Like Iron for Vegetarians

A vegetarian diet is great, but there’s a lot of nonsense out there about filling your nutritional requirements on a vegetarian diet.

We are probably meant to eat some meat. You need iron and B12, and these things are tricky on a fully natural vegetarian diet.  Your doctor might tell you that spinach is an excellent source of iron, but this is largely a myth.  Also – you might eat all the lentils in the world and still end up severely anemic.

Things like iron and B12 are not always easy to get from plants. You can get them from fortified cereals and such, but if you don’t eat processed foods – then you could run into some trouble.  And even if you do eat fortified foods, you can still run into some trouble.

If you’re a female who doesn’t eat much meat – do yourself a favor and track your iron levels.  Not just hemoglobin but indications of stored iron (ferritin).

I’m very careful to eat plenty of veg iron sources. Even so, I’m dealing with a second bout of severe anemia in two years.  The creepy thing about low iron is you might not feel anything is wrong until your levels are catastrophic.

Once you’ve depleted your iron stores, your hemoglobin might come up quickly with supplementation but it could take months to relieve symptoms. I’ve been taking iron twice daily for almost a month, and now finally starting to feel relatively normal.

Also, iron supplementation is not fun, as iron pills have plenty of unpleasant side effects. So really, it’s better to prevent problems.

Unfortunately, way too many doctors know nothing about nutrition or don’t think to order the most obvious test.

If you’re feeling fatigued, there are doctors who will tell you to get some exercise. If your iron stores are catastrophically low, this will only make the problem worse. You need to be your own health advocate and learn what tests to ask for, what good numbers look like, and what advice you should take with a grain of salt.

A CBC will give you your hemoglobin levels, which should be at least 12 for females. I just bought a copper sulfate solution on Amazon to self-monitor my hemoglobin (this is what they use at blood banks to quickly disqualify you from donation if your hemoglobin < 12.5). But you should get a blood test for accuracy.

In most states (not NJ), you can get a ferritin test for less than $30 without visiting a doctor 

Last time I tested my ferritin, I was at a 7 and I felt like death.  My doctor didn’t even think to order the test, didn’t pay any attention to the number, and tried to send me to a rheumatologist.

Trust your own intuition, and do what you can to come to your doctor prepared. If your doctor says something that betrays a lack of common sense, go to a second doctor.  A medical degree does not make a good doctor, just as a law degree does not make a good lawyer.

That said, Iron can be very dangerous to supplement if your levels are not low, so make sure you know where you stand before trying anything.

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KEFIR!

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jw;ildjas;od;aksd;lk!!! I love Kefir.

I just bought Kefir for the first time in about a million years, and I want to slap myself in the face for every minute of my life that I wasted not drinking it.

For those unfamiliar with Kefir, it’s a fermented drink made with “kefir grains.”  Kefir is full of gut-heathy probiotics, and milk kefir tastes like sour milk in the best possible way.

Fun fact: Traditionally, kefir was made in skin bags that were hung near a doorway. The bag would be knocked by anyone passing through the doorway to help keep the milk and kefir grains well mixed. #AncientEfficiency

Benefits of Milk Kefir:

Ideally, you can make your own Kefir using kefir grains or a starter kit. That, my friends, is some next level shit.  And as a next level person, I plan on trying that soon.

For now, I’ll continue to fulfill my lazy destiny by purchasing this brand (the only brand) at my local grocery store.  Check out all the Live! Active! Cultures!

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This drink has more culture than I do.

Unlike most probiotic foods that I force down my gullet (ahem ahem Kimchi), I actually enjoy Kefir because it tastes awesome and I feel good drinking it.

Drink on!

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How to get 8 Times More Beta-Carotene from Your Carrots

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cool as a carrot

I love carrots. So obviously I hulked out with rage and excitement when I learned these easy tricks to maximize their nutritional content. This comes from one of my favorite books, “Eating on the Wild Side,” by Jo Robinson.

If you follow these steps, you can increase the nutritional value of your carrots by up to 800%. So do it!

  1. Choose mature carrots over baby carrots.

Baby carrots are not the same as human babies. They come from ugly looking mature carrots, with the outer parts cut off and thrown away. Come to think of it, they are kind of like human babies after all.

But here is why you have a problem. Like many fruits and veggies, the greatest concentration of anti-oxidants and nutrients in carrots can be found in the skin, as well as in the tissues immediately below the skin.

From an evolutionary standpoint, this makes sense. Anti-oxidants are needed in the outermost layers of the plant, so that it can best protect itself from pests and disease. And also from the growing influence of America’s far right.

Opt for regular mature carrots, and you will have access to the healthiest parts of the carrot.

2. Eat fresh rather than frozen carrots.

Unlike some other veggies, carrots lose much of their nutritional value when frozen or thawed. Opt for fresh carrots over frozen.

3. Steam or sauté your carrots rather than boiling them.

When you boil your carrot, some of the water soluble nutrients end up in the cooking water. Avoid this by steaming or sautéing your carrots.

You can also avoid some of this nutritional loss by cooking your carrots whole, and cutting them afterward.

4. Eat your carrots with fat.

A little bit of fat will help you absorb the most beta-carotene from your carrot. That’s because beta-carotene is fat soluble.

This makes me happy, because fat tastes like heaven.  Carrot flavored ice cream anyone?

Happy munching 🙂

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