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How you strike a balance between living your life to the fullest and taking the necessary precautions to keep diabetes at bay can be a tricky tightrope to walk on. If you take into account a few factors that put you at risk for type 2 diabetes, you can live a diabetes-free life. While there are certain risks that are passed down from one generation to another, there are a few others you can consciously keep a check on.

A Sedentary Way Of Life

There is nothing that damages your health more than a sedentary lifestyle or a lack of exercise. Staying active is very advantageous to your health because it helps the insulin in your body to become more effective and also minimizes insulin resistance. If you are inactive, you can end up becoming overweight, which is one of the biggest precursors to this disease.

Consuming Processed Foods

Highly processed foods come with refined oils that can cause inflammatory conditions such as type 2 diabetes. These foods are digested by the body more quickly and so can put people at risk for getting diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Heavily relying on processed foods, little fiber content and poor quality fats are said to be very unhealthy in nature.

Obesity

Obesity or being alarmingly overweight is one of the top causes of this condition. While a majority of the population is already obese, the percentage continues to climb up as many children and teenagers are also diagnosed with diabetes owing to obesity.

Gestational Diabetes

If you had diabetes while you were pregnant, there are chances that you could develop type 2 diabetes in the later stages of your life. So also, if you have given birth to a baby weighing 9 pounds or more, you are at a higher risk of developing the condition.

Other Risk Factors

If you have had a heart attack or a stroke, have schizophrenia, bipolar illness, depression, polycystic ovary syndrome, or have a low level of HDL, that is good cholesterol, or are age 45 years and older, you are more susceptible to diabetes than the rest of the population.

You can try losing weight if you are overweight, eating healthily instead of a high calorie diet, exercising regularly and seeking medical guidance if you want to lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. You should even consult your medical practitioner about the medicines you take and if they increase your risk of developing the condition in any way.

With the vast majority of people surrounded by computers and the internet, either at home or work, sometimes tracking your life can be more convenient when it’s done online. Whether you’re calorie counting, tracking your weight or devising a new exercise plan, there are a number of free online tools that can help you to achieve success. If you’re considering starting a new exercise regime or eating plan, be sure to check out these great online tools for some handy hints and great tracking techniques.

Online Tools For Tracking Your Health

Calorie Burn Calculator

The Calorie Burn Calculator can help you to determine how many calories your everyday activities will burn. You may be surprised but simply daily tasks, such as brushing your teeth and carrying an infant, all burn calories. While the Calorie Burn Calculator helps to track your everyday life, you can also add just about any activity, including the difficulty level and duration of the exercise. If you’re an avid cyclist, for instance, you can enter cycling for leisure, fast-paced riding, and even mountain biking, to determine how many calories you have burned.

If you haven’t yet discovered the benefits of cycling, it’s time to see what all the fuss is about. With various mountain bikes for sale, you can easily find a style that suits your skill level and your budget. One of the best things about cycling is that you can ride in just about any environment. Get the most out of your exercise routine and bring the fun back to your weekends, by leisure cycling along pristine coastlines or breathtaking mountain ranges.

Diet & Weight Loss Trackers

What seems like a limitless number of diet and weight loss trackers are now available on the internet. When beginning a new health kick, most people will record their starting weight to enable them to keep track of their progress. A diet and weight loss journal or tracker is a great way to regulate your eating and exercise habits. Tracking what you eat will enable you to see what foods make you gain weight and which foods help you to lose weight. An activity log can also help by allowing you to record your daily or weekly exercise routine.

While it’s sometimes easy to slip away from your dieting plan and enjoy an unhealthy snack or two, recording your results often helps people to be more honest with themselves, about what they are actually consuming. Understanding why you are gaining weight or developing an unhealthy lifestyle is the first step in changing your future.

Free online tools are a great way to gain extra motivation and encouragement for your diet plan. If you’ve tried dieting in the past but have failed miserably (haven’t we all!) then why not enlist the help of professionally designed programs online?

Can the contents of your kitchen seriously save your life? A growing body of research suggests that what you eat and drink can protect your body against myriad health woe. Studies have also shown that up to 70 percent of heart disease cases are preventable with the right food choices.

“What’s good for your heart is good for your brain and good for you in general,” says Arthur Agatston, MD, a renowned cardiologist and founder of the South Beach Diet.

There is just one little trick to turning your kitchen into a hub for heart health: Don’t stick to the same few foods. The secret is by varying the types of fish, vegetables, whole grains and other items you enjoy every day. With that in mind, we’ve compiled the world’s top foods for your heart—mix and match a handful of them every week to eat your way toward a healthier you.

Yams

This is a great source of Vitamin C, calcium and iron, which helps to reduce high blood pressure. Eat the skin, too, which is full of heart-healthy nutrients.

Wild salmon (not farmed)

Broiled, grilled or baked, this tasty, fleshy fish is replete with omega-3 fatty acids that improve the metabolic markers for heart disease. It also has a rich level of selenium, an antioxidant that studies have shown boosts cardiovascular protection. (Of course, not all salmon is created equal: Find out what the ‘Invasion of The Frankenfish’ means for your health.)

Sardines

These spiny little creatures are also loaded with omega-3s in the form of fish oil, which increases “good” cholesterol levels and reduces the risk of sudden heart attacks in people who have experienced previous attacks, according to the Mayo Clinic. Stick to fresh ones to avoid the canned variety’s high salt content.

Liver

Liver contains fats that are good for the heart, says William Davis, MD, a Wisconsin-based preventive cardiologist and author of ‘Wheat Belly’. “That’s the way humans are scripted,” he says. “Primitive humans ate the entire animal. Livers contain a lot of fats and that’s healthy.”

Oatmeal

The highly publicised benefits of eating your oatmeal have long shown it’s a wonder meal for reducing cholesterol. But eat only the plain, non-processed kind. Instant and flavoured oats are often drenched in processed sugar.

Coffee

Caffeine junkies rejoice. According to Dr Agatston, studies have shown that coffee is high in antioxidants and reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes. Up to three cups a day also increases cognition levels and helps decrease the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, Agatston says. (That’s not the only thing a cup of java can do. We’ve got four more coffee cures that will convince you to drink up.)

Red wine

Back to the importance of resveratrol, a compound with antioxidant properties, which can also help prevent cancer. According to a recent study from the UK’s University of Leicester, resveratrol is found in dark-skinned berries and grapes. Madirans and Cabernets typically contain large amounts of procyanidins, an antioxidant that helps to reduce cholesterol and increases arterial health.

Pineapple, a delicious tropical fruit, has been celebrated for centuries not only for its unique taste but also for its miraculous health benefits. The health and medicinal benefits of pineapple include improving the immune system, respiratory health and digestion, strengthening bones, reducing inflammation, curing coughs and colds, and weight loss.

Aside from the interesting story and appearance of this fruit, it is also a storehouse of huge health benefits due to its wealth of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals, including potassium, copper, manganese, calcium, magnesium, vitamin C, beta carotene,  thiamin, B6, and folate, as well as soluble and insoluble fiber, and bromelain.

A pineapple fruit is known to offer a lot of benefits, which include a stronger immune system, weight loss, improved respiratory health and strengthened bones, among others. Let us discuss each benefit in detail;

Treats arthritis

Boosts immunity

A single serving of pineapple has more than 130 percent of the daily requirement of vitamin C for human beings, making it one of the richest and most delicious sources of ascorbic acid. Vitamin C helps in reducing illnesses and boosting the immune system by stimulating the activity of white blood cells and acting as an antioxidant to defend against the harmful effects of free radicals. Free radicals are dangerous by products of cellular metabolism that can damage various organ systems and disrupt function, as well as cause healthy cells to mutate into cancerous ones. The vitamin C content of pineapples defends against this.

Improves cellular health

One of the commonly overlooked benefits of vitamin C is its essential role in creating collagen. This is partly the reason why it is seen as a healing vitamin because collagen is the essential protein base of blood vessel walls, skin, organs, and bones. High vitamin C content in pineapple helps you heal wounds and injuries quickly, along with defending your body against infections and illnesses.

Prevents cancer

Pineapple has been directly related to preventing cancers of the mouth, throat, and breast, as it is rich in various other antioxidants, including vitamin A, beta carotene, bromelain, various flavonoid compounds, and high levels of manganese. Manganese is an important cofactor of superoxide dismutase, an extremely potent free radical scavenger that has been associated with a number of different cancers.

Treats cough and cold

The normal immune system boosting power of vitamin C is well known, but that special enzyme, bromelain, is also connected with the reduction of phlegm and mucus build up in the respiratory tracts and sinus cavities. Pineapples, rich in bromelain and vitamin C, therefore prevent and treat respiratory illnesses, and eliminate phlegm and mucus from your body if you’ve already contracted an illness or infection.

Improves vision

Vision is one of the most important senses for human beings and pineapples have been directly connected to improving eye health and preventing the age-related eye deficiencies that often occur. Macular degeneration affects many elderly people, and beta carotene can help delay this vision problem. Keeping proper amounts of beta-carotene in your diet from fruits and vegetables is essential in maintaining good eyesight as you age.

The following are steps to take if you want to live longer…

Don’t overeat

If you want to live to 100, leaving a little bit of food on your plate may be a good idea. Author Dan Buettner, who studies longevity around the world, found that the oldest Japanese people stop eating when they are feeling only about 80% full.

St. Louis University researchers have confirmed that eating less helps you age slower; in a 2008 study, they found that limiting calories lowered production of T3, a thyroid hormone that slows metabolism—and speeds up the ageing process.

Live healthy, live longer

Making just a few changes in your lifestyle can help you live longer.

A recent study found that four bad behaviors—smoking, drinking too much alcohol, not exercising, and not eating enough fruits and veggies—can hustle you into an early grave, and, in effect, age you by as many as 12 years.

Fortunately, you can do something to correct these and other unhealthy behaviours. Adopt the following nine habits to keep your body looking and feeling young.

Get busy

Having satisfying sex two to three times per week can add as many as three years to your life. Getting busy can burn an impressive amount of calories—sometimes as much as running for 30 minutes. (Which would you rather do?)

Regular sex may also lower your blood pressure, improve your sleep, boost your immunity, and protect your heart.

Reach out

Research shows that you’re at greater risk of heart disease without a strong network of friends and family. Loneliness can cause inflammation, and in otherwise healthy people it can be just as dangerous as having high cholesterol or even smoking.

Loneliness seems to pose the greatest risk for elderly people, who are also prone to depression.

Eat fruits and vegetables

Getting fewer than three servings of fruits and vegetables a day can eat away at your health. Nutritional powerhouses filled with fiber and vitamins, fruits and veggies can lower your risk of heart disease by 76% and may even play a role in decreasing your risk of breast cancer.

As an added bonus, the inflammation-fighting and circulation-boosting powers of the antioxidants in fruits and veggies can banish wrinkles.

Focus on fitness

Daily exercise may be the closest thing we have to a fountain of youth. A 2008 study found that regular high-intensity exercise (such as running) can add up to four years to your life, which isn’t surprising given the positive effects working out has on your heart, mind, and metabolism.

Even moderate exercise—a quick, 30-minute walk each day, for example—can lower your risk of heart problems.

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At least 500 Nigerians die of HIV/AIDs daily, with an average new infection of 600 people every day, says Sani Aliyu, Director General, National Agency for the Control of AIDs, NACA.

Mr. Aliyu gave the figure during an interview with the Nigerian Television Authority, NTA, about HIV/AIDs, aired on Saturday night.

He said although the country has achieved great heights with the support of government and the international community, a lot of help is still needed from private individuals to address the challenges posed by the existence of HIV/AIDs in Nigeria.

Mr. Aliyu noted that Nigeria is still the second most affected country with HIV/AIDs, globally behind South Africa. He called on government and stakeholders to ensure increased education of the girl child and women empowerment as a means of addressing the challenge.

He added that the global theme for this year’s event to mark the World AIDs day, “Hands up for HIV/AIDs prevention,” was adjusted for Nigeria, to match with the country’s current prevalence rate of 3 per cent.

“You know that for Nigeria the topic for this year is not ‘hands up’; when you say hands up you are giving up. It’s ‘hands on’ for us in Nigeria,” said Mr. Aliyu.

About 72,000 adolescents are reportedly living with HIV in Lagos State, officials have said.

Also according to the Borno State’s coordinator for HIV/AIDs, no fewer than 5,000 Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, in 27 camps in the state are currently living with the virus.

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Dr Okezie Emenike, an Abuja-based medical doctor, on Monday, said that people with Bulimia Nervosa are at risk of life threatening illnesses.

Emenike disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja.

He defined Bulimia Nervosa as a psychological disorder characterised by overeating spree in a short period of time, followed by purging in an attempt to get rid of the food consumed by vomiting or taking laxatives.

He said the condition was associated with a sense of loss of control and immediately followed by feelings of guilt and shame.

According to him, bulimia affects more women than men and is common in teenage girls and young women.

He noted that the cause of bulimia was unknown but attributed genetics, physiological, family, society and culture as factors that could pose risk of developing the condition.

He added that bulimia could be dangerous as it could lead to serious health problems, stressing that a person with the condition often indulge in self induced vomiting, misuse of laxatives, diuretics, among others.

He said that “due to excessive vomiting, there can be a permanent damage in the stomach, tears in the oesophagus, swelling of the throat and dental cavities.

“It can also lead to lack of fluid in the body, low level of potassium in the blood, hard stools and constipation, damage of the pancreas and haemorrhoid.’’

He further said that the condition could make a patient go into extreme social isolation, forced withdrawal from school, withdrawal from family, loss of job and infertility.

Emenike also said that bulimia could lead to internal bleeding, drug and alcohol addiction, heart attack, inability to sleep, self injury behaviour and even suicide.

Besides, Emenike said, treatment for such eating disorder should start from psychological therapy, interpersonal therapy and administration of medications such as antidepressants.

He urged people with such eating disorder to seek medical help, noting that the condition could result to irreversible complications.

NAN

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Mavis Tabi-Boateng, a midwife at a health centre in Watreso, Ghana, often sees patients who travel long distances for antenatal care visits. During these visits she checks to see if the mother and baby are healthy.

Mavis remembers caring for Ama Mensah (not real name), a pregnant 24-year-old farmer, who had travelled 4 km for a final antenatal care visit before the birth of her child. She noticed the mother’s mental state was poor so she referred her to a district hospital for care, since mental health services were not available at her clinic.

Later, Mavis heard the woman had died after childbirth. She had given birth to her baby on a farm with no medical support. Giving birth outside of health facilities with no assistance from a trained health provider is a contributing factor behind maternal deaths in the country.

“This was an unnecessary loss of life,” says Dr Joseph Mensah-Homiah, technical officer at the Millennium Villages Project, an initiative dedicated to transforming the way health providers document patient data in Ghana.

“Strengthening care in health facilities is essential,” he adds. “But, we first need to understand why women are dying in order to prevent future deaths.”

Collecting data in real-time saves lives

In 2015, an estimated 2,800 women in Ghana died during childbirth. However, this is not the complete picture because deaths that take place outside of health facilities, especially in rural areas, are sometimes not recorded.

In partnership with the Ghanaian Ministry of Health, the Millennium Villages Project is working to improve and speed-up data collection, which is a key component of WHO’s work to help countries implement Maternal Death Surveillance and Response. MDSR is a continuous cycle of identification, notification and review of deaths among pregnant women and those who recently gave birth, followed by actions and monitoring of the response to prevent future deaths.

In 2008, the Millennium Villages Project initiated a vital records registration system to register all births and deaths and causes of death, but quickly realised the paper-based system was difficult and time-consuming for health workers to analyse.

The project then introduced CommCare, a smartphone-based system to help health workers record real-time information during home visits. A specialist in verbal autopsies also assists community health workers to conduct and record in-depth investigations into the cause of each death. The data are then put into an electronic database accessible on mobile phones and are reviewed once a week by a local medical team.

“Mobile technologies have allowed community health workers to keep records of mothers and their children even in rural areas where there are no health facilities,” says Dr Mensah-Homiah.

WHO is working with the Ministry of Health to scale-up and implement all aspects of MDSR in the country. While Ghana has improved data collection, there is still a need for national death review committees and an annual report on the findings of the death reviews so action can be taken to prevent future deaths.

Ending preventable maternal mortality worldwide

WHO and partners have been working with countries, like Ghana, to map progress in implementing MDSR in order to reduce global maternal mortality to less than 70 deaths per 100 000 live births by 2030, as called for in the Sustainable Development Goals and WHO’s “Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health”.

The current global maternal mortality ratio is 216 deaths per 100 000 live births.

Building on the existing programmes for maternal death reviews, the MDSR system is helping countries count and record all maternal deaths in communities and health facilities within 24 to 48 hours. The improved data collection and maternal death audits then enable countries to properly evaluate the impact of their health programmes aimed at reducing maternal mortality and improving maternal health.

Source: The World Health Organisation

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The Managing Director of The Bridge Clinic, Lagos, Dr. Richardson Ajayi, has called on foreign investors to choose Nigeria as their destination for health investments.

Ajayi made this call at the 4th Annual Africa Hospital Expansion Summit in Accra, Ghana.

The IVF specialist in his address noted that Nigeria’s health care sector had shown significant growth over the last five years and will continue to grow despite the current economic challenges.

He identified the increasing prevalence of non-communicable diseases, reduction in out-bound medical tourism due to the difficulties with obtaining foreign exchange and the increasing access to health insurance as key drivers for investing in Nigeria.

Ajayi, however , stated that short-term investment model may not work as much in Nigeria as the country’s health sector lacks the requisite systems to support  it.

Ajayi, said, “Investors expect a return for their investments and most prefer the return sooner rather than later. Unfortunately, healthcare in our region is not mature enough for this type of investment strategy. Healthcare in our region is still in a nascent stage and the systems such as supporting government policies as well as the required organised ecosystem are not yet in place to create the platform for growth.”

He, therefore called for a different approach that would ensure that investments make the required developmental impact while, at the same time, delivering adequate financial returns.

Ajayi stated, “Health care investments have to be considered from a developmental and long-term perspective. Investments with a focus on immediate earnings such as earnings before interests, tax, depreciation and amortization may institute a profit-driven culture which runs in the face of providing care and the right balance must be struck.

“A more favourable structure will be for investors to look into making equity investments with a focus on long-term growth rather than a quick exit.”

He listed preferences for the sole proprietor model; patients dwindling disposable income, poor customer service orientation, and inadequate skill sets among health workers as some of the challenges that could hinder investments in the sector.

PUNCH.

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The World Mental Health Day, celebrated on October 10 every year, is an event that seeks to raise awareness of mental health issues across the globe and to mobilise efforts in support of mental health. This is crucial because mental health problems are important issues worldwide due to their impact on the fundamental human rights and the quality of life of those affected and their families.

The theme for this year’s event is ‘Psychological First-Aid: First Line Psychological Support’. It was developed in a collaborative effort between the World Health Organisation and NGOs endorsed by 24 United Nations and other international agencies.

According to a WHO document, the term PFA was first coined in the 1940s, but its use has increased in modern day crisis event. Just like everyone grew up with the idea of the first aid for persons with injuries or in cases of emergencies, PFA is the first-line psychosocial support for people affected by crisis events. It is now a crucial aspect of psychiatry as more people are bedeviled by different kinds of disasters and crisis.

Let’s not forget that Nigeria and its people have had their unfair share of crisis due to the Boko Haram insurgency and activities of other militants, disease outbreaks, armed robbery, train/ car accident, rape and other forms of   physical assault.

This crisis events could be large scale or individualistic. No doubt, these events usually have physical, social and emotional consequences on their victims, especially when they are not detected and addressed early.

Mental health practitioners are very few in this part of the world and they cannot meet up with the number of patients who develop sudden psychological problems.

For every 100,000 Nigerians, there is only one psychiatrist. The same goes for the ratio of psychiatric nurses and psychologists that are needed, considering the enormous mental health burden on the country.

This psychological first-aid is very beneficial and crucial because victims do better over the long term if they feel safe, connected to others, calm and hopeful.

So the concept of psychological first-aid is most relevant for a country like Nigeria, where there are factors that tip individuals into crisis for which they need support each day.

PFA is not what professionals can do; it is not a clinical or psychiatric intervention (although it can be a part of good clinical care). It is not asking people to analyse what happened nor putting pressure on other people to tell their stories or asking details about how they feel and what happened.

PFA is essentially a humane, supportive and practical assistance to fellow human beings who recently suffered a serious mishap. This support should be practical and supportive in a way that assesses needs and concerns. It must help people access basic needs, such as food and water.

A crucial part of it is listening, but not pressing people to talk as it helps them connect to information, services and social support that exist in that particular community.

Usually folks that are involved in PFA are often relatives, neighbours, teachers, community members, religious group members and first responders of various kinds, such as emergency medical teams, police and fire fighters and vigilante groups.

This support can be given anywhere that is safe for the helper and the affected person, ideally with some privacy as appropriate to the situation.

As fantastic as this initiative can be for victims of sudden crisis, volunteers are encouraged to know their limits and give prompt referral to relevant professionals like psychiatrists and psychologists. The culture, safety, dignity and the right of the victim must not be violated in the guise of offering support.

This is where the peculiarity of the African situation comes in, where certain individuals in the family or community can actually take over support without the consent and respect of the victims.

This year’s theme is innovative and everyone is recruited as a stakeholder. This approach has been adopted by many humanitarian agencies and, according to the WHO, the PFA guide and facilitation manual has been made available in about 20 translations in a way that provides learning activities relevant to different cultures and countries around the world.

Our state governments can organise such training for officers that deal with crisis intervention and corporate organisations, too. Clubs and other philanthropic organisations can also buy into this initiative by providing this training and empowerment to help victims of sudden and devastating mishaps get support.

PUNCH.

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