World Sickle Cell day is celebrated on June 19 every year to promote awareness about sickle cell disease and the available treatment options.
Sickle Cell disease or sickle cell anemia is an inherited disorder that disturbs the functioning of hemoglobin. In the patients suffering from sickle cell anemia, the genetic disorder triggers a block in blood vessels which slow down the flow of blood and oxygen to the cells.
Normal RBCs are round and flexible in nature which move freely through the blood vessels and live up to 120 days. In the sickle cell, red blood cells become rigid, sticky and take a crescent shape and survive for hardly 20 days causing anemia.
Symptoms of sickle cell disease include severe anemia, fatigue, acute chest syndrome that results in chest pain, heart failure, kidney disease, hypertension, joint pain, delayed menarche and endocrine disorder.
Nutrition plays a pivotal role in managing sickle cell disease to promote well-being and prevent complications. Children with sickle cell need more energy, protein, vitamins and minerals.
Nutrition and Its Role
High Calorie Foods
Kids with sickle cell anemia require more energy as the red cells get broken at a faster rate than other kids. Small frequent high-calorie rich meals or snacks comprising whole grains cereals, healthy fats, nuts, seeds, cheese, lean meat and dairy products should be a part of the regular meal plan. Adequate energy in the body will promote replacement of red blood cells efficiently.
Folic acid is a vital vitamin that prevents anemia and produces the red blood cells. Folic acid should be provided in the form of food sources or supplements will be beneficial in treating sickle cell disease as it aids in producing and storing red blood cells.
Food sources abundant in folic acid includes green leafy vegetables, dried bean, peas, nuts, brussels sprouts, broccoli and fortified cereals.
Vitamin D deficiency is common in kids with sickle cell disease. An adequate amount of vitamin D in the diet or supplements will help in regulating calcium levels and also support bone strength. Besides sun exposures, eggs, mushroom, fortified dairy products will help in replenishing vitamin D.
Encourage children with sickle cell anemia to drink plenty of fluids to prevent the sticking of red blood cells and also to provide relief from pain and inflammation. Adequate hydration will help to meet the fluid needs lost through vomiting, diarrhea, fever.