I went to give blood yesterday.  I completed the forms, had a counseling session where my blood was tested, my blood pressure was checked.  My blood pressure was at the normal/high range at 140/80.  I gave myself a mental pat on the back as my blood pressure has been higher in months past.  I was ready to give blood, but then I was told that my blood count was too low.  The first test read 12.3 — I needed 12.5 in order to be cleared to donate.  The technician gave me another finger prick.  This time it was 11.7!  I was disappointed.  I really thought I had beaten anemia.  Damn these fibroids.

Around 2005, I had my first blood transfusion after about 6 to 8 months of horrible menorrhagia — or heavy menstrual bleeding.  I collapsed in the shower while home alone.  Scared of what my body was feeling, I managed to crawl to the bathroom floor and lay there for 30 minutes to catch my breath.  I then forced myself to throw some clothes on, convinced that I was going to work a 10 hour day.  However, dressing myself and walking from the couch to the front door was more of a chore than I had realized.  My heart seemed to want to burst out of my chest cavity.   My breathing pattern was like that of someone who just ran a 5K.  There was no way in hell I was going to make it to work that day.

Still not ready to admit I needed help, I called the doctor’s office who put me in contact with some kind of practitioner (damn Kaiser Permanente).  She told me I needed to see a doctor immediately.  Too proud to call myself an ambulance, I called a cab and went to a local doctor.  A young woman tested my blood.  As I waited for the results, she turned, looked at me and said, “How did you even get here today?”  I explained my cab ride.  She exclaimed, “You need to get to an emergency room to have a transfusion.  Your blood count is so low, I don’t even know how you have the strength to stand up right now!”  So when people ask me if I am feeling tired nowadays, I tell them no.  The light tiredness I feel now and again these days is NOTHING to the experience I had trying to catch my breath on my bathroom floor several years ago.

During the last year I found that green smoothies in the morning helped me to feel less tired.  Green smoothies are nothing more than fresh or frozen fruit mixed with iron-rich raw greens like kale or spinach.  I stopped drinking green smoothies as of late because the weather has gotten cooler and I didn’t feel like having frozen drinks first thing in the morning.  Perhaps I need to go back to drinking them, just to start the morning off with a little more energy.

During cooler months, I like to eat lots of collard greens.  They are probably my favorite cooked vegetable.  I made up a batch as soon as I came home from work.  Once they were done cooking (in only 12 to 15 minutes — not the usual 45 minutes as done in most African-American households…), I put my hand in the pot to taste.  I am so happy that I have gotten to a point where I can immediately recognize how my body responds to nourishing foods.  It’s like I can feel the vitamins, minerals, and yes, even iron, surging through my veins.  Food really is a miracle cure.  No supplement has ever lifted my mood and energy they way a batch of greens can!

Here is my recipe for Sauteed Collard Greens.  Enjoy!

Sauteed Collard Greens

Sauteed Collard Greens

1 bunch of organic collard greens

1 small red onion

1/2 small red bell pepper

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1/4 cup coconut amino acids*

1 heaping tablespoon dijon mustard

1 teaspoon liquid smoke

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

* If you do not have coconut amino acids, you can substitute Braggs Liquid Aminos or soy sauce.

Wash your collard greens.  Put olive oil in a stew pot and let it heat up on medium/high heat.  Once the pan is warm, mince onion and red bell pepper and saute.  While that sweats, lay each collard leaf on top of one another and roll like a cigar.  Remove and discard any woody stems.  Chop the remaining fleshy stems into small pieces and put it into the pot with the onions and pepper.  While the stems soften, chiffenade the collard leaves (or slice thinly…).  Place into the pot and stir.  Add in liquid smoke, coconut aminos, and mustard.  Once the collard leaves are almost tender, add in minced garlic.  Saute until everything is tender and well incorporated.  Serve immediately.

5 Responses to Eat Your Greens! And other natural cures for anemia

  1. Clara says:

    Wow that is amazing! I mean: it still sucks that your blood count was a little low but it’s not “major-low” only a little bit. Did you take no supplements at all?

    • I did take iron supplements irregularly before I had a myomectomy in 2008. I also took them again immediately following surgery as I had lost a lot of blood. Overall, I don’t care for supplements. From what I read, you take them and they pass through your urine for the most part. Some brands are better quality than others. But I honestly think we do not need as many supplements as we think we do — we just need to eat more fruits and vegetables. However, iron supplements are important for people who are severely anemic so I would advise people to see a doctor for further consultation.

      • Clara says:

        My doctor told me there is no way I could get enough iron through food while being on a vegan diet. I did not believe him, included more iron-rich foods in my diet and hope that the problem is solved now..I’ll find out next week! If my iron is still to low I will search for solutions on your blog!

        • You can get everything you need from a a properly balanced vegan diet. Have you ever thought about finding a doctor that supports a vegan diet? I know how frustrating it is to have to submit to an authority who undermines your own philosophy about how you choose to take care of your own health. You don’t have anything to prove to the doctor. The doctor is supposed to work with you to get to better health — not against you.

  2. […] are also packed with iron and vitamin C.  For those of you who are anemic, you should already know the benefits of eating leafy greens.  If you have ever tried to take iron supplements on their own, you know they tend to be harsh on […]

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