Anemia is the most common blood disorder of childhood and is widely prevalent early in life. It denotes a shortage of rich red blood cells and coloring matter called hemoglobin. The disease is more frequent in premature infants, in twins or in infants whose mothers had an inadequate diet during pregnancy.
Blood carries oxygen essentials to the tissues. It also carries away waste-products to be dealt with through the body’s excretory systems. So any problems affecting the blood will also affect the smooth functioning of the whole body. Anemia is one such problem.
Hemoglobin is a red respiratory protein of RBC consisting of b per cent haem (Iron) and 94 per cent globin which is a sulphur contaning protein that transports oxygen from lungs to tissues where it is released. Thus the formation of hemoglobin depends upon adequate supply of iron and protein. Anemia is not always a diagnosis. It is a name, a label, which brings to our notice that there is an underlying disorder which needs to be identified and treated.
A haggard look, grayish skin, and dull and tired looking eyes are the main symptoms of anemia. Other symptoms include poor memory, weakness, dizziness, tiredness, lack of energy, shortness of breath on exertion, headaches and impairment of general health and vitality.
A quick and reliable way to test whether a child is anemic is to look at the inside. of his lips, the tissue lining his eyes, i.e. conjunctiva, the palms and his finger nails. If all of these are pale, he may very well be anemic. The only sure way to diagnose anemia, however, is to test the sample of blood in the laboratory. This will establish the degree of anemia.
Causes of Anemia
There are three principal causes of anemia. It can result from reduced or low formation of red blood cells either due to defects in the bone marrow or an inadequate intake of iron, vitamins and protein or due to excessive destruction of RBC or haemoglobin. A lack of digestive acid or hydrochloric acid is needed for digestion of iron and proteins may also result in anemia. Other little-known causes of anemia are intestinal parasites or worms which feed on the blood supply. The factors which contribute to frequency of anemia in early life are prolonged feeding of milk low birth weight, nutritional anemia in the mother and malabsorption.
A young child who suffers. repeated infections of any kind may also become anemic, because infections interfere with the absorption and use of iron in the body. These effects, coupled. with a poor appetite during the course of the chronic infection, can deplete stocks of iron.
Malnourished children also fall victim to anemia. Certain drugs prescribed for systemic disease, e.g., anti-malarial drugs, aspirins, sulfonamides, antibiotics such as chloramphenicol, may all cause anemia. Some people have an enzyme deficiency called G6PD deficiency. This affects certain metabolic processes related to red blood cell formation.
Treatment of Iron Deficiency Anemia
Diet is the importance in the treatment of anemia. Almost every nutrient is needed for the production of red blood cells, haemoglobin and the enzymes required for their synthesis. Refined food 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. The common foods rich in natural organic iron are wheat and wheat grain cereals, brown rice and rice polishing’s, green leafy vegetables, cabbage, carrot, celery. The diet should also be adequate in proteins of high biological value such as those found in milk, cheese and egg.
Vitamin B12 is must for preventing anemia. This vitamin is usually found in animal protein and especially in organic meats like kidney and liver. A heavy meat diet is often associated with a high hemoglobin 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. There are, however, other equally good alternatives sources of vitamin B12 such as dairy products, like milk, eggs and cheese, peanuts. Soyabean also contains some amount of vitamin B12.
For prevention on of anemia it is essential to take the entire B complex range which includes B12, present in the natural foods mentioned above. Eating lacto-avo products, which are complete. proteins, and which also contain vitamin B12, is a good ‘insurance against the disease
Natural Home Remedies For Anemia
The cause of anemia needs to be identified and treated. Certain naturally occurring foods help more than others do. For the healthy formation of red blood cells, the body needs protein, iron and trace elements. Whole grain wheat, rice and other cereals in a vegetarian diet take care of protein needs. It is iron and trace elements which are neglected.
Almonds are a rich source of iron and trace elements. Soak 8-10 almonds overnight. Next morning peel the almonds, grind them coarsely, mix with a glass of hot milk, add honey or jaggery to taste, and have it as a nutritious morning drink instead of tea. Tea interferes with the absorption of iron, and jaggery is a rich source of iron with some vitamin-B complex too. If you do not like the taste of jaggery in milk, replace it with honey.
Pistachio is another nut which is extremely rich in iron. In fact, Punjabis and Gujarat is are very fond of milk flavored with ground masala which contains a mixture of 2-3 almonds, 2-3 pistachos, 2-3 strands of saffron, a pinch each of green cardamom, nutmeg and cinnamon powders. This is a very nourishing nightcap, which ensures a soothing and restful sleep.
3. Pomegranate Juice
Another healthy drink to be taken during the day, especially in summer, is half a cup of fresh pomegranate juice with a pinch of ground cinnamon powder and a teaspoon of honey once a day. A teaspoon of ground pomegranate seeds can also be had with a cup of milk. It is nourishing and energising.