WHAT’S NU? Blood Disorders and Diet
Most of the North American population consumes a diet that is not proportionate with dietary recommendations,” is the conclusion in a report published online on August 11, 2010 in the Journal of Nutrition.
Data from 16,338 individuals aged 2 and older, was evaluated by Susan M. Krebs Smith and her colleagues at the National Cancer Institute. These individuals had participated in the 2001-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Quantities of foods were categorized into groups included in the USDA’s food pyramid, which illustrates the recommended dietary intake of total fruits, whole fruits, total vegetables, dark green vegetables orange vegetables, legumes, starchy vegetables, other vegetables, milk, total grains, whole grains, meat and beans, and oils.
Except for total grains, and meat and beans, the majority of the people surveyed failed to consume the minimum recommendations for each food group. Almost all participants failed to consume enough dark green and orange vegetables, legumes and whole grains while empty calories, including solid fats, added sugars and alcoholic beverages were overconsumed by more than 90 percent of those aged 70 and younger.
Understanding the connection
Red blood cells are manufactured in the bone marrow. This process relies on various nutrients, including iron, vitamin B12 and folic acid, as well as smaller amounts of vitamin C, riboflavin, and copper. Deficiencies in any of these nutrients can result in anemia.
- Pernicious anemia – is caused by a deficiency in B12. It is estimated that up to 3 million people in the US alone have a vitamin B12 deficiency. This deficiency is usually caused by lack of “intrinsic factor”, a protein produced by cells in the stomach. People who lack intrinsic factor cannot use available B12, which results in anemia even if large amounts of B12 are consumed.
- Folic acid deficiency anemia – Folic acid is plentiful in dark green leafy vegetables but because many people in developed countries don’t eat enough vegetables, this deficiency is very common.
- Anemia of chronic disease – Anemia is linked with various chronic diseases and conditions, including infections, inflammatory diseases, and cancers that affect the ability of the body to produce red blood cells. In patients with cancer or HIV/AIDS, anemia is associated with increased mortality (Buskin SE et al 2004; Caro JJ et al 2001).