We’ve already learned that fatty foods are not good for sickle cell, so where does a warrior go from there? There are several diets around the world that have been proven to extend your life, and most of them are used by the worldʼs poorest people. People on the Okinawan diet live over 100 years, while the Mediterranean diet is very heart healthy and due to its low saturated fat content, improves cardiovascular health and lifespan by 70%.
Since these meals are used by those that aren’t rich, it won’t be hard on your bank account. Incorporating a few (or all) of these food choices into your diet will help manage your sickle cell on the nutrition paradigm.
The Okinawan diet is from Asia. Many people that primarily eat this way all their lives live to be over 100 years old! The average Okinawan citizen consumes at least seven servings of vegetables daily, and an equal number of grains (in the form of noodles, bread, and rice—many of them whole grains). Add to this two to four servings of fruit, plus tofu and other forms of soy, green tea, seaweed, and fish rich in omega-3s (three times weekly). Sweet potatoes, bean sprouts, onions, and green peppers are prominent in the diet. Vegetables, grains, and fruits make up 72% of the diet by weight. Soy and seaweed provide another 14%. Meat, poultry, and eggs account for just 3% of the diet, fish about 11%. The emphasis is on dark green vegetables rich in calcium (Okinawans, like other Japanese, don’t eat much dairy). Okinawans do drink alcohol, but women usually stick to one drink a day, while men average twice that. Moderation is the key.
Another type is the Mediterranean diet. According to the American Heart Association, the major proponents of the Mediterranean diet is based on:
- high consumption of fruits, vegetables, bread and other cereals, potatoes, beans, nuts and seeds
- olive oil is an important monounsaturated fat source
- dairy products, fish and poultry are consumed in low to moderate amounts, and little red meat is eaten
- eggs are consumed zero to four times a week
- wine is consumed in low to moderate amounts
So switch your oil of choice to olive oil (extra virgin cold pressed is the best), and cut down on eating meat, especially red meat and pork. Switch to healthy grains, and start loving sweet potatoes again. A few changes on a daily level will be easier to maintain, and these small changes WILL have a huge impact on your sickle cell.