Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Hey guys,

Happy new year to you all. This is just to let you all know that we have moved to a new website at www.africanhealthmagazine.com

There we cover all health categories and its much more organised and easily accessible. We hope you like the new site..we would love to know what you think. Remember good health is true wealth and not pieces of gold and silver...so endeavour to stay HEALTHY and FIT this year....Lots of love and kisses


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Top 10 HIV Myths

Shortly after HIV/AIDS hit the scene, rumours about it flew throughout the world. “You can get it by kissing.” “You can get it by holding hands.” “It is airborne.”

Throughout the years, most of the HIV myths have been dispelled, but it seems as though there are still a few rumors afloat. Since more than half of all new HIV infections occur in the African community, these myths may be standing in the way of proper protection. See if you can sort the truth from the most common myths about HIV.

1. If you test positive for HIV, you will inevitably die from AIDS.

FALSE. In the early years, an HIV diagnosis often meant the infected person would develop AIDS and die from complications of the disease within a matter of years, but this is no longer true. Medications, combined with lifestyle changes and complementary therapies that support the body’s ability to keep the virus in check, can keep an HIV-infected person from developing AIDS or the fatal complications associated with it for many years, or even a lifetime.

2. You can catch HIV from a toilet seat.

FALSE. The HIV virus cannot be transmitted by casual contact, from a toilet seat, a doorknob, a fork, or a handshake, for that matter. The only known HIV transmission methods include unprotected sex, intravenous drug use, exposure to blood or bodily fluids from an infected person, from mother to child in pregnancy, and through blood transfusions if the blood came from an HIV infected person. (Transmission of the virus did happen through blood transfusions or blood products in the 1980s before HIV testing became routine for all donated blood, but is highly unlikely to happen in a modern medical facility.)

3. There is no cure for HIV.

TRUE. There are medications available to suppress the virus in infected individuals and to lower their viral load. Such treatments can prolong or prevent the development of AIDS for years or even a lifetime. However, researchers have not found a cure for HIV that would eliminate the virus from an infected person’s body entirely.

4. People have been infected with HIV from taking the HIV test itself.
FALSE. Some claim that the HIV test itself can give you the virus. But unless a clinic reuses a needle that was previously used on someone with HIV (a highly unlikely scenario that has never been reported), there is no way that testing for HIV could cause the infection.

5. You can spread or get HIV through oral sex.

TRUE. One myth HIV experts often hear is that HIV can’t be spread or contracted through oral sex. This is not true. If the person performing oral sex has a cut or abrasion in their mouth and comes in contact with HIV-infected bodily fluids, they can become infected with the virus just as they could having unprotected vaginal or anal sex. Using a dental dam or condom during oral sex greatly diminishes this risk.

6. If both you and your partner have HIV, it's safe to have unprotected sex with one another.

FALSE. If you and your partner both test positive for the HIV virus, that doesn’t mean you can ignore the diagnosis or live life just as you did before your diagnosis. To best decrease your odds of developing AIDS, you should both work closely with a medical professional to manage the illness. You also both need to take whatever precautions you can to prevent exposing others to the HIV virus. This includes not having unprotected sex or sharing needles with anyone, taking proper precautions to contain and warn others about exposure to your bodily fluids (such as when you're bleeding), and following any other advice from your HIV care team. Nobody with HIV can afford to ignore his or her diagnosis for their own sake, or for the sake of others who could be exposed to the virus.

7. Mosquitoes can spread HIV.

FALSE. While mosquitoes can spread a number of illnesses such as West Nile Virus or malaria, there are no known cases of HIV transmission through mosquito bites. If mosquitoes could transmit the HIV virus, there would be many more cases among young children, adolescents and other people who would otherwise be at low risk for HIV exposure.

8. You could have HIV and not know it.
TRUE. People who are infected with HIV don’t necessarily “feel” sick; it's possible to have the HIV virus for some time before developing any symptoms. HIV testing is the only way to determine whether someone has HIV or not.

9. If you're taking medication for HIV, you can’t spread the virus.
FALSE. Even while taking medication, a person with HIV can still infect others if they have unprotected sex, share needles, or expose others to their blood or other bodily fluids.

10. HIV and AIDS may not be caused by the same virus.
FALSE. Some claim HIV and AIDS are not caused by the same virus. This is not true. Without treatment, the HIV virus will probably progress to acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), which is essentially a collapse of the immune system. However, with HIV treatment, most people living with the virus are able to prolong or prevent the development of AIDS.

reference: www.chicagobooth.edu

Friday, October 8, 2010

Breast cancer awareness month

What Is Breast Cancer?

While it’s celebrated during the month of October, breast cancer awareness is really a year-round issue. Until there's a cure, a vital part of the breast cancer discussion should include the anatomy of the breast, as well as how cancer can happen in the first place.

Breast 101

The normal breast consists of milk-producing glands that are connected to the surface of the skin at the nipple by narrow ducts. The glands and ducts are supported by connective tissue made up of fat and fibrous material. Blood vessels, nerves, and channels to the lymph nodes make up most of the rest of the breast tissue. All the breast anatomy mentioned above sits under the skin, but on top of the chest muscles.

How Does Breast Cancer Happen?

As in all forms of cancer, the abnormal tissue that makes up breast cancer is the patient's own cells that have multiplied too rapidly. Those cells may also travel to locations in the body where they are not normally needed, which means the cancer is malignant.

• Breast cancer develops in the breast tissue, primarily in the milk ducts (ductal carcinoma) or glands (lobular carcinoma). The cancer is still called and treated as breast cancer even if it is first discovered after traveling to other areas of the body such as the lungs, liver, or bones. In those cases, the cancer is referred to as metastatic or advanced breast cancer.

• Breast cancer usually begins with the formation of a small, confined tumor (lump), or as calcium deposits (microcalcifications) and then spreads through channels to the lymph nodes or through the blood stream to other organs.

• The tumor may also grow and invade tissue around the breast, such as the skin or chest wall. Different types of breast cancer grow and spread at different rates - some take years to spread beyond the breast while other move quickly.

• Some lumps are benign (not cancerous), however these can be premalignant. The only safe way to distinguish between a benign lump and cancer is to have the tissue examined by a doctor.

• Men can get breast cancer, too, but they account for less than one-half of one percent of all cases.

What Causes Breast Cancer?

Although the exact causes of breast cancer are still unclear, doctors do understand the main risk factors. Among the most significant factors are advancing age and a family history of breast cancer. Risk increases slightly for a woman who has had a benign breast lump and increases significantly for a woman who has previously had breast cancer or a history of endometrial, ovarian, or colon cancer.

Other risk factors include:

Family - A woman whose mother, sister, or daughter has had breast cancer is two to three times more likely to develop the disease, particularly if more than one first-degree relative has been affected. This is especially true if the cancer developed in the woman while she was premenopausal, or if the cancer developed in both breasts.

Age/Race - Generally, women over 50 are more likely to get breast cancer than younger women, and black women are more likely than Caucasians to get breast cancer before menopause.

Estrogen -A link between breast cancer and hormones is gradually becoming clearer. Researchers think that the greater a woman's exposure to the hormone estrogen, the more susceptible she is to breast cancer. Estrogen tells cells to divide; the more the cells divide, the more likely they are to be abnormal in some way, possibly becoming cancerous. Current information about the effect of birth control pills and breast cancer risk is mixed. Some studies have found that the hormones in birth control pills probably do not increase breast cancer risk. However other studies suggest that the risk of breast cancer is increased in women who have taken birth control pills recently, regardless of how long she has taken them.

Diet- The link between diet and breast cancer is debated. Obesity is a noteworthy risk factor, predominately in postmenopausal women, because obesity alters a woman's estrogen levels. Drinking alcohol regularly - more than 2 to 3 drinks a day - may also promote the disease. Many studies have shown that women whose diets are high in fat, either from red meat or high-fat dairy products, are more likely to get the disease. Researchers suspect that if a woman lowers her daily calories from fat - to less than 20%-30% - her diet may help protect her from developing breast cancer.

Can You Survive Breast Cancer?

Among women, breast cancer is the most common cancer and the second leading cause of cancer deaths behind lung cancer. Black women tend to have the highest breast cancer death rates.

Two-thirds of women with breast cancer are over 50, and most of the rest are between 39 and 49.

Fortunately, breast cancer is very treatable if detected early. Localized tumors can usually be treated successfully before the cancer spreads; and in nine in 10 cases, the woman will live at least another five years. Experts usually consider a five-year survival to be a cure although recurrences after five years are common.

Once the cancer begins to spread, getting rid of it completely is more difficult, although treatment can often control the disease for years. Improved screening procedures and treatment options mean that at least seven out of 10 women with breast cancer will survive more than five years after initial diagnosis, and half will survive more than 10 years.

Top Breast Cancer Screening Tips:

• All women: Conduct consistent, monthly self-exams seven to ten days after the start of the menstrual cycle. For post-menopausal women, select one day of the month and consistently conduct a self-exam on that day.

• Women with no family history of breast cancer: Have a baseline mammogram screening at 35, then regular mammogram screenings every year after 40.

• Women with a family history of breast cancer: Baseline mammogram 10 years before youngest member diagnosed with breast cancer.

• black women under the age of 40 with a palpable breast mass: Insist on getting evaluated with a mammogram or ultrasound. Seek out a breast specialist if necessary.

Photo credit: www.dazzlejunction.com

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Maximize your fertility

Male Infertility is a condition that is not really discussed in most african countries mainly because its an embarrasing topic. Due to this, there is little awareness of this condition and so a lot of people do not know how to prevent it. A lot of young men do not know what the volume of a normal ejaculation should be neither do they know how to get their sperm to be top performers. Here are important facts you need to know about healthy sperm and also..a little bit of sperm biology.

Normal sperm characters
Normal ejaculate volume is between 2 and 6 ml.

Sperm quantity
More than 20 million sperm per milliliter of semen.

Of the millions of sperm in the ejaculated semen, only about 200 actually reach the egg in a woman's fallopian tube.

But, just one is needed to fertilize the egg.

Sperm quality
Sperm shape and structure (morphology) are equally important
More than one-third of your sperm are of normal shape and structure
More than 30% normal forms is a strict criteria
A normal sperm has an oval head and a long tail that propel it forward
Sperm with large, small, tapered or crooked heads or kinky, curled or double tails are less likely to fertilize an egg

To reach the egg, sperm have to move on their own — wriggling and swimming the last few inches to reach and penetrate the egg

Most likely to be fertile if at least half of your sperm are moving

Normal humans typically have total sperm motility of greater than 50% or 25% progressively motile sperm

How to improve the sperm quality
Take a multivitamin- A daily multivitamin with selenium, zinc and folic acid
Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables- are rich in antioxidants
Reduce stress- stress might interfere with certain hormones needed to produce sperm
Get regular exercise- But don't overdo it. Men who exercise to exhaustion show a temporary change in hormone levels and a drop in sperm quality.
Watch your weight- too much or too little body fat may disrupt production of reproductive hormones
Quit using tobacco and limit alcohol
Avoid anabolic steroids
Avoid lubricants during sex- personal lubricants, lotions and even saliva can interfere with sperm motility. However, vegetable-oil-based lubricants are okay

Separating facts from fictions
Sitting on a bicycle saddle for more than 30 minutes at a time — especially if you also wear tight bicycle shorts — may raise your scrotal temperature and affect sperm production.

Prolonged cycling can cause genital numbness — a sign of damage to delicate nerves and arteries.

An illness that causes a fever can affect sperm production and sperm quality. But it won't affect fertility for two to three months, since it takes sperm 75 days to mature.

Sperm counts are higher in the winter and lower in the summer. This may be because cooler temperatures are associated with increased sperm production.

Photo credit: www.walyou.com

Potential Reasons not to love your Love Handles

The what?

Love handles. A slang term for the mostly cuddly fat surrounding the waist area is actually just a generous amount of subcutaneous fat (SF) that resides under the top layer of skin. The other types of abdominal fat are visceral fat (VF), found deeper within the body surrounding vital organs in the peritoneal cavity and intra muscular fat (IF) found within skeletal muscle in the upper torso.

Over the years studies have shown that fat (adipose tissue) doesn’t just passively accumulate but much like endocrine glands release hormones and other substances. This is particularly true for fat stored in the belly area and these hormones could be contributing factors to a myriad of metabolic and other types of diseases, such as type II diabetes.

So the bad news is that whilst the jelly belly may not always be so lovable, subcutaneous fat, the kind that constitutes love handles isn’t linked that strongly to adverse effects as visceral fat. Therefore, depending on some variables, an expanding waist line might not always spell trouble.

The why?

In black women aged between 20-29 the tendency to start piling on the pounds around the waist and belly is more pronounced than in Hispanic or White women of the same age group and their elders. Typically amongst women, the mid section only starts to thicken as a side effect of aging, or more specifically menopause, when fat storage starts to favour the upper body, particularly the stomach area over the hips and thighs. This is likely caused by depletion in the amount of oestrogen produced during menopause which leads to disproportionately higher levels of androgen (male hormones) and the production of stress hormones (cortisol) which causes the accumulation of abdominal fat. Cortisol is also the hormone that causes Cushing’s disease, one of the symptoms is central obesity (weight gain in the middle of the body i.e. abdomen, chest and face only), and can be triggered by stress.

So there are three factors thus far that predisposes the accumulation of fat around the mid section, age, race and lifestyle. The fourth, as with most health issues is genetics, namely the ones that you inherit from your parents. Depending on your particular body shape, the natural distribution of fat varies. A quick recap of the six main female body shapes:

Pear ( triangle)- This type tends to hold weight in the hips, abdomen and thighs with a small bust and narrow shoulders

Apple (inverted triangle)-This type holds weight centrally in the abdomen and has broad shoulders and narrow hips

Rectangle -This type has minimal differentiation in the bust, waist and hips and distributes fat equally in these areas

Hourglass - This type has a small waist and relatively larger hips and bust. Weight is held mainly in the hips and bust.

Diamond and Rounded shape: These types generally have fat distributed in the midsection especially the waist, abdomen and back.

From these descriptions it’s easy to see that the body shapes most likely to hold weight in the stomach area is the apple and to a lesser extent, pear shaped types, although as advanced age approaches, all types of shapes are equally dealt with the “middle age spread”.
All this means that as a black woman, you are more likely to begin gaining weight in your mid section from age 20, and your particular body type, especially if you’re apple shaped, as well as lifestyle choices which are stressful, may lead you to accumulate dangerous amounts of visceral fat.
Why is visceral fat so bad for my health and what is the worst that can happen? When there is a large amount of VF in the abdomen, certain hormones like cytokines, tumour necrosis factor (TNF), interleukin 6 are released. The proximity of VF to the portal vein allows for other harmful fatty acids to be released into the bloodstream and carried from the intestine to the liver leading to high levels of bad cholesterol. All these combined constitute metabolic syndrome which is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke, aside from the aforementioned type II diabetes.

The How?

So you might be predisposed to gaining unwanted visceral fat in the stomach area, the next thing to determine is how do I know if my love handles should be a source of concern and how do I rectify the situation?
There may be cause for concern if more than 1of the following is true:
Is your BMI (Body Mass Index) higher than 25?
(BMI = weight (kg)/ (height in metres) 2). This is the least accurate indicator for abdominal fat measurement.

Measure your hips and waist, and divide the former into the latter, is the ratio higher than 0.8?
(Studies show that a ratio of 0.85 and above is a strong indicator of colorectal cancer with a risk factor of 52%)

When you measured your waist, was it larger than 35 inches?
(A large waist circumference, regardless of overall weight is linked to atherosclerosis (fatty build up in the arteries) and high blood pressure)

The good news is that visceral fat is even easier to budge than subcutaneous fat, so while your waist circumference may shrink; your love handles just might remain!
With adequate exercise and diet it should only take a couple of months to drop the inches around your waist. Don’t worry if your overall weight doesn’t change that much, remember, in the interest of your health, girth, rather than weight is a better indicator of good health. Remember that spot exercising, such as sit-ups and abdominal crunches only tones the muscles and doesn’t budge the fat. For rapid results try low intensity cardio work outs like brisk walking, skipping and aerobics 30 minutes a day and gradually build up to about 1 hour every other day. While exercising, better results are seen if you include rest periods of about a minute for every fifteen minutes of intense work out.
The end

So, you should have learned that as a black woman the risk of accumulating potentially harmful abdominal fat is higher than in other ethnicities. You should also know what visceral fat is and how it puts you at risk for heart disease, diabetes and cancer, and how to spot the danger signs. However, there is no need to panic because with diet and exercise you can lose the one or two inches from your waist that will put you back in the safe zone.
To keep being fabulous and healthy, remember to relax (or risk those pesky cortisol hormones), eat well, exercise and love your curves, its mostly just cuddly subcutaneous fat which will not harm you anyway!

By Tahira Abdulazeez

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Contact Lens Carelessness

So five years ago you joined the millions of spectacle-wearers across the globe. Beginning with the thick, round frames, both your wallet and your fashion-sense later discovered the beauty of rectangular designer frames, and the ingenious invention of thinned lenses! Then, when your lifestyle became more hectic and sociable, you decided you needed a change - contact lenses.

Contact lenses come in loads of different types: daily disposable wear, fortnightly or monthly disposable wear, day/night sleep in lenses, and some others suitable for astigmatism. No matter what type of lens you have you need to ensure that your eye health is maintained because if you’re not careful, contact lenses can do you more harm than good!

Some tips/reminders for all of you out there:

DON’T sleep in contact lenses, ESPECIALLY if they are not the day/night ones.
Sometimes you may doze off in them, but make sure that as soon as you wake up or remember, you take them out and throw them away (if they are daily disposables) or clean them (if they are continuous wear).

WASH your hands before you put the lenses in

Be careful which handwash or soap you use – perfumed handwashes can irritate your eyes, so just wash that little bit extra to get that residue off. If you’re in a tight spot or a tricky location with nowhere to wash your hands, do NOT think that by licking your finger it will clean them – your saliva contains a host of bacteria that will actually damage your eye so if you can’t find water, don’t wear the contacts.

Use SOLUTION not tap water

Always use the proper contact lens solution, and never your saliva, homemade saline solution or tap water to clean your contacts or re-wet them. Never reuse lens solution either!

Get regular CHECK-UPS at your opticians

This is especially important if you have extended wear lenses, but whichever lens you wear, make sure you get an eye test regularly.

And if you’re careless with your contact lenses?

If you don’t look after your eyes whilst you wear contact lenses, you’re at risk of different bacterial infections, diseases and abrasions which, if left untreated, could lead to blindness.

There are three main ‘contact lens diseases’:

Corneal Neovascularization – ingrowth of blood vessels into the cornea.
In other words: may not notice at first, but increased redness of the eye, may experience eye pain, decreased vision, light sensitivity and/or contact lens intolerance.

Giant Papillary Conjunctivitis – repeated irritation of the conjunctiva of the eye.
In other words: Think mucus, mucus, more mucus, itching, light sensitivity and some more mucus. Not a pretty disease to have.

Corneal Ulcers – an open sore on the cornea caused by infection.
In other words: Pain, pain, more pain, blurred vision, light sensitivity, swollen eyelids, intensive medication treatment.

If you experience any of the symptoms above, or just generally have some concerns, go to see your optician or an optometrist as soon as you can.

So, advice from African Health is: look after your eyes, because you only have two!

Samantha Chioma

Smoking - First class ticket to a heart attack!!!

Yes, you've heard the antismoking rant before. But there's a reason for it. Quitting smoking should top your list of things to do to avoid heart disease. And that's true even if the only time you light up is over mojitos with friends. Recent research shows that smoking between one and five cigarettes a day triples your chance of dying from a heart attack, and that it's even worse for women than for men. Smoking narrows arteries, raises blood pressure, thickens blood, and makes it more likely to clot — the classic recipe for a heart attack. This is especially true if you have other risk factors, like high blood pressure and high cholesterol, which together with smoking make you much more likely to get heart disease. You take birth control and smoke? You've just put another bullet in the gun. That combo raises blood pressure and can lead to blood clots, further increasing your risk.

While studies have shown that women have a harder time breaking the habit than men, there is encouraging news: A fall 2006 study from the University of Chicago shows that the prescription drug naltrexone — when used in combination with behavioral therapy and nicotine patches — boosted smoking cessation rates among women by 50 percent (though it made no difference in men). Naltrexone also reduced weight gain in the first month after quitting. Talk to your doctor about the drug.

Source: Womenshealthmagazine.com
Photo credit : themindofjustin.com

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Prevent Cardiovascular Disease: have a healthy heart (step 4)

Step 4 Ask yourself, "What kind of fruit am I?"

Carrying extra weight around isn't just a drag during swimsuit season. It can also be dangerous, especially if those excess pounds find their way to your belly and not, say, your hips. Recent studies indicate that abdominal fat is metabolically different from the other fat in your body: As you gain padding around your middle, the individual cells swell, and their size is linked to higher triglyceride levels and lower good cholesterol.

The best treatment for belly fat? Signing up for Weight Watchers isn't enough; you're going to have to pry yourself off the couch too. New research shows that diet and exercise together reduce the size of abdominal fat cells, which doesn't happen if you lose weight through dieting alone. Working out regularly also has a ripple effect on the body: Not only do dangerous pounds come off, but your muscles become more efficient at using blood; your heart gets stronger; and your blood vessels become more limber, so blood flows more easily.

And you don't have to run a marathon every week to get these benefits. Cardiologists recommend an average of 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise a day, which has been shown to increase life expectancy by 3 1/2 years. Whether walking, running, or swimming, you should aim to work your heart to about 50 to 70 percent of its maximum rate. Even this amount of exercise is powerful enough to combat other high-risk factors: A study out of the Cooper Institute in Dallas found that even moderately fit people had half the death rates of those who were sedentary.

While doctors used to think that weight training was bad for the heart because it increased blood pressure, research now shows it can actually lower blood pressure when transforming fat into muscle, which burns calories and keeps them from landing on your belly. This is why strengthening exercises, two or three times a week for all the major muscle groups — arms, legs, shoulders, chest, back, hips, and trunk is advised. Pilates- or yoga-based regimen that zeroes in on the core muscles of your abdomen and lower back can also be done. Either way, consistency is key, as is starting young. regular strengthening can not only help prevent age-related loss of bone and muscle mass, but also help reduce body fat and improve endurance, both of which can decrease your risk of heart disease.

photo credit: wikimedia.org

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Prevent Cardiovascular Disease

Step 2 : Sorry, you're gonna have to do a little math.

The connection between cholesterol — a waxy substance made in your liver and found in blood cells — and heart disease has been known for decades, but your total cholesterol number is only part of the equation. The real key is how much of it is low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the so-called "bad cholesterol," and how much is high-density lipoprotein (HDL), the "good" kind.

LDL cholesterol can build up in your arterial walls, causing plaque, which can rupture in the arteries and result in blood clots and possibly heart attacks. A recent study from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center indicates that keeping LDL levels low (the longer the better) can protect even people with other risk factors like smoking. Meanwhile, HDL plays the role of crime-fighting superhero to LDL's nasty villain, transporting the bad stuff through the blood to the liver, where it's metabolized and then eliminated.

For most people, total cholesterol should be under 200, with LDL levels no higher than 100 and HDL no lower than 50. If your numbers are in line, doctors recommend retesting your blood every 5 years in your 20s and 30s.

Step 3: Don't be afraid to do drugs

If blood tests show your cholesterol is high, a change in diet and exercise might help (see Step 5 for some suggestions). But in many cases, it's too late or your numbers are too high for these basic steps to help. That's when your doctor may give you a cholesterol-lowering medication, known as a statin, which keeps the liver from producing too much cholesterol. Some doctors have questioned the wisdom of prescribing these drugs, especially for patients who might lower their cholesterol through lifestyle changes. But recent studies show that statins can diminish LDL by as much as 40 percent, slightly raise the level of HDL, and reduce the risk of heart attacks by about 35 percent. This is why many experts say these medications are actually underprescribed. Statins are incredible tools in lowering cholesterol and can keep many people from suffering heart attacks,But there's no question: They're meant to work together with proper diet and exercise

Monday, September 20, 2010

Fashions That Can be Hazardous to Your Health

We've all heard various fashion rumors throughout the years. Some may have been invented by parents who did not care for "new" fashions that were not up to their standards. Some may have been invented by teens who did not buy in to the latest fashion craze, and some may truly be urban myths. Want to know the low-down on some of these fashion tales? Read on…

1) Thongs can cause infections- This one is true, but it’s not just thongs that can cause vaginal infections. Wearing very tight jeans or too-tight underwear of any kind may lead to infection in women, due to the close proximity of the anus to the vagina, not to be too graphic. This proximity allows bacteria to spread, especially when tight clothing is added to the mix.

2) Carrying a heavy purse can cause back problems- Perhaps not back problems, but certainly back pain. Why? Because people tend to carry heavy bags on one side, rarely switching sides. This can cause back strain over time. Does it cause permanent damage? Not likely.

3) Skinny jeans can cause nerve problems- This one is actually true. When nerves in the groin become compressed as a result of wearing too-tight jeans, pain, tingling, or burning can result, and may even be permanent. This condition is called meralgia paresthetica, a fancy term for a pinched nerve.

4) Underwire bras can cause cancer- This one is not true, but they can cause discomfort, as can any bras that don’t fit properly. Many women attribute back pain to their bra, when it is likely weak back muscles supporting large breasts that are the issue.

5) High heels can cause back problems- This one is true, and high heels can also damage your feet. High heels are hard on your arches, and make you tip forward on your back, affecting correct walking posture. Over time, incorrect posture can lead to back pain.

There’s often a small kernel of truth in even the most outlandish claims.

Prevent Cardiovascular Disease: Have a Healthy Heart

Step 1

So, how's your mum?

Researchers have long believed that having a close family member (mum, dad, sister, or brother) with cardiovascular disease was one of the clearest predictors of heart trouble in your own future. But according to a 2006 Swedish study, it's really Mum you need to worry about. Your risk increases by 17 percent if your father has heart disease, but it shoots up by a whopping 43 percent if your mother is afflicted. This may be more environment than genetics, since children typically spend more time with their mothers and tend to learn lifestyle habits from them. But even if you don't smoke and do exercise, it's possible that your risk could still be up as much as 82 percent if both of your parents had heart disease.

Which doesn't mean you're doomed, of course. But it does mean you shouldn't waste any time. If you have a family history, specialists recommend in-depth tests that go beyond the normal blood workup every few years, starting in your mid*40s. First, talk to your doctor about having a CT scan of your heart, which can detect attack-causing plaque buildup in your arteries — even years in advance.

All women should request more detailed blood tests that measure not only the level of cholesterol but its type and size — factors that affect the heart in ways that scientists are only now beginning to understand. Talk to your doctor about a standard lipid profile. A blood test can also detect the presence of C-reactive protein in the bloodstream, which may contribute to plaque formation. More prevalent in people who are overweight, sedentary, hypertensive, or smokers, C-reactive protein's presence accurately predicts the likelihood of heart attacks in women with relatively low cholesterol, and researchers speculate that it could signal heart disease before symptoms develop. Ask your doctor to check your numbers next time you get blood work done.

this is an 8 part feature focusing on ways to keep your heart beating for a very long time.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The headache of self-medication

What is self-medication?

It is simply taking medication that has not been prescribed by a medical doctor for a perceived illness or disease. Perceived because a diagnosis has not been made.

Though there are OTC (over-the-counter) drugs that people can purchase without a doctor's prescription; the aim of OTCs is to provide temporal relief of symptoms. They do not cure the root cause of the illness/disease. Some of these drugs are painkillers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen, cold remedies, antidiarrheal agents and so on.

In Africa where malaria is endemic, people are in the habit of 'treating' themselves for malaria as every fever is interpreted as malaria fever. More often than not this practice interferes with management and cause other complications such as drug resistance.

Another danger of self-medication is the accumulation of toxins in the body from the breakdown of drug components that the body invariably may not need. There are also dangerous drugs which if taken over a long period of time without proper monitoring can lead to other diseases and may even be fatal.

What to do?

It will be easier and more cost-effective in the long-run to seek medical advice from a medical practitioner early! It is better not to gamble with other people's prescriptions or opinions of what may be going on in your body. Take time also to learn the names of drugs you are taking and ask your doctor about medication prescribed for you. Remember that you are also part of your management and have a right to know what goes into your body.

Dr Efe Iruobe

Superfoods - apples and avocados

Fruits and vegetables possess amazing properties capable of countless functions in the body which promote the longevity of life. They are indeed ‘super’ in their activities because they boost the immune system thereby improving health conditions in the most natural and effective way. They do this by engaging in activities which target high cholesterol, heart disease, lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of cancer. Research has shown that these conditions improve by 50-70% in people who changed their eating habits and lifestyle by eating more healthy, balanced meals and incorporating exercise as part of their routine. We may take them for granted because they are readily available, underestimate their powers or just lack the knowledge of their special health benefits. This article will focus on two of my favorite ‘superfoods’ apples and avocados which have amazing qualities.

There just isn’t enough paper in the world to write about all the benefits of an apple and that’s probably why it is one of the most talked about fruit. Apples are high in antioxidants which are great in fighting all the nasty stuff in our body. A great source of vitamins A, B1,B2, B6 ,C, also high in minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium.

What do these do? Everything from anti-cancer promotion to improved digestive health, never underestimate the power of an apple! If you suffer from any digestive problems such as irritable bowel syndrome, apples are very important to your diet because the pectin (soluble fibre) in apples works by eliminating toxins found in the intestines, facilitating the removal of the most stubborn and unwanted products especially when nature calls, if you catch my drift. Another juicy fact is that because apples are great at attacking harmful toxins inside the body, they are one of nature’s best detox agents i.e quercitin which is a phytonutrient found in apples fights high cholesterol which reduces the risk of heart disease. Another great fact that will excite the ladies is that eating apples will help reduce the appearance of cellulite. The juice from the apple combats cellulite by eliminating the toxins in the fat tissue. The great thing is you don’t have to waste too much money on cellulite creams if you combine a great balanced diet with exercise.

Useful tip: try eating a couple of apples and drinking some peppermint tea when constipated, feel the magic!

Avocados are classified under vegetables, they are a meal on their own because they contain all six human nutritional needs required for a balanced diet such as vitamins (B, C, beta-carotene), minerals (potassium, calcium, iron and phosphorus), protein, essential fatty acid (in form of omega oil) and natural sugar.

What do these do? All these work very hard to give you great skin, healthy hair and scalp. They do this by playing a vital role in the fight against harmful free radicals which age the skin and increase the appearance of premature wrinkles. Fighting these harmful free radicals will not only give you a younger radiant skin but will also boost your immune system. Studies have shown that avocados also contain an antioxidant called lutein, which combats a variety of health challenges in the body such as prostate cancer and cardiovascular diseases.

Useful tip: Avocados are wonderful to use as face masks, by replenishing the skin
through moisture, also place slices of cucumber on tired eyes to relieve puffiness.

Mariam Waziri
Biotech Scientist

Monday, September 6, 2010

Reduce Your Risk of Salmonella from Eggs

Eggs are one of nature's most nutritious and economical foods. A bacterium, Salmonella Enteritidis, can be on both the outside and inside of eggs that appear to be normal, and if the eggs are eaten raw or undercooked, the bacterium can cause illness.

What can I do to reduce my risk of getting Salmonella Enteritidis from eggs?

Eggs, like meat, poultry, milk, and other foods, are safe when handled properly. Shell eggs are safest when stored in the refrigerator, individually and thoroughly cooked, and promptly consumed. The larger the number of Salmonella present in the egg, the more likely it is to cause illness. Keeping eggs adequately refrigerated prevents any Salmonella present in the eggs from growing to higher numbers, so eggs should be kept refrigerated until they are used.

Cooking reduces the number of bacteria present in an egg; however, an egg with a runny yolk still poses a greater risk than a completely cooked egg. Undercooked egg whites and yolks have been associated with outbreaks of Salmonella Enteritidis infections. Both should be consumed promptly and not be kept warm or at room temperature for more than 2 hours.

What are the specific actions I can take to reduce my risk of a Salmonella Enteritidis infection?

1.Keep eggs refrigerated at ≤ 45° F (≤7° C) at all times.
2.Discard cracked or dirty eggs.
3.Wash hands, cooking utensils, and food preparation surfaces with soap and water after contact with raw eggs.
4.Eggs should be cooked until both the white and the yolk are firm and eaten promptly after cooking.
5.Do not keep eggs warm or at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
6.Refrigerate unused or leftover egg-containing foods promptly.
7.Avoid eating raw eggs.
8.Avoid restaurant dishes made with raw or undercooked, unpasteurized eggs. Restaurants should use pasteurized eggs in any recipe (such as Hollandaise sauce or Caesar salad dressing) that calls for raw eggs.
9.Consumption of raw or undercooked eggs should be avoided, especially by young children, elderly persons, and persons with weakened immune systems or debilitating illness.

Who is most at risk for getting Salmonella Enteritidis?

The elderly, infants, and those with impaired immune systems may have a more severe illness. In these patients, the infection may spread from the intestines to the blood stream, and then to other body sites and can cause death unless the person is treated promptly with antibiotics.

How do I know if I have Salmonella Enteritidis?

A person infected with the Salmonella Enteritidis bacterium usually has fever, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea beginning 12 to 72 hours after consuming a contaminated food or beverage. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most persons recover without antibiotic treatment. However, the diarrhea can be severe, and the person may be ill enough to require hospitalization. See a doctor as soon as possible if the above symptoms are suspected.

Source :CDC

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Paula patton- On how she stays fit

Paula Patton is a 34-year-old actress and wife of RnB singer Robin thicke(they are expecting their first baby). She is most popular for her role as Ms. Rain, the heroic teacher in the emotionally powerful film Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire. She is a very beautiful woman who takes healthy eating and exercises very seriously. According to her, this is whats kept her in shape all these years. Below is how she stays healthy, happy and stress free. Hopefully this will inspire people to stay fit.

Paula's Feel-Good Guide

1. Breathe Deep

"A year ago, I started doing Ashtanga yoga five or six days a week. Even if I do 30 minutes, I can clear my head. I've cut back during my pregnancy. I told my trainer I don't want to see the inside of a gym. She said, 'Don't worry. I'll have you back [in shape] in six weeks.' "

2. Go Green

"I'm trying to eat smart because I don't want [losing the] postpregnancy weight to be difficult. There's this packet of nutrients called Green Vibrance, and I at least try to have that. I also try to eat a salad every day. I switched from drinking coffee to green tea, but I've been craving milk shakes. My trick for not giving in: Fill up with some fruit or water first, then see if I still want one."

3. Feed Your Face

"Since I've been pregnant, my nails have been stronger and my hair is thicker. My skin has been dry though, so I use a lot of La Mer products. I've also been doing Intraceuticals oxygen facials and Shiseido eye masks. I'll pop them on and look fresher. I'm also loving my Clarisonic facial wash brush. It's my new toy."

4. Get Some Shut-Eye

"When people say 'You have a pregnancy glow!' I wonder if it has to do with my healthier lifestyle. No more cocktails, and I'm getting more sleep than ever—nine or 10 hours a night. I was never that girl!"

hopefully, we can all include some of the above tips to our fitness regime. i personally drink green tea. its full of anti oxidants and has anti ageing benefits :)

Photo credit: womens health mag

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

It’s not either or: Exercise Vs Plastic Surgery

This is probably my most controversial article to date, and by no means should it be assumed that i am promoting unnecessary Plastic surgery. In fact the purpose of this article is to make us all aware of the importance of exercise, whether you are considering going under the knife or not.

It is not news that Africans have now begun to adopt the culture of plastic surgery, and have started undergoing rigorous surgical procedures to enhance their appearance. We have all heard horror stories of how plastic surgery has claimed the lives of a number of individuals for example Stella Obasanjo and Donda West (Kanye West’s Mother). In some ways, these disasters could have been prevented.

How? – Yes by Exercise!

Firstly, I’ll go on to define Plastic surgery. Plastic surgery has two branches, cosmetic surgery and reconstructive plastic surgery. Cosmetic surgery is concerned with improving the aesthetic appearance of a person through surgical procedures, and reconstructive plastic surgery is concerned with improving function; either by correcting a physical abnormality or enhancing normal appearance. The latter is more risky..

Most people who consider reconstructive surgery such as liposuction and tummy tuck, have excess skin which is often the result of losing an extreme amount of weight. Some people can lose a lot of weight and not have any excess skin while others are the exact opposite. It is important to bear in mind that when you lose an extreme amount of weight, you are not only losing body fat, but losing lean muscle mass as well, which contributes to the “flabby” appearance of excess skin.

Any surgical procedure is quite taxing on the body. Most procedures would involve making incisions on your body, loss of blood and other aspects, which a normal body is not used to. If you undergo any kind of cosmetic surgery, you will need to be in the best of health so that your body can recover as quickly as possible and at the same time fight any possible risks.

If you are considering plastic surgery, then you need to know exercise is imperative before doing so. People who are active and fit are able to withstand a lot more pressure on their bodies as their immune system is that much stronger. Without strong immunity, you not only run the risk of long recovery times, you also run risks that could end up creating permanent damage to your body including death in some cases. By implementing aerobic and weight training along with proper stretching into your daily routine, your body will be fit for surgery. There is also the advantage of a strengthened heart, firmer body, and rapid post-surgery recovery.

A qualified and reputable plastic surgeon would advise his or her patient to consider a healthy diet and exercise in favour of surgery. In fact, many plastic surgeons would refuse operation without a good or appropriate medical history. If preliminary tests show that you are unhealthy, under certain medications, have history of health related issues including health conditions that affect your immune system, then you are not a good candidate for most plastic surgery procedures.

Below are five ways that will help you prevent or reduce excessive skin after extreme weight loss and also, help achieve the physical appearance you are craving:

• Nourish and exfoliate your skin daily. This will encourage elasticity and circulation to help tighten your skin.

• Don’t lose the weight all at once. Find a diet and exercise routine that you can handle and focus on losing two pounds per week.

• Aloe vera extract, cucumbers, tomatoes, and coconut can improve your skin’s elasticity by increasing your body’s production of elastin and collagen.

• Drink a lot of water and eat a high-protein diet. This help keeps the body and muscles hydrated and prevents the loss of lean muscle mass.

If you are seriously considering plastic surgery, you need to consult a doctor. Certain exercises may be recommended for specific cosmetic surgery procedures. Your surgeon may also advise on post surgery exercises, which you need to start once the initial healing is completed. The typical full post-surgery recovery time is around four to six months.

Remember exercise is the best and safest way to improve the appearance of the body, so before you take that leap into the world of plastic surgery, pause to think, “Have I considered exercise”.

Debby Soetan

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Foods that fight ageing

Making wise adjustments to your daily diet can help combat both the appearance of ageing and the actual effects time has upon your bones, muscles and skin.

We reveal which foods are the best to help beat back the years.

Breakfast: take on watermelon

We're not just talking about the H20 part though. Be sure to include ripe, red watermelon on your breakfast tray too. "It's rich in lycopene and beta-carotene," explains Emma Wells, nutritionist with www.smartnutrition.co.uk.

Researchers from the Universities of Newcastle and Manchester presented findings to the British Society for Investigative Dermatology highlighting how lycopene can provide up to 33% more protection against sunburn - a chief cause of skin ageing. "Beta-carotene helps repair skin cells too," says Wells.

Snack: liven up with a yoghurt

"For a snack try a probiotic yoghurt that will aid your digestion too," suggests Wells. The anti-ageing properties of yoghurts seem in the main to be circumstantial - people who age well often eat them by the bucketload.

However, research from the Istituto Studi e Ricerche Nutrizione e Tecnologie in Italy also suggests that live yoghurts can bolster the body's immunity against illness too.

Lunch: catch a fish dish

"The omega 3 fatty acids in oily fish, such as herring, salmon and fresh tuna, help alleviate a number of age-related conditions," says Dr Laura Wyness of the British Nutrition Foundation.

They may help to alleviate some of the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, help to preserve eye health and maintain levels of healthy fat within the skin that stop it from becoming brittle.

Drink: keep it smooth

A nutritious way to smooth out wrinkles could be as simple as blending a mix of vitamins C and E together with a bunch of nutrients that possess anti-ageing qualities into a tasty smoothie.

Try mixing one sliced banana with 350ml of orange juice and a couple of handfuls of forest fruits such as raspberries, blackberries and blueberries. The resultant blend of beta-carotene, folic acid, zinc, potassium and major vitamins will boost your body's natural defences against both infection and the elements.

Snack: 'ave an avocado

"Scoop out the flesh from half an avocado for a mid-afternoon snack or chop it into a light salad," suggests Emma Wells.

Among the many nutrients you'll be taking on board are oleic acid - a healthy fat that boosts the body's good cholesterol levels - along with potassium which reduces the risk of blood pressure problems and fluid retention. "It also contains vitamin E, which helps maintain skin health," adds Wells.

Snack: do go to seeds

"Like avocado, seeds from pumpkins or sunflowers are also packed with vitamin E," says Wells. This vitamin helps to neutralise what are potentially damaging toxins in the body called free radicals. Your skin in particular is at risk from the damage these cause, but regular snacks of seeds and nuts will provide protection for your cells.

Dinner: give garlic a go

Crushing a clove of garlic into your stir fry won't just add flavour to your evening meal - it'll take a few years off your looks too.

"The health properties of herbs like garlic are varied," says Wells. "Along with its reputation for helping fend off age-related chronic illness such as heart disease, it also rejuvenates other body parts."

A review of its plus points carried out by the School of Biomolecular Sciences at Liverpool John Moores University also found that garlic has strong anti-oxidant properties, which combat the effects of ageing, counter the formation of cataracts, raise energy levels and rejuvenate skin.

Dinner: bring on broccoli

Be sure to have a side dish of steamed vegetables - especially the cruciferous types like broccoli - with your main meals.

US research published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology in 2008 revealed how an element within broccoli, called sulforaphane, helps ward off the effects time can have on your body.

"Our study shows that a chemical present in broccoli is capable of stimulating a wide range of antioxidant defence pathways and may be able to interfere with the age-related decline in immune function," explained study author Dr Andre Nel.

Drink: sluice some youth juice!

Finally, for a drink that'll not only keep you looking young but also help you sleep more soundly, try acerola juice. The tart Brazilian cordial - also called Barbados cherry - is high in vitamins C and A - along with a host of skin-boosting nutrients.

Recent research from the University of Texas also revealed that cherry-based drinks provide a boost of the sleep hormone melatonin, that will help you to rest and your body to recuperate. To buy acerola juice visit www.windmillorganics.com.

Source: style.uk.msn.com

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

An overview of Ovarian cysts

Ovarian cysts are small fluid-filled sacs that develop in a woman's ovaries. Most cysts are harmless, but some may cause problems such as rupturing, bleeding, or pain; and surgery may be required to remove the cyst(s). It is important to understand the function of the ovaries and how these cysts may form.

Women normally have two ovaries that store and release eggs. Each ovary is about the size of a walnut, and one ovary is located on each side of the uterus. One ovary produces one egg each month, and this process starts a woman's monthly menstrual cycle. The egg is enclosed in a sac called a follicle. An egg grows inside the ovary until estrogen (a hormone), signals the uterus to prepare itself for the egg. In turn, the lining of the uterus begins to thicken and prepare for implantation of a fertilized egg resulting in pregnancy. This cycle occurs each month and usually ends when the egg is not fertilized. All contents of the uterus are then expelled if the egg is not fertilized. This is called a menstrual period.

In an ultrasound image, ovarian cysts resemble bubbles. The cyst contains only fluid and is surrounded by a very thin wall. This kind of cyst is also called a functional cyst, or simple cyst. If a follicle fails to rupture and release the egg, the fluid remains and can form a cyst in the ovary. This usually affects one of the ovaries. Small cysts (smaller than one-half inch) may be present in a normal ovary while follicles are being formed.

Ovarian cysts affect women of all ages. The vast majority of ovarian cysts are considered functional (or physiologic). This means they occur normally and are not part of a disease process. Most ovarian cysts are benign, meaning they are not cancerous, and many disappear on their own in a matter of weeks without treatment. While cysts may be found in ovarian cancer, ovarian cysts typically represent a harmless (benign) condition or a normal process. Ovarian cysts occur most often during a woman's childbearing years.

The most common types of ovarian cysts are the following:

Follicular cyst: This type of simple cyst can form when ovulation does not occur or when a mature follicle involutes (collapses on itself). A follicular cyst usually forms at the time of ovulation and can grow to about 2.3 inches in diameter. The rupture of this type of cyst can create sharp severe pain on the side of the ovary on which the cyst appears. This sharp pain (sometimes called mittelschmerz) occurs in the middle of the menstrual cycle, during ovulation. About one-fourth of women with this type of cyst experience pain. Usually, these cysts produce no symptoms and disappear by themselves within a few months.

Corpus luteum cyst: This type of functional ovarian cyst occurs after an egg has been released from a follicle. After this happens, the follicle becomes what is known as a corpus luteum. If a pregnancy doesn't occur, the corpus luteum usually breaks down and disappears. It may, however, fill with fluid or blood and persist on the ovary. Usually, this cyst is found on only one side and produces no symptoms.

Hemorrhagic cyst: This type of functional cyst occurs when bleeding occurs within a cyst. Symptoms such as abdominal pain on one side of the body may be present with this type of cyst.

Dermoid cyst: This is a type of benign tumor sometimes referred to as mature cystic teratoma. It is an abnormal cyst that usually affects younger women and may grow to 6 inches in diameter. A dermoid cyst can contain other types of growths of body tissues such as fat and occasionally bone, hair, and cartilage. These cysts can become inflamed. They can also twist around (a condition known as ovarian torsion), compromising their blood supply and causing severe abdominal pain.

Endometriomas or endometrioid cysts
: Part of the condition known as endometriosis, this type of cyst is formed when endometrial tissue (the lining tissue of the uterus) is present on the ovaries. It affects women during the reproductive years and may cause chronic pelvic pain associated with menstruation.

-Endometriosis is the presence of endometrial glands and tissue outside the uterus.
-Women with endometriosis may have problems with fertility.
-Endometrioid cysts, often filled with dark, reddish-brown blood, may range in size from 0.75-8 inches.

Polycystic-appearing ovary: Polycystic-appearing ovary is diagnosed based on its enlarged size - usually twice that of normal - with small cysts present around the outside of the ovary. This condition can be found in healthy women and in women with hormonal (endocrine) disorders. An ultrasound is used to view the ovary in diagnosing this condition.

Polycystic-appearing ovary is different from the polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), which includes other symptoms and physiological abnormalities in addition to the presence of ovarian cysts. Polycystic ovarian syndrome involves metabolic and cardiovascular risks linked to insulin resistance. These risks include increased glucose tolerance, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure.

-Polycystic ovarian syndrome is associated with infertility, abnormal bleeding, increased incidences of miscarriage, and pregnancy-related complications.

-Polycystic ovarian syndrome is extremely common and is thought to occur in 4%-7% of women of reproductive age and is associated with an increased risk for endometrial cancer.

Cystadenoma: A cystadenoma is a type of benign tumor that develops from ovarian tissue. They may be filled with a mucous-type fluid material. Cystadenomas can become very large and may measure 12 inches or more in diameter

Look out for causes and treatment of cysts in the next blog post :)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Healthy Living, Healthy Mind

Compared with the general population, people with a mental illness are more than twice as likely to:

• Smoke tobacco
• Eat less fruit
• Less likely to exercise regularly
• Have higher rates of obesity
• develop the metabolic syndrome*

Have you ever had a dreary day, week or month, and then up and decided to go for a walk or a run, and felt much better? Well, there’s evidence that exercise and a healthy diet is not only good for your physical health but is good for your mental health too!

1. Eating balanced, regular meals throughout the day maintains your blood sugar levels

Low blood sugar from skipping meals or missing breakfast makes you feel more irritable, grumpy and tired. Therefore start your day well and boost your mood by eating breakfast! At the same time, be careful not to eat too much, and don’t eat heavy foods for lunch as they will leave you feeling tired – so, that’s a ‘No, thank you’ to Mummy’s pounded yam and egusi soup at midday!

2. Prevent mood swings by eating foods that are absorbed more slowly into your blood, e.g. wholegrain cereals, fruits, and vegetables

The faster the food is absorbed into your blood, the sooner you feel hungry, worn out, etc. Ever heard of the ‘crash’ after the sugar ‘high’? This is exactly why that happens when we gorge on sweets and chocolates. These sugars are absorbed quickly into our bloodstream, giving us a short burst of energy and then leaving us out of fuel an hour later!

3. Wholegrain foods, fruits and vegetables contain higher levels of thiamine, folate and zinc, which have been associated with improving people’s moods

In addition to these, make sure you get enough protein in your diet (which I’m sure won’t be too much of a chore for most of us Africans!), as this has been shown to have the same effect on the brain.

4. More water, less alcohol!

Now we all know water is good for us – it keeps your whole body, including your brain, hydrated. A hydrated brain improves your focus, alertness, and efficiency. Whether you’re studying, working or exercising, water is your best friend. Say ‘No’ to alcohol as, a high consumption often results in vitamin deficiencies which will have a direct effect on your physical and mental health.
If you do drink alcohol, make it occasional, and keep it in small amounts. (The recommended safe limits are: 14 units for women and 21 units for men per week)

1 unit = 1 small glass wine OR ½ pint beer OR lager OR 1 single measure spirits OR 1 small glass sherry or port

5. Exercise, exercise, exercise...

...But don’t overdo it! Regular exercise is good for your heart, bones and weight control. So, walk, run, swim, cycle, dance! Exercise releases endorphins – hormones that make you ‘feel good’ and help you relax. Also, as you start to see results (e.g. weight loss, increased fitness, that six-pack you’ve been praying for) it will boost your self-esteem.

6. And I don’t think I have to tell you to stay away from tobacco and drugs!

So when you hear, ‘You are what you eat’, remember it doesn’t just apply to your physical health but also to your mental health!

Samantha chioma

*From RCPsych and Academy of Medical Royal Colleges Report: No Health without Mental Health, 2009

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Day 3: Oriental prawn salad

2 large carrots, peeled

1 red pepper, deseeded

8 spring onions, trimmed 

175g/ 6oz cucumber, deseeded

1 medium tomato, quartered 

150g/ 5oz cooked tiger prawns 

1 (160g) bag Leafy salad leaves (spinach, crunchy lettuce and cabbage)

For the dressing:

1 tbsp sweet chili dipping sauce

1 tbsp vegetable oil 

2 tsp rice vinegar

1 tsp sesame oil

Slice the carrots, pepper, spring onions and cucumber into matchstick strips and place in a large bowl. Add the prawns. Whisk all the dressing ingredients together and pour over the vegetables and prawns. Stir well, then leave to marinate for 5 minutes.
To serve, add the bag of leaves and tomato to the marinated mixture and lightly toss. Serve straight away.

Jessica Bongos-ikwue

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Day 2: Calorie Cruncher

This is definitely one of the easiest and fastest salad recipes ever. It can be made in 5 minutes and it’s a low calorie salad. You can exclude the Parmesan cheese to keep it even lower in calories.

80g/ 3oz of mixed lettuce/salad leaves (around 1 cereal 
bowl full)

1 medium tomato sliced

3 mushrooms, sliced

2-3 sticks celery, chopped

3 sliced rings of green pepper

1 tablespoon (10g) grated Parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon fat free dressing

Just mix together all the above ingredients, topped by the Parmesan cheese and enjoy.

Cholera outbreak kills 200 in Cameroon

Cholera has killed 200 people in the west African nation of Cameroon, the government said Thursday, and aid agencies feared the outbreak could spread to neighboring regions and nations.

Another 2,500 cases of cholera, a deadly water-borne disease, have been diagnosed in Cameroon since an outbreak warning in June.

About 70 percent of people living in the country's far north region, bordering Nigeria and Chad, do not have access to potable water, according to a Ministry of Water and Energy official.

Sanitation is also limited in the area and recent flooding has aggravated the situation.

UNICEF said it has dispatched emergency medical kits containing surgical gloves, water treatment tablets, cholera medicine, oral rehydration salts and educational materials. The United Nations children's agency said the outbreak could be devastating for children, who are especially vulnerable.

The disease is caused by contaminated water, and many people with cholera suffer acute watery diarrhea, which leads to severe dehydration.

If left untreated, it can kill quickly, possibly within hours, according to the World Health Organization. Up to 120,000 people die each year from cholera.

Source: CNN

Mobile phones save lives in Rwandan villages

The Rwandan government is giving out hundreds of cell phones in an attempt to save pregnant women and babies.

Nearly 500 volunteer community health care workers in the rural district of Musanze have been given free phones so they can keep track of all the pregnant women in their villages.

The cell phones are used to register and monitor expecting mothers. If there are any questions, complications or updates, health workers simply send a text to their local clinic and receive a response within minutes.

A cell phone got 23-year-old Valentine Unwingabire the help she desperately needed. In the middle of the night Unwingabire unexpectedly went into labor and her village health worker, Germaine Uwera, knew exactly what to do.

"I sent a text and after sending a text they gave me feedback, and in 10 minutes the ambulance came," Uwera told CNN.

It's hard to get ambulances or healthcare in Rwanda's heavily populated rural areas. Roads are unpaved, few people have cars, and nearly 95 percent of Rwandans cannot access electricity.

Before Uwera got her cell phone, it took at least an hour to get help. Health workers had to carry patients in a makeshift stretcher for nearly an hour to reach the nearest health facility.

Rwanda is ranked among the world's worst for maternal mortality. The majority of Rwandan women have their babies at home with untrained midwives. Many die from bleeding or infection, both easily preventable with the right care.

The cell-phone program, or Rapid SMS scheme, was set up in conjunction with various U.N. organizations to bring the number of maternal deaths down.

"We tend to lose people who are actually supposed to be developing this nation," said Dr. John Kalach, the director of the closest hospital in Ruhengeri. "We don't want to be in a nation where we lose pregnant ladies while they are giving life to others."

Every text message sent under the new program is stored at nearby health facilities and a central server in Kigali.

Health care professionals are able track a woman's progress from her first trimester to the last. Volunteers are also automatically reminded to send in monthly check-ups, and if a doctor spots any problems, they can send a text urging the mother to get to a clinic.

In the Musanze district, the program has been a big success. There have been no reported maternal deaths since the programs launch last year, compared to 10 deaths in 2008.

According to UNICEF the next step will be to give out over 17,000 phones to health workers (specifically in charge of monitoring maternal health) and then to eventually distribute 50, 000 phones to every volunteer health worker in the country. The government hopes to even expand the scheme to other sectors like agriculture and education.

But the system does have some challenges. Health workers must travel long distances to charge their phones, and networks aren't always reliable in Rwanda's rural districts.

But when the phones are functioning, they do save lives. Thanks to Uwera's cell phone Valentine Unwingabire gave birth to a healthy baby boy, Manirakoze, which means "Thank you God."

"When I went to the hospital I was thinking maybe my baby would not be very healthy or maybe premature," Unwingabire said. "But when I found that the baby was OK and healthy, I stopped and I thanked God because I wasn't expecting such a miracle."

Source: CNN

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Pregnancy & Childcare : Facts about Folic Acid

If a woman has enough folic acid in her body before and during pregnancy, it can help prevent major birth defects of the baby’s brain and spine. Women need 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid every day.

About folic acid

Folic acid is a B vitamin. Our bodies use it to make new cells. Everyone needs folic acid.

How much folic acid a woman needs

400 micrograms (mcg) every day

When to start taking folic acid

For folic acid to help prevent some major birth defects, a woman needs to start taking it at least one month before she becomes pregnant and while she is pregnant.

Every woman needs folic acid every day, whether she’s planning to get pregnant or not, for the healthy new cells the body makes daily. Think about the skin, hair, and nails. These – and other parts of the body – make new cells each day.

How a woman can get enough folic acid

There are two easy ways to be sure to get enough folic acid each day:

Take a vitamin that has folic acid in it every day.

Most multivitamins sold in pharmacies have the amount of folic acid women need each day. Women can also choose to take a small pill (supplement) that has only folic acid in it each day.

Multivitamins and folic acid pills can be found at most local pharmacy, grocery, or discount stores. Check the label to be sure it contains 100% of the daily value (DV) of folic acid, which is 400 micrograms (mcg).
Eat a bowl of breakfast cereal that has 100% of the daily value of folic acid every day.

Not every cereal has this amount. Check the label on the side of the box, and look for one that has “100%” next to folic acid.

The following cereals contain 100% of the DV of folic acid per serving size. Please look at nutrition label on the side of the cereal box for the serving size and % Daily Value.


All-Bran® Bran Buds®
All-Bran® Complete® Wheat Flakes
All-Bran® Original
All-Bran® Strawberry Medley
Low-Fat Granola without Raisins
Product 19®
Smart Start® Strong Heart Antioxidants
Special K®

Quaker® Oats

Cap'n Crunch Original ®
Cap'n Crunch’s Christmas Crunch®
Cap'n Crunch’s Crunch Berries®
Cap'n Crunch's Peanut Butter Crunch®
Honey Graham OH!s®
King Vitamin®
Cinnamon Life®
Maple & Brown Sugar Life®
Oatmeal Squares Brown Sugar
Oatmeal Squares Cinnamon
Oatmeal Squares Golden Maple

These cereals are high in folic acid, but please check the nutritional information on the label to ensure that your other nutritional needs are met

Monday, August 16, 2010

Day 1: Chicken and pepper Caesar salad

Ingredients (serves 4)
2 tbsp olive oil

3 chicken breast fillets

1 yellow pepper, deseeded and thickly sliced

100g crouton (sautéed, cubed
1 bag Sweet and crunchy salad (cabbage, lettuce, sliced carrots)

For the dressing:
2 tbsp reduced fat mayonnaise
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard

Dash of Worcestershire sauce

Squeeze of lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 200°C/Fan 180°C/400F/Gas Mark 6. Brush the chicken and pepper with 2 tsp of the olive oil. Place the bread cubes in a small roasting tin, add the remaining olive oil and toss well. Bake for 10mins until golden. Set aside.

Meanwhile, heat a pan. Season chicken according to your taste and add the chicken to the pan and cook for 10-15mins, turning once until cooked through. Remove from the pan and slice.

Add the peppers to the pan and cook for 5-6 minutes, turning occasionally until charred around the edges. Empty the salad into a large bowl, add the croutons, chicken and peppers and mix well.

Whisk all the dressing ingredients together with a fork and add a little water if needed to make a drizzling consistency. Divide the salad between four plates and drizzle a little dressing over each. Serve straight away.

Jessica Bongos-ikwue

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Salad recipe Week: Introduction

This week we are going to show you 6 different ways you can make healthy salads at home. first, lets talk briefly about why salads are important.

Salad bags are a great way to help you towards the recommended daily intake of fruit and vegetables, whether as a crunchy side dish, a refreshing starter, or a filling main course. Just one cereal bowl (80g) of salad leaves counts as one of our five portions of fruit and vegetable, making a salad recipe is one of the easiest, most convenient and hassle free ways to achieve your ‘5-a-day’.

The variety of highly nutritious leaves available in mixed salad bags can also make a substantial contribution to your Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of key vitamins and minerals such as calcium, iron, potassium, vitamins C and A and folate. From crisp, sweet refreshing lettuce, frilly red oak leaf and nutrient rich brassicas, such as watercress, to shredded cabbage and delicate sprigs of herbs, the variety of colours and textures is enormous, making ‘eating a rainbow’ simple.
There are lots of ways of including salad leaves in your diet. It doesn't just have to be with a salad. Why not try the following:

• Making a salad soup: Add a chopped onion in a small amount of stock, and then add two diced potatoes, seasoning and another 2 pints of stock. Bring to the boil and simmer until the potatoes are soft. Throw in 2 bags of watercress, spinach and carrots and stir for 3 minutes. Take off the heat and liquidise.

• Adding a couple of handfuls of salad leaves to pasta with Parmesan and olive oil.

• Throwing a couple of handfuls of mixed salad leaves into stir-fries, spaghetti Bolognese or onto the top of a pizza.

• Adding a handful of tender sweet leaves, such as lettuce, to wraps or mixing them with other ingredients such as prawns or grated cheese and using them as a filling for an omelette.

• Injecting extra flavour to your mashed potato by stirring in some watercress with spring onions, cheese and mustard.

dont forget to come back for tips on how to make healthy salads

By Jessica Bongos-ikwue

7 stealthy ways you could put on weight

From burning less calories than you think when you exercise, to eating 'healthy' foods that are surprisingly high in calories, we highlight some common causes of creeping weight gain - and some simple solutions.

1. Going on holiday

"There's a lot of anecdotal evidence that we put on weight on holiday," according to nutrition scientist Lisa Miles. Some people put on as much as 8lb in a two-week holiday. When you're eating out, it can be hard to know how many calories you're consuming.

Salads can seem healthy, but dressings and toppings can mean that they contain as many calories as a bowl of pasta. Lisa Miles advises "Ask restaurants for salad dressings in separate dishes so you can add them yourself."

2. Drinking too much alcohol

You put on 1lb when you eat or drink 3,500 calories too many. When you consider that a pint of lager contains 250 calories, it's easy to see how that weight can creep on after too many nights out. Aim to have at least two alcohol-free days each week.

3. Feeling stressed

Researchers at the University of Helsinki who studied 9,000 workers found that the women who were the most stressed put on the most weight. Keeping a food diary at stressful times will help - you may be surprised at the types of foods that start creeping in to your diet.

Check your BMI

4. Watching TV

Watching a lot of television can contribute to weight gain, as we tend to be looking at the screen while eating, which means that we pay less attention to what we're putting in our mouths. It's also easier to miss the signs that you're full when you're caught up in your favourite TV show, which means that you'll eat more.

5. Not getting enough sleep

A recent study from the University of Chicago found that lack of sleep increases levels of the hormone ghrelin which makes you feel hungry. Dr Neil Stanley, sleep expert at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, says, "There seems to be a strong link between lack of sleep and putting on weight."

Sleep helps the body recharge and restore itself. If you're not getting enough, try and add in an extra hour's sleep a night and see how different you feel after a week.

How to take your diet on holiday (and still have fun)

6. Larger portion sizes

When we're served a larger portion, we tend to eat more. We can control portion sizes at home, but it's far more difficult when eating out. Over the last few decades, portion sizes in restaurants have increased. A study by the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) found that burgers, for example, have doubled in size since 1980.

Try ordering two starters instead of a starter and main course, saying no to bread and side orders, or choosing two courses instead of three.

7. Gentle exercise

It's easy to fall into the trap of exercising under your ability and burning fewer calories than you think in each session. You need to raise your heart rate when you exercise in order to burn up calories, and being realistic about the number of calories you use is critical: walking for an hour might use 210 calories for someone of medium weight (more if you're heavier, less if you're lighter).

Jogging for an hour will use 390 calories, tennis 430 and cycling 370. Make sure that you don't replace all of these calories with food after exercising.

have all these at the back of you mind and you wouldnt have a problem keeping the weight off.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Having Friends Can Save Your Life

It feels good to have someone to talk to when times are rough, and someone to celebrate life’s biggest moments with. Having good social relationships is fulfilling, and new research suggests that friendships can also add years to your lifespan.

According to research, the benefits of having healthy relationships are comparable to that of quitting smoking. Researchers conducted 148 studies of 308,000 people or various ages and health statuses. The study found that people were 50 percent more likely to live longer if they had strong social relationships. The study suggests that people with low levels of social interactions have a lifespan equivalent to alcoholics and obese people.

The following types of relationships are especially helpful to your health. Cherish and nurture these friendships for your health’s sake.

1. A Childhood Friend

Longtime friends are special because they have most likely seen you at all different points in your life. They are the friends who can say “who would have thought?” These friendships remind you of how much you have grown. Nurture these friendships by staying in touch on a regular basis. Schedule days to meet up for lunch, or plan nights out with old friends to keep these friendships close over time.

2. A New Friend

Unlike school friends, newly acquired friends only know the you that you are today. They have no preconceived notions about you, and that may be a good thing. What’s even better about new friends is that they can introduce you to new things and fresh perspectives. Find new friends at work, your kids’ school, the gym or through old friends. Networking for a career change can also lead you straight to some rewarding friendships.

3. A Workout Friend

Experts agree that exercising with a friend is the best way to get yourself to stick with your workout plan. A good friend who will drag you off the couch when you have every excuse in the world is good for your health in more ways than one. Set a mutual goal with your workout buddy to make sure you’re both on the same page.

4. A Spiritual Friend

A study from Duke University Medical Center found that people who regularly attended religious services or engaged in activities such as prayer or meditation had a 50 percent lower risk of dying over a 6-year period than others of the same age and health status.

Regularly attending activities and volunteer opportunities through your religious organization is a great way to bond.

5. A Younger Friend

To your younger friend, you must have super powers. How can you juggle it all and make it seem so easy?
Research shows that an element of a happy life is to feel useful to other by passing on what you've learned through experience. Mentoring young men or women can give you that feeling. To get the most benefit from this type of relationship, make sure you take advice as well as give it. Give your younger buddy career advice and let your younger buddy share with you how to navigate the latest social networking site.

6. Your Partner’s Friends

Your friends are like your family, and that means they should also become a part of your partner’s family to an extent. Studies show that the more a couple’s friends and family intermingle, the better the chances of the relationship lasting past one year.

7. Your Mom

No matter your inevitable conflicts with your mom, mothers have a strong bond with their children. If you want to be closer with your mom but keep running into obstacles, consider what you can do to overcome those issues. If you find it hard to enjoy the time you spend with your mom, stop picking her apart and focus on her good qualities. Don’t take your mother’s criticism personally. Instead, look at it as a reflection of her own habits and traits.

8. Yourself

When others are in need you are there at the drop of a hat, but when you are in need you forget to take care of yourself. Become your own friend by getting to know yourself. Understand what you want, what you don’t want and what makes you happy. Write down seven simple things that make you happy (walking, reading, or watching movies) and make sure you do at least one thing each day to care for yourself.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Immunization Awareness month (Get Protected)

Vaccinations continue to be one of the most essential health tools used to help keep our community strong and viable.There are a lot of misunderstandings and myths about vaccines that keep people from getting the necessary treatments they need to stay healthy. Follow the below tips and strategies to make sure that your family and friends are up-to-date on their immunizations

How do vaccines work?
When you receive a vaccine, it helps your body create antibodies. Antibodies are the body's defenses that fight off any foreign substances (germs). Although your body can create antibodies on its own, most of the vaccine-preventable diseases cause severe illness and even death before enough antibodies are produced.

Why are Vaccines important?

• Global Disease Control- Vaccines are responsible for the control of many infectious diseases that were once common. Vaccines have reduced and, in some cases, eliminated many diseases that once routinely killed or harmed tens of thousands of infants, children and adults. This is why maintaining high immunization rates protects the entire community (and the entire planet) by interrupting the transmission of disease-causing bacteria or viruses.

Many Dangerous Diseases Are Still Going Strong -The viruses and bacteria that cause vaccine-preventable diseases and death still exist and can infect people who are not protected by vaccines.

• Diseases Waste Time & Money- Vaccine-preventable diseases have a costly impact, resulting in doctors' visits, hospitalizations and premature deaths. Sick children can also cause parents to lose time from work.

Why Do Adults Still Need Their Shots?

Some adults incorrectly assume that the vaccines they received as children will protect them for the rest of their lives. For some illnesses this is true, but in general, vaccines aren't just for kids. Far too many adults become ill, are disabled, and die each year from diseases that could easily have been prevented by vaccines. Thus everyone from young adults to senior citizens can benefit from immunizations.

• Some adults were never vaccinated (or were not sufficiently vaccinated) as children
• Newer vaccines were not available when some adults were children
• Immunity can begin to fade over time
• As we age, we become more susceptible to serious disease caused by common infections, such as the flu.

Vaccine-Preventable Childhood Diseases

• Diphtheria
• Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)
• Hepatitis A
• Hepatitis B
• Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
• Influenza
• Measles
• Meningococcal
• Mumps
• Pertussis (whooping cough)
• Pneumococcus
• Polio
• Rotavirus
• Rubella (German measles)
• Tetanus (lockjaw)
• Varicella (chickenpox

Vaccine-Preventable Adult Diseases

• Diphtheria
• Herpes Zoster (shingles)
• Influenza (flu)
• Tetanus (lockjaw)

Immunization Schedules

To benefit the most from immunizations, it’s important to get them at the right times. Below is a guide to help you figure out what shots you need and when:

Adult immunization schedule

Remember that immunizations are for everyone. Getting a shot may not exactly be the highlight of your day, but staying on your immunization schedule can not only ensure that you and your family are protected, but can actually help you do your part in keeping your entire community safe - from your workplace to your church.

Reference : Blackhealth/doctor.