Diet is of the utmost importance in the treatment of anemia. Refined foods like white bread, polished rice, sugar and desserts rob the body of the much-needed iron.
Iron should always be taken in its natural organic form in food as the use of inorganic iron can prove hazardous. It may cause destruction of protective vitamins and unsaturated fatty acids, serious liver damage, miscarriage during pregnancy and delayed or premature births.
The diet should be predominantly alkaline. The emphasis should be on raw fruits and vegetables which are rich in iron. Iron rich vegetables are spinach, green onion, squash, carrots, radishes, beets, celery, yams, tomatoes and potatoes (with jackets).
Fruits which are rich in iron are bananas, apples, dark grapes, apricots, plums, raisins and strawberries. Bananas are particularly beneficial as they also contain, besides easily assimilable iron, folic acid and B12, both of which are extremely useful in the treatment of anemia.
Other iron-rich foods are whole wheat, brown rice, beans, soyabeans, sunflower seeds, crude blackstrap molasses, eggs and honey. Honey is also rich in copper which helps in iron absorption. The diet should also be adequate in proteins of high biological value such as milk, home-made cottage cheese and eggs.
Vitamin B-12 is a must for preventing or curing anemia. This vitamin is usually found in animal protein and especially in organic meats like kidney and liver. A heavy met diet is often associated with a high haemoglobin and high red cell count, but it has its disadvantages.
One cause of anemia is intestinal putrefaction, which is primarily brought on by a high meat diet. Moreover, all meats are becoming increasingly dangerous due to widespread diseases in the animals which are slaughtered.
There are, however, other equally good sources of vitamin B12 such as dairy products, like milk, eggs, cheese and peanuts. Wheat germ and soyabean also contain some B12. Vegetarians should include adequate amount of milk, milk products and eggs in their diet.
For prevention of anemia, it is essential to take the entire B complex range which includes B-12, as well as the natural foods mentioned above. Eating lacto-ovo products, which are complete proteins containing vitamin B-12, is good insurance against the disease.
A liberal intake of ascorbic acid is necessary to facilitate absorption of iron. At least two helpings of citrus fruits and other ascorbic acid rich foods should be taken daily.
Mention must be made of beets which are extremely important in curing anemia. Beet juice contains potassium, phosphorous, calcium, sulphur, iodine, iron, copper, carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins B1, B2, niacin, B6,C and vitamin P.
With its high iron content, beet juice regenerates and reactivates the red blood cells, and supplies the body with fresh oxygen. According to Dr. Fritz Keitel of Germany, “The juice of red beet strengthens the body’s powers of resistance and has proved to be an excellent remedy for anemia, especially for children and teenagers, where other blood forming remedies have failed.”
The anaemic person should commence the dietary treatment by an exclusive fresh fruit diet for about five days. During this period, he should take three meals of fresh juicy fruits at five-hourly intervals.
This may be followed by fruit and milk diet for about 15 days. In this regimen, the meals are exactly the same as for all-fruit diet, but with milk added to each fruit meal. The patient may begin with two pints the first day and increase by half a pint daily upto four or five pints a day.
After the fruit and milk diet, the patient may gradually embark upon a well-balanced diet based on three basic food groups, namely seeds, nuts and grains vegetables and fruits.