How to be an Iron Woman: Addressing Nutrition Deficiency in Young Women
We all saw how our favourite MTV Nishedh school girl, Guddhi was just not coping with life, always feeling tired, breathless, having dizzy spells, struggling to concentrate, and not really understanding why. And then she went to the doctor and we found out why – she had anaemia, a condition which can be caused by malnutrition – not eating the right foods.
And Guddhi is not alone!
Did you know that 40 per cent of adolescent girls in India are affected by anaemia, and over 80 percent of adolescents suffer from ‘hidden hunger’, meaning they’re not getting enough micronutrients such as iron, folate, zinc, vitamin A, vitamin B12 and vitamin D.
What is the cause of the malnutrition?
Poor diet and growing consumption of junk and fried foods, sweets and fizzy drinks turns out to be the main reason behind why such a high percentage of adolescents in India are suffering.
Why a balanced diet is important?
Not getting the proper nutrients over a prolonged period of time effects growing ability and increases the risk of diabetes and heart diseases among young individuals.
How do I know if I am anaemic? – SYMPTOMS
Some anaemia symptoms might differ from person to person, but some symptoms are quite common. The usual symptoms of anaemia are:
- Unusual levels of tiredness
- Shortness of breath
- Your skin goes pale
- Regular headaches and dizziness
- Heart palpitations
- More frequent infections
Iron deficiency anaemia is a very common type of anaemia, more often in young women, especially if they’ve just started menstruating. And the ‘iron’y is that most people do not realize that this is a problem!
Why me, what and the causes?
A major cause of iron deficiency is the lack of iron rich foods in the diet, more so for vegetarians as they don’t eat meat which is rich in iron.
For girls who start their periods i.e. Menstruation and women who experience heavy blood loss during this period are at a higher risk of iron deficiency anaemia.
Women also experience an increased demand of iron during pregnancy as they need to serve their own needs as well as for the baby. Sometimes, it may also happen that your body is rejecting the iron and is unable to absorb the nutrients.
So, what can I do to prevent iron-deficiency anaemia?
The first step is to have iron-rich foods and Vitamin C.
All people, especially vegetarians can consume iron rich foods such as Bengal gram, horse gram, amaranth leaves, raisins, bajra, ragi, fenugreek leaves.
Whereas, when maintaining a non-vegetarian diet, you can consume chicken, liver, fish egg along with other sea food which are iron-rich foods alongside the vegetarian food options.
Alongside, ensure to intake foods containing Vitamin C, as it helps increase the absorption of iron in the body. For example, include gooseberry, guava, raw mango, amaranth leaves, lemon, sprouts, drumstick, oranges in your diet.
What does it take to beat Anaemia?
Anaemia does not care about your social background, economic status etc. So, the saying “it’s something that happens only to others, not me” does not apply here.
If you notice that you are continuously tired and that your skin looks pale and weak for weeks together or other such symptoms, it may be time to head to your doctor for a blood test and some advice. But it’s also important to support this treatment with a healthy, iron-rich diet, lifestyle changes, and regular check-ups.
Remember that the warrior in you is ready for this battle. Beat anaemia by recognising the symptoms early, getting tested, treated and eating the iron rich and Vit C rich foods so that the deficiency doesn’t stop you from living your life to the fullest.