Iron deficiency occurs when the body does not have enough of the mineral and this leads to abnormally low levels of red blood cells.
Iron is needed to make hemoglobin, and a protein in red blood cells that allows them to carry oxygen around the body.
If the body does not have enough hemoglobin, the tissue and muscles do not get enough oxygen and are unable to work effectively.
In conversation with this correspondent, Nutritionist and Fitness Expert Madhuri Ruia talks about fitness, nutrition and share tips to stay healthy.
What does fitness mean to you?
Fitness for me is about having the ability to reinvent myself, reach new heights easily and passionately. With fitness I have a metabolism that is tuned to make me feel younger as I grow older.
What is the difference, according to you, between healthy living and staying fit?
Being healthy focuses on an absence of disease and staying reasonably well in line with expected life span parameters.
For example, qualifying with expected bio markers for a given age … eg, 40 years old is expected to have a certain drop in muscle tissue, or maintain health with the help of conventional medicine, following a reasonably balanced and calorie controlled meal plan and a 45 mins light walk approach, this getting by day to day, even if one could end up being sedentary for a major part of the day.
Fitness on the other hand focuses on building ability and personal presence using the combined benefits of regulated diets that focus on nutrient density, adequate macronutrients, micronutrients, trace minerals, vitamins and antioxidants.
Fit people focus on building muscle and bone health by working out especially with body weight or weight training along with a programmed cardio schedule that goes way beyond walking.
Fit people balance their diet in tandem with their activity. The language of fit people is to look at how they can tap into their own youthful energies no matter their age.
How big is the issue of Iron deficiency in India and globally?
Iron deficiency is a major cause for concern both in India and globally. 1.62 billion people are affected worldwide and in India and staggering 55 percent women and 24 percent men suffer from iron deficiency.
Iron is a vital and important nutrient, because it binds oxygen in the blood, making it available for metabolic processes that govern life itself. However, deficiency symptoms are quite often silent and include everyday symptoms such as fatigue, decreased immunity, breathlessness, brittle hair and nails.
How can one curb it?
Natural sources of iron are often inadequate especially with vegetarian nutrition. Spinach, for example, is considered a rich iron that is not bioavailable and difficult for the body to absorb, because of the oxalates it contains.
Also, because these days of lifestyle have become hectic, eating habits are erratic, and this could also lead to iron loss in the body. It is therefore advisable to first focus on the improvement of natural nutrition habits and eat healthy home-made foods and add lime juice or tomatoes – as iron is best absorbed in the presence of vitamin C.
But when you are on the go or when it becomes difficult to get regular healthy nutrition, then one could depend on fortified foods, in other words foods that are fortified with iron to get adequate intakes.
For example, Tropicana Essentials Iron is a 100% juice with no additives (sugar or preservatives). The product also contains Vitamin A and C which improves iron absorption and one serving of Tropicana Essentials Iron provides 15 of the RDA of iron.
What are the dietary requirements to maintain the iron balance in the body. Is it different for vegetarians and non-vegetarians?
The diet should always be balanced and healthy and include adequate vitamins C and A for maximum iron absorption. Iron from non-vegetarian foods is known as heme iron and is more bioavailable in the body. The iron found in vegetarian foods is essentially non-heme iron and is less bioavailable in the body.
Modern youth can stay fit.
- Consume a healthy, healthy diet rich in protein, healthy carbs and healthy trace minerals and iron
- Exercise or play a sport for a minimum of one hour or even more daily
- Sleep 8-10 hours most days of the week
- Regulate their refined sugar intake to no more than 3-6 tsps. a day
- Avoid following any strict low-calorie diet protocols