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Overcome High Iron Through Treatment and Diet

food-prep-sq-400Now that we’re in the midst of perimenopause or menopause, we’re experiencing changes and entering new territory for many of our body’s processes. Having menstruation cease can actually bring to light many underlying issues that could have been happening for years without our knowledge.

One of those health problems that can arise following the end of our menstruation and childbearing years is a high iron level or hemochromatosis.

In our last blog post, we discussed the dangers of high iron levels in our bodies and the detrimental effects on our organs. Finding solutions to this problem can be a journey and take a multi-pronged approach because there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to the diagnosis.

The Pros and Cons of Blood Removal

If your body is able to handle it, a hematologist may recommend having blood removed to lower your iron levels. This should be done under the guidance of your medical team. There is a science to understanding how often bloodletting is necessary, and the volume it should occur in.

There are also people with high iron who cannot have blood removed. People at risk for acute cardiovascular failure cannot lose that blood volume, and it’s also not recommended for people who have low red blood cells and low hemoglobin. When you’re anemic due to low red blood cells and low hemoglobin, yet you have high iron, you have what is known as iron-loading anemia. These patients will likely receive a prescription for treatment instead.

Thankfully, for those patients who cannot have blood removed and for those who have long waiting times to see a hematologist after diagnosis, there are several things you can do to prevent further damage to your organs.

Diet, Lifestyle, and Nutrition Changes to Consider

Dr. Christy Sutton, whom I interviewed previously for my podcast Menopause Mastery, is the author of the book The Iron Curse and a passionate advocate for understanding how iron affects our bodies. She offers solutions to the problem of high iron levels, including diet, lifestyle, and nutrition suggestions.

Prevent Adsorption: Supplementation is key, and Dr. Sutton says there are quality supplements available on the market to help lower iron. They may include green tea, milk thistle, quercetin, and resveratrol. They work by combining with iron to decrease iron absorption or by decreasing iron absorption alone.

Decrease consumption of red meat and shellfish: These foods are the highest in the kind of iron readily absorbed by the body. We often hear that spinach and other dark green leafy veggies are a great iron source, but it’s actually a type of iron, called non-heme iron, that is not easily absorbed by the body. Red meat and shellfish, on the other hand, can cause elevated levels for people already struggling with high iron.

Drink tea or coffee with your meals: Doing so also decreases iron absorption, as tea and coffee interrupt absorption.

Proactive reduction in blood volume: In cases where iron levels are critically high due to hereditary hemachormatosis, proactive periodic phlebotomy with blood removal (like donating blood) under the care of a trained physician may also be needed.

Supplements for Organ Protection

In addition to the supplements we mentioned earlier, curcumin is another great supplement to add to your diet for protection against high iron levels. It protects the organs that can be damaged by high iron, like the liver, brain, pancreas, and gonads, and it’s anti-inflammatory. It not only helps decrease iron levels, but it also decreases inflammation.

Supplements also play an important role in holding over patients during the lag time it takes to get treated in the United States. When you’re diagnosed with hereditary hemochromatosis and referred to a hematologist, it could be months before you get in and get treated—likewise, if you are in the initial stages of proactively seeking an initial diagnosis.

While not a replacement for seeing a medical professional, supplements like curcumin give you a bit of a nutritional cushion until you can be seen.

Take Control of Your Health and Well-Being

As we navigate the complexities of menopause, understanding iron and its impact on our health is part of the journey. Being proactive about our health can protect our organs from damage and improve our well-being.

Contact our offices today to schedule an appointment, so you can discuss your own health and wellness picture with us and receive trusted care and guidance from Betty!


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