There are two types of iron you can get from food - heme and non-heme. The former is easily absorbed by the body and its dietary sources include clams, oysters, organ meats, beef, pork, poultry and fish. Non-heme iron is harder to absorb for the body; sources include dried beans, peas, lentils, tofu, asparagus, whole grains, dried fruits, green leafy vegetables like spinach and fenugreek leaves, nuts and sesame seeds. Interestingly, meat and fish not only contain heme iron but also help in the absorption of non-heme iron. The message is loud and clear: eat more lean meat and fish. And if you are a vegetarian, make a conscious effort to include iron-rich foods in your daily diet. 2. High on vitamin C It is not enough to simply increase your intake of iron. You also need to ensure that the nutrient is efficiently absorbed by the body. And for that, you need to get more vitamin C in your diet as it helps the body to absorb iron, which in turn promotes haemoglobin production. Nutritious sources of vitamin C include papaya, orange, lemon, kiwifruit, strawberry, guava, grapefruit, blackcurrant, mango, bell pepper, tomato, broccoli, potato, spinach and cabbage. Get experimental, try new salads and wholesome juices. Variety, as they say, is the spice of life! 3. A little more folic Once you increase your intake of vitamin C-rich foods, it becomes important to also increase your dose of folic acid (a B-complex vitamin). This is because vitamin C causes excretion of folic acid (essential in the making of red blood cells) from the body. Often, a low haemoglobin level is the result of folic acid deficiency. So, it is a good idea to indulge in its dietary sources, such as lentils, dried beans, peas, banana, corn, pineapple, peanuts, sprouts, broccoli, spinach, liver, asparagus, organ meats and baker’s yeast. 4. Don’t forget the other vitamins While vitamin C may take centre stage, there are other vital players as well - vitamins B12 and B6 – which ensure that the haemoglobin levels in the body stay optimal. Incidentally, the only natural dietary sources of vitamin B12 are animal products such as lean meats, clams, oily fish, eggs, soya milk and dairy foods. The sources of vitamin B6 are more varied; they include muesli, whole grains, liver, chicken, beef, tuna, salmon, sunflower seeds, lentils, kidney beans, avocado, banana, peas, yam, broccoli, asparagus, peanuts, cashews, hazelnut, chickpeas, lentils and soyabean. 5. Eat more beet High in iron, folic acid, fibre and potassium, the humble beetroot can aid the body in increasing its red blood cell count. Simply boil or roast the vegetable with its peel (remove before eating) to extract the maximum health benefits. Beets also make for a great ingredient in salads and juices. 6. An apple a day The easiest way, perhaps, to maintain a healthy haemoglobin level is to have an apple a day. It sure does keep the doctor away! Rich in vitamin C, phytonutrients, antioxidants and B-complex vitamins, there’s every reason to make this fruit a part of your daily diet. The most nutritious way to eat it is along with its skin. 7. Pomegranate, too For any blood-related ailment, including anaemia, pomegranate is the most recommended home remedy. A good source of iron, the fruit is known to help augment the level of haemoglobin in the blood. So, add a generous dose to your fruit salad, or eat it just like that. In case you lack the patience to skin the fruit, you could get hold of some dried pomegranate seed powder. Add some of it to a glass of warm milk and enjoy the health benefits. 8. Terrific tomato Rich in iron and vitamin C, tomatoes are known to aid in the production of haemoglobin. The best part is that the vegetable is so versatile that it can fit into almost every dish – from soups and salads to juices and curries. 9. Snack healthy Ditch those oily chips and calorie-laden cookies. Opt for something healthy, yet tasty instead. Apricots are rich in iron and fibre, making them the perfect choice. You don’t need to go hunting for the fruit, dried apricots are just as good. While you are at the supermarket, you may want to pick up some raisins, too. These dried grapes have more iron than most other fruits. 10. Seeds to munch on Did you know that sesame seeds, particularly the black ones, as well as pumpkin seeds are rich sources of iron? Simply chew on them, or powder the seeds and use as seasoning in salads. Click on the next page to know 10 more ways! 11. Or Withania Traditionally, certain herbs are believed to be effective in increasing haemoglobin levels in the blood. Withania or ashwagandha has been used in Ayurveda in the treatment of iron deficiency for centuries. Ashwagandha, which is popularly called the Indian ginseng, is commonly consumed in tonic form. 12. Chinese connection The Chinese are known to use Dong Quai to increase production of red blood cells during menstruation. In fact, the herb, which is also referred to as Chinese angelica, is believed to be an effective home remedy for menstrual cramps, premenstrual syndrome and menopausal problems. In Chinese traditional medicine, Dong Quai is prescribed to increase blood production and circulation. 13. Everyday herbs For those who don’t fancy indulging in exotic herbs, here is a rather simple way to increase the absorption of iron in your body: make sure you add dried herbs, such as coriander, basil, parsley, fenugreek and bay leaf, in your regular cooking. 14. Cooking it right Want to know the easiest way to enhance your iron intake? Cook in cast iron pans and skillets; they help increase the iron content in food. 15. Note on Nettle Another herb that is a rich source of iron as well as vitamins B and C is nettle leaf. It grows in the wild and is, hence, also considered to be a weed. Forget your milky tea or coffee, instead, soak some nettle leaves in boiling water for at least 10 minutes and partake of the healthy infusion. 16. Baby talk For infants, the best source of iron is breast milk. So, it is imperative for mothers to breastfeed their babies for the first year of life. The next-best option is iron-fortified infant formula. Experts are of the opinion that the baby should be given cow’s milk only after his/her first birthday. During pregnancy and breastfeeding, the woman is advised to take iron supplements to ensure that she has adequate iron reserves in her body. Doctors also recommend iron supplements for infants to keep haemoglobin levels healthy. 17. Toddler dilemmas Contrary to popular perception, too much of milk is not a good thing for toddlers. Sure, they need calcium. But excess intake of milk can interfere with iron absorption in the body as well as decrease appetite for a wholesome diet that includes varied vegetables and fruits. 18. Keep a watch on calcium Some foods and beverages are known to block the body’s ability to absorb iron. For instance, calcium-rich foods like milk and cheese, as well as drinks like tea, coffee, colas and alcohol, interfere with the absorption of iron. So, it is best to limit their intake, in case you can’t avoid them completely. Keep tabs on your consumption of over–the-counter antacids, too. 19. Move your body A healthy diet is only part of the solution. You also need to include some sort of physical activity in your everyday routine. Start with aerobic or cardio workouts and then, go on to include some strength training. This way you can ensure that your body produces more haemoglobin to meet the increasing demand for oxygen while exercising. 20. Look for fortification Iron-fortified cereals, bread and pasta are a rage in the US. The trend is yet to pick up in the Indian market. But it is only a matter of time before we see more fortified products on our supermarket shelves. Remember to read the labels for information on iron, folic acid and vitamin fortification. Download the Grow Fit app on Google Play or App Store today for a free consultation with our specialists.
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