Insect protein is a smart solution to iron deficiency
I’ve been a holistic nutritionist for almost four years. I’ve worked with hundreds of women and most of their stories sound similar. They feel overworked because they have too much on their plate. They tell me they don’t have energy, they’re tired, and get headaches frequently. They think it’s normal to feel sluggish and blame it all on their busy schedules. Amidst all of this, food is frequently used for emotional comfort, most of the time without even realizing it. Food isn’t seen as it should be: as a solution to a range of very basic needs.
For women, one of the most common needs is iron.
A COMMON PROBLEM AMONG WOMEN
According to the World Health Organization, iron is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies in the world . Iron is one of the essential minerals we need for our body, and women need more than twice the amount than males need. Why this is depends on a variety of factors. If a woman is pregnant or breastfeeding she could need twice as much iron than a female in her teens who is moderately active. [Please note: to know the perfect amount for you and your body it is best to consult with your healthcare provider.]
Why is iron so important? Before considering how much iron should be in our diets it’s important to understand what iron does and why it’s essential. Iron is the main element of red blood cells and carries oxygen throughout the body. It has two main forms: heme and nonheme . Heme iron is more bioavailable in the body, meaning the body can absorb it and use it more easily than nonheme. Plants and iron-fortified foods contain nonheme iron only, while crickets, seafood, poultry and meat contain both heme and nonheme. If a food is labeled as “mineral rich”, as a nutritionist I’m more concerned with how easy it is for our bodies to absorb that mineral or vitamin.
A body deficient in iron can provide a variety of side effects, such as weakness, fatigue, problems concentrating, headaches, irritability, numbness or coldness in the hands and feet, and decreased athletic performance. Remember, iron carries oxygen throughout our body and to our tissues. It’s literally the fuel for our body. As a woman, do you ever feel tired during your period? Do you struggle to concentrate at work? Both of these can be a sign that your iron levels are too low and your body isn’t able to function at full capacity.
A SMART SOLUTION TO IRON DEFICIENCY
Above I stated that crickets, seafood, poultry and meat are sources of bioavailable iron. Among these, beef has served as the suggested source of iron in Western diets. More recently, however, scientific studies have begun exploring the potential of insects to replace beef as a viable—and more sustainable—source of not only protein but iron as well. These explorations are fairly new, but what they have found is promising. One Study found that crickets have almost three time as much soluble iron than sirloin . We’re discovering that humans naturally absorb more iron from crickets than they do from any plant source or iron-fortified foods.
Incorporating insects into our diet makes a lot of sense.
As a nutritionist, I do emphasize that, in the end, diet ultimately comes down to choice. And choice is deeply personal. People always think I’m judging their food choices. I’ve been on dates where a guy doesn’t want to order what he really wants because he thinks I’m judging him. I have girlfriends literally apologize to me about what they order. But here’s the thing: I don’t care what you eat. I really don’t. This may sound crazy coming from a nutritionist but what I think truly doesn't matter. What matters is that you care about what you eat. I want you to care about your body, and love yourself enough to give your body the proper fuel it needs to slay your day. I want you to know you don’t have to feel tired 24/7. There are solutions that don’t involve covering up the root cause of the problem. We all know one thing we could be doing to improve our health. What’s one step you can take today to improve how you feel tomorrow?
Guest Author: Lindsay LaPaugh @wellnessgypsy