Hemoglobin is a protein present in the red blood cells (RBCs) that is responsible for carrying oxygen within the body. The normal Hb level for males is 14 to 18 g/dl (grams per deciliter) and for females is 12 to 16 g/dl. A process called erythrocytosis leads to higher than normal levels of haemoglobin in the blood.
Hematocrit, on the other hand, measures the volume of RBCs against the total blood count (which contains RBCS, WBCs, and platelets). The normal hematocrit for men is 40 to 54% and for women is 36 to 48%.1
Haemoglobin or hematocrit levels above the normal range can result in clotting of the blood, increasing the chances of heart attack or stroke. In also affects the normal mental function. Studies indicate that excessive iron in the blood damages the tissues. Therefore, it is of prime importance to keep a check on your hemoglobin levels. Below are the ways to bring the levels down.
How To Lower Hemoglobin And Hematocrit Levels
1. Avoid Iron-rich Foods
Iron is the primary source of hemoglobin to your body. Cutting down on the foods rich in iron significantly lowers your hemoglobin levels. Some of these foods are green leafy vegetables, broccoli, breakfast cereals, beef, chicken, fish, ham, and turkey. It is suggested that you discuss with your doctor about the sources of iron to avoid and the time for which you should be following such a diet. Self-imposing an iron deficit diet without monitoring the Hb levels could lead to anemia, which gives rise to a further trail of problems.
2. Stay Away From Diuretics
Coffee, alcohol, and sodas are the diuretics which increase urination, dehydrating your body. Sufficient hydration either by drinking water, coconut water, or fresh fruit juices is necessary to maintain normal hematocrit levels. This lowers the concentration of hemoglobin per decilitre of blood. Not drinking at least 2 litres of water every day can shoot up your hemoglobin levels.
3. Donate Blood
It is recommended that you donate your blood 4 times a year with a gap of 12 months in between. Every time you donate blood, about 250 mg of iron is removed from your body, reducing your hemoglobin levels. Donating blood also replenishes your blood, with increased chances of having normal hemoglobin content. Make sure, you have checked with your doctor about the frequency and volume to be donated before going for it.
4. Quit Smoking
Smoking reduces the oxygen carrying capacity of the RBCs. As a response, your bone marrows produce more RBCs to compensate for the lower oxygen, affecting your hematocrit levels. Completely quitting smoking avoids this process, helping you maintain normal hemoglobin levels.
5. Do Not Overstrain Yourself
Following a regular exercise regimen is always good for health. Not only does it keep you fit, but also increases your metabolism. However, overstraining yourself by doing any kind of workout could reduce the adequate supply of oxygen to the tissues. This again leads to the production of more RBCs, increasing the hemoglobin levels. The trick is knowing the limits to which you can exercise without exhausting yourself.
6. Eat A Grapefruit
A flavonoid, naringin, present in the grapefruit naturally removes the red blood cells in the blood. Thus, eating half or the whole grapefruit every day effectively reduces your hematocrit levels. Include it as a snack or as a part of your salad.
Watch out for symptoms like dizziness, frequent headaches, unexplained bruises on the skin, feeling itchy or having a tingling sensation on the skin, and faster breathing patterns. These are clear indications that your hemoglobin levels are high.
Monitoring the levels periodically when following these remedies is suggested, as practising the same without medical advice can lead to lower Hb levels. Lower Hb levels make you anemic, which in severe cases requires a blood transfusion.
|↑1||Billett, Henny H. “Haemoglobin and hematocrit.” (1990).|