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Do You Get Enough Iron In Your paleo diet primal sources deficiency supplement symptoms-min

Do You Get Enough Iron In Your Diet?

Have you had your iron levels checked? Women especially need to be careful to ensure their diet contains sufficient levels, as deficiency can be dangerous.

What Does Iron Do?

As part of hemoglobin, iron plays an important role in the transport of oxygen around the body from the lungs to the other organs. It is also part of the process to produce new blood cells within the body and helps to remove carbon dioxide from the organs.

As well as these important functions, it helps to convert blood sugar to energy and is essential for the production of enzymes within the digestive system. Iron also plays an important role in the immune system and the recovery process after illness or strenuous exercise.

Food Sources of Iron

Most red meats are very good sources of iron particularly beef and lamb. However, the best meat to boost your supply is liver. A 100g serving of liver will provide over 100% of your recommended daily amount of the important dietary nutrient.

Mollusks are another great source of iron, with even higher concentrations than liver. You have a choice of several tasty mollusks, including:

  • Clams
  • Mussels
  • Oysters
  • Shrimp
  • Cuttlefish
  • Octopus
  • Do You Get Enough Iron In Your paleo diet primal sources deficiency supplement symptoms-min

Animals are not the only good sources of iron. Plenty of dark leafy vegetables contain good quantities of this important element. Spinach is the best, with 100g providing 20% of your daily value. Swiss chard, turnip greens and kale are other vegetables that can help to boost your iron levels.

Another source that is easy to overlook is dark chocolate. Nuts and pumpkin seeds are also great sources of iron, and make tasty snacks. You can use these to beat your chocolate cravings!

Problems Associated with Iron Intake

One of the main symptoms of iron deficiency is anaemia. This occurs when the stores of iron in the body deplete and it is no longer possible to maintain haemoglobin levels in the blood. This particularly affects children and pre-menopausal women. The common symptoms of anaemia include:

  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Pallor
  • Hair loss
  • Irritability
  • Weakness

In extreme cases, deficiency can be fatal so it is important to ensure you consume sufficient quantities of this essential nutrient. Usually though, an increase in iron intake will restore your iron levels to normal.

Iron overdose is also potentially fatal, and often the first symptoms are stomach ulcers, followed by nausea and vomiting. The pain can then abate before the iron passes into the internal organs, particularly the brain and liver.

Iron is an extremely important nutrient that plays an important role within your body. Avoid the risk of anaemia and deficiency by making sure you eat plenty of the great iron-rich foods. This will keep your body in top shape and you will certainly feel better for it.

Have you ever had your levels checked? How were they?

How to season cast iron cookware skillet pan paleo diet primal

How to season cast iron cookware

If you were lucky enough to get your hands on a cast iron frying pan for Christmas this guide will tell you exactly how to season and look after it to make sure it does the job and lasts for a long time. If you haven’t got any cast iron cookware, it’s definitely worth looking out for second-hand. So long as it has no cracks or chips it will be as good as new once you clean and season it.

After having bought so many cheap pans, only for them to fall apart soon after, I’ve found cast iron so much more durable. They also distribute the heat really evenly, so they’re great to cook in. The other huge plus – is no Teflon. What happens to that stuff when it starts to flake off in your dinner…?

If you find everything sticks to your cast iron pan, you’ve probably not seasoned it properly.
How to season cast iron cookware skillet pan paleo diet primal

How to season your cast iron cookware

Seasoning (also known as curing) just means filling up all the tiny holes and craters in the surface of the iron with grease/ oil to leave a smooth continuous non-stick surface.

If your pan isn’t non-stick, is rusty or hasn’t been seasoned yet, you’ll need to start by thoroughly cleaning the cast iron pan with a hot soapy water (this is fine to do before you season it, but not after).

I used lard to season my cast iron pan, but coconut oil should work well too. Firstly rub the oil all over the pan, but just lightly. Then rub off the oil with a paper towel.

Next, put the pan upside down in the oven (make sure you have a large tray on the bottom shelf to catch any drips). The oven will need to be at about 250 C (450F) and this stage will take about half an hour. Then, take the pan out of the oven and allow it to cool. You’ll want to repeat this process 3 or 4 times.

When you cook in your pan, you’re repeating this process, since the fats in your cooking will be continuing to fill any tiny holes in the surface again.

Do you cook with cast iron? How do you find it? Is this the method you use to season your cookware?

The blood test results are in paleo weight loss slimming diet-min

The blood test results are in…

If you’ve been following my series on my weight loss struggle – and discoveries, you’ll have read how I’ve struggled to lose weight (despite my paleo diet and exercise), the tests I had done and experts I saw, my DXA body scan and how wildly out my metabolism turned out to be. This week it’s time for the results of those tests!

In Australia the test results all seem to be delivered to you at home – which is great as you don’t have to wait until your next appointment to get the results from your doctor.

Because I’d had genetic testing and various other tests, they all arrived at different times. The blood tests show your result, against a reference range which shows the range of average results they receive. This is great, but who tends to have blood tests? People who aren’t well. So in theory this means you’re comparing your results to people who aren’t in optimal health, which is perhaps not an ideal marker…

The blood test results are in paleo weight loss slimming diet-min

I quickly saw from my results that my SHBG (Sex hormone-binding globulin) result looked high, so distracted myself by researching this. Apparently a high result means the SHBG binds with testosterone, which means a low free testosterone count. Everything else looked fine, to my didn’t-go-to-medical-school-mind, so I assumed the problem was hormonal and eagerly awaited my appointment to see what the doctor would suggest to remedy this.

I didn’t get the result from the stool samples sent to me at home, but I knew that test was a complete waste of time, so wasn’t worried about that….

The doctor’s surgery

My doctor’s appointment finally came round and I knew exactly what we were going to talk about. The SHBG result and how to change it.

I couldn’t have been any more wrong.

Blastocystis hominis

I was completely floored when she said “You have a parasite, you must be exhausted!” I only took that test to tick all of the boxes. I’ve had no symptoms to indicate a parasite (especially not the sudden unexpected weight loss symptom. Why couldn’t I have had that symptom?), so would have bet my life savings on not having had one. It turns out the test results detected moderate numbers of a parasite called Blastocystis hominis which has apparently been living in my intestines. It’s contracted by accidently swallowing something that’s been contaminated with it. Perhaps even organic produce that hasn’t been washed properly? Or touching a door handle after someone else? Or drinking contaminated water or ice?

It can linger for many years, during which time I’ve backpacked around a lot of Asia, swam in rivers and lakes, eaten from street Vendors, shared food with other travellers – I could have got it from numerous places. I could just as easily have got it from a posh restaurant. I guess I’ll never know…

In terms of treatment, I could go the herbal route (through my naturopath) or take a specific antibiotic based treatment. The herbs take a long time and had a 50% success rate. The success rate of the drugs was over 90% and takes 10 days. Given that I just want to fix things and have more energy, I opted for the antibiotics – something I’m usually very against and haven’t taken for years. I also found out about a drug called Biofilm defence, which if taken just before the antibiotic apparently helps attack the parasite wall making the antibiotics more effective.

Are you a vegan?

Moving onto the blood test results, the doctor’s next comment was “Are you a vegan?! I only ever see Vitamin B12 and Iron levels this low in Vegans!” Whilst she was speaking she got a vitamin B12 injection out of the freezer to give to me then and there… Of course I’m not a vegan! I eat a decent amount of good quality meat – how can this be?! I do tend to eat more white meat and fish over red meat, but I would say I still have red meat a few times a week. It just makes no sense! Again, she commented on how I must be so tired all the time with not only the parasite, but being so deficient in Iron and Vitamin B12. Yes, I am always tired and worn out, but I’m always very busy too – isn’t this how everyone feels? I also think perhaps you get used to how you feel, and it can be hard to realise it isn’t normal. Wouldn’t it be interesting to swap places with your friends for a day, just to see what their version of normal feels like…

It doesn’t stop there…

There were also a few other items of interest from the test results….

My Homocysteine level also seems slightly elevated. Would you believe this can result in clots – i.e. pulmonary embolisms! This seems to be strongly linked to my vitamin B12 deficiency, interesting…

Ferritin was also low, given that this is related to iron storage – and my iron is low, this is hardly a surprise.

My copper levels were also high, and zinc low. These are inversely correlated, so increasing my zinc should help. After the antibiotics, I’m going to be taking the supplement Zinc piccolinate, which should help address this imbalance.

Once I finish the antibiotics I am also going to be starting a course of liver detox & immune herbs that the nautropath has prepared for me.

Quite a lot and I haven’t even got to the genetic results yet (I’ll open that can of worms next week….)