Sunday, November 27, 2011

How to Cure Anemia

It’s Sunday, November 27. I'll make sure to spend time on my next blog addressing more on the proper diet to heal the Crohn's and colitis ulcers, but this was an interesting topic that I spent time on today and wanted to share it with you all (whomever you are that reads thisJ).

I went to the movies on Friday night, November 25, to see the new Twilight movie with my long time friend Connie, who lives in the Brandon, Florida area. She had not seen any of the movies or read the books. I have read the second and third book after seeing the first movie. So I filled her in on all of the important parts J.

I had not seen Connie for years. She had only first learned about my illness after reading one of my posts on Facebook thanking those that I considered my Angels who had helped me so much during the time I was at my worst. So after the movie, much time was spent explaining everything that happened to me. I also explained that currently, my ulcers in my colon are not yet healed and I’m anemic, which means my body is not creating enough red blood cells yet. This is not uncommon for people with colitis or Crohn’s. Connie made a simple suggestion that I can’t believe I hadn’t thought of myself. She suggested that I might research how to increase the production of red blood cells.

Anemia is a condition in which your red blood cell count is so low that not enough oxygen is carried to all parts of your body leaving you feeling weak and tired. A lack of oxygen can also begin to deteriorate the parts of your body not getting the oxygen it needs. Oxygen is an essential component of life.

Red blood cells contain hemoglobin, which is a protein that carries oxygen. The role of red blood cells is for the hemoglobin to absorb oxygen in your lungs and carry it to all the muscles, organs and tissues in your body. These cells die every 120 days and new cells are made to replace them.  My last blood test showed my hemoglobin at 10.9 gm/dl (grams per deciliter) which is exactly what it was five weeks earlier. So my body is producing red blood cells, but not at a fast enough rate to be considered healthy. Hemoglobin for a woman my age should be at 12 – 16 gm/dl.

Worst of all is that since I have active ulcers in my colon, it is essential for these ulcers to get enough oxygen to heal. If oxygen is not getting to the parts of the body that needs healing in adequate supply, it will slow down the healing or even make things worse.

Therefore, I began to research how I can increase the production of red blood cells online. My research showed that I need to increase my intake of iron, as well as the B and C vitamins.

Iron is an essential blood builder. It comes from green leafy vegetables and beets. I really dislike beets, so I intend to increase my intake of romaine and bok choy. Both of these vegetables are alkaline based, not acidic, which is what I need until my ulcers heal. However, both of these vegetables are tough to digest and as a whole food will aggravate my colon during digestion. Therefore, I’ll juice them which will ensure the best absorption of the iron I need, without aggravating my colon.

Vitamin C strengthens the immune system, helps to heal wounds and is used by the bones in the production of red blood cells. It is water soluble so it must be replenished often. Vitamin C mostly comes from fruits and vegetables, and since that is what I mostly eat, I don’t need to change my diet in this regard.

The B vitamins are necessary for the formation of red blood cells among other things. They also are water soluble and therefore they too need to be replenished regularly. Other than B-12, the B vitamins can be readily found in many alkaline based foods including red bell peppers, bok choy, carrots, squash, watermelon and many other foods which I eat on a regular basis throughout the week such as bananas, dates, grapes, mangos and sweet potatoes.

They are also included in cauliflower and avocados, which I have added to my diet but only on a very limited basis. Ultimately, to be certain that I get enough iron and B vitamins I’m going to make a vegetable juice about two hours before I go to sleep each night. I’ll include romaine, bok choy, carrots, squash and red peppers along with various random other vegetables to ensure I am getting all the nutrients I need in order for my diet to be optimum for creating red blood cells. For anyone with Crohn’s, this juice along with plenty of alkaline based fruits and vegetables throughout the day (found in a prior blog) will significantly help in curing the Anemia which often comes with the disease. Ultimately, I am to increase my hemoglobin by January 10 to a minimum of 12 gm/dl so that my snowboard season won’t be compromisedJ

The only problem with all of my research is that I cannot find foods that work within a whole foods plant based diet that gives me B-12 and I’m not certain how important B-12 is to the creation of red blood cells. Certainly it plays a part, but most sources of B-12 are animal based foods, and I cannot eat animal based foods if I want to stay symptom free of Crohn’s :(

I have an appointment Tuesday with my holistic gastroenterologist, Dr. Azar, and I will address this with her and will report back to you then….

Another suggestion I found to increase the production of red blood cells is to exercise at elevated altitudes. Oxygen is less abundant at higher altitudes, so the body’s natural response is to increase the number of red blood cells. Based upon the fact that Dr. Azar is not recommending exercise at the moment since we want the body's focus to be completely on healing my ulcers, I’m going to inquire about this on Tuesday as well. Stay tuned…

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