This is an interesting article I found in my daily browse through the internet...
For many years I have had dark circles around my eyes. Recently I have been told that certain foods could contribute to these. Is this true and what type of foods should be avoided? Louise Woods, Chelsfield, Kent.
Dark rings can be a sign of an iron deficiency anaemia. This is a terribly common problem — anaemia is the most common nutritional problem in the world — but is easily treated in the majority of cases by eating the right foods.
Anaemia is a sign that not enough oxygen is getting to the body tissues. There are several types of anaemia, but iron deficiency is the most common.
Our bodies need iron to manufacture haemoglobin, the red pigment which carries oxygen to the cells. Dark circles alone do not indicate anaemia, you will also suffer from constant tiredness, headaches, dizziness, shortness of breath, poor memory, frequent colds and infections, and pale skin.
It’s something that generally affects women more than men - partly because of the menstrual cycle. But it’s also because eating red meat, one of the richest sources of iron, is somewhat unfashionable — red meat is thought to be ‘bad’ for your heart and bowels.
In fact, if the meat is lean and good quality, it can be a perfectly healthy food and I still eat it. At this time of year my body starts to crave it - as if it knows it needs plenty of iron to help keep up with the busy demands of motherhood.
If you suspect you are iron deficient see your GP for a simple blood test and to eliminate other potential causes of anaemia such as an ulcer.
If you do lack iron, you might be prescribed iron supplements. It’s also a good idea to look at boosting your iron intake.
The best sources of iron are liver (although it is not recommended during pregnancy), lean red meat including venison, egg yolks, dried and tinned beans including baked beans, lentils and chickpeas (hummus is perfect).
Other good sources include soya mince, seaweed, fortified breakfast cereals, seeds such as pumpkin and sunflower, dark green leafy vegetables such as Savoy cabbage, dried apricots, figs, oatmeal, prunes, broccoli, asparagus, wholemeal bread and brown rice.
Unfortunately, the body doesn’t readily absorb iron from non-meat sources, but vitamin C will help.
The secret is to eat vitamin C-rich foods in the same meal - this means vegetables that are as fresh and as lightly cooked as possible, especially peppers, kale, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, mangetout and broccoli, and fruits such as kiwis, blueberries, blackcurrants, papaya, oranges and mangoes.
Note that the tannin in tea inhibits the absorption of iron, so avoid having tea with a meal and for a good hour before and after.
Some people say that dark circles are a sign of food intolerance. But while food intolerance can explain some conditions - such as eczema and IBS - dark rings is not one of them.
If you’ve had these dark rings for years, it could be that age rather than diet is the cause. As we get older our skin becomes thinner. To some degree this process is controlled by our genes and family patterns, but it’s also influenced by things that damage the skin, such as smoking.