Physical Wellness Challenge 06: Nutritional Deficiencies

I’ve been looking for a new doctor since we moved in July and I’m so glad I finally found one! She’s very thorough and started off with a physical, in November, to get a baseline for my health. There were some good news and some not great news which sparked this month’s challenge.

My 18-month journey to better physical health continued with another challenge in December. I’m working on monthly challenges to create healthy habits that will lead to a healthy lifestyle.

In December, my focus was on correcting nutritional deficiencies.

As this is the now the sixth challenge in this journey, I think it’s a good time to pause and do a check-in on my initial short-term health goals.

From my physical, I learned that my blood sugar levels have actually gotten worse. When my previous doctor first flagged it in 2020, it was 6.3. After consulting with a Dietician and implementing the changes she recommended to eat balanced meals and reduce stress, I got it down to 6.0, which is borderline pre-diabetic, in April 2021. Since moving though, that all went crazy and it is now 6.4 which is quite high (6.5+ is Diabetes). So that’s disappointing and I will have to be more diligent in working on this specifically.

My cholesterol is now down within normal range but is still on the higher end of normal. So that’s going well but also needs work.

As for my weight, I’ve lost 8.5 pounds, somehow. I wasn’t focused on this specific goal during this phase. But I’m happy to be making progress here as well.

Physical Wellness Challenge nutritional deficiencies

In other news, my blood work also revealed that I am anemic. This is not new news actually. I’ve been aware of my chronic anemia since my twenties. My doctor was concerned because not only is my hemoglobin low but the red blood cells are small. She suspects a condition called Thalassemia. However, since it’s prevalent in people of my ethnic background and there’s no cure, she didn’t see a point in testing for that. Having dealt with anemia since my twenties, I suspect that the real problem is an absorption issue because my iron and B12 levels are normal.

Iron needs Vitamin C to be present at the same time in the gut in order to be absorbed effectively. It would be even better if calcium was not present because that inhibits the absorption.

My diet is usually low in vitamin C foods because most of them aggravate my stomach. So, my challenge this month was to increase my intake of vitamin C foods to address this nutritional deficiency. As well as continue to consume foods high in iron and B12, or take a supplement.

And the results…

When I think of Vitamin C, my mind automatically goes to citrus fruits, strawberries or bell pepper. All of which gives me a stomachache! So, over the years, my go-to’s for Vitamin C are usually broccoli and mangoes, foods I truly enjoy.

I don’t take an iron supplement because all the types I’ve tried over the year just hurts my stomach. I had high hopes for liquid iron which I’ve seen recommended often. But that was the worst, I think because of the added vitamin C via citrus or ascorbic acid. So, I get iron from foods and from my daily multivitamin. I’ve found eating red meat, particularly beef liver, to be most effective. Again, not something I eat a lot of, and that’s mostly out of habit and maybe also because it’s ingrained in my mind that red meat is bad so I avoid it.

As for B12, I take a sublingual supplement once a week. I’ve found that to be the most effective solution than foods.

Physical Wellness just bloom

I took a break from logging my food in December amidst all the seasonal festivities. So, unfortunately, I’m not sure what I ate on many days. But I did have beef and broccoli many times. And I can feel an improvement in my energy levels as well as see the change in the colour of my tongue and fingernails.

As for habits, I’ve since made it a routine to eat beef and broccoli, or beef stew, each weekend. And I enjoy a mango smoothie, with some spinach thrown in, during the week.

However, anemia is an ongoing issue that worsens every month. Sometimes, I feel like I can’t catch up fast enough before it gets depleted again. I’ll share more about that in another post.

Let me end this post with the reminder that there will usually be setbacks and disappointments in anything worth doing. But there are also victories. We can learn from them both and keep moving forward.

Joy & Peace, Sister!

For more on this Physical Wellness journey and other challenges, click here.

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