September 25, 2023

Tola Dehinde

This week, we continue from where I left off last week, which was giving general advice to anyone living with sickle cell or a carer of someone with sickle cell living their best life in 2023.

Last week, my advice was about us improving our diet and making a conscious effort to eat food that is good for anyone living with sickle cell, in the hope that this would minimise hospital admissions. As a recap last week, I mentioned the benefits of drinking plenty of water, eating leafy greens, vegetables, the value of eating legumes and beans and lastly, the impact of soaking in the sun. So, let’s continue on this path as we conclude.

The next suggestion from me is eating fruits. Fruits are nutritious, delicious, healthy and convenient for any diet. To be honest, there are many fruits that I don’t like because they tend not to agree with my stomach. But the ones that I do like, I eat them as much as possible. Having said that though, fruits are an excellent source of dietary fibre which can help to maintain one’s healthy gut, prevent constipation and other digestive problems. I do like fruits for this reason. Most especially after I have been sick and taken some strong painkillers that made me constipated and bloated, eating fruits are my go-to, so that I can feel better. Eating fruits are super important to maintain healthy bowels.

Every country has their own fruits, and my advice would be that you eat the fruits that are in season, that way throughout the year you’re eating fruits. So, what are the advantages of eating fruits? What vitamins and nutrients have they got? Fruits are a good source of essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, folate, and potassium that our bodies need. If one eats a wide range of fruits this helps the body gets the nutrients it needs and antioxidants that boost overall health and reduce sickness.

Vitamin C is important for the growth and repair of body tissues. It helps heal cuts and wounds and keeps teeth and gums healthy. Vitamin C also helps one’s body absorb iron more easily. Many people lack iron in their bodies and citrus fruits are a good source of the mineral. The best thing to do is to eat different fruits with different colours because each colour has its own unique nutrients and benefits. Eating fruits can help make one’s bones and muscles stronger. Another merit of eating fruits is their water content, which helps to keep the body hydrated.

The next advice is eating fish/shellfish and by this I mean, for example, salmon, sardines, tuna, crab, trout, prawns, pilchards, oysters, scallops and mackerel, etc. Fish is loaded with a lot of nutrients, such as protein, vitamins, minerals, and vitamin D. It is also loaded with Omega-3 which is essential for our body and brain. Experts say to eat two portions of fish a week and one has to be an oily fish like mackerel. Obviously, fish that is steamed, baked, or grilled is a healthier option than fried fish.

Another suggestion is eating dairy products for example milk, yogurt, cereal, oatmeal, butter, cream, and cheese. These are great sources of protein and calcium. Adding them to your meal can form part of a healthy balanced diet. There are other alternatives such as unsweetened calcium-fortified dairy such as soya milk, soya yoghurts and soya cheese which are also part of the dairy group. And it is equally best in terms of healthier choices, to go for lower fat and lower sugar options.

Dairy products are a good source of energy, and protein and they contain a wide range of essential vitamins, potassium, and minerals including calcium. Your daily needs in terms of dairy products will depend on your age, sex, height, weight, and physical activity level. Eating or drinking dairy products offers health benefits, such as building and maintaining strong bones. Dairy group food provides nutrients vital for the help and maintenance of the body. Dairy food contains several nutrients such as vitamins A, D, B12, potassium, zinc, magnesium, and selenium amongst others. As we know calcium is useful for building bones and teeth. It also helps maintain bone health as one grows older.

My last advice in this column is eating nuts and dried fruits. There are many varieties of nuts. Nuts are strictly a particular kind of dry fruit that has a single seat, a hard shell, and a protective husk. Some nuts that we know are not classified as true nuts, for example, cashew nuts, almonds, pistachio and groundnuts but we everyday people call them nuts. Nuts are highly nutritious, and they have a lot of nutrients, namely protein, fibre, vitamin E, magnesium, copper, manganese, and selenium to name a few.

Some nuts are higher in certain nutrients than others. For example, Brazil nuts are one of the healthiest nuts. It is high in selenium, an important mineral with antioxidant activities that help fight against harmful free radicals to prevent cell damage. Why take iron tablets when you can eat the likes of pistachios, almonds, cashew, pine, or macadamia nuts daily. They have a good amount of iron in them. Iron is needed to transport oxygen around our body and to boost our energy level. Examples of nuts high in protein are peanuts, almonds, pistachios and cashew nuts.

If you would like to get in touch with me about sickle cell, do so, via email: [email protected] And do checkout my blog: My book on sickle cell – How To Live With Sickle Cell and my other books are available for purchase on

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