Health Lessons from Vegas Article of the week October 9 to 13
Like many of you, I was saddened and angered by the terrible tragedy that occurred in Las Vegas last week. As heart-breaking as it is to learn of world events like this, there is always something positive that you can find in tragic stories. One of the positives I observed was the outpouring of support from Las Vegans who lined up at blood donor clinics to donate blood that could be used on the wounded.
Were you aware that donating blood is a practice that can benefit not only the health of the person receiving the blood, but also the donor? To understand the benefit to the donor you need to understand a little bit about an important mineral, iron. You get iron through your diet, and about 70% of your body's iron stores are used to make a protein called hemoglobin which is found in your red blood cells. The hemoglobin is what binds to oxygen so that your red blood cells can transport oxygen from your lungs to all the different tissues of your body.
Too little iron can lead to health problems, as can too much iron. Low iron levels can lead to a condition known as anemia, where your body lacks enough healthy red blood cells or hemoglobin, resulting in inadequate oxygen being delivered to the cells of your body. This condition can lead to fatigue, weakness, dizziness, tongue swelling and even strange cravings to eat dirt or clay! Women of child-bearing age are more likely to be anemic because of their menstrual cycle as excess iron is shed through bleeding. Another common cause of blood loss and anemia that may be harder to spot is in those with gastro-intestinal bleeding that often times goes unnoticed.
A lot of attention is given to having too little iron, however, excess iron can also be detrimental to your health. Studies have shown that excess iron can contribute to obesity, type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancers (pancreatic, breast, colon, kidney, melanoma and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma), neurodegenerative disorders including Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and ALS, as well as osteoporosis.
With this in mind, what are optimal iron levels that are neither too low to compromise oxygen supply and red blood cell health, or too high that would lead to increased risk of the health conditions listed above? There are several tests to determine your iron levels but the best one is called “serum ferritin” and it's something your doctor can request the next time you have blood drawn. Optimal levels of iron on this test lie between 20 and 80 ng/mL. If you find that you are over 80, you will want to take steps to lower your iron levels.
One of the easiest ways to do so is by giving blood. Studies have shown that those who donate blood periodically were less likely to have type II diabetes and less likely to have a stroke or heart attack. Another study found that those who donate regularly had a reduced risk of all cancers by 37 percent! (go to following link for more info: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18612130).
As a general rule of thumb, you may want to consider donating blood anywhere from once to three times per year if your iron tends to measure high. If you are a woman with regular or heavy periods, you will definitely want to get your iron tested before donating as your iron is likely to already measure low. If your iron stores are high but you are squeamish about donating blood, you can also decrease your iron absorption by drinking black tea or coffee, taking calcium supplements or exercising regularly as you can shed some iron through your perspiration.
You can also dispose of iron cookware, eliminate processed foods fortified with iron, avoid drinking well water high in iron, and be careful about overconsuming animal protein which is a high source of iron.
Hope you all had a Happy Thanksgiving. I'm grateful for each of you!................................... Dr. Tim
Grace Chiropractic – 1-3230 Monarch Drive – 705-323-9100 – http://gracechiropractic.ca