Sickle Cell Wellness: Healthy Living or Living Healthy – Sickle Cell Advocacy & Management Initiative

Sickle Cell Wellness: Healthy Living or Living Healthy

Health may mean different things but the World Health organization has defined Health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

According to a quote by James H. Wes “It embraces not the body only, but the mind and spirit as well;…and not today’s pain or pleasure alone, but the whole being and outlook of a man. In other words health encompasses not just the body, but the emotional and spiritual state

I have found that healing from chronic disorders like sickle cell or any health challenge requires not only drugs, but having a state of preventive care. It requires the physical, mental and spiritual capacity to make positive healthy choices. Placing more emphasis on one area while neglecting another canresult in stress, poor health and the inability to cope with the demands of one’s daily life.

Between running our day to day lives, whether school, career, business, family and trying to keep up with other societal pressures, the strain on these can put a lot of burden on our body.  Living with a chronic disorder can be even more challenging, especially one like sickle cell disorder.  One therefore needs to have a conscious healthy lifestyle.  Conscious in the sense that we have to be mindful of what we eat, how we think, how we relate to our environment and our relationship with God.

Healthy Eating

Healthy eating means eating a variety of foods, that give you the nutrients you need to maintain your health, feel good, and have energy. These nutrients include protein, carbohydrates, fat, water, vitamins, and minerals.

Do you know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day? The effect of leaving our stomach empty can result in mental and physical problems. Not only do you need to eat breakfast, we must maintain a balanced diet. A good balanced diet requires us having more vegetables and fruit than any other thing. However one thing I notice in a typical Nigerian diet the increasing amount carbohydrate we put on our plate. Unless you are planning for a race, high levels of carbohydrate can causedamage as carbohydrate burns into sugar excess sugar stores up into our body.  Sugar, especially the refined one itself causes inflammation, arthritis and many other health complications. Emphasis should be placed on whole grain, legumes like beans, protein, nut and seeds and healthy fats. Intake of water cannot be over emphasis, simple health issues like fatigue, headache, body pains, and impaired performance are due to dehydration. It is also important we create home cooked meals as much as possible, eat less fried foods, eat smaller and more frequently. Avoid fast/junk food, sugar loaded drinks and beverage and yes – alcohol.

It is said that one man’s meat is another man’s poison consequently there are also some foods that affect some people and don’t affect others. I used to wonder why my stomach kept on being bloated, excruciating pain and sometimes was stooling till I discovered I had mild lactose intolerance due to intake of dairy. Soya Milk and Almond Milk are good substitutes for regular milk. There are others who encounter issues due to their intolerance of gluten which can be found in wheat product. It is important to take conscious notice of what our body needs are and what trigger various allergies. This is called self-care. A good option is to try eliminating various foods gradually to note which of them are affecting us.

Healthy Physic

Many people under estimate how important it is to get one’s beauty sleep. It is said that people who do not get up to 7-8 hours of regular sleep  on a daily basis and not likely to live long and suffer from health complication. Maintaining adequate amounts of quality sleep is essential to your optimal health and well-being. Avoiding caffeine,not eating right before you sleep, exercising regularly, switching of that phone, computer or television, limiting beverage consumption before bed and investing in confortable bedding can help.

There is a saying that cleanliness is next to Godliness. Sweep your environment regularly, air your matrasses, change your bed sheets at least twice a week, and open the windows to get some air in the room as much as possible. Keep yourself clean. Washing your hands regularly may seem like a cliché but I have come to realize people don’t bother washing them after going to the toilet.

Get involved with some mild physical exercise that would not activate a crises episode. This relieves stress, improves moods, and treats mild depression.There are some breathing exercise that help the lungs and calm ones nerves. If possible have a small potted plant in the house to aid oxygen and if you use theair condition a lot, try taking short walks to get a breath of fresh air.


There is no denying the fact that living with sickle cell disorder takes it mental and emotional toll on you. Having people understand what you are going through can be difficult. This then tends to increase your doubts and fears increasing the tendency to fall into some form of depression.

There is an anonymous quote that says “The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, not to worry about the future, or not to anticipate troubles, but to live the present moment wisely and earnestly”. Living in the present and not focusing on negative words but being positive each day reduces the effect of emotional stress which can lead to crises. I hear you say, O you don’t know what I’m going “, but the truth is whether one does or does not worrying will not change the situation but will only make matters. I have found that talking about it and finding a passion that distracts helps

Finally living health takes a deliberate conscious effort. It takesknowing yourself being mindful, planning and strategizing on what works best for you. Live in the now and having done all; believe that with God nothing shall be impossible.Healthy Living is by CHANCE but Living Healthy is by CHOICE.


By Toyin Adesola

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