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  • Writer's picture Bowie Matteson

3 Ways to Optimize Your Iron Recycling System

Updated: Mar 4

Iron overload and the cascade of resulting complications is multi-factorial. As we've mentioned before, 95% of iron already in the body is recycled and used again and again. Iron overload is a result of both excess being taken in via the things we eat and drink, as well as inefficiencies in our body's natural recycling system.

We talked about ways to decrease the amount of iron in our system in a previous article. But we can also optimize the system as a whole.

Our spleen and liver both have different methods in filtering blood. The liver is looking for foreign compounds, drugs, alcohol, medications etc to excrete in our urine and poop.

The spleen filters on the basis of structural integrity. Red blood cells that are broken, misshapen or old get flagged by the spleen to be taken by macrophages and broken down into their reusable parts.

So it's important to make sure that both the liver and spleen are taken care of to stay up to speed. Here are 3 ways to do that:

  1. Eat and drink the way a health-conscious person would

Sounds simple but a lot of people have lost that intuition. We mentioned the liver filters the blood of foreign substances and metabolites. Whether it be the 12 beer binge on Saturday or your daily medication cocktail, your liver is wearing that on its chin.

If you're like me, you reflexively google "liver detox" to see what Chinese tea you can buy to get this done. And you may find a few things that help. But honestly, not eating like an ass is the best place to start. Avoid doing too much of anything that can lead to scarring or fibrosis. Re: Enriched wheat flours, processed seed oils, and anything other type of processed food. The fewer the ingredients, the better. Increase your fruits and vegetables and be sure to eat balanced meals (carbs + protein + fat, as opposed to just carbs, or just fat).

Supplements like copper and retinol (via Cod Liver Oil) are excellent additions to your supplement routine.

There are also other ways to help release toxins, like sweating. Enter exercise and proper hydration. Hot yoga anybody?

Check out my diabetes grocery shopping guide Diabetic Foodie here.

2. Increase Your Magnesium levels

Having enough magnesium in your blood is an important piece to keeping your red blood cells healthy. Your magnesium levels contribute to your RBCs deformability, or ability to squish and squeeze itself through tiny capillaries. More magnesium, squishier cells. Squishier cells, more oxygen and nutrients to your cell.

Your doctor learned in med school that RBCs live for about 120 days. What your doctor doesn't know is that low levels of magnesium cause that lifespan to be significantly shorter. Those stiffened blood cells are then flagged by the spleen to be filtered and recycled.

What ends up happening is your liver and spleen, overrun with an influx of short-lived blood cells, start storing those recycled parts (like iron) where they don't belong. It's like Lucy trying to keep up with the treats on the conveyor belt...

3. Stay hydrated

Staying hydrated is going to ensure your fluid levels are balanced. With less water, your blood volume decreases and your heart has to work extra hard. Your blood pressure goes up and unnecessarily taxes all of the blood vessels it's working to serve.

With veins full of stiff, magnesium-poor RBCs and concentrated toxins, your liver gets tasked with filtering it all. The toxins gets excreted through your urine and feces. But when you're dehydrated you go to the bathroom a lot less.


So lay off the toxic, high-octane food and drink more filtered water. Your liver and kidneys will thank you. A more detailed game plan on offloading iron can be found here.

Supplementing magnesium is easy enough. Look for magnesium malate and magnesium glycinate, as those are best absorbed. Magnesium oxide is not well absorbed, nor is magnesium citrate. I've got a vitamins and minerals manual (Natural Solutions to Diabetes) available here.

I buy mine from Thorne, Mitolife and Fowler Fitness.

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