Doctor pushes iron-rich diet

BUILD UP: Director of Obstetrics and Gynecology at South West Healthcare Michael Koutsoukis is encouraging women to have an iron-rich diet. Picture: Anthony Brady

BUILD UP: Director of Obstetrics and Gynecology at South West Healthcare Michael Koutsoukis is encouraging women to have an iron-rich diet. Picture: Anthony Brady

A GLOBAL women’s health issue is being mirrored in Warrnambool.

South West Healthcare’s (SWH) Women’s Health Service has reported a high instance of women low in iron.

This matches data from the World Health Assembly that shows 29 per cent of non-pregnant and 38 per cent of pregnant women aged 15-49 are suffering from an iron deficiency.

Director of Obstetrics and Gynecology at South West Healthcare Dr Michael Koutsoukis said these figures closely match those at SWH Women’s Health Service.

“Women low in iron has certainly been placed prominently back on the agenda,” Dr Koutsoukis said.

“Women who are pregnant or who have heavy periods are the highest risk factor groups.

“The problem is significant enough on a global scale to have the World Health Assembly set a target of reducing the rate of women low in iron by 50 per cent by 2025.”

Iron carries oxygen through the body with symptoms of low levels including tiredness, poor concentration, irritability and frequent infections.

Iron plays a critical role in building a healthy immune system.

It is particularly important for pregnant women as it aids the growth and brain development of the unborn baby.

Dr Koutsoukis said diet is the best way to address low iron levels.

Foods high in iron include meat such as lamb and beef, fish, chicken, nuts, strawberries, oranges, tomatoes, wholegrain breads and broccoli. 

Tea, coffee and cola are less favourable as they can decrease the amount of iron absorbed. 

Supplements are also available which can be valuable for people on vegetarian diets, those suffering severe morning sickness and those with a past history of anemia. 

Dr Koutsoukis said for the past six months, SWH has had access to rapid iron infusion medication.

This can be put into the body in a shorter amount of time than usual and can build the blood count to the required level quicker.

It is used for pregnant women to raise their blood count to a healthy level prior to giving birth. 

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