According to a study published in 2016, nearly 59 percent of women in India are anemic. Another study showed anemia was the top cause of maternal deaths in 2014, contributing to 50 percent of fatalities. Anemia during pregnancy also increases the chances of foetal deaths, abnormalities, preterm and underweight babies.
There are two concern that need to be pondered upon. Firstly, iron deficiency keeping in mind infection, micro-nutritional deficiency and genetic factor. The second being consuming the right food cooked in the right manner.
To begin with difference between heme and nonheme iron. Heme is animal based iron, nonheme is plant based. Nonheme (plant based iron) is harder to absorb. Heme sources are Oysters, beef, and dark meat from turkey. Nonheme iron sources include legumes, spinach, molasses, and grains (teff is a iron rich gluten-free grain).
Top 5 Alerts to Boost Better Iron Absorption:
1. Watch out your Tea and Coffee Intake
Tea and coffee have both been show to block the absorption of iron when drunk close to a meal. Drink tea or coffee away from meals, when working to correct a low iron status. Tea, coffee, cola and chocolate all contain caffeine, which acts as a stimulant and can interfere with the absorption of certain nutrients when you get large amounts in your diet. One study found that drinking it one hour before a meal is fine, but not one hour after. I also don’t take my (nonheme) iron supplement close to when I have had a cup of coffee or tea for this reason.
2. Dairy Foods and Iron Absorption
Unfortunately, milk can also prevent the absorption of iron. “The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition” indicates that calcium, richly supplied through dairy products, has been shown to inhibit iron absorption up to 50 percent. Children, adolescents and women with iron deficiencies, therefore, should avoid consuming dairy and iron-rich foods or supplements together to improve iron absorption.
3. Phytates and iron absorption
Increasing use of “soak, sprout, or sourdough” whole grains tends to lower phytate levels. Phytates can block absorption of many minerals, and are present in whole grains. This is a key reason why nonheme iron is often not as absorbable. It’s one good reason to work at reducing phytates in grains and legumes.
4. Opt for Cooking in cast iron
If you are trying to increase your intake of iron, try doing some of your cooking in cast iron pots and pans. You’ll get best results by cooking moist, acidic foods like applesauce, chili, tomato sauce, stew, and scrambled eggs. As a rough rule of thumb, one cup of these foods will gain about six to eight milligrams of iron after being cooked in cast iron cookware. Dry, non-acidic foods like pancakes, rice, and green beans don’t pick up much iron from a cast iron pot.
5. Vitamin Intake to Facilitate Better Absorption
An interesting study was done with the Inuit, who eat a high iron diet, yet suffer from low iron levels. Possible reasons for this could be that they are deficient in other needed vitamins for iron absorption and utilization of iron in the body, such as vitamin A, C, foliate, or riboflavin. (Parasites or helicobacter pylori infections could also be a factor.). To sum up one should eat a diet rich in a variety of nutrient dense foods to help make sure that you are being able to absorb, and then use the iron from your food. Vitamin C is well known to help the absorption of iron, so eating vitamin C rich foods alongside your iron-rich foods could be helpful as well.
Anemia among women is a serious problem in India. Some of the states in India namely Uttar Pradesh, Meghalaya, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Kerala have shown the widespread prevalence of anemia among women. Its time to take action!