It goes without saying that fluid intake is very important for people with SCD as this helps prevent the sickle cells from sticing and causing pain. However, the importance of a good and healthy diet can not be over-emphasized because eating well helps sickle cell sufferers with the much needed energy boost required to catch up with their peers. Good Nutrition for people with sickle cell is necessary to promote health and prevent complications and their diet should consist of plenty of calories, vitamins, minerals and protein. Folic acid supplements are usually always also prescribed by a doctor to help produce new cells and I know that this is something my brother and sister have had to take everyday of their lives without fail.
Even though there is no specific special diet for people diagnosed with SCD, doctors will recommend a diet low in trans fat, sodium, sugar and cholesterol to be replaced with fruits, veggies and dietary fibre. With regards to protein, poultry, beef and fish are some healthier recommendation options. These food types are recommended because they are good sources of iron and vitamin D which sickle cell sufferers need plenty of. For my siblings, getting them to eat a lot of what is recommended has always been a struggle partly because they are both very picky eaters and because ours was a working household where meal prep and eating together as a family was not really the norm. To counter this however, my mum, being the excellent cook she is and being so knowledgeable about this subject matter, would always find clever and unique ways to get them to have all their dietary needs in their meals. For my brother, he was lactose intolerant and didn't particularly care for fish and so my mom compensated for that by creatively getting him to eat more eggs, chicken and lean meat. My sister on the other hand as a kid, didn't always want meat, chicken or fish with her meals and so again my mom would have to figure out ways to get her to eat them by combining them with vegetables and different rice options and now she eats it all happily.
Maximizing nutrition for your kids or as adults who have sickle cell is essential to their overall health and development. Families who can afford to work with a nutrtionist are encouraged to employ their services to better understand the unique nutrition needs of their children and identify quick and healthy meal options for them and the whole family. For families that can't afford to do this, as always the internet is there to help keep you on top of your game with your child's needs. Some of the tips you may find to help you include:
- Forgoing sugar-sweetened drinks for milk or calcium-fortified orange juice
- Eating a ton of different fruits and veggies paired with grains, proteins and nuts
- Encourage lots of water intake to prevent constipation
Don't forget that regular check-ups with your doctor is also advised to monitor progress and development. Although pain and crisis can not be avoided completely, good nutrition certainly does play a key role with helping to reduce the frequency at which they occur. Take it day by day, remain strong and know that help is there when you need it.