We’re barely one month into the new year but already many of us are struggling to find the willpower to continue with the new year’s resolutions we made just weeks ago.
Our regular visits to the gym have dwindled and the new, healthy diet we promised ourselves is actually making us crave cake and chips.
But there IS something that can help you stick to your resolutions, and it’s surprisingly simple.
Adding iron to your diet can give your health a huge boost, helping you feel more energised and happier, therefore making those promises easier to keep.
‘Iron does practically everything in the body,’ says nutritionist Rick Hay. ‘People don’t think of a mineral making a big different to their health but it does – even if you’re a little bit low in it you can suffer. I’ve seen it change people’s lives.’
You can increase the iron in your day-to-day diet, and take a supplement to help boost your levels – just make sure you chose one that is gentle on the stomach but has a high absorption level. Here’s are just a few ways iron helps:
IT GIVES YOU ENERGY
Iron’s main job is to help make red blood cells which transport oxygen around the body and stop you feeling tired.
‘As iron is integral to energy production, it’s likely to keep you motivated to do that yoga class or go to the gym,’ says Rick.
If you decide to take an iron supplement just make sure you chose wisely. Side effects to some traditional iron supplements can include abdominal cramps, constipation and diarrhoea – and nothing makes you feel less energized- or less likely to stick to your resolutions- than an upset tummy!
IT HELPS US EAT HEALTHILY
When we’re tired, we’re more likely to start snacking so the extra energy iron provides can help keep you on the straight and narrow.
IT IMPROVES YOUR MOOD
If you’re getting irritable or feeling low, it could be due to low iron levels as the mineral is vital for brain health.
‘Without enough iron, your brain can’t produce hormones like serotonin which boost your mood,’ says Rick, author of ‘The Anti Ageing Food & Fitness Plan’,
IT STOPS YOU GETTING SICK
Iron helps boost our immune system which protects us from illness so if you have enough in your diet, you’re more likely to stay well and suffer fewer infections.
‘If you’re deficient in iron, your immune system suffers so you could end up with constant colds,’ says Rick. ‘If you’re feeling sick or run down, you’re less likely to go to the gym or continue with other resolutions.’
IT CAN STOP YOU WORRYING
If your body tissues aren’t getting enough oxygen, it can cause feelings of anxiety. So having plenty of iron in your diet could help you worry less.
‘If you’re low in iron you can become more emotionally upset too,’ says Rick. ‘And if you’re suffering from mild depression, it’s worth looking at your iron levels.’
IT GIVES YOU A HEALTHY GLOW
A healthy dose of iron can give your face a lovely pink, rosy glow. But without it, not enough oxygen can get to your skin, causing it to look pale and sallow.
IT GIVES US GLORIOUS HAIR
SO HOW CAN I GET MORE IRON IN MY DIET?
Make sure you eat enough foods rich in the mineral. They include red meat, shellfish, turkey, tofu, spinach and legumes.
If that’s not possible, or you want to ensure you’re getting enough iron every day, try a supplement.
The main problem with traditional iron supplements is the side effects that they can cause including abdominal cramps, constipation and diarrhoea.
Some products get around this by reducing the dose but that makes them less effective, so if you’re looking for an iron supplement look for one that is well absorbed and kind on your system.
Oxygen stimulates the growth and repair of hair cells and without it, hair can start to fall out. So if you’re seeing more hair in the plug hole or on your brush, ask yourself if you’re getting enough iron.
IT SUPPORTS VEGANS AND VEGETARIANS
While there are many plant sources of iron, vegans and vegetarians often struggle to get enough in their diet, particular when they first give up meat and/or dairy.
‘I’d recommend taking an iron supplement as top of the to-do list,’ says Rick.
IT GIVES US STRONG NAILS
Nails need oxygen to stay healthy so can become brittle and chip or tear easily without enough iron. A severe deficiency can lead to the middle of the nail dipping and the edges being raised, making them look spoon-like.
IT CAN STOP YOU FEELING COLD
If your hands and feet are constantly cold even indoors, it might be a sign you need more iron as it could be not enough oxygen is getting to your body’s extremities. ‘Iron helps circulation,’ says Rick. ‘It helps the blood flow.’
IT’S BRAIN FOOD
The brain uses up to 25pc of the oxygen in our bodies and can’t work properly without it. That’s why if you’re not getting enough iron, you might find yourself struggling to remember things or to concentrate properly.
IT ALSO PREVENTS HEADACHES
If not enough oxygen gets to the brain, it can lead to pressure and pain in the organ – which we experience as headaches.