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5 foods you should avoid if you have anemia

If you suffer from anemia, here are foods you should avoid.

Written by Bhavyajyoti Chilukoti |Updated : November 26, 2014 12:22 PM IST

Anemia is a clinical condition that affects many, especially women, the world over. Although there are various factors responsible for the decreased production of red blood cells in the body, deficiency of iron and folate are the major causes. With the consumption of foods rich in iron and folic acid one can increase their haemoglobin levels, but there are certain foods that hinder the absorption of these nutrients. Knowing about these foods will aid in better treatment and prevention of anemia. Here are five types of foods consumed on a daily basis that should be avoided, especially if you have anemia.

Calcium-containing foods

One of the major causes of anaemia is iron deficiency and hence, people suffering from this type of anemia are advised not to eat calcium-rich foods. This is because, calcium interferes with the absorption of iron in the body thereby worsening the condition. Foods packed with calcium include milk and milk products like cheese, yoghurt, nuts and bananas.

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Tannin-rich foods

Although black tea, green tea and coffee are good for health, people suffering from iron-deficiency anaemia should restrict their intake of these foods, as they contain tannins, a compound that interferes with the absorption of iron. Other foods that are loaded with tannins include grapes, corn and sorghum.

Gluten-containing foods

Foods rich in gluten should be avoided by people suffering from anaemia as it may worsen the condition. Gluten, in some people, damages the intestinal wall preventing absorption of iron and folic acid, both of which are required for the production of red blood cells (RBCs). Gluten is mainly found in pasta, wheat products, barley, rye and oats.

Phytate-rich foods

Phytates usually bind with the iron present in the digestive tract thereby preventing its absorption. Therefore, people with iron-deficiency anaemia are advised to avoid foods containing phytates or phytic acid like legumes, brown rice, whole-grain wheat and nuts.

Oxalic acid foods

In some cases, foods containing oxalic acid are known to interfere with the absorption of iron. Due to this, people with anemia are advised to consume these foods in limited quantities and if possible stay away from them during the course of medication. Foods containing oxalic acid are peanuts, spinach, parsley (ajwain) and chocolates.

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  1. Johnson-Wimbley, Terri D., and David Y. Graham. 'Diagnosis and management of iron deficiency anemia in the 21st century.' Therapeutic advances in gastroenterology (2011): 1756283X11398736.
  2. Hallberg L. Wheat fiber, phytates and iron absorption. Scand J Gastroenterol Suppl. 1987;129:73-9. PubMed PMID: 2820048.

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