Iron deficiency occurs when the body doesn’t have enough of the mineral and this leads to abnormally low levels of red blood cells.
Iron is needed to make haemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that enables them to carry oxygen around the body.
If the body does not have enough haemoglobin the tissue and muscles do not get enough oxygen and are not able to work effectively.
In conversation of with this correspondent, Nutritionist and Fitness expert Madhuri Ruia talks about fitness, nutrition and shares 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 accordance with expected life span parameters.
For instance, qualifying with expected bio markers for a given age... eg, a 40 year 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 might 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 with intensity especially using 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 an issue is 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 a staggering 55 per cent women and 24 per cent 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 every day symptoms such as fatigue, lowered immunity, breathlessness, brittle hair and nails.
How can one curb it?
Natural sources of iron are often inadequate especially with vegetarian nutrition. Spinach for instance that is considered iron rich has a form of iron that is not bioavailable and difficult for the body to absorb, on account of the oxalates it contains.
Also because these days lifestyles have become hectic, eating habits are erratic, and this could also lead to iron losses in the body. It is therefore advisable to first focus on improving natural nutrition habits and eat wholesome home food and add lime juice or tomatoes - as iron is best absorbed in the presence of vitamin C.
But when 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 format 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 iron balance in body. Is it different for vegetarians and non-vegetarians?
The diet must always be balanced and wholesome 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.
What are the ways the modern youth can stay fit.
- Consume a healthy wholesome diet rich in protein, healthy carbs healthy fats and 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