How an “Iron-Deficient” Diet Reversed Anemia (Despite Stage-5 Kidney Disease)

Every three to four months, since my wife has been recieving dialysis, Nicole has needed a blood transfusion to maintain normal red blood cell count. Red blood cell’s carry oxygen (in case you didn’t know). We experimented with so many ways to keep her Hg in sub-normal range: liver smoothies, iron supplements, lamb, molasses, EPO injections, breathing exercises. Nothing ever worked until…

…until we tried what we thought would make it worse. In October of 2017 she stopped eating all meat, dairy and eggs. Just beans, seeds, nuts, grains, vegetables and fruit. To our surprise, her hemoglobin began to go up, not down. She has only needed one blood transfusion in the last 19 months (instead of the usual 4-5).

Unfortunately, with her recent 10-day fast, where she bled heavily before, during and after, her hemoglobin levels dropped well below 70. We tried a week of carrot and beet juice (which some claim can reverse anemia quickly).  She also logged two weeks of intense breath reduction exercises (which triggers red blood cell production just like living at high altitudes). Regardless, her hemoglobin wasn’t going up.

So she had to have two liters of donated plasma transfused into her while on dialysis. The first transfusion went well, and she felt better immediately. The second one caused an immune reaction but now she is feeling more stable.

Sadly, she had just lost too much blood.

Normally, however, after two blood transfusions her red blood cell count would peak at around 80 units.

This time her blood work showed 120, two weeks after the transfusion.

“I think it’s the breath holding exercises,” says Nicole. “I’ve never had a blood transfusion do that.”

Each day she does six ten-minute sessions of the practice described in Patrick McKeown’s Oxygen Advantage. For the first time and over a decade her hemoglobin level is in normal range (at least by the lab’s standards).

Now, if she could just stop bleeding so much and so often, maybe they could stay that high.

Thinking outside the T1D Matrix,
– John C. A. Manley

P.S. For more information on how meat and dairy may actually cause anemia check out Dr. John McDougall’s The Starch Solution. It’s available in print, ebook and audiobook format from, and

About the Author: John C. A. Manley researches and writes about alternative treatments for type-1 diabetes and its many complications. His wife, Nicole, of 15 years has had type-1 diabetes for four decades. Together they have lowered her HgbA1c below 5.5%, regained thyroid function, increased kidney function and reversed gastroparesis. Read more about their journey out of the T1D matrix or subscribe to their Diabetic Dharma blog..