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  1. 6 Instagram Accounts Every Sickle Cell Warrior Should Follow for Overall Wellness Inspo

    April 2, 2018 by Andrea
    healthy

    Photo: CreateHer Stock



    Welcome to April, also known as National Minority Health Month -- "a time to learn more about the health status of racial and ethnic minority populations in the U.S.," as stated by the Department of Health and Human Services. To kick things off, we've rounded up a few awesome Instagram profiles of Black girls who are wellness leaders -- whether their focus is healthy eating, fitness, mental and emotional well-being, or a combination of them all. Get ready for a mini follow spree and endless inspiration!


    1) Haile Thomas (@hailethomas)

    Let’s talk ✨MEAL PREP✨: to be honest, I’ve never really been a “meal prepper” 🤷🏽‍♀️ I usually feel restricted by too much organization and always want to eat something that isn’t already in my fridge 😂 With that said, I challenged myself to experience a week as a prepper. — BUT instead of pre-making/prepping specific meals, I prepped different components of a meal in order to leave more room for creativity and versatility 😏🤘🏽—On Sunday I prepared for the week by cooking different grains, root veg, beans/legumes, greens, + special condiments (like pickled onions & roasted curry cashews). 🌱 And tbh, with all of these amazing ingredients at my disposal, life has been sooo much easier!! So far, none of my meals have taken more than 10 minutes to make...and if you have a busy schedule like me, this is a #blessing 🙌🏽🙏🏽 *Unexpected Bonus Perk:* Meal prepping in this manner has pushed me outside of my normal flavor & ingredient combos as well! ((shook)) This bowl is all kinds of crazy-combo magic!! 💫✨ ft. Crispy Turmeric Tempeh + Sorghum + Smoky Chili Maple Butternut Squash + Arugula & Avocado this bowl made for such a unique and satisfying late lunch 😍⚡️💛 I’m really looking forward to improving on my meal prep skillz as the week goes on ...do y’all have any tips for effective&delicious meal prep??

    A post shared by Haile (@hailethomas) on

    Only 17 years old, Haile already has nearly 10 years of health activism under her belt. Her feed is not only full of appetizing vegan recipes, but also delivers motivation for all areas of your life.


    2) Happy Org. (@thehappyorg)

    Founded by Haile Thomas, this nonprofit is specifically geared toward helping kids and teens learn how to eat healthier through nutrition and culinary classes.


    3) Outdoor Afro HQ (@outdoorafro)

    Black people don't go camping, you say? Squash stereotypes and find new ways of embracing nature and trying different fitness activities through these photos, where you'll find people who look like you hiking, camping, canoing, and more.


    4) Jeanette Jenkins (@msjeanettejenkins)

    Trainer to the stars, Jeanette is also ready to bless your TL with motivational quotes, delicious healthy food plans, quick and easy exercise videos, and more.


    5) Golden Flourish (@golden.flourish)

    Self-care and inner wellness can be found in the little things, too. Follow Golden Flourish for examples of things you can do each day.


    6) Jessamyn Stanley (@mynameisjessamyn)

    Yoga instructor and body positivity advocate (and yes, you've also seen her on those U by Kotex commercials), Jessamyn proves that healthy bodies can come in all shapes and sizes. In need of some serious motivation? Jessamyn doesn't disappoint.

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  2. Family Activities for a Sickle Cell-Friendly Fall

    October 2, 2017 by Andrea
    fall activities

    Photo: @snapavelli from nappy.co



    Every year, the first Monday in October is recognized as National Child Health Day. That makes today (and every day) the perfect time to teach children with sickle cell how to stay healthy all year round while still having fun and living a normal life. To start, here's a list of fall activities and ideas that can help kids learn to identify things they can do, and avoid triggering a crisis when the weather cools off.

    1) Go apple picking.
    One of the most popular autumn activities, apple picking gives kids a chance to be outdoors when it's not too hot or too cold, and learn a bit more about healthy food options. Many of these farms also have full-on fall festivals, so once you're done picking your fruit, you can take a hay ride around the property while you sip on warm apple cider and snack on kettle corn.

    2) Get lost in a corn maze.
    A great source of low-impact exercise, corn mazes are fun for the whole family. Not only do these mazes get you moving, but they also help work your mind, as you and your kids can work together to figure the way out. Be sure to layer up and bring along water bottles to stay hydrated.

    3) Rake leaves together.
    Reiterate to your children the importance of layering when it's chilly outside, especially as sickle cell warriors, and then get them moving a bit by allowing them to help you rake the leaves. And of course, as a reward for their help, they've got to do the most fun part -- jumping in the pile.

    4) Have a movie marathon.
    Temps too low for outdoor fall activities? Let your child know that when this happens, it's best to stay inside for most of the day. Staying in doesn't have to be boring though: You can watch a marathon of fall-themed Hallmark movies, play board games, and read together.

    5) Cook or bake together.
    There's nothing like cozying up with the fam in the kitchen to create a delicious fall menu -- especially one that's healthy. Consider items like pumpkin muffins, squash soup, roasted brussels sprouts, and kale chips, for example.

    What activities do you plan to participate in this fall? Tell us in the comments below, or tweet us @XickleRBC.


  3. The 4 Best Exercises for Sickle Cell Warriors Who Want to Have Fun While Getting Fit

    July 17, 2017 by Andrea
    Photo: CreateHer Stock

    Photo: CreateHer Stock



    Regular exercise is good for everyone -- it keeps your heart healthy, your body in shape, and it can boost your overall mood. If you're living with sickle cell, though, it can be difficult to determine what types of fitness routines will be beneficial without sending you into a crisis.

    To help with that, we've rounded up four fun and effective low-impact workouts (the consensus among doctors and researchers is that low-impact is best for those with SCD) that will get you started on a warrior-friendly exercise regimen.

    1) Go for a hike. A brisk walk for 30 minutes to an hour a day can help tone your legs and glutes and also help you drop inches from your waistline. Instead of the typical walk on a treadmill or around your block, opt for a change of scenery and try out a walking trail at your local park. Here are some of the best places to hike in every state.

    2) Try a spin class. This low-impact yet intense workout covers your cardio and strength-training goals. Also, you get to decide what level of intensity is most comfortable for you by setting your bike's resistance and your own pace. A great alternative to biking outside, you'll never have to worry  about bad weather ruining your plans -- plus, you won't have to purchase a bike if you don't already own one. Be sure to monitor your heart rate, though, so you stay in your safe zone.

    3) Dance your way to better health. Dance fitness classes, such as Zumba, which combines moves from a variety of Latin-inspired dances set to the latest music, are also great low-impact options. As with other choices we've mentioned, you can Zumba at your own pace and take breaks as needed. Why choose dance fitness over a few minutes on the elliptcal? Honestly, it's just more fun. It's good to switch things up and keep challenging yourself with something new, too.

    4) Row your boat. Taking a vacay this summer? Why not spend some time enjoying nature while getting some exercise at the same time? Rowing is a great way to work not only your upper body, but also your legs and back muscles. This sport can also be done with friends and family for even more fun. Even if you can't make it out on the water, the indoor rowing machine at your local gym can give you the same benefits.

    No matter which workout(s) you choose, always remember to stay hydrated and stretch your muscles before and after your activity. Did we miss your favorite routine? Tell us how you love to stay fit in the comments below!

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  4. New Study Hopes to Show that Exercise is Actually Safe for Kids with Sickle Cell

    May 30, 2017 by Andrea

    frank-mckenna-135720

    Whether it's at school recess or with friends in the neighborhood on weekends or during summer break, there's no denying that kids love to play -- and play hard. From intense games of tag to spirited jaunts on the jungle gym, kids can get into vigorous exercise without even trying too hard. Such robust romps worry parents and caregivers of young sickle cell warriors because they believe that increased inflammation brought on by exercise could send their child into a full-on crisis. A new study -- which the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute funded with a $2.7 million grant -- hopes to prove that kids with sickle cell can safely partake in playtime, allowing them to not only get much-needed social interaction with their peers, but also avoid settling into a sedentary lifestyle that could impede their physical fitness at a young age.

    As reported by the Ann & Robert H. Lurrie Children's Hospital of Chicago, Dr. Robert Liem, a lead researcher on this project, believes there are certain levels of exercise that kids with SCD can handle, and during the five-year study, he plans to compare the post-workout effects of 70 kids with sickle cell and 70 kids without sickle cell. "In the upcoming study, the team will look at the different ways moderate and vigorous intensity physical activity affects inflammation," states a news release from Lurrie Children's Hospital. "Their hypothesis is that exercise is safe in this population and does not provoke sickle cell disease related complications. With these data, Liem hopes to develop a future clinical trial to look at whether or not regular exercise may instead have a beneficial impact on this disease."

    The study is expected to kick off this fall, and will include patients at five other hospitals in the country. “We want to see how the genetic changes regulate the inflammation response to exercise. We hope this will provide important evidence of exercise safety in kids with sickle cell disease,” Dr. Liem stated in an interview with the hospital.

    Read more about that study here.

    Additionally, our own clinical trial has shown that SCD-101 (the drug equivalent of Xickle RBC-Plus) may improve a patient's ability to exercise. Anecdotal reports we've received from participants in our trial have stated that warriors taking SCD-101 can walk further and faster. This is great news for kids (and adults) with sickle cell all over the world.

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  5. Sickle Cell Trait Needs More Awareness, Too (Part 2)

    December 5, 2014 by Andrea
    ©Depositphotos.com/STYLEPICS

    ©Depositphotos.com/STYLEPICS



    Last week, for the first installment of our two-part mini blog series on sickle cell trait, we focused on the risk of kidney disease and renal medullary carcinoma. This week, we'll be exploring the issue of SCT and the risks of extreme exertion, especially for athletes and military recruits. 

    According to the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America (SCDAA), "Although uncommon, persons who are carriers for sickle cell may develop specific rare symptoms that may be related to sickle cell trait." Besides kidney disease, other symptoms -- such as localized sickling, severe hypoxemia [low oxygen in the blood], and muscle break down, among others -- may be related to extreme exertion. Conditions such as heat, dehydration, altitude, and asthma can exacerbate these symptoms. 

    When an athlete or military recruit with SCT is putting out full exertion during practices and trainings, the sickle hemoglobin in their blood can cause cells to start sickling, when they normally would not. When cells sickle, they can block blood vessels, which can lead to collapse and possibly death -- and this can all happen within a matter of two to three minutes.

    It's true that everybody who has SCT will not exprience these complications; however, as sickle cell trait advocate, Farron Dozier of  What'z Da Count explains, "[It's important to] be aware of what's possible. Your body will tell you what's wrong." Here's Farron's story: 

    One morning in 2006, Farron was taking part in his Army physical fitness test. He'd already completed the push ups and sit ups, and was on the track finishing up his two-mile run. As he was approaching the end, he decided to run hard for that last stretch. "In the military, we're trained to sprint that last lap," he says. "I put my hands up over my head to get air in my lungs [and then] I started to notice it started getting dark." Everything around him started spinning, so he was rushed to the hospital where he was diagnosed with dehydration and kidney failure. He was released that day, but had to return to the hospital that night, as his condition did not improve. During that visit, he was told he had dehydration, vertigo, and rhabdomyolysis and was kept for four days. 

    After he was released, doctors advised him to exercise at his own pace, which worked well for him. But, in 2009, once he turned in his medical paperwork to the Army, they advised him to stop exercising completely. Soon after, on New Year's Day of 2010, Farron's entire body became inflamed. He went to the hospital and was told that he has arthritis, as well. 

    It wasn't until he was sharing his experiences with a fellow soldier that he realized he might have sickle cell trait, which could be the cause of his recent medical issues. He got retested and SCT was confirmed. That's when he started piecing more incidences together. Since he was 5 years old, Farron's had severe arm pain, but as a child, the doctor said that pain was merely growing pains. Also, when he first entered the Army, there would be times when he would experience swelling, which the doctor contributed to tendonitis. As a result of his recurring medical issues (and subsequent bout with depression), Farron was medically discharged in 2013.

    It may seem a simple fix to require SCT screening for all athletes and military recruits (which does in fact happen for Division I college athletes and Marine Corps, Navy, and Air Force recruits); however, there's a continuing debate that such screening requirements may also foster discrimination. "Under normal conditions, athletes with sickle cell trait can participate with no restrictions, so by singling them out instead of enforcing rules on practice conditions for all athletes, the NCAA may be discriminating against them," reports Science Life article, "The Unintended Consequences of the NCAA Sickle Cell Screening Policy." 

    Perhaps, though, if the Army had mandatory screenings in place, Farron would not have had the experiences he had. His opinion of mandated screenings? "What is the value of life? Ask those parents who've lost [a child to SCT exertion] do they want their child back or millions of dollars from the college?"


    Whether you're for or against mandatory screening, the most important thing to take away from this information on potential sickle cell trait risks, is that precautions are definitely necessary. Raising awareness for SCT not only helps athletes and recruits who have the trait, but can also help all athletes and military recruits. By instituting overall protections for people in these situations, coaches and recruit trainers can help prevent sudden deaths for all in their care. Click here for more stories of people who've suffered SCT exertion, and read on for a list of suggested precautions that can work with all people below:* 

    1) Build up slowly with paced progressions
    2) Encourage participation in pre-season strength/conditioning programs
    3) Stop all activity with onset of symptoms
    4) Adjust work/rest cycles for weather conditions and stress importance of staying hydrated
    5) Do now allow ill athletes to work out
    6) Educate everyone and make sure they know to report any symptoms they may be having immediately 

    Are you a carrier and an athlete or member of the military? Have you experienced any complications? Share your story in the comments below!  

    *American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine, 2008

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  6. The Sickle-Cell Friendly Workout: Yoga

    July 17, 2014 by Andrea
    ©Depositphotos.com/luminastock

    ©Depositphotos.com/luminastock

    With the onset of summer comes ample opportunities for staying fit and having fun times in the sunshine -- from walking to running to biking to hiking and more. Problem is, when you have sickle cell disease, the combination of strenuous exercise and searing heat will most likely lead to a crisis. But just because you have sickle cell doesn't mean you can't exercise at all; in fact, the CDC recommends that you do! In its "Living Well with Sickle Cell Disease Self-Care Toolkit," there's a list of ways that exercise is good for people with SCD: exercise can improve your overall health, reduce your risk of illness, help with your weight management, and increase your endurance, among many other things. 

    So, how can you keep your body in great shape without sending it into turmoil? 

    Try yoga. 

    A low-impact form of exercise, yoga can not only help strengthen and tone your muscles, but it can also reduce stress, increase circulation, improve flexibility, and promote relaxation -- something that is much-needed to avoid triggering a crisis. Check out the simple yoga videos below, and then talk to your doctor and ask him or her for advice/suggestions on finding a yoga studio in your area. Enjoy the journey! 




  7. Benefits of Exercise for Children with Chronic Health Conditions

    November 18, 2013 by Eric Coles

    Benefits of Physical Exercise for Children with Chronic Health ConditionsFor children that have special needs due to a chronic health condition, exercise can be challenging.  With colder months, the chances of these children even being able to get out into the fresh air is rare.  There is no dispute that all children need social, mental and physical balance in their lives and this is even more important for those children that may have restrictions on activities due to a chronic health condition.

    Benefits of Exercise for Children with Chronic Health Conditions:

    • Can improve muscle strength, coordination, and flexibility.
    •  Regular exercise builds endurance and cardiovascular efficiency
    • Enhances balance, motor skills and body awareness.
    • Exercise improves mood and helps children cope with anxiety and depression.
    •  Will boost their self-esteem.
    •  Can give the child a sense of accomplishment.
    • Exercise increases appetite and improves quality of sleep.
    • May see a decrease in secondary health complications like obesity, high blood pressure, low HDL (“good”) cholesterol and diabetes.


    How to Overcome the Challenges:

    Physical challenges can be a difficult barrier to overcome.  Many parents believe that because of their disability, their children cannot be physically active, which is not necessarily true. This lack of physical activity may not only lead to obesity, but can lead to secondary health problems as well.to many other numerous health problems as well. (NCHPAD)

    Aquatic Activities for Children with Chronic Health ConditionsParents and caregivers can work with physicians, physical therapists and other healthcare professionals to develop a program that is appropriate for your child and their diagnosis. Covering the basics of physical activity guidelines within your child's range is important.  

    Touching base with local hospitals, organizations and organizations like the YMCA can be a good source of exercise programs that are tailored to children with special needs.  Parents will need to do the legwork -  while 15% - 18% of children and adolescents in the United States have a chronic condition or disability, opportunities for their participation in fitness and activity programs, whether for leisure, recreation, or competition, are limited.  

    Find out what physical activities are possible for your child and their condition.  Children with Sickle Cell Anemia have a difficult time with distance activities but may find aquatic activities a source of fun and better health.  Parents should monitor the activities to ensure that children don't overdo it, rest when tired, and drink plenty of water. (CDC)

    Avoid cabin fever for the winter months and find some activities that work well indoors: making your child a sous chef, make music and have a dance party, check out some of the exercise-oriented video games. However you can get your children moving will benefit them (and you!).

    Xickle RBC-Plus™ is the perfect supplement to take when you are doing vigorous exercise and worried about the possible after effects.  It is effective for all ages, but specially formulated for individuals under the age of 18.

    Check out Xickle today!


    Additional Sources and Resources:
    http://www.cdc.gov/pcd/issues/2013/12_0283.htm

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19046177

    http://www.choa.org/child-health-glossary/k/ki/kids-and-exercise_kh_parent

    http://www.med.umich.edu/yourchild/topics/chronic.htm

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