Welcome to Feel Better Now!
Nearly 25% of the world’s population suffers from anemia. When it comes to iron, it’s clear that our current healthcare system is failing.
In today’s episode, Jackie talks about iron and why it’s so misunderstood in functional medicine. She’ll bust some myths and share the symptoms of iron deficiency. Then, she’ll teach you how to maintain healthy levels of iron in your body.
Jackie wants to help you take control of your health so you can avoid more significant iron issues, like anemia, down the line. With the simple steps in this episode, you’ll regain balance and know enough to have a knowledgeable conversation with your primary care physician.
Because when your iron levels are normal, you’ll have the energy and health to share your special message with the world.
Key Topics and Takeaways:
- Symptoms of iron deficiency.
- Root causes of iron deficiency.
- How much iron you should have in your body.
- Simple steps to rebalance your iron levels.
- How to increase iron absorption levels.
- What you need to know about stool tests.
“You can’t do your best work in the world if you are chronically tired.” (4:30, Jackie)
“What’s your root cause is probably different to what the next person’s root cause is because we are all so different.” (4:40, Jackie)
“If you haven’t gone to the effort to rebuild and reset your gut lining, your gut lining is most likely compromised.” (9:30, Jackie)
“The first place I look is the gut because there’s so much that we can do to correct this low iron before it becomes this full-blown out anemia.” (11:23, Jackie)
Connect with Jackie Bowker:
41: Do You Have Low Iron? Why It Matters & What You Can Do About It with Jackie Bowker
So what we’re seeing is so many people are deficient in both of those things, hydrochloric acid in the stomach and vitamin C. And if we just use those things, two things alone, we can correct an iron deficiency before it becomes a full blown anemia. So again, we’re looking at things from a functional medicine perspective, we’re looking at what could be the cause of that in the first place. So the first thing to look at we talked about is, are you eating enough dietary sources of iron? And the second thing is, can you absorb the iron in the stomach? And do you have enough vitamin C, which helps with the absorption of iron, and you may notice in a good iron supplement, it is usually always paired with vitamin C. And if you’re working with a nutritionist, we will always say have some vitamin C and like maybe some citrus, if you are having an iron supplement, like pair those two together, so you can really supercharge the absorption of that iron. Hi, there, welcome to the feel better now podcast. I’m your host, Jackie Bowker. And if you’ve arrived here, no, there is something in here to spark yourself to create a better future, in your health, in your career, in your relationships for both yourself. And for those around you. Just one small action step at a time. With so much love and gratitude to be your guide. Let’s get started. Jackie Bowker while I answer Hello, hello, hello. Well, I’m super excited about this podcast. Because this topic is one that I am super passionate about. Having been through a roller coaster of iron deficiency for many decades myself, I hope this podcast provides you or your loved ones, friends and family and colleagues or whoever you can shatter from the hilltops information about iron in the body and just bust some myths and empower you with information so that you can feel better and better and better. Iron deficiency is a topic that I find really misunderstood. In the world of functional medicine, we look at the picture differently to say seeing a marker on a blood test saying that you are deficient in iron, and taking some iron supplements and then just praying that all will be well. This is an area where our current healthcare system is failing us. And I want to speak to this because we want to bust some myths today. And we want to help you take control of your health so that you can have a conversation of equal status with your primary care physician about how to make a plan that’s going to serve you and not unknowingly create other issues down the line. So you may have experienced or know someone that has experienced symptoms of being iron deficient. So classic ones are relentless fatigue, or shortness of breath, especially on exertion. I know for years, I always knew when I was deficient in iron, because when I got when I was walking up my stairs at home, by the time I get to the top, I had just a classic pain in my quads and there was a I was tired and like I was just walking out one flight of stairs so nothing that should have been particularly exhausting fishes on the side of the mouth headaches that paler there’s a classic pillar of being iron deficient, especially in functional medicine, I was always taught to look in the eyes like under the eyelids, we can see a sort of a yellowy color. Other symptoms include depression, so mood imbalances, pins and needles, memory impairment and judgment, even tongue inflammation and difficulty swallowing. So these are obviously super broad symptoms, and the one that most people relate to is that one of relentless fatigue. So this is a topic where it’s time to start to dig deeper into the underlying cause. In the last week alone, I’ve had four messages from people being told that they are low in iron, and that they either have to have any fusion or the Mirena. So I want to talk about that today, I want to speak about why people are actually low in iron in the first place, and what simple steps we can take to rebalance the body from the inside out. So how can we make the body happier, it’s really time to do that deep dive into what could be the cause of you being low in iron in the first place. Because no one wants to feel like they’ve got relentless fatigue, you can do your best work in the world. If you are chronically tired, and I can speak to that personally. It’s really important to find out what is the real cause for you, because what’s your root cause is probably different to what the next person’s root cause is because we’re all so different. So to start with, let’s just talk about the different causes of anemia. And why it’s such a big problem at the moment. I mean, I was blown away when I looked at the statistics for this. According to the World Health Organization globally, anemia is affecting a 1.6 2 billion people. So nearly 25% of the world’s population, a lot of these are in preschool aged children. So this is a real problem, really, half of preschool aged children are anemic. That is a blow your mind statistic, only just under 13% of men are anemic, and I’ll explain why. And then the other huge, massive population is non pregnant women. And that’s affecting nearly half a million women world wide. What I found fascinating from a functional medicine perspective is our store of this difference in gender in the storage capacity. So men have the ability to store enough iron for about three years, whereas women only have enough iron to be stored for about six months. And that’s why women that are cycling, so any woman with their period, it’s really, really important because we’re losing blood every month, that too have a really close eye on your iron stores and your iron intake and the iron store in the body is called ferritin. So a lot of us are going to be comfortable with that name ferritin, because we’re used to seeing it on a blood test where a doctor will let us know where we are in the range. Which brings me to my next point, the range when we’re looking at it from a pathology perspective is very, very wide. And it’s the same range for men and women, yet, men have a three years or women have a six month store. So the first thing is we need to understand where you sit in the range and where you’re going to be in the range for you to be feeling really well with energy without shortness of breath with a beautiful color palette and not looking yellow, without mouth ulcers or mouth fissures or without depression or memory or impaired judgment. So where are you in terms of that range, because being at the bottom of the range is being full of the now anemic people and we don’t want that we don’t want to be sitting in the range where we’re not optimal. I like to look at a range of about 100 for Women on a blood test. More importantly, though, you want to be sitting at a point where you’re feeling really good. There are so many different causes of anemia. So we’re going to talk about a few of the top ones, one dietary insufficiency of iron itself. So what are you eating, and the difference between animal sources and plant sources of iron are really different. We absorb about 10% of animal sources called heme iron. And we absorb about 1% of plant sources called non heme iron. But overall, we’re only even with the heme. Even though the animal products were only absorbing about 10% of that iron. So that to me is fascinating the first place which brings me to my second point, which is how are you absorbing in the first place. So the first thing is you need to be able to digest that iron. So many iron deficiencies can be actually corrected with the right amount of stomach acid, we are seeing an epidemic of low stomach acid at the moment, and even so many PPIs. So medication given to suppress our stomach acid are being distributed at the moment in the healthcare industry. So this our stomach acid is so precious, and it is so important for the absorption of iron. So the first place to look is one are you eating enough iron in your food. But the second thing is do you have enough stomach acid to actually absorb that iron in the first place. Iron also needs vitamin C. So what we’re seeing is so many people are deficient in both of those things, hydrochloric acid in the stomach and vitamin C. And if we just use those things, two things alone, we can correct an iron deficiency before it becomes a full blown anemia. So again, we’re looking at things from a functional medicine perspective, we’re looking at what could be the cause of that in the first place. So the first thing to look out we talked about is are you eating enough dietary sources of iron? And the second thing is can you absorb the iron in the stomach? And do you have enough vitamin C, which helps with the absorption of iron and you may notice in a good iron supplement, it is usually always paired with a vitamin C. And if you’re working with a nutritionist, we will always say have some vitamin C like maybe some citrus, if you are having an iron supplement like pair those two together, so you can really supercharge the absorption of that iron. Reason number three further down in the digestive tract, we need to look at the quality and integrity and the health of the small intestine side. You’ve heard me talk a lot about the gut lining before and if you haven’t gone to the effort to rebuild and reset your gut lining. Your gut lining is most likely compromised. You may have been brought into this world with a compromised gut lining because we inherit the gut from the mom and from the dad. And sometimes mom and or dad both had gut issues. And we stress in our lifestyle and bacteria and the pollutants in what we eat and what we breathe and what we dress in. We really are compromising the quality of our gut lining. So you If the gut lining is compromised, and the cells that are lining the gut are damaged, we negatively impact our ability to store this Veriton, the storage form of iron and iron free iron is allowed to actually jump straight into the bloodstream. And this definitely isn’t something that we want. Because what happens is free radicals, which create inflammation, inflammation being the leading cause of disease, we see oxidization. So think of an iron cast iron pan and think of rust, which is what happens when that is exposed to the oxygen. So if the free iron is allowed to just jump over into through those holes in the intestinal wall, we’re seeing oxidative stress, because we have an inability to actually store that iron that’s coming through the digestive tract as Veriton. So this is a huge problem in itself. So can you see how rebuilding the stomach and making sure that we’ve got enough stomach acid, making sure they’ve got enough vitamin C, making sure that our gut lining is nice and tight, we have to look at all these things before we even go near the conversation about plugging up the blood, that we’re losing with a marina or having an iron transfusion pumping iron directly into our veins into our bloodstream where we could see inflammation and further oxidization. So we have to look at things at your body holistically. And for me, the first place I look is the guard because there’s so much that we can do to correct this is low iron before it becomes this like full blown out anemia. Lastly, we really need to look at bacteria and parasites because these pathogens feast on iron, and they can really be the underlying driver of anemia, what happens is these pathogens really consume this iron, and then the body prioritizes the production of white blood cells because it goes into defense mode, white blood cells, meaning our immune system to fight off the invaders over the production of red blood cells, which is really what we want. So I know this has all been really heavy today. But I really wanted to talk about it because honestly, I’m getting multiple messages a week talking about I went to my doctor, the doctor has recommended infusion I booked in next week. And then we have this issue where we are giving a really huge dose of iron straight into the bloodstream without looking at what could really be going on to create that. So let’s talk about some questions that we asked ourselves. If we are experiencing those symptoms of the shortness of breath or relentless fatigue, the palate changes and you’re you’ve been told by a doctor that you have low iron before we want to go and take radical action. Ask yourself these following questions so we can make sure that we are operating from a place of being empowered with the right information. are you consuming adequate dietary sources of iron rich foods. So we’re looking at red meat, pork, poultry, seafood, clams, oysters, liver, beef, and lamb. They’re all super excellent sources of highly absorbable heme iron. We can also look at non heme iron. So iron from plant foods, it’s just we have to be aware that these foods are much less absorbed than animal sources. So it’s really important to look at, there are lots of factors that influence the foods that you want to eat. So likes and dislikes are really important. You want to eat food that you really like. Cultural influences are really important and ethical views are really important. But all of that considered, we need to make sure that we’re really carefully addressing our dietary sources of iron. And where we can’t get enough, we then look at other ways. So for example, we can cook in cast iron cookware. So evidence is showing us that the iron from cast iron cookware gets into the food and really helps us with increased iron. Concurrently, there are people that have too much iron, and so we tell them not to cook in cast iron cookware. So it’s, it’s the same for people that have too much iron that have too low iron, but the prevalence of people with low iron is much much higher. So I’m focusing today on that. There are also foods that impair iron absorption, so coffee, tea, dairy products, extra fiber, calcium and zinc. So we try and make sure that if you have low iron, you’re not having these with your pain sources of iron so with your heme or nonheme source of iron, so that we don’t impair absorption anymore. Next, we want to ensure that the body can actually access the iron from the diet so we support digestion in particular our levels of stomach acid, hydrochloric acid. This is so essential and can sometimes correct the anemia on its own. We also want to look at vitamin C because vitamin C is so essential for iron absorption and it’s so often even included in iron supplements for this reason, so make sure that we have really good vitamin C intake and you can even take it alongside iron rich foods to really supercharge those foods and your items option. There is another Over anemia called folate or B 12 anemia related to a deficiency in the B vitamins. So we really want to make sure that we’re getting enough vitamin B vitamins in the food that we are eating. I talk a lot about this on this podcast, I love performing stool tests, they are still the gold standard for understanding what needs to be addressed in your gastrointestinal tract so we can see what’s going on in the stomach, in the pancreas, the gut lining we can really have fantastic insights into our digestive capacity, our function, our dysfunction, we can see the health of the liver gallbladder, we can see the health of the gut lining, and in particular, we can see the health of any imbalance in parasites, pathogens and bacteria called H. Pylori, which can sit in the stomach and really create issues with our stomach acid production, which we know impacts iron. In addition to that, we want to look at a really good comprehensive blood panel. And so I love working with doctors who are willing to order labs that are perhaps outside of their usual standard ranges, I often give my clients a big list of lab work to take to their primary care physician, and we work collaboratively in that way. And that just means that we can see what’s really going on, we can see a full iron panel we can see a full panel of red blood cells we can see the or what’s going on in the immune system, B vitamins, nutrient deficiencies, a full thyroid panel so we can address the body as a whole and really work out what’s going on so we can easily correct the imbalances before they become full blown disease or like anemia, and other more sinister things. So I hope you’ve enjoyed this episode on iron is such an important topic it is so prevalent iron deficiency anemia is so prevalent and causing so many issues with that relentless fatigue, which then goes on to stopping you from sharing your very special message with the world. So if this is you or someone that you know, do that deeper investigation, it’s time to look at what’s really going on with you. And if I can help in any way I read every message please don’t hesitate to reach out. There’s a contact form in the show notes. You can always book a complimentary call with me and we can look at what’s really going on for you and how to correct it so your cells are happy from the inside out. I hope you’ve enjoyed this episode. I can’t wait to see you next week. Bye. If you made it to the end of this episode, celebrate yourself because it means you are truly dedicated to feeling better in your health, in your career in your relationships, and I am so proud of you. And if you want more of the feel better now so tune in every Monday for new episodes and join our community on Instagram at Jackie Belka for all the behind the scenes action and more. Hey, why don’t you sign up for a chance to have your question answered at feel better institute.com/sign up that feel better institute.com/sign up but most of all, please keep reaching to feel better because the world needs you to feel good so you can share that very special gift that only you have. So with that said see soon. Here’s to feeling better now, but by failing Jackie
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