Pernicious (or persnickety?) Anemia: Round One

I’ve felt fat and slow for a long time now.

Years. Part of that is not that I’m fat, but that I do actually weigh more than I did 4 or 5 years ago. What happens when I run is just physics: it feels different to hit the ground at 2.5x your body weight with an extra 12 pounds. Strength and experience can get through a lot of that. Good weight training, endurance work, neuromuscular development – all of these contribute to performance even when not at the featherweight category.

And yet. Feeling like you’ve strapped on a soggy wetsuit when going out for a run or trying to bound up a hill and gasping like two decades just jumped on your back ain’t fun.

So I turn to my red fluid of life: blood. Specifically, the known condition deep in my tissues that has lie in wait for years without too much bother: anemia. Uh-Knee-Me-Uh. Sexy, huh?

What is anemia?

Anemia (or anaemia for the fancy) means a lot of things, just like being overly warm can mean a lot of things. You might have a parka on. Or it might be 100 degrees out. Or you might be feverish. Or you might have just eaten Thanksgiving dinner.

With anemia, generally there’s something going on with the available red blood cells and/or their ability to give you oxygen when you request it, either by bounding up a hill or by getting out of bed.

I’ve learned craptons by reading the overview on the Merck site, which delineates different kinds of anemia and how one might get them. Anemias that I am extremely unlikely to have: excessive bleeding, sickle cell disorder, certain other genetic diseases.

Candidates for my own anemia, from lifestyle and bloodwork:

  • footstrike hemolysis (basically when my feet hit the ground the red blood cells get smooshed and die)
  • B12 deficiency (mine is low-ish but not that low, also I get numb fingers sometimes like Reynaud’s)
  • “simple” iron deficiency (caused by malabsorption – gut issues)
  • G6PD deficiency (genetic mutation, can be triggered by infection or fava beans. Yes, fava beans.)

So…. there are a lot of moving parts. But one thing I can start with is to try to increase nutrient absorption. I eat in a manner that does not explain my low nutrient levels – seriously I should be super high in damn near everything, and I’m not.

First experiment: HCl

From – an awesome HCl resource!

Poor absorption of nutrients can be simply because there ain’t enough acid in one’s stomach. Supplementing with Betaine HCl will increase stomach acid and lead to better breakdown of food. It’s not crazy. (In fact, LOW stomach acid, not high, is the most common factor in heartburn and GERD. Weird, huh?)

I’m excited to try this, even though I’ve known for years about HCl. No time like the present, I suppose. I’ll follow some good guidelines about how to do it right, and let’s see how it goes.

2 thoughts on “Pernicious (or persnickety?) Anemia: Round One

  1. Bleh. You remind me of an episode of “Biggest Loser”. I walked in the room when a weigh-in was going on. A woman stepped on the scale, and after a long period of beeps, shots of anticipation, shots of the digital numbers jumping around, 8 or so commercials, shots of pensive other contestants, the number finally was revealed. Guess what: She gained 2 lbs. She was SHREDDED by the judges. She collapsed into a sobbing mess crying out “I DIDN’T cheat!!!!! I did EVERYTHING I was supposed to!!!!! I SWEAR it!!!!!” -many more sobs- “My clothes are falling off me now! I’ve never felt better and nothing fits anymore because it’s so big! I don’t know what happened!” She was still berated and probably voted off. I left the room yelling out “IT’S CALLED ADDING MUSCLE!!!!!!!!” That’s where those lbs are on you. If you don’t like them, do a Tour de France diet and stop eating awesome things that get turned into muscle. Stop lifting. Literally lose muscle by being on a diet that starves you of protein. But I’m still shocked that you of all people would say that you “felt fat”. You know better. If you lift and eat protein, you get (healthily) heavier with muscle. Maybe you should switch to sprinting.

  2. Thanks for reading and the comment, George. 🙂

    Didn’t mean to sound whiny…. that’s why I said that it just feels different to run with extra weight. And I assure you it’s not all extra muscle. 🙂 And unlike that woman, I can’t say that “I’ve never felt better” or “my clothes are falling off”. If anything I feel relatively cruddy compared to other time periods in my running life. And that’s why the troubleshoot with nutrients….

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