We have a problem

Anaemia is a huge health problem. More than 3.5 billion people (more than 30% of human population) are affected by it. In Cambodia, the condition is particularly widespread with almost 50% of women and children suffering from the condition.

It is the end product of many different diseases: nutritional disorders which lead to iron and vitamin B12 and A deficiencies, parasitic infections (such as malaria), cancer and many other illnesses. Diets that are poor in iron-rich foods, particularly red meat and raw green leafy vegetables (if overcooked, they lost their benefits), lead to iron-deficiency anaemia.

However, doctors should consider anaemia, not only as a symptom of other diseases, but as a disease in itself with its extensive list of symptoms: fatigue, headaches, nausea, loss of appetite, lack of concentration, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, chills, pale complexion, weakened immune system, photosensitivity, pregnancy complications before and after childbirth, such as haemorrhaging…

Iron deficiency anaemia is a condition where the lack of iron in the body leads to a reduction in the number of red blood cells, which help store and carry oxygen in the blood. If there are fewer red blood cells than normal, organs and tissues will not get as much oxygen as they should.

The use of iron pots or utensils in daily cooking seems to ameliorate iron deficiency anaemia. The recipe is simple: boiling up water with an iron object (such as a brand-new horse shoe, for example) for at least 10 minutes enhances the iron content of food; you can then take it out and add a little lemon juice which is important for the absorption of the iron. It can provide 75% of an adult’s daily recommended intake of iron.

So should everyone be putting recycled iron parts in their soup? Well, it is not a long-term solution. A community-wide study was conducted in the village of Preak Ruessei, Kandal Province, Cambodia. A reusable fish-shaped iron ingot was distributed to two treatment groups and participants were directed to use them daily for cooking. Iron from the ingot would leach iron into food providing an effective iron source. The results have shown that blood iron levels were higher in women who cooked with the iron fish, but this was not maintained. Six months after the treatment, haemoglobin and serum iron had fallen in all groups and the proportion of anaemic women had increased. In conclusion, the iron ingot was effective in the short but not longer-term. Further research is neeeded to determine the bioavailability of leached iron.

But anaemia is not only occurring in developing countries, it is also widespread in developed ones. The latter simply have more access to iron supplements which enable them to camouflage temporalily the persistence of the disease. Nevertheless, as long as they stop taking iron pills (an intake which might provoke newborn jaundice and other side effects, such as poisoning iron overdose), anaemia comes back. Without pills, the anaemic statistics would certainly be higher.

Multiple concerted factors are contributing to institute anaemia:

SOIL – subject to gradual depletion of several essential minerals, including iron (which is extracted to be used in several industries). The mineral content of foods is declining, since they get it from the soil, and we get it from the food. We ourselves are stealing iron from our food chain, for making weapons, vehicles, tools: not edible;

WATER – subject to mineral impoverishment. Mountain aquifers and spring waters get from rocks a long-matured proportion of natural occurring minerals (including iron), but they are being gradually substituted by water and wastewater treatment, which provide a dubious formula of chemical additives (chloride, fluoride, etc.);

AIR – subject to gradual impoverishment in oxygen. The city atmosphere is a smog bubble, full of gas pollutants, where not even trees breathe and develop well (look at them); aditionally, in the unventilated or “conditioned air” rooms of buildings where humans imprison themselves, breathing people are always transforming O2 in CO2, so, the CO2 concentration can rise to 5000ppm (0.5%), which is enough to lead to headaches and drowsiness, and the oxygen concentration would have dropped by the same amount, i.e., from 21% to 20.5%. We tend to forget that we are natural oxygen-predators;

TEMPERATURE –  subject to an increase at the ocean level, as demonstrated by well-attested records of the ice melting phenomenon at the Poles. Oxygen saturation and phytoplankton life is inversely proportional to the temperature of the water. Arctic and antarctic regions have higher oxygen ratios due to the abundance of oceanic phytoplankton in those regions. The amount of oxygen produced by ocean single cell organisms (such as phytoplankton) is way more than that produced by multicellular plants (such as trees). In conclusion, less ice means less oxygen. Nasa reports that in the north Pacific ocean oxygen-producing phytoplankton concentrations are 30% lower today, compared to the 1980s. We tend to forget that human body is composed by 80% of water at 36ºC of temperature. So, we don’t need cows to produce global warming: we are the cows ourselves. Furthermore, in cities, the lack of fresh tree shadows and the overabundance of equipments and building materials which are conductors of electricity and heat also contribute for rising up the temperature. Don’t blame the cows…

Mineral elements (that means mountains, springs, atmospheres, magnetic fields, etc.) are the basis of organic life, as ancient philosophers did know. Elements arrested in a cycle of destruction destroy organisms – isn’t that obvious?

Can we do something? As far as I understand, if we did nothing (stop doing what we are doing), we would do a lot. But we are all slaves of our own conceptions of subsistence through work and money, indoors life, developing and building through extraction, etc.

Unless we compose ourselves healthfully with inorganic fluxes and matters, we will continue to get more and more anaemic… Does humanity pretend to be some sort of suicidal vampire, lacking well-oxygenated blood? Do we love to play the Dead?

I am just not figuring out how to get away from this problem, which is quickly undermining my health. I am an effect of circumstances. As Ancient Egyptians would put it: if Ra is not okay, I am not okay.

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