$Monday: A Taste of My Own Medicine

Today I'm heading in to a clinic for a follow-up blood test to find out how anemic I am! I already know I have low hemoglobin, and today I get my ferritin checked. This has happened to me many times over the past couple of decades due to a menstrual condition that causes me to lose an abnormal amount of blood.

A couple of times, I've been so anemic that I've been dizzy, extremely weak, prone to fainting, and experiencing hair loss. This time, nothing so dramatic happened, but I started to notice a little bit of fatigue, headache, mental fogginess, moodiness, and brittle nails, so I went in and took a blood test and--what do you know, it's time to go back on iron supplements.

And put red meat back into my diet.

My periods are not as bad as they were before I had my daughter, so I thought I could live on a mostly vegetarian diet. Other than the low hemoglobin, my blood is healthy; my diet rich in vegetable sources of iron (and sometimes cooked in cast iron!) and Vitamin C (beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, dried fruits, fortified cereals, broccoli, peppers, tomatoes, C-Boost smoothies, etc.) has been serving me pretty well, except I still do need that extra boost of meaty flesh to live my best life (as this Healthline diet plan explains).

Alas, there is no substitute for a juicy steak to a woman in my condition.

Bison is my preferred red meat, lean and tender and not the least bit gamy, but it's hard to find for sale when it isn't trending.

Game meats have the highest iron content--though game is an acquired taste that I haven't fully acquired (so disturbingly... REAL and MUSCULAR, seductive yet exciting to me in a gag-inducing way). But I try to eat a little bit of safe, lead-free venison whenever I get the opportunity, because there's no faster, more effective way to absorb dietary iron.

Contemporary Americans are silly about how we gender our diets. Vegetarianism is associated with yoga-pants-wearing women and femininity, while red meat is associated with lumberjacks and cavemen. And yet, most American men suffer negative health consequences from consuming too much meat (including, sometimes, having excessive iron in the blood leading to sexual dysfunction and cirrhosis of the liver), while it's menstruating women who most benefit from slicing into a filet now and then.

Red meat costs a lot more than vegetarian proteins like lentils and beans and mushrooms, but I've decided to take my own advice and spend a little more on nutrition so I won't have to pay for my anemia in lost productivity and future health problems such as an increased risk of cancer. Yikes!

There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all diet; your gender, lifestyle, health conditions, and genetics determine a lot about your personal nutritional requirements. So know your numbers, get checked by a doctor if you're having physical or cognitive symptoms, and feed yourself what your body needs.

If you need to, do have a cow! Or better yet, a bow-hunted deer!

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