A low blood count, also known as anemia, is a lower than usual number of red blood cells in your body. Anemia is particularly common among older individuals. The National Anemia Action Council states about 10 percent of adults over 65 years old have this condition, and more than 50 percent of people in nursing homes have low blood counts. Ask your doctor about the merits and drawbacks of diet and nutrition in treating this health problem.
Greater than 30 percent of the global population is anemic, reports the World Health Organization. In most cases, iron deficiency is responsible for decreased red blood cell numbers. Other possible causes of a low red blood cell count include genetics, the use of certain medications, being pregnant and having certain chronic health conditions, including kidney failure, cancer and ulcerative colitis. If you suffer from anemia, you may experience fatigue and shortness of breath. You may also develop headaches, dizziness, chest pain and difficulty concentrating.
In many cases, notes medical doctor Alan R. Gaby, author of "The Natural Pharmacy," severe protein deficiency is a leading cause of anemia, especially among people living in developing nations. High-protein foods, such as herring, salmon and sardines, may be helpful. Other beneficial foods in treating your anemia may include okra, parsley, asparagus, broccoli, egg yolks, bananas, apples, apricots, enriched cereals and dark leafy green vegetables. Foods high in vitamin C -- oranges, strawberries, bell peppers -- may also be helpful.
Oranges may be one of the most useful foods in treating your anemia. According to nutritionist and biologist George Mateljan, author of "The World's Healthiest Foods," oranges contain significant amounts of vitamin C, dietary fiber, folate, vitamins A and B1, potassium and calcium. Vitamin C, notes the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, helps your body absorb iron, which may be particularly helpful in treating iron deficiency anemia. Oranges have historically been used in treating anemia, promoting heart health and reducing inflammation within your body.
Because there are numerous possible causes of a low red blood cell count, it is important to visit your primary care provider for a thorough examination if you develop the characteristic signs and symptoms of this condition. A qualified healthcare practitioner can counsel you on the risks, benefits and limitations of natural treatment methods and inform you about other, more conventional treatment methods to help resolve your anemia. Some foods traditionally used in treating this condition may require a larger body of scientific research evidence to examine their true health effects.
- National Anemia Action Council: Anemia Statistics for Patient Populations
- World Health Organization: Iron Deficiency Anemia
- "The Natural Pharmacy"; Alan R. Gaby, M.D.; 2006
- "The World's Healthiest Foods"; George Mateljan; 2007
- National Heart Lung and Blood Institute: Anemia