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Forge Your Destiny – Avoid Iron Deficiency

Iron deficiency is the most common mineral deficiency worldwide.  Iron is needed to deliver oxygen throughout your body. If your blood is iron deficient, then you aren’t creating enough red blood cells to transport oxygen and your body will be fatigued. Exhaustion, in turn, will affect your brain function and your immune system’s ability to fight off infection.

iron veggie edition

Iron deficiency is a common problem for females during their childbearing years, in fact, a 2011 Canadian study showed 9% of women of this group were experiencing iron-deficiency anemia.  Also at risk are: pregnant women who need twice as much iron, young children because they require extra iron for growth and development, underweight teens, women who experience heavy periods, patients on kidney dialysis and people who work-out a lot.

Symptoms of iron deficiency include lethargy, irritability, lack of appetite, difficulty concentrating, being easily out of breath, hair loss, and weakened immune systems leading to easily catching colds and getting sick.

Vegetarians and vegans need higher than average daily iron intake, because there are two differing types of iron – heme and non-heme (illustrated below). Heme iron is primarily animal based and is more easily digestible by the body than non-heme iron.

To help the body increase absorption of non-heme iron, it is a good idea to get ample Vitamin C.  Many fruits and veggies besides oranges are high in Vitamin C including strawberries, pineapples, guava, papaya, kiwi, bell peppers, broccoli and brussels sprouts. Fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, kombucha, yogurts, and kimchi contain lactic acid and will  enhance non-heme iron absorption. Another good tip is to cook with cast iron skillets – they will actually leach iron into your food!
At the same time, it is best to avoid caffeinated beverages such as coffee, black and green teas, pop, beer and wine because these bevvies will decrease your body’s ability to absorb iron.

If you are feeling lethargic and are experiencing other symptoms, simple blood tests from you doctor will show whether you’re iron levels are lacking. Adding iron to your diet with meal planning is helpful in maintaining iron levels, but sometimes supplements will be required to get your iron levels back on track.

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Uber Healthy Lunch

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Anthropology of Food class

Julia Mirabella has a new recipe book out called Mason Jar Salads which is definitely worth the buy; it inspired me to grab a mason jar and create one on the spot using my fridge ingredients.

According to the book, if you pack these salads in the right order and tightly into the mason jar, you can refrigerate five on a Sunday and the last one will still be fresh by Friday! Great idea, and so healthy. This salad left me filled right up for the day, and I was pleasantly amazed at how well beans, green leaves, and grains can compliment each other in a salad.

Black beans were soaking in apple cider honey vinaigrette at the bottom of the jar, and from there you can see some finely chopped jalapeno above carrots and tomato. I mixed a few craisins in with the spinach and topped the jar with some of my kitchen-grown radish sprouts, and a bunch of feta cheese mmmmm. I had to restrain myself from throwing sunflower seeds and chopped apples in — you just have to stop somewhere!

The recipes in the book are really delish looking. My grocery list is ready to go, so next week I’ll be flashing around some more uberhealthy lunches hehe.

So, hey, if even my superfit nutrition teacher bothered to scribble the book’s title down after seeing it, you know it’s gotta be good!

Gluten Free Pizza

wpid-20140922_182116.jpgToday in school we focused on feeding patients with Celiac disease, and their inability to eat gluten.  People with Celiac disease are not simply ‘gluten avoiders’ which is a growing trend.  This autoimmune disorder can occur to genetically predisposed people of all ages, including infants.

The small intestine walls actually become damaged by gluten, and since most of the nutrients are absorbed in the first ten inches of the small intestine, Celiac patients are at risk of vitamin deficiency, weight loss, fatigue, and anemia.

The pizza dough resembled wet sand and was crumbly to work with. After we baked it, it seemed drier and heavier than regular pizza crust.  As our lab chef pointed out, it’s the flavours of what’s on top of the crust that people notice the most when they bite into a pizza!

I have read Wheat Belly, by William Davis, and am all for eating less wheat, but I now understand there is a big difference between the so-called ‘wheat avoiders’ and people who suffer from Celiac.  I wonder(bread) if people had Celiac Disease 1,000 years ago, back before wheat was GMO’d to death.

Emotional Eating

stressed

While working towards consciously eating my way into a balanced diet, I’m noticing emotional dependence on certain foods.

Chocolate is something I like to have on my desk at all times; chocolate equals happiness! At the grocery store, I compared the milk versus dark chocolate labels, and it was a no-brainer – dark has less sugar. The higher the cocoa content the more minerals such as magnesium and copper. I can’t say I enjoyed eating it as much, but maybe I can learn to love it?

Some people eat out of depression – this must be where chocolate comes in. Is chocolate keeping my head above water? Without it will I drown in depression? Probably not, but it’s not really a boat I care to rock.

They say snacking on chips is related to boredom. For me, snacking on chips (and popcorn) goes exceptionally well with watching movies! Luckily, it’s pretty easy to substitute that kind of snacking with dried fruits and nuts – problem solved.

Guilt. Wouldn’t it be stressful to feel guilty about something, then roll an even larger self-loathing snowball by indulging in unhealthy eating? When I see cheesecake, cupcakes, cookies, or any baked goods in general, I want to pop them in my mouth because the experience is so enjoyable. There is no guilt, even after swallowing.

Who knew that improving diet would require so much self exploration for success? I thought it would simply be a logical choice. All we can do is take baby-steps and be kind to ourselves through the process.

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