About Anemia…. and Hamburger Soup:)

I knew I was slightly anemic for years before I joined the track team at Brigham Young University. Anemia is not uncommon. Many women experience anemia because of diet and heavy menstrual cycles. What I didn't realize was how much my lifestyle was  I didn't think it would affect me that much as an athlete, besides being a little more tired once in a while. Boy was I wrong.

Anemia is a condition in which the number of ethrocytes (or red blood cells) are too low and oxygen and carbon dioxide are not transferred adequately to and from body tissues. In "Amy words", you are soooooooooo exhausted! You want to lie on the floor. All. The. Time…. Like, always.

That causes some problems with 4 hour practices every day. I was hurting bad.

So I saw team doctors and nutritionists and they told me to eat more red meat and to take an iron supplement. I vigorously accepted the red meat invitation and pounded down as much In-n-Out as I could. But the iron supplement was awful. Not only did it wreak havoc on my digestive system, it often made me feel worse than I already felt. Whaaa?? How could that be? I already felt like my legs were made of lead! And now I felt like I was constantly sledging through lava. The sports nutritionist said that the added exhaustion was probably unrelated but encouraged me to start taking the supplements with orange juice.

With time, my ferritin levels (ferritin is the protein that stores iron in the body) were still not improving and I was becoming frustrated.

While researching the GAPS diet, I learned that most people with severe digestive issues also experience anemia. Well, why didn't I think of that before? It's no wonder, really. A damaged gut lining cannot absorb the essential vitamins and minerals that support healthy iron levels. The body needs adequate iron intake, but also magnesium, manganese, iodine, zinc, and plenty of B vitamins to maintain healthy blood. I already knew my gut was having a hard time absorbing nutrients. Things were starting to make sense.

I began the GAPS diet, removing all complex carbohydrates that feed opportunistic bacteria in the gut and adding in healthy fats, proteins, vegetables, and plenty of probiotics. Now, after a year of living on the GAPS diet, MY ANEMIA IS GONE!!  I can't remember the last time I didn't have the energy to walk up a flight of stairs! My gut can actually absorb essential nutrients that my body has craved for so long.

This GAPS diet hamburger soup is a great way to incorporate both bone broth (which will heal and strengthen the gut) and more red meat (which is rich in iron) into your diet. Beef is a great source of iron itself, but bone broth and fats will help your body better absorb nutrients that are essential to your body's using and making iron. 

I really do love this soup--my mom used to make it for us as kids--and it's become sort of a comfort food for me. Make sure to choose your beef wisely--it should come from cows that are healthy, grass-fed, and not injected with hormones or antibiotics. Eating plenty of red meats and organs (especially liver!), as well as lots of vegetables, will do wonders in restoring healthy blood.


Final note: My blog is just that--a blog--and cannot replace a doctor's advice. Always consult your doctor before starting any nutrition program. Keep in mind, though, that you know your body better than anyone else. Try to see a holistic doctor who will help you identify the best way to help heal your body. My only advice for anemia is to focus on diet and to be cautious of iron supplements, which can feed iron-loving strains of pathogenic bacteria and make them stronger (doctors actually know this, which is why they have developed iron supplements with probiotics in them as well). 


GAPS diet hamburger soup


Hamburger Soup
Author: Brenda MoffatPrep time: 5 minCook time: 20 minServings: 4


1 lb ground beef
1/4 c chopped onion
1 c beef broth
4 tomatoes, peeled and chopped (or a 26 oz box chopped tomatoes)
2 c grated carrots
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp garlic salt


In a large skillet, brown meat and onions together
Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for 15 min
Serve with sour cream

Stage 1 instructions:
Do not brown beef in a skillet before. Instead, simmer it in the broth first before adding the vegetables. Then cook until done.

One Response to “About Anemia…. and Hamburger Soup:)

  • I just started GAPS intro today and I think these soups are going to be a lifesaver. Thank you!!!

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