Affecting over 1.62 billion people globally, anemia is a condition where your blood does not contain enough healthy red blood cells (RBCs). Although a common health condition, several people affected by anemia are unaware of it. The symptoms of anemia are often ignored as the stress resulting from the daily grind. Often, anemic individuals also display out-of-ordinary habits like chewing on ice (and other non-food related things).
Anemia is usually the result of iron-deficiency. However, there are several other types of anemia including vitamin-deficiency anemia, aplastic anemia, hemolytic anemia, sickle cell anemia, and anemia caused by other diseases. If you are anemic, you will find yourself with symptoms like weakness, dizziness, shortness of breath, cold hands and feet, pale skin, headache, and chest pain.1 2
If you suspect you are anemic, it’s best to get it checked. Here are some home remedies that will help you treat anemia.
1. Eat Iron-Rich Food
Iron is responsible for producing hemoglobin, which is the carrier of oxygen in your blood. Since your body absorbs only a tiny fraction of the iron that you consume, it’s important to eat an iron-rich diet. You could have an iron-deficiency anemia or be at risk of developing it if you are menstruating heavily, if you are pregnant or have recently delivered, if you have had a major surgery in the recent past, if gastrointestinal or inflammatory bowel diseases affect you, and if you don’t get enough iron through your diet. An iron-rich diet can help anemic patients regain the iron that their body lacks. The body absorbs more iron from animal sources than from plant sources, so it’s wise to include lots it in your diet.3 4 Some of the most common iron-rich animal sources are as follows.
- Lean beef
- Lean Pork
Plant sources that are rich in iron are as follows:
- Beans, including kidney beans, soybeans, and lentils
- Dark, green leafy vegetables like spinach
- Enriched rice
- Fortified breakfast cereals
- Whole-grain and enriched bread
2. Get Enough Vitamin B-12
If your body does not receive enough vitamin B-12, it might not be able to make healthy RBCs. A vitamin B-12 deficiency will result in the production of a large quantity of non-functional RBCs. A common cause of a vitamin B-12 deficiency is following an unhealthy or a fad diet. Other causes are pregnancy, chronic alcoholism, Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, or surgery. Consuming foods rich in vitamin B-12 will help fight anemia symptoms. Foods rich in vitamin B-12 are as follows.5 6
- Milk and cheese
- Fortified soy milk and cereals
- Fruits like bananas
3. Eat Foods Rich In Vitamin C
Foods rich in vitamin C help in the intestinal absorption of iron by the body. The ascorbic acid (or vitamin C) ensures that your body absorbs the iron-rich food you’re consuming. Sources of vitamin C are as follows:7 8
- Citrus fruits like oranges
- Bell peppers
- Brussels sprouts
4. Get Sunshine Vitamin
There is a direct link between vitamin D deficiency and anemia. In fact, RBC function is believed to peak during summers, when you are exposed to the sun. Although it is not clear how vitamin D affects RBC count, we do know that vitamin D causes the increases your blood’s ability to carry oxygen. Some sources of vitamin D, apart from the sun, are as follows.9
- Fatty fish like tuna, mackerel, and salmon.
- Egg yolk
4. Eat A Balanced Diet
A balanced diet and healthy eating habits are of utmost importance for a healthy living. This also applies to anemic individuals. Some of the foods you can include in your diet are as follows.
Foods To Eat
- Almonds are a good source of iron. The suggested way to consume almonds would be to soak them in a bowl of water overnight and consume them the next day. This should be continued for at least 2 months to observe significant changes in your body.
- Honey in any form is ideal for an anemic person because of its high content of iron, manganese, and copper.
- A combination of ripe banana and honey is considered a good source of energy as well as a source of all the essential minerals.
- Mix black sesame seeds (soaked in warm water, strained, and ground) with one cup of warm milk with honey or jaggery.
- Blackstrap molasses are also a good source of iron and essential B vitamins. Drinking a tablespoon a day in a cup of warm water is advised. For children, these molasses can be mixed in a glass of milk.
- Mixing equal quantities of beetroot juice and apple juice with honey may provide effective results.
Foods To Avoid
While adding certain foods to your diet is important, it is equally essential to exclude or limit certain foods that may hinder the absorption of iron and other essential nutrients required by the body. The foods to exclude from your diet are as follows.
- Foods rich in oxalic acid like chocolates
- Fried, fatty, spicy, and starchy foods
- Coffee and tea
- Tinned fruits
- Soft drinks
5. Exercise Regularly
Regular exercise is essential to keep the body healthy. Exercising helps regulate the blood flow in the body. While anemic individuals, owing to fatigue, might opt out of exercise completely, it’s important to not do so. However, remember not to exercise in excess. In fact, a case study reveals that intense physical exercise is a less known and often forgotten cause of iron deficiency anemia.10
Walking, cycling, group exercise classes, and dancing are some of the less strenuous exercises that can be practised for better health when you are anemic. Heavy workouts are not advisable at the beginning because the oxygen in your body is low and, therefore, you will not be able to meet the body’s excess oxygen requirement during the workout.
6. Practice Yoga And Pranayama
Practicing yoga has positive effects and is an effective way to increase the number of functional RBCs in your blood. Regular practice of different yoga poses may help increase the red blood cell production and purify the blood. Although yoga helps raise the RBC count by a small amount, its benefits are geared more toward reducing the symptoms of anemia. Breathing exercises like the pranayama are known to reduce fatigue, irritability, and improve concentration.11 12
- Shitali pranayama
- Nadi shodhan pranayama
- Kapalbhati pranayama
- Ujjayi pranayama
- Suryabhedana pranayama
These breathing exercises can be followed by yogasanas, which facilitate oxygenation in the anterior part of the body, thus improving blood flow. Some of them are as follows:
- Sarvangasana (shoulder stand)
- Viparitakarani (half shoulder stand)
- Uttanpadasana (raised foot pose)
- Halasana (plow pose)
- Dhanurasana (bow pose)
7. Take Cold Water Baths And Sunbathe
Ayurveda stresses on the importance of cold water baths for anemia patients. A cold shower once or twice a day is believed to reduce symptoms of anemia and enhance blood circulation. Additionally, a hot Epsom salt bath and cold friction for a duration of 5–10 minutes is also considered helpful in the treatment of anemia.
Sunbathing is also found to be effective in reducing anemic symptoms. Sunbathing for 15–30 minutes is advised. Since a low vitamin D level is often associated with anemia, sunbathing could help reduce its symptoms.13
8. Get Herbal Remedy
There are several herbs that are effective in treating anemia. These herbs mainly purify the blood, improve circulation, and increase red blood cell production. However, consume these herbs under the supervision of a medical practitioner, as some of them can trigger allergic reactions and side-effects. A few helps that are known to help treat anemia are as follows.14
- Alfalfa – This herb regulates hemoglobin levels, cleanses the blood, and helps reduce the symptoms of anemia. Before consuming, simmer its roots for 20 minutes and leaves for 5 minutes.
- Spirulina – Some forms of anemia can be treated by taking 1 tbsp spirulina (or blue-green algae) every day.
- Gentian (Gentiana lutea) – A popular European herb, gentian helps in treating anemia by stimulating the digestive system to easily absorb iron and other nutrients. Gentian can be brewed into a tea and consumed. However, avoid gentian if you suffer from chronic pain or frequent urination.
- Dandelions – They are rich in vitamins and minerals. They are believed to promote the absorption of iron from other foods. Several drops of dandelion tincture can be taken before a meal. When combined with burdock root, it might increase the absorption of iron from other foods more effectively.
It might take a while to treat anemia by using home remedies. If you are anemic, patience is the key for significant results. Home remedies may be effective; however, do not forget to consult your doctor when making any dietary changes or any other change to your routine.
|↑1||Global anaemia prevalence and number of individuals affected. World Health Organization.|
|↑2||Anemia. University of Maryland Medical Centre.|
|↑3||Foods to Fight Iron Deficiency. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.|
|↑4||Iron-Deficiency Anemia. American Society of Hematology.|
|↑5||The best foods for vitamins and minerals. Harvard Medical School.|
|↑6||Vitamin B12 deficiency anemia. Medline Plus, U.S. National Library of Medicine.|
|↑7||The best foods for vitamins and minerals. Harvard Medical School.|
|↑8||Shu, E. N., and S. O. Ogbodo. “Role of ascorbic acid in the prevention of iron-deficiency anaemia in pregnancy.” Biomedical Research 16, no. 1 (2005).|
|↑9||Smith, Ellen M., and Vin Tangpricha. “Vitamin D and anemia: insights into an emerging association.” Current opinion in endocrinology, diabetes, and obesity 22, no. 6 (2015): 432-438.|
|↑10||Wouthuyzen-Bakker, Marjan, and Sander van Assen. “Exercise-induced anaemia: a forgotten cause of iron deficiency anaemia in young adults.” Br J Gen Pract 65, no. 634 (2015): 268-269.|
|↑11||Sharma, Neena, and Ritu Gupta. “A study of yoga in anemic patients.” International Journal of Medical Science and Public Health 5, no. 3 (2016): 399-401.|
|↑12||Sengupta, Pallav. “Health impacts of yoga and pranayama: A state-of-the-art review.” International journal of preventive medicine 3, no. 7 (2012): 444.|
|↑13||Anemia. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.|
|↑14||Anemia. University of Maryland Medical Centre.|