88 chapter 5: Taking care of your body
To both prevent and treat anemia, try to eat foods rich in iron every day, such as
dark green leafy vegetables (edible hibiscus leaves, spinach, drumstick leaves, taro
leaves, cassava leaves) and also eggs and milk, raisins, molasses, and meat.
It is possible to get even more iron if you:
• eat iron-rich foods together with tomatoes or fruits such as mangoes, papayas,
oranges, lemons, and limes. These all contain vitamin C, which helps your
body use more of the iron in the food.
• cook food in iron pots. If you add tomatoes, lime
juice, or lemon juice to the food while it is cooking,
more iron from the pots will go into the food.
• add a clean piece of iron—such as an iron nail or
a horseshoe—to the cooking pot. Make sure that
these are made of pure iron, not a mixture of iron and other metals. Some
metals, like lead, are harmful and cause birth defects.
• put a clean piece of pure iron, such as an iron nail, in a little lemon juice for a
few hours. Then make lemonade with the juice and drink it.
In many places, health centers will give iron pills (ferrous sulfate) to pregnant
women to prevent anemia.
Keep your body moving
All women need exercise to keep their bodies strong, flexible, and healthy. Exercise
helps your muscles, your heart, and your lungs stay strong, and it helps prevent you
from getting high blood pressure, weak bones, and constipation. Exercise will also
help prevent you from becoming too fat. To be very fat is not healthy and will make
all of your daily activities more difficult.
Sometimes a woman’s disability does not let her use or move her body, or parts
of it, well enough to get the exercise she needs. Muscles that are not used regularly
become weak or can develop spasms. Joints that are not moved through their full
range of motion get stiff and can no longer be completely straightened or bent. If
you have a disability that affects your body, make sure to move all the parts of your
body through their full range of motion. Sometimes you may need help with this.
Exercise can also help women who feel depressed. Some kinds of exercise can
actually help you feel less pain. Many people sleep better if they exercise regularly.
When your body is strong and healthy, you have more energy, feel better, and hurt less.
Most women get all the exercise they need through ordinary daily activities,
such as preparing and cooking family meals, cleaning, working in the fields,
collecting wood and water, and carrying children. As much as possible, women with
disabilities can get their exercise in these same ways.
A Health Handbook for Women with Disabilities 2007