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  1. 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.


  2. “Immortal” BEL-A Cell Line is a Huge Breakthrough for Blood Transfusions

    May 9, 2017 by Andrea

    petri dish

    Last year, we talked about the potential of artificial blood being created and used to give blood transfusions to those in need when supplies of donated blood fall short. Since then, there has been an exciting new development in this technological space: An immortal stem cell line -- the first of its kind ever -- has been produced, allowing scientists to engineer an unlimited supply of artificial red blood cells whenever they're needed.

    Known as BEL-A (Bristol Erythroid Line Adult), these "immortal" cells were created by researchers at the University of Bristol in the UK using blood from volunteers who donated for the purpose of this study. Science Alert reports, "To create these 'immortal' cells, [the researchers] effectively trapped the adult stem cells in an early stage of development, which means they can divide and create red blood cells forever without dying, which avoids the need for repeat donations." Such findings will enable scientists to more easily and quickly harvest and maintain large amounts of red blood cells.

    The purpose of red blood cells is to carry oxygen throughout the body -- this is especially important for sickle cell warriors, as sickled red blood cells can disrupt this flow and block blood vessels, causing pain and potentially, a crisis. "Cultured red blood cells provide such an alternative and have potential advantages over donor blood, such as reduced risk of infectious disease transmission, and as the cells are nascent, the volume and number of transfusions administered to patients requiring regular transfusions (sickle cell disease, thalassaemia myelodysplasia, certain cancers) could be reduced, ameliorating the consequences of organ damage from iron overload," explains a recent article from Nature Communications.

    Clinical trials for the artificial blood created by BEL-A cells are expected to begin by the end of 2017. If everything goes well and the product is proven safe and effective in humans, it can begin being used to treat people in need all over the world.


  3. 5 Ways to Improve Red Blood Cell Health, Structure, and Function

    April 2, 2014 by Andrea

    RBC_micrograph resized

     

    In addition to your doctor-approved treatment regimen, there are other ways to ensure that you maintain healthy red blood cells (RBCs). Read on to discover a few simple tips that can help keep your RBCs flowing as smoothly as possible and prevent your cells from sickling.

    1. Eat Well. Keeping your body as healthy as it can be is your first defense against painful crises associated with sickle-cell disease. Eating foods that are rich in iron, copper, and vitamin B12, to name a few, can also help ensure that you are taking in the necessary nutrients your body needs to function optimally. 

    2. Stay Hydrated. Allowing a lapse in your water intake can lead to dehydration, which can cause your blood flow to slow and can trigger painful crises. According to the CDC, drinking plenty of water helps open up your veins, allowing sickle-shaped cells to flow through them more easily. Be sure to always carry water with you -- or have access to it at all times -- so that, no matter what you're doing, you're consciously taking the necessary steps to provide your cells (and your entire body) with the appropriate amount of fluids.


    3. Get Fit... but Don't Overdo It. Paired with healthy eating and drinking habits, moderate exercise can also help keep your body in shape and your red blood cells flowing more easily -- as long as you stay hydrated, take breaks, and don't push yourself too hard. It's not recommended that people with sickle cell participate in strenuous workouts; however, taking walks and engaging in other low-impact routines, such as Pilates and yoga can be good for your overall wellness.

    4. Break Bad Habits. We're not talking about nail biting and binging on reality TV, we mean habits like smoking and over-indulging in alcohol. Think about it: When you breathe in the smoke of cigarettes, cigars, etc., you're inhaling a mix of carbon monoxide, tar, and other poisonous gasses and chemicals, which greatly restrict the amount of oxygen getting to your lungs -- and with sickle cell, your body already has a lower level of oxygen than the average person. When it comes to alcoholic beverages, enjoying too many can lead to dehydration, which can further inhibit the flow of your RBCs, thus leading to severe pain.

    5. Prevent Cell Sickling. In addition to all of the above, daily doses of Xickle® RBC-Plus can also be added to your wellness regimen. A mix of sorghum, clove, and pepper extracts, this all-natural supplement can actually help prevent cell sickling. Xickle® RBC-Plus is a vastly improved version of Niprisan® / Nicosan®, which was approved for the treatment of sickle-cell disease in Nigeria, based on its proven effectiveness in clinical trials.

     

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