How can I prevent anemia?
Some kinds of anemia, such as those that are inherited, cannot be prevented. However, you can prevent anemia caused by iron deficiency, vitamin B12 deficiency and vitamin B9 deficiency by eating well. This includes eating a diet with enough foods that provide iron and these vitamins, along with vitamin C food sources to help with the absorption. Make sure that you drink enough water. Some studies have indicated that this will help keep hemoglobin levels up.
How do I manage anemia?
While some types of anemia are short-term and mild, others can last throughout a lifetime. There are several ways to help manage anemia, including:
- Following a healthy diet.
- Drinking enough water to stay hydrated.
- Exercising regularly. However, if you have been weak, you should begin exercising cautiously. Check with your healthcare provider about ways to exercise safely.
- Avoiding exposure to chemicals that set off anemia.
- Washing your hands often to avoid infection.
- Taking good care of your teeth and going to the dentist regularly.
- Talking to your doctor about any changing symptoms.
- Keeping track of your symptoms by writing them down.
Which foods should I eat, and which foods should I avoid, if I have anemia?
With anemia, making good food choices is important. Eating junk food means you are getting calories without nutrients. You also have to consider other medical conditions that you have when you make your food choices.
Some things have been shown to impair iron absorption. You should not take calcium and iron supplements at the same time. In addition, you may want to avoid or limit these items:
- Tannin-containing items like coffee, tea and some spices.
- Egg whites.
- Fiber. (You will not want to eliminate all fiber, though, because taking iron supplements could cause constipation.)
- Soy protein.
In general, you should eat iron-rich foods and foods that provide vitamins B12, B9 and C. This means that you can enjoy plenty of good food that is for you, whether you eat meat or not. You can get iron from plant sources like lentils, spinach and pistachios. You can get iron from protein sources like lean beef and turkey. Whole grains and dark leafy vegetables are good sources of B vitamins. Some foods are even fortified with iron.
Citrus fruits, berries and other vitamin C-containing foods like peppers and tomatoes improve iron consumption. It is a good idea to get advice from your healthcare provider or perhaps from a registered dietitian about the best ways to eat when you have anemia. Also, make sure that grapefruit does not interfere with any of your medications.
It’s important to be educated on what you can do to take the best care of yourself that you can. It is also important that you and your healthcare provider make decisions together about what works best for you. Take the opportunity to ask for a referral to a registered dietitian if you want help setting a diet to help with iron intake. Make sure you ask all the questions that you have so you can be confident in moving forward.