Mom is best described as a stubborn health nut—when I was a kid, she'd rather have me burn off germs with a good, natural fever than take Tylenol. But one day this summer a fever hit her, and it didn't let up for nine days. When her home remedies weren't bringing relief, she went to a physician and discovered that her iron levels were severely low, so low that her immune system was down and open to a small bug, which wouldn't leave without a week of swigs of Floradix, a liquid iron supplement she'd used in the past for moderate upkeep or rare occasions like this.
There had never been an occasion so dire, and the cause came as a shock, even to her doctor. A few select foods—healthy foods in any other light (including herbal tea) —were in fact depleting her iron levels. This realization was overwhelming for her, not unlike legendary mathematician John Nash finding out he'd lost his mind, all the while thinking he was on the brink of brilliance.
Americans eagerly jump and sway between diets, adjusting to each political-environmental debacle and the latest nutritional findings. But whether you are vegetarian, carnivorous, vegan, or wheat-free, there are still core nutrient levels that your body needs to maintain, and one of the most common nutritional imbalances is iron deficiency. Affecting at least 20 percent of American women, this form of anemia is defined as "a chronic state of diminished hemoglobin" —the oxygen-transporting component of red blood cells— "caused by a lack of iron, or poor absorption of iron." This comes straight from nutritionist Dr. Linda Page's Healthy Healing, Mom's most dog-eared alternative health book.