I’ve been experience intense vertigo spells the past week or so, and I’ve deducted I’m missing some important nutrients in my diet. I’ve noticed that I don’t really have much hunger, and I’m super tired, no matter how much sleep I got the night before. Feeling this way makes me want to do nothing but crawl into bed at the end of the night – but my school agenda just doesn’t give me that luxury. I have finally found the mental motivation to push through this semester and achieve the best I can, however I find myself hitting a brick wall every time I leap into the books headfirst.
With the aforementioned motivation as my backbone, I am slowly re-adopting all my best habits once-followed, since-abandoned. I’ve started to pick back up on my work-out schedule, with the goal in mind to get-it-right, get-it-tight. But with the way I have been fueling myself lately, I can tell I’m off to a wobbly start…I can tell my diet isn’t giving me what I need – I am not going to get away with chips and salsa, fruit and nut bars, lots (I mean lots) of coffee and canned chili alone.
My main concern here is the the dizzy spells I get – they aren’t fun and it makes it very hard to concentrate throughout the day. Dizziness is linked to many things but of the most common include: anemia, iron deficiency, and low blood sugar. The first two are in relation to iron absorption.
In order to increase my iron absorption, I’m going to need to:
1. Eat more iron containing legumes (peanuts, lentils, beans, peas) – The intake increase is a no brainer. But here is the tricky part – plant based iron sources contain what are known as phytates. These buggers actually INHIBIT the absorption of the iron contained in the very same food source!
2. Consume more vitamin C, preferably with every meal. 65% of the iron contained in meat sources is easily absorbed because it is bound to the heme molecule – it is easily released from the food. The rest of the iron, and all of the iron contained in plant-based sources of iron, is bound to the non-heme molecule. In order to break away the iron for the body to be able to use it, the environment in the stomach has to be just right. We could get more technical, but long story short, vitamin C has what it takes to push past the barriers and create an ideal environment in the digestive system. Not to mention, it counter acts the tendency of phytates which attempt clog the iron-absorption commodes. Vitamin C is abundant in leafy greens, citrus fruits, strawberries, leafy greens, and bell peppers.
3. Here’s the kicker: avoid coffee… and chocolate. Coffee, cocoa and caffeinated tea contain another set of absorption clogging culprits known as tannins. These are polyphenols that can significantly counteract my mission to increase my iron levels. This isn’t going to be pretty guys. (http://www.veganhealth.org/articles/iron)
And now for the double whammy: Celiac disease is the cause of some cases of unexplained iron deficiency anemia. The lining of the small intestine mucosa erodes as a effect of CD. For those of you in my boat, it’s no wonder absorption is affected.
Weakness and dizziness could also be affected by low blood sugar. This could be a result of low caloric or low-carbohydrate intake, or even high-sugar food intake.
With everything discussed above, I think I have a few ideas for my game plan:
1. Stock up on plenty of Vitamin C rich foods and be sure to incorporate into every meal.
2. Add grains and legumes to my meals.
3. Cut out coffee and chocolate for a while – Count on the natural energy from my food. Also, steering clear of the chocolate can help me keep a hold on my blood sugar and prevent spikes and crashes.
4. Drink lots of water
5. Keep low calorie, highly nutrient snacks nearby to prevent hunger and drops in blood sugar.
6. Keep the good juices flowing by continuing my workout schedule!
Check out the website I cited in this post: it goes into a lot more detail (believe it or not) about iron absorption. Good stuff.
I hope this helps you guys, I know this research has inspired me to get back on those good brain waves!