Fight your Fatigue with this mighty mineral
Headaches, dizziness, hot flushes (flashes), fatigue, breathlessness and/or poor recovery from exercise are often touted as symptoms of menopause … but what if menopause wasn’t the actual problem? What if it was your low iron or ferritin (stored iron) levels instead?
Iron is one of the essential minerals for human nutrition. It’s a vital element for human life and this includes for women in their menopause transition. It plays critical roles in oxygen and electron transport, cell division, differentiation, and regulation of gene expression. [ACS Omega 2022]
70% of the iron in the human body binds to red blood cells and iron is the pigment that gives the blood its red colour. Most importantly, the heme part of iron carries oxygen on your red blood cells, which means that if your levels are iron are low, the oxygen carrying-capacity of red blood cells may be reduced.
As such, you can feel tired, listless and if you are an exerciser, then low iron can affect your performance and recovery.
That’s why, when it comes to the MyMT™ programmes, I have both vegetarian and meat recipes in the Food Guide. We don’t need a lot of red meat in our diet as we get older (only 1-2 servings a week), but some of you in peri-menopause who are still menstruating may benefit from having a focus on it.
Many women on my programme are still quite active. But few understand that as we move through menopause, there are changes to our iron and ferritin (stored iron) levels.
As a sports and exercise physiologist, I taught for decades that when female athletes are low in iron, then they feel chronically tired, hotter than normal (or cold) and don’t sleep well.
Hence, I often tell them to get their blood work checked and to consider having some red meat and making this delicious Moroccan Lamb Meatballs. Whether you need additional iron or not, you might like to make it too.
- 1/2 red onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, diced
- 2 tsp cumin or cumin seeds
- 2 tsp dried coriander or coriander seeds
- 2 tsp paprika
- 1tsp cinnamon
- 500g Lamb Mince
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- ½ cup breadcrumbs
- Salt and pepper
Rice Salad Ingredients
- Enough rice to feed your group, cooked per the packet instructions.
- 1x red pepper (eat raw if you don’t have much time)
- 1x courgette or cucumber (use cucumber if you don’t have much time)
- A handful of fresh herbs or rocket/spinach – I used mint and basil.
- Dressing: Juice of 1 lemon + 2tbsp olive oil combined. You could add hummus.
- If you are cooking the red pepper and courgette, turn the oven onto 180 degrees Celsius, bake to heat up.
- Next, cook the rice as per your packet instructions.
- Chop up the red pepper and courgette and place into the oven for 25 minutes (remember to turn them halfway).
- While the red pepper and rice are cooking, combine all meatball ingredients in a bowl. Mix with your hands until well combined and then roll into small balls.
- Check on the rice and the vegetables at this stage. If they are nearly ready, put a dash of olive oil into a frying pan and place it on medium/high heat.
- Cook the meatballs – make sure you turn them every few minutes so that they are well cooked through.
- Place the rice, vegetables, meatballs and fresh herbs in a bowl. Top with dressing and hummus.