Plant-Based Diets and Iron
As a young woman my pulse was alarmingly high. I was a swimmer, got plenty of exercise and should have had a nice low resting pulse rate. My Doctor at the time was alarmed enough by my pulse rate to order a blood test that measured my hemoglobin.
The results showed that my hemoglobin was very, very low. The doctor concluded that I wasn’t getting enough iron in my diet. He explained that the lack of iron meant that my body could not make enough of the protein, hemoglobin. And since hemoglobin carries oxygen to the cells my body was chronically short on cellular oxygen. He mentioned the word “anemic” and suggested that since I was a vegetarian it was unlikely I could get enough iron in my food. He got out his pad and prescribed iron pills.
He described the problems that came from chronic anemia – fatigue, brain fog, leg cramps, shortness of breath and on and on. He scared me into taking the iron.
The iron pills made me miserable – I will spare you details. Just leave it that it took about a week for me to toss the iron pills in the trash and to start looking for iron-rich foods. This is my first memory of using nutrition as a “medicine” and the start of a life long practice of looking at food instead of medicine. (more…)