Last week I received my results from my routine blood work. A few levels were low so I had to pick a new plan of action to fight these deficiencies head on.
Sometimes you may think you are eating very good. You could very well be taking in lots of nutrients but is your body absorbing them properly? I have a quite a lot of intestine missing from two past surgeries. The area that I am missing is the terminal ileum. This is the section that absorbs certain vitamins in a normal healthy person. Since I am missing this key "sponge" of nutrients, I need to take special precaution to make sure I am getting exactly what I need.
I am a big advocate of getting all nutrients from food but sometimes, in situations like mine, I need some intervention by supplementing. There are a lot of supplements out there on the market. A lot of the conventional brands are synthetic, lab created, and often times not a natural source, making it difficult for our body to process. I always urge people to seek out vitamins from a trusting, whole foods based source. Some brands that I trust and use myself are New Chapter & Garden of Life, Mega Foods, and just recently I've discovered Dr. Furhman's brand. His Gentle Prenatal is perfect for everything I need. Below I will discuss some common deficiencies that are present in Crohn's Disease and even in a normal person. I advise everyone to make sure you are getting in all your vitamins & minerals that your body needs to function optimally, especially ones with compromised immune systems.
Although iron is the second most abundant mineral on our planet and is present in many food sources, iron deficiency is still the most common mineral deficiency. Often this is related to the many factors which either increase or decrease iron absorption, as well as the absolute amount of iron in the diet.
Did you know that by combining iron rich foods like spinach with Vitamin C rich foods, helps your body absorb the iron by more then 30%? There is a reason why Spinach salads are often served with strawberries! I always add an orange to my green smoothies nowadays after discovering this fact.
- -Eat iron-rich foods along with foods that contain vitamin C, which helps the body absorb
- the iron 30% more then without.
- -Tea and coffee contains compounds called polyphenols, which can bind with iron making
- it harder for our bodies to absorb it.
- -Calcium also hinders the absorption of iron; avoid high-calcium foods for a half
- hour before or after eating iron-rich foods.
- -Cook in iron pots. The acid in foods seems to pull some of the iron out of the cast-iron pots. Simmering acidic foods, such as tomato sauce, in an iron pot can increase the iron content of the brew more than ten-fold. Cooking foods containing other acids, such as vinegar, red wine, lemon or lime juice, in an iron pot can also increase the iron content of the final mixture.
My new favorite Iron rich foods:
Who knew this had so much iron and calcium in it!? Add a tablespoon to smoothies (recipe here & another here), pour over banana soft serve, mix into oatmeal or chia pudding, use it in baked goods.
I LOVE adding this to my homemade salad dressings & smoothies. It has a slight nutty taste to it and gives everything a beautiful glowing blue-green hint to it. I like using pure powder form but these crackers that contain Spurilina are pretty awesome snacks to have on the go. They taste like nutty banana chips!
I've been keeping a continuous supply of chia pudding (recipe here) to have on hand. I make it in a mason jar (Its so easy to make!) and it lasts in my fridge all week. I add a tablespoon of pudding to my smoothies and also make "Fruit Soup" with it. To make fruit soup, I add lots of almond milk to a few scoops of chia pudding & add in pureed fruit with nutty date "bread-crumbs" in top. To make sweet bread-crumbs, just process any kind of nuts with dates and cinnamon and puree until crumbly. Its great to add to yogurt or fruit salad!
Getting enough Vitamin D is essential to help the body absorb calcium for healthy bones & teeth. If you are low in Vitamin D, you are not absorbing those wonderful calcium nutrients coming from leafy greens in your green smoothies or salads!
An all natural and ultimately the best source to obtain Vitamin D is by the sun. You only need 15-20 minutes a day to soak up the right amount. With that being said, it's very common to be low in vitamin D during the winter months when you spend most time indoors.
Foods that Vitamin D can be found in is fatty fish and egg yolks, so Vegans do not have many options for obtaining this important vitamin through food. One place you can find Vitamin D in is non-dairy milk, cereal, tofu, or orange juice that has been fortified with the vitamin. This leaves the only other option - to supplement.
Here are some brands that I recommend:
The body needs B-12 for the red blood cells to carry oxygen around the body, allowing them to function and breathe properly. It also helps your cells metabolize protein, carbohydrate and fat, impacts your hormonal balance, emotional health, and cognitive functioning skills. Low B-12 levels can cause fatigue, low blood pressure, mood changes and muscle weakness.
It can be found in foods such as shellfish, meat, eggs, fish and dairy. Vegetarians & Vegans are very prone to being deficient in this vitamin which can cause pernicious anemia. Since no plant is capable of making B-12, the amount of B-12 in plant food depends upon the relationship of the plant to soil and root-level microorganisms (bacteria, yeasts, molds, and fungi) which make the vitamin. Cultured and fermented bean products like tofu, tempeh, miso, tamari and shoyu may or may not contain significant amounts of B-12, depending upon the bacteria, molds, and fungi used to produce them. The B-12 content of sea vegetables also varies according to the distribution of microorganisms in the surrounding sea environment. Brewer's and nutritional yeast can also be significant sources of B-12 in a strict vegetarian diet.
Crohn's Disease and B-12
Since my Crohn's is located in my small intestine, where most absorption takes place, I run a risk of not being able to absorb nutrients properly. My diet is filled with nutrient dense foods but since I have had so much damage to my small intestine, years of inflammation and two surgeries, I feel as if I could use some extra help in the digestion department. This is where Enzymes come in to play. If you do not have the proper enzymes present in your system, your food is harder to break down, absorb and digest.
Digestive enzymes are biologic compounds produced by the organs of the digestive tract and used by the body to breakdown ingested foods into a form that can be readily utilized by cells. Enzymes are responsible for digestion, absorption, transporting, metabolizing, and eliminating the waste of nutrients. They are so important for people who have digestive issues and also for anyone looking to gain a healthier environment for their body to optimally process what they eat.
This is what I currently take: