Your liver functions as more than just a filter. In TCM, one of the jobs of the liver is regulating blood, primarily in distribution and circulation. When there is insufficient liver blood, there are a multitude of disease conditions which can ensue.
Symptoms of fatigue, dizziness, headaches, cold hands and feet, pale skin and chest distention can all indicate a deficiency of Liver Blood.
These symptoms are also the hallmark symptoms of anemia and iron deficiency.
Other symptoms include brittle nails, swelling or soreness of the tongue, cracks in the sides of the mouth, and frequent infections. Some people with anemia due to iron deficiency may develop restless leg syndrome.
Iron is necessary in the body for cellular transportation of oxygen through hemoglobin in the blood and myoglobin in the muscles.
If you have anemia, or suffer major blood loss after menstruation, child birth, or surgery, then you may need to increase your iron intake. Likewise if you do a lot of heavy lifting and exercising, your body has an additional iron demand.
And while I am all for supplementation for significantly low iron levels, I like to approach nutrition from a whole food perspective.
Eating iron-rich foods like meats, beans, and spinach is a good place to start. But you can really enhance your iron nutrients by cooking with a cast iron skillet.
Foods which are highly acidic, like tomato sauce, extract the highest level of iron from skillets. Foods which must be frequently stirred and cook for long periods of time fair better at increasing iron values than foods which cook for shorter time periods and need little stirring. And newer skillets provide more iron than older ones.
I have gotten into the habit of cooking almost everything in my skillets since I don’t like the side effects of iron supplements. The one thing to avoid is frying in cast iron as the pans rancidify oils much faster than stainless steel, and rancid oils bear a huge burden on the liver.
Last week I gave a list of tips to help the transition into spring to benefit the liver. You can add cooking with cast iron to the list.
I am really excited to be a contributing writer on the amazing website Healthy Green Kitchen. I am featured on the blog this week with tips on how to align your food and cooking methods with the season. Healthy Green Kitchen is an amazing resource for recipes aligned with my own food philosophy written by my friend and fellow CrossFit enthusiast Winnie Abramson.