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Carbohydrate Cravings | Iron Deficiency Anemia in Premenopausal Women

From a brief Q&A with Daniela Ginta, a freelance writer based in Kamloops, BC, writing a feature article on women's health for a Canadian publication.

1. Do women experience fluctuating carbohydrate cravings and if yes, what is the most probable cause (or causes)? How to best manage such cravings?

My understanding is that fluctuating carbohydrate cravings occur for both men and women. To list isolated causes is to be reductive, as all of our feelings, needs, and symptoms are dynamic, always changing and always influenced by every aspect of our lives - a good analogy is a complex spider web where touching any one strand will cause the entire web to waver to some degree.

If pressed to boil it down to a word, I think the answer is dysphoria, defined as a state of unease or generalized dissatisfaction with life. There are endless potential causes of dysphoria, of course, so from a holistic perspective, spikes in cravings for carbohydrates are best viewed as feedback to seek more rest and balance in our thoughts and actions. The reality is that all health challenges are well addressed by prioritizing mental and physical rest and balance.

2. Pre-menopausal women's iron levels are different than after menopause, when they are less likely to fluctuate. Can we then say that pre-menopausal women are more at risk of developing anemia and if yes, what special precautions should they take to achieve proper iron level (diet and/or supplementation.)

Low iron status in premenopausal women is often caused by iron loss via menstrual blood. Loss through heavy menstrual flow and through making babies are the two primary ways that women of reproductive age lose iron and become at risk of developing iron deficiency anemia. There can be other contributing factors, of course, including frequent blood donation, bleeding from lesions in the gastrointestinal tract, and lowered absorption of dietary iron, often due to a chronic or recurrent inflammatory condition like Crohn's or celiac disease.

Achieving ideal iron status begins with awareness of the potential causes noted above. When looking to increase iron intake, I feel it's best to rely on foods rather than synthetic supplements, as iron salts and other forms used in most supplements can cause ill effects like constipation, abdominal pain, and even diarrhea. Lean red meat like that from elk and grass-fed bison are healthy animal food sources of iron. Lentils, chickpeas, beans, pumpkin seeds, quinoa, broccoli, and spinach are healthy plant food sources of iron. It should be noted that to maximize absorption of iron, grains, seeds, and legumes should be soaked for several hours before cooking and greens like broccoli and spinach should be cooked. Soaking reduces phytates which can interfere with mineral absorption, and cooking greens breaks down their cell walls, allowing for better access to minerals within.

 
 

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Comments

I am a 72 year old female. I live part of my life in Canada and winter in Jamaica. I am a diabetic type II and have been for several years. I was frustrated with having to take so many medications and asked my GP for a recommended WOE and he suggested a Keto diet. I slow started in August and over the period of time I was in Canada found it quite easy to adopt to cutting down on carbs. We are so fortunate in Canada to have so many choices for veggies, I found that within a few weeks, my blood glucose levels are perfect and well within range However, in Jamaica it is much more difficult to find the same selection of vegetables, but there quite a bit I can eat and stay on a loose Keto WOE. I am eating more fruits which is a no, no but my blood sugar is still lower and I am still on some medication. I will not self medicate and go off anything until I am able to see my own GP in the spring. I just wanted to say that my "rule of thumb" is nothing "white" . I feel much better having lost weight and am now exercising more as I am not as tired. I am not craving carbs and have to be creative for snacks. I think cutting down on the carbs has been a life lesson for me after struggling for years to follow eating plans that included carbs. I am convinced, at least for myself, that is why I failed so many plans. Thank you for your newsletter which I read all the time.