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

    April 2, 2018 by Andrea

    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.

  2. How to Stay Hydrated When You’re Sick of Simply Drinking Water

    January 22, 2018 by Andrea


    Sometimes you just want to shake things up a bit -- give your taste buds something to be excited about. If you're tired of drinking glass after glass of water all day long, try adding hydrating foods into the mix.

    As Dr. Rima Kleiner told NBC News in an interview last year, the food we eat actually gives us about 20 percent of our total water intake each day. "Many vegetables and fruits are mostly comprised of water (some are more than 90 percent water), which really helps to contribute to our fluid intake and keep us hydrated," Dr. Kleiner continues. Here's how to vary your water sources and still reach the equivalent of eight to ten glasses each day, as recommended by the CDC:

    1) Snack on cucumbers.
    Clocking in at 96 percent water, more per serving than any other veggie except iceberg lettuce, cucumbers are the perfect alternative to drinking in your hydration.

    2) Enjoy a salad.
    Iceberg lettuce may not be loaded with nutrients like dark, leafy greens are, but if you'd like your salad to also stand in as a method of getting in your water for the day, go ahead and make it chock-full of iceberg lettuce, which, like cucumbers, is also 96 percent water.

    3) Crunch on carrots.
    Your favorite nosh on the vegetable tray is also a good source of water -- it's made up of 90 percent of the stuff. And with no prep time needed, baby carrots make for a quick and easy snack.

    4) Choose skim milk.
    Not only will you cut down on fat content, you'll also have a different drink to reach for to satisfy your hydration needs. Skim milk is comprised of 91 percent water and is also filled with nutrients such as vitamins A and B12, potassium, calcium, and more.

    5) Sip some soup.
    Staying warm is also essential for warriors during these winter months, so why not combine that with the hydration factor? You can meet both needs with a bowl of soup -- or even just broth.

    6) Feast on fruits.
    Many fruits are made up of at least 80 percent water -- strawberries, watermelon, and grapefruit are just a few examples. These options also provide other health benefits since they are also rich in nutrients such as fiber, antioxidants, vitamin C, and potassium.

    Of course, drinking water will always be super important to staying hydrated, but it's not the only way. If you incorporate foods that are loaded with water, you can achieve the same daily hydration goals.

  3. 4 Ways to Increase Your Hemoglobin Levels

    May 16, 2017 by Andrea
    Photo: Flickr/Scott Robinson via CC by 2.0

    Photo: Flickr/Scott Robinson via CC by 2.0

    Because sickle cell warriors already have a lower red blood cell count than non-warriors -- and the RBCs that are present are susceptible to sickling -- they also possess lower amounts of hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is a protein found in red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout the body, and when that oxygen can't get to where it needs to go, a pain crisis can set in. Here, we're bringing you four ways to increase your hemoglobin, thus helping reduce painful episodes.

    1. Get your daily dose of Xickle RBC-Plus.
    While this doesn't exactly produce red blood cells, it is specifically made to help maintain their structural integrity in sickle cell warriors. Xickle RBC-Plus (the supplement version of the drug SCD-101), can help ensure that RBCs can flow through the blood vessels easily, delivering oxygen to various parts of the body. Combined with the nutrient sources below, warriors can improve red blood cell health.

    2. Raise your iron intake.
    Iron merges with other proteins in your body to create the hemoglobin that's found in RBCs. If you don't have enough iron in your system, you won't be able to make enough hemoglobin to oxygenate your organs and tissues. To be sure you're getting enough, reach for foods like lean meats, shrimp, whole grains, raisins, spinach, and nuts.

    3. Load up on fresh fruits.
    Skip the juice (it's mostly sugar, anyway), and up your body's supply of vitamin C and folate. Vitamin C helps the body absorb iron, and folate is a key component in red blood cell production. Examples of fruits to enjoy include apples, oranges, papayas, bananas, strawberries, and grapes, just to name a few. You can also get folate from broccoli and greens, for example.

    4. Boost that B-12.
    Another nutrient imperative to the development of red blood cells is vitamin B-12. Seafood is rich in this nutrient, so enjoying more salmon, crab, tuna, and the like is definitely a good move. And, if your doctor recommends it, you can take B-12 as a vitamin supplement, as well.

    Managing your intake doesn't need to be overwhelming, either. Check out on of these apps to help you track and reach your hemoglobin level goals.

  4. 3 Apps That Make Monitoring Your Nutrition Easy

    May 1, 2017 by Andrea

    nutritional balance

    Adequate nutrition is important for everyone, especially for sickle cell warriors who need to take in even more calories, vitamins, and minerals than people without SCD. But honestly, maintaining a proper nutritional balance on your own isn't always easy -- even when you think you've eaten enough fruits, vegetables, protein, fiber, etc., it isn't always the case. So, how can you ensure you're truly eating right? Try out the apps below, and then, choose the best option for you.

    1. Samsung Health
    This free app comes pre-installed on every Samsung phone and makes tracking your exercise, nutrition, and even sleep simple. Set a calorie goal in the app, record what you eat, and when you meet that goal, you'll receive a virtual badge. You can also earn badges by eating well-balanced meals. Monitor your progress with the Nutrient Balance Score, and see how much more (or less) you need of certain nutrients to reach that daily recommended intake.

    2. MyPlate
    With MyPlate, you can set nutrient goals and track your consumption of them for each meal. It's easy to do, too, since the app has a host of searchable foods and drinks, along with their associated nutrients saved in its system. There's also an online community message board to participate in, if you choose.

    3. ShopWell
    Like having a nutritionist in your pocket (or purse), this app is the perfect grocery store shopping buddy. Scan foods at the store to discover their health benefits (or lack thereof) and connect your store's loyalty card to receive healthy recommendations of what to buy. Very customizeable, this app also allows you to chose ingredients to avoid when shopping, such as gluten, nuts, and soy, as well as choose ingredients to aim for (like heart health, vegan options, or general health).

    Do you use an app to monitor your nutritional balance that's not on this list? Share it in the comments below!

  5. 5 Alcohol-Free Holiday Beverages Every Sickle Cell Warrior Can Enjoy

    October 17, 2016 by Andrea

    It's hard to believe, but we're already half way through October -- and the holidays are right around the corner. This means lots of family, fun, friends -- and drinks. But having a few adult bevvies, can potentially send a warrior into a painful crisis.

    Why? Alcohol is a diuretic, which leads to more frequent urination, which causes the body to lose a lot of fluids, which, in turn, causes dehydration. And dehydration is a definite trigger for a crisis. "Alcohol [also] suppresses the secretion of anti-diuretic hormone (ADH), which means that your body is unable to regulate how much water you are losing ..." reports Sickle Cell Warriors, Inc.

    But, there's no need to miss out on all the merriment -- we've rounded up a list of alcohol-free holiday mocktail recipes that everyone can enjoy this season!

    1. Ginger-Cinnamon Apple Cider
    To create this tasty treat, all you'll need are a few ingredients that you probably already have in your kitchen: sugar, water, ground cinnamon and cinnamon sticks, ginger root, and apple cider. Easy peasy!










    Sparkling Cranberry Punch
    The color itself is oh-so-festive, but the added fizz of sparkling water tops everything off. Simply mix together cranberry juice, frozen pink lemonade, and sparkling water, and voila! 











    Frost Bite Mocktail
    Embrace the wintry weather with a refreshing drink that combines the flavors of lime juice, pineapple juice, white grape juice, mint leaves, blueberries, and lemon-lime soda.

     Frost-Bite-Mocktail retry2

    (From The Little Kitchen)

    4. Frozen Peppermint Hot Chocolate
    Perfect for cozying up around the fire, this peppermint-infused goodness is super easy to make. Just throw the hot chocolate mix, milk, and ice into a blender. Then, blend until smooth, and top with whipped cream and crushed peppermint candy canes.


    (From Pocket Change Gourmet)





     5. Pumpkin Pie Steamer
    If you're hosting Thanksgiving this year -- or you're thinking of something to contribute to another hosts' meal -- consider this recipe for the pumpkin pie steamer. After all, anything boasting fall's favorite flavor is sure to be a hit. Simply microwave the pumpkin puree and water together in a mug; then, stir in pumpkin pie spice, vanilla extract, and the sweetener of your choice.


    (From OatmealAfterSpinning.com)





















  6. Sickle Cell-Friendly Recipes — That Actually Taste Amazing!

    February 9, 2015 by Andrea

    Photo: CreateHER Stock

    In case you missed it, Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital in Wilmington, Delaware, released a (free) cookbook specifically geared toward people with sickle cell around this time last year. Chock-full of ingredients that the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute considers a healthy diet for sicklers -- think grains, veggies, fruits, lean meats, low-fat dairy products, and more, Eating Well With Sickle Cell also provides nutrition basics and cost-saving tips to consider when purchasing the foods you need. 

    To celebrate the one-year anniversary of such an important resource, we've rounded up a few of our favorite SCD-friendly recipes from the book and from other sources. Try them all and tell us which ones you like the best in the comments below!

    Vegan Pancake
    (From the Sickle Cell Natural Wellness Group)

    1 ¼ cups: Stone Ground Wheat Flour

    1 cup: Almond Milk

    3 tablespoons: Baking Powder

    3 tablespoons: Maple Syrup

    1 tablespoon: Cane Sugar or Agave

    Mix the dry ingredients then add the wet ingredients -- you can even add in your favorite small or cut berries. Let the batter sit for one minute before cooking.

    Cook on low to medium until bubbles appear and the top becomes a little firm.

    Flip, and It will be ready soon. 

    Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie
    (From Eat Well With Sickle Cell
    1 banana, sliced
    1/8 c peanut butter
    1/2 c milk
    2 tbsp honey
    Combine all ingredients, except the honey, in a blender and blend until smooth.
    Pour into your glass and drizzle with honey.

    Pita Pizza
    (From Eat Well With Sickle Cell)

    4 whole grain pita bread rounds
    8 ounces mozzarella cheese
    ¾c pizza sauce
    Italian seasoning
    Any toppings – mushrooms,
    green peppers, pineapple, etc.

    Lay out pitas on baking sheet. Top with sauce then cheese and toppings.
    Sprinkle with Italian seasoning. Spray top with cooking spray to help keep
    the top moist while cooking.
    Bake in oven at 400°F about 15 minutes or until cheese is melted.

    Warm Lentil Salad with Asparagus and Goat Cheese
    (From Rodale)

    3/4 cup green lentils
    1 small red onion, chopped
    1 carrot, chopped
    1 rib celery, chopped
    1 pound asparagus, trimmed
    2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
    1 teaspoon honey
    1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
    1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
    1 tablespoon flaxseed oil
    1 large bunch frisee
    4 ounces reduced-fat goat cheese, crumbled

    Preheat the oven to 450ºF.
    Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Add the lentils, onion, carrot, and celery. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until the lentils are tender. Drain.
    Meanwhile, place the asparagus on a baking sheet and coat it on all sides with cooking spray. Tilt the sheet to roll the asparagus to coat it underneath. Roast for 10 to 15 minutes or until tender-crisp and browned. (Time varies depending on the thickness of the asparagus.)
    Whisk together the vinegar, honey, and mustard in a medium bowl. Whisk in the olive oil and flaxseed oil. Stir in the lentil mixture, tossing to coat.
    Arrange the frisee on 4 plates. Mound one-quarter of the lentil mixture in the center of each plate. Arrange the asparagus on or around the lentil mixture. Sprinkle each plate with one-quarter of the cheese.

    Which of these recipes have you tried? Which ones were your favorites? Do you have any other favorite dishes? Share them in the comments below!

  7. 3 Ways to Prevent a Crisis in the Colder Months

    October 15, 2014 by Andrea


    When you live with SCD, the fall and winter months bring more to mind than pumpkin spice lattes and Turkey Trots. You have to think about the increased risk of crises due to the change in weather. 

    According to a study led by the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine in 2010, "the debilitating pain experienced by people with sickle-cell disease becomes more intense when temperatures drop in the fall and winter months," reports VCU News. Why is this? When your body becomes cold, your muscles tend to use more oxygen in order to try and keep your body warm. As a result, this lessens the amount of oxygen in your red blood cells. Cold temperatures also cause blood flow to slow down, which can cause sickled cells to get stuck, back up the flow, and prompt pain. 

    Here are 3 ways to prevent a crisis in the colder months: 

    1) Layer up. Obviously, everyone should dress warmly when it's cold outside; however, this is especially important for people with sickle cell. As a crisis can be sparked with extreme cold or extreme heat, dressing warmly by layering your clothing is your best bet. This way, you'll help your body stay warm, which helps keep your blood flowing normally, and, if you start to get too hot while inside, you can simply remove the very top layers. 

    2) Stay hydrated. Yes, it's possible to become dehydrated in the fall and winter, as well, and dehydration can cause cells to sickle. Even if you don't feel thirsty, you still need to make sure you're taking in plenty of fluids -- water, hot chocolate, tea, juices, soups, etc. Even eating fruits, such as apples, cranberries,blueberries, plums, and bananas -- which are high in water content -- can help keep you hydrated. 

    3) Avoid being outside for long periods of time. You can still enjoy the crisp, autumn air or play in the snow for a few minutes, but be sure to dress appropriately when in the outdoors and not subject yourself to any extreme cold. When planning winter vacations, choose a place with a warmer climate or a place that has access to indoor heating, if the weather outside is a bit frigid. This way, the entire family can still enjoy all four seasons -- safely. 

    How do you prevent a crisis from occurring during the fall and winter? Tell us in the comments below!

  8. Foods to Eat for Good Red Blood Cell Health

    November 12, 2013 by Eric Coles

    Vegetables assortmentRed blood cells have the job of carrying oxygen from your lungs to tissues throughout your body and also transporting carbon dioxide to your lungs to be exhaled.  On average, red blood cells live about four months which means that your body  is constantly working to create new ones to replace those that are dying.  Red blood cells get their bright red color from an iron-rich protein known as hemoglobin.

    Keeping your body full of the proper nutrition, vitamins and minerals contributes to good red blood cell health health and production.  Those people who have anemic conditions in particular need to include these foods, vitamins and minerals in a daily diet.

    The vitamins and minerals that our bodies need for good red blood cell health are Iron, Folate and Folic Acid, Vitamin B-6, Vitamin B-12, Vitamin A.

    Iron helps create hemoglobin which is vital to red blood cell health and oxygenating our cells.  Iron-rich foods include red meat, organ meat (like liver and kidneys), legumes, dark green leafy vegetables (like spinach and kale), whole grains, raisins, seeds, egg yolks.  

    Folate is very important for immune system integrity and overall body cell health.  Foods that naturally have Folate are long-grain rice, turkey and chicken giblets, legumes, asparagus, spinach, broccoli, brussel sprouts, lettuce and other dark leafy greens. Folic Acid is the synthetic form of Folate and is used to fortify cereals, flours and macaroni products. 

    Vitamin B-6 supports red blood cell metabolism.  Eat plenty of fish, long-grain rice, turkey, chicken, potatoes, tomatoes, bananas, whole grains, legumes and nuts for more Vitamin B-6 in your diet. 

    Vitamin B-12 helps keep the body's nerve and blood cells healthy and contributes to the creation of DNA.  It is found in all animal protein but may need to be taken as a supplement due to malabsorption issues.  

    Vitamin A helps stem cells in bone marrow develop into red blood cells and keeps the replacement level stable.  It also supports the new red blood cells for access to the iron needed for hemoglobin production.  Foods that are rich in Vitamin A are liver, paprika, cayenne, chili powder, sweet potatoes, carrots, butternut squash, dried apricots and cantaloupe.  

    Good nutrition and including these vital nutrients in the food we eat are a great way to naturally increase our red blood cell health.

    Do you need to do more to increase your red blood cell health?

    Xickle RBC-Plus™ contains clove, pepper and sorghum and is a new and improved system to protect the function of your red blood cells by guarding their structural integrity from shape distortion, damage or destruction from certain conditions including low blood oxygen (hypoxic conditions) that can happen, particularly during vigorous exercise.

    Xickle RBC-Plus™ can also reduce red blood cell clumping that can obstruct blood cell flow and can therefore guard against the side effects of the release of toxic constituents during red blood cell death.

    Contact us for more information on Xickle RBC-Plus™.

    Happy eating to better red blood cell health!

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