WHAT IS YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH FOOD ?

About 2 years ago,I was waiting for a friend outside the Lavington Mall just outside the entrance to the mall on the side where they have the  Fiore de Latte cafe. Of course i had already had a sorbet there a few weeks before and my friend upon hearing me rave about the place asked that we meet  there.

A few minutes after taking my seat,I see a mother and a little girl,someone i presumed to be the  daughter, about 10 years and as they pass by me one of the attendants sweetly smiles at them and asks if they would like to have some sorbet .The girl quickly brushes her off and tells her its no carb week in the house and she  quickly follows  her mother down the stairs.

Months after this incident it was still puzzling to me ..what was the kind of  relationship  that this little girl was going to have with food for the rest of her life?And what had informed that relationship she was forming with food at a young age ?

 

We live in a time where food as been demonized for all the wrong reasons and we have people swearing off all manner of foods that their bodies actually need in order for them to live healthier more productive lifestyles.

Of great concern to me is when  children  develop unhealthy eating habits born out of fear at a young age which they then carry into adulthood.Are we going to have  a generation of adults that at some point in their life were mistakenly led to believe carbohydrates are bad for them and so in their late teens and into adult hood they  end up battling anorexia  ?

When you hear a pre-teen say she wants to lose weight and she starts skipping meals,do you think….. wow,she is such a fastidious eater…. and congratulate her on her clean eating or do you get concerned that she is not getting enough calories to meet her body’s growing needs ?

Carbohydrates in high amounts especially if the carbohydrate  sources are from junk food will definitely result in weight gain. A diet high in carbohydrates triggers more insulin production which  results in the body turning all extra calories  in the body to be stored as fat.

What we now see as a trend ,the “clean eating trend”,can turn into a consuming obsession where we categorize food as either being good or bad.This inflexibility around the food choices we make can result in anxiety disorders which can lead to guilty feeling whenever we think we have made the “wrong” food choice.I would not want to go into what this anxiety and fear will do to your mental health,but people who have battled anorexia have heart breaking stories.

This self  restrictions we have put on  on the food choices we can  take  results in nutrient deficiencies whose effects especially on growing children who are physically more active  than adults and whose bodies need more nutrients can be detrimental .

What food choices are you making at this moment in time for yourself,family,children and what are they based on?

Are they based on whats is trending,what is beneficial to the body or are they made out of fear.

Share them in the comments section below .

 

NUTRITION IN A PILL:WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

 

 

 

If you were in your pre-teens in the 1990’s and are reading this,your parents may have made the very wise decision to send you to  boarding school and among the many items that were on your back to school shopping list was either a bottle of Scott’s Emulsion or Seven Seas Cod Live oil.

Unlike today where Scott’s Emulsion is available in Strawberry flavor and you can get it in chew-able Pastilles or Gummies then we had to deal with the arduous task of taking a teaspoonful of this fish oil as it was.

That was our first introduction to nutrition in a bottle and then because we did not know better,we took it whenever we felt like it and consequently by the end of the term you would end up with more than 2 unfinished bottles of cod liver oil which when you went home you could not  satisfactorily explain to your mother why you had not been taking .

The contents of the bottle of Cod liver oil were meant to strengthen our immune system as    the boarding school we went to  tucked somewhere in the scenic location of Kyeni   could get really cold especially in the second term , the longest term of the year  when temperatures were very low.

On a clear morning,you might probably see the tip of Mount Kenya the air was crisp and fresh,no other place could boast such fresh air,but wait till  winter set in during the months of May-July,that is when we saw our breath turn into mist when we walked  outside of the dorm for some of the quickest   showers I have had. Later we would cover ourselves in scarves and what we then called leg warmers which were knitted socks but without a heel  and which we put on over our white socks.Second term was the period in school when you made the most visits to the school matron who  also doubled up as the school nurse .For anything she could not treat she sent you to Kyeni Hospital which was tucked into these cul de sac that included a primary school,high school and church complete with a nunnery and a hospital. That’s is when you got to spend a few hours out of school ,sitted on a hospital bench waiting your turn to see a doctor.

The purpose of the cod liver oil was meant to keep these visits to the hospitals to a minimum but  we adhered to our own rules and with no one to  ensure we took the fish oil  daily,well we ended up at the sanatorium more often than our mothers would have liked.

There are various stages in our lives where our dietary intake of the required nutrients,especially vitamins and minerals may not be adequate or maybe needed in extra amounts .Ideally we should get all our nutrients from our diets but changing dietary patterns  or conditions necessitate intake of supplements.

Thanks to scientists who found a way  to package some of the 13 essential vitamins we need as humans   in a pill format a  in  the 1930’s and 40’s and nowadays there are a  wide range of nutrition supplements you can buy over the counter.

However,before  you go buy that bottle or box of supplements,a key question to ask yourself would be ,do I really need it?

And how do you determine if you really need that supplement.

If you are eating healthy and at every meal y are able to eat your recommended amounts of energy giving food(carbohydrates),protein,vegetables and fruits  then supplements will not be the first thing you reach out for every morning.A balanced diet should be able to cater for all your nutritional needs.

It becomes an issue when your diet consists of mostly highly processed foods that are high in fat  which puts you at  risk of suffering from a deficiency of  vitamins and minerals.Our bodies need 13 vitamins to thrive,Vitamins A,C,D,E,K and 8 from the B group of vitamins.The Global Micro nutrient deficiency crisis has only become of major concern in areas where there is over nutrition and people especially in urban areas have increased their intake of calories,animal protein and are taking too little of the plant proteins, fresh fruits ,vegetables and in areas where we have humanitarian crisis and there is under nutrition.

In vulnerable groups such as in young children,pregnant and lactating mothers and the elderly ,doctors may recommend taking of supplements to safe guard against potential risk of running into deficincies.Mircronutirents are especially important in the stages in life like childhood and pregnancy because these are periods where  a lot of  physical changes are taking place and micro nutrients play a very vital role in these bodily changes .(You may want to refer to the previous post to learn about the very important role of micronutirents).They are  key ingredients of  growth and a deficiency may result in a lasting physical impairment.

In the elderly their intake of nutritional supplements may be necessary as they may not be able to absorb it very well from what they eat daily. Due to a decreased appetite  we tend to   consume less as we grow older which affects the consumption of certain foods that provide  essential nutrients. Of special importance is the intake of calcium in the elderly which is highly affected as we get older and research has shown that we consume less calcium as we age.Calcium is essential for healthy bones and no wonder there is an increase in bone related injuries as we age as bones due to a decreased intake of both Calcium and Vitamin D which are essential for healthy bones results in weak and brittle bones .

For post menopausal  women  the risk of injuries is higher as the levels of estrogen in the body decrease,among the many functions of oestrogen is that it protects our bones and ensures they are strong and healthy .The drop in oestrogen levels after menopause leaves women prone to  bone loss and increases the risk of osteoporosis which is a condition where the bones become thinner and may easily fracture.

For women a  diet of 3-4 servings of dairy is recommended as well as physical exercise but more on that in the next article.

If you are eating well already,you might not need to use nutrition supplements as a nutirient rich diet should be able to cater for all the nutrients your body needs .However if your diet is poor and you are prone to infections   seek your  doctors advice before you get on the path of  taking  nutrition supplements.

 

 

 

 

GLOBAL CRISIS:THE MICRONUTRIENT DEFICIENCY

As African countries transition from low income economies into middle income ones there has been a rise in the number  of health challenges these economies are facing. Increasingly we are seeing a rising number of individuals with non communicable lifestyle conditions like heart attacks,cancer,diabetes and other respiratory diseases like asthma on the rise.

Individuals living in urban and peri urban areas are at risk as we have seen the mushrooming of convenience fast food stores that are selling energy dense foods high in trans fats,sugar ,salt and low density lipoproteins which contribute to high cholesterol levels .

These change in eating habits is not just an African problem but it is a global epidemic and health analysts are warning of an epidemic if we do not change our eating habits.The rise in the consumption of energy rich,protein dense foods in lieu of nutrient rich foods has affected about 2 Billion people globally who are affected by micronutrient deficiency.

WHO defines micronutrients as the “magic wands” that enable the body to produce enzymes,hormones and other substances that are essential for proper growth and development.

While emphasis has been placed on overnutrition and issues like obesity and the dangers of being  overweight have been discussed extensively ,deficiencies in micronutrients have not because very few people understand them.This lack of information on the health risks associated with micronutrients has fuelled a narrative where we have focused more on maintaining healthy weight while losing focus on emphasising the need for a more informed approach to the health challenges we are facing.

The lack of micronutrients especially among growing children,pregnant and lactating mothers and the elderly has been associated with risks such as lack of resistance to infectious diseases,blindness,lethargy,reduced learning abilities,death during childbirth,and impaired physical and mental development in children.

The WHO classifies Vitamin A ,,Iodine and iron as the most important in term sof global public health  and their deficiencies can cripple the affected populations.

Let us try to go through what the lack of these micronutrients results in and in our next article we will tackle how to ensure elimination of these deficiencies.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A plays a starring role in vision,bone growth,reproduction,cell division and differentiation and in growing children and pregnant women these processes are essential for proper growth and development in children and healthy pregnancy outcomes in childbearing women.

Vitamin A also plays a very important role in the promotion of a healthy mucous lining of the respiratory,urinary and intestinal tracts which make it hard for bacteria to enter the body and cause infections.

Vitamin A deficiency is the leading cause of preventable blindness in children and due to a weakened immune system as the body is more prone to infection individuals are more at risk of disease and even death from severe infections.

 

Iodine

Iodine is needed by the human body for the production of the thyroid hormone ,the body needs the hormone to aid it in metabolism.

Iodine deficiency in pregnant or nursing mothers has been associated with miscarriages,preterm deliveries and congenital abnormalities in babies.

In children iodine deficiencies is associated with cretinism which is exhibited by children having stunted physical and mental growth .

The most common symptom of iodine deficiency in the body is a swelling at the front of the neck which we know as goitre that results from the overexertion of the thyroid gland.

 

Iron

Your whole body contains about 4 g of iron .Iron is an important micronutrient and its role is in the body processes that involve energy release .Iron is a component of the oxygen carrying blood compounds like haemoglobin which is found in the red blood cells and myoglobin which is found in muscle tissue.

In a World Health Organization report titled The Global Prevalence of Anaemia 2011,it was found lack of dietary iron which results in anemia was prevalent across all sectors of the global economy from low to middle to high income countries.

 

“Anemia, defined as a low blood hemoglobin concentration, has been shown to be a public health problem that affects low-, middle- and high-income countries and has significant and adverse health consequences”

Iron deficiency  had adverse effects on the development of cognitive and motor functions and the result is  fatigue,low productivity,in pregnancy it was seen in children born with a low birth weight and was also associated with maternal and perinatal deaths.

 

Zinc

Zinc is involved in over 100 metabolic enzymes and specifically those that are needed for metabolism,cellular division and DNA and RNA synthesis and structure.

Zinc deficiencies are exhibited in a lack of appetite,retarded growth in children,poor bone growth,problems with  male and female reproduction,poor skin,hair ,nails and a poor sense of smell and taste.

 

Micronutrient deficiency has become such a global public health issue that the World Health Organization has endorsed a policy plan which sees to address this issue by 2025.The plan focuses on maternal,infant and young children and it aims to :

 

1.achieve a 40% reduction in the number of children under-5 who are stunted;

2.achieve a 50% reduction of anaemia in women of reproductive age;

3.achieve a 30% reduction in low birth weight;

4.ensure that there is no increase in childhood overweight;

5.increase the rate of exclusive breastfeeding in the first 6 months up to at least 50%;

6.reduce and maintain childhood wasting to less than 5%.

Individuals raising children or those that want to take active charge of  their health as well as those of their families,staff members need not wait for governments to implement policies that will tackle these micronutrient deficiecnes.By seeking information healthy lifestyle choices and making more well informed food choices  s we can help reduce the risks associated with micronutrient deficiencies.

By tackling micronutrient deficiencies we also help reduce the crippling cost of public health as well as private health insurance costs that have been on the rise annually.

In our next post we will tackle how you can do this through making better and well informed lifestyle choices.

MARIDADI YOGA AND BRUNCH TOUR KICKS OFF THIS SATURDAY

The Maridadi Yoga Tour  kicks off next Saturday at the Coffee Casa on  3rd Parklands Avenue,Doctor’s Park .

This Yoga + Brunch   event will take place at a different venue each month till the month of November and participants will have a chance of experiencing something different and exciting at each of the participating restaurants/venues as well as enjoy the health  benefits that come with practicing yoga.

Yoga improves your muscles strength,posture,flexibility,respiration and increases your energy levels.Would love to have your company as we kick off this exciting tour.

Pay for your tickets well  in advance as we have limited slots available,just 15 for this month,looking forward to seeing you all on the 16th.

 

Regards,

 

Santina Nyagah Bii

WHY I STARTED DOING YOGA

 

Have you ever lived in denial like I have been doing for the last couple of months?

We all do .At least I know there might be at least one person reading this that will identify with living in denial about some aspect of their life.

For me it is the fact that I need to be taking better care of myself.

Am a fastidious eater and I exercise,though not much  .When I started having stiffness in my joints especially when the cold season started I knew it was time to get out a yoga mat and engage in some exercise that would do my joints some good.

Yoga would also give me some me time,Nairobi is such a fast paced city and one can easily forget to take time out for themselves,which might explain why we are seeing a rise in the number of people having to deal with stress related conditions getting younger by the day.

I have tried yoga before  and I like the fact that it is a low impact work out program that will be easy on my joints because I cannot run !

Yoga  is a great option for me because as I said I cannot run and I did not want a work out program that would hurt my joints .

In the short time I have done the yoga workouts which take me about one and a quarter hour every morning,I have righted my posture,learned to listen to the cues my body is sending me and not push it too much.My knee joints feel much better already and I thought to myself why not organize a fun work out for a Saturday morning then follow it with lunch at a swanky upmarket in Nairobi ?

In the hope that some one else out there might be interested,I have space for just 20 people who would like to enjoy a low impact fun work out with some amazing people.

If you feel some time out for yourself on a Saturday morning feels like fun,then by all means sign up for the event.

Use this Yoga Brunch Sign Up Link.

The details of the cost,venue and date will be communicated.

We hope to have our first class on the 26th of this month at a great outdoor venue.

Sign up and invite a friend.

LOVING YOUR 4C HAIR..AS IT IS

Photo credit:www.studio2121.com

Before we talk about my hair type,let me get this quote from Americanah out of the way,it sets the stage for what I consider is a travesty that has gone on for far too long but thankfully is almost obsolete as more women are now getting to fall in love with their hair,the way it is and without having to resort to having it relaxed .

“Relaxing your hair is like being in prison. You’re caged in. Your hair rules you. You didn’t go running with Curt today because you don’t want to sweat out this straightness. You’re always battling to make your hair do what it wasn’t meant to do.”
― Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah

When I first decided to go natural and shave  off my relaxed hair,I walked into a barber shop  in Nakuru ,told the barber to  chop of my shoulder length hair straight hair and I looked at him as he shook his head,he could not believe it and it felt like he was willing me to change my mind.

And also 8 years ago,not very many women were walking into barber shops….willingly.

He looked at me,asked  if I knew what I was doing and of course I answered that I was very clear headed , that the only thing I had  that morning was tea.

He walked me,almost in slow motion to his chair,draped a gown over my shoulders, took out his shaving machine and he proceeded to shave off more of my hair than I had asked him to.

That was almost 8 years ago and  since then I have relaxed my hair once ,in a moment of pure madness which  I regret to date,then shaved it again….. and now..I am happy with my  type 4 hair and would not want it any other way.

In that 8 year period,I have seen more  women embracing the natural hair look and beauty shops in Nairobi are now stocking more natural hair products than ever before.If you walk into Super cosmetics on Mama Ngina Street it is a natural hair haven with hair products your hair will love and over the years,natural hair products have been taking up more shelf space even in supermarkets.

One of the dangers   that come with having natural hair though is that you run the risk of   becoming a product junkie.You go to town to buy one hair product,just one,  before you know it, you have 10 products in your shopping cart.And out of the 10,your hair will be in love with just one..1!

To avoid spending money on products you do not need,it is important to know you hair type.

Thanks to growth in the hair industry we now can tell our hair types,thanks to one man whom I will call The Man.

That man is Andre Walker.

Andre Walker is a hair stylist developed a hair typing system to help us understand our natural hair ,be able to identify our hair type so that  we can better take care of it.You may have seen his work as a stylist on people like Oprah Winfrey and remember that pixie hair cut Halle Berry is famous for..Andre Walker is the man behind that look.

At the beginning of this post,I included  a simple chart to help you identify your hair type,a simple rule of thumb to follow is that the more tightly curled your hair is,the more delicate it is (yes its true) my hair is type 4 and this type of hair needs a lot of moisture as it tends to dry out quickly.

Once you have identified your hair type , read as much as you can on how you can take care of it and do not follow everything you see on You Tube and use what you learned to identify the best type of products that would go well with your hair.

A lot of disappointment  will accompany you   once you start on your natural hair care journey and your  hair does not behave as well as that of You Tubers. It does not have to. Hair like your finger print is unique and will be affected by things such as the humidity of the part of the world  you live in,the kind of water you wash your hair with (  soft /hard),what you eat,do you smoke ,drink alcohol, eat a lot of fruits and vegetables ?

I also have to say that a particular hair product may give very different results   depending on the hair type it is used on.

In addition ,something we  cannot run away from are our genes,they  play a big role on the kind of curls we carry on our heads.

Now about my  type 4 hair  which a lot of people find difficult to maintain but which i absolutely love.This hair type contrary to popular opinion is actually very fragile as its made up of very thin strands of fine hair ,densely packed together.When this hair type is not well moisturized it tends towards a coarse texture and will easily break.

One of the best ways I would recommend of knowing what works on your hair type,especially if you are type 4 is trying out one particular product at a time,that way you get to know what works and what does not.

With time I have come to learn what my hair likes and what it does not,below I will give a simple guide on what I would recommend if you are type 4 hair,it works for most hair types as well  with simple variations for those whose curl patterns are not so tight.

1.Liquid/Water

Washing my hair daily has always been a great way to keep it full of shine as well as moisturized and when it’s not in braids I wash it daily and even with braids I make sure i wash it at least  every 2 weeks.

Sometimes, but only rarely do I  ever use hair gel as I have seen that it dries out my hair too much.

If you find that spritzing your hair with water is not doing much,it is because your hair products are sitting on your hair shaft clogging it and making it hard for moisture to get through.

This is when you pre poo it and give it a good wash preferably with a clarifying shampoo.

2.Oil

After the hair wash,you need to keep that moisture locked in and a good way to do this is to use a hair butter or a natural oil like olive oil.I did a post on how to know if the olive oil you are buying is the real thing.

Using an oil on your hair which is part of the L.O.C method for natural hair  helps to seal in moisture thus preventing moisture loss which leads to dry brittle hair.

3.Cream

You can follow up the oil with a hair cream that locks in the moisture in your hair and I can vouch for  the Dax Roots Olive Cream ,my hair loves it.

The cream acts  a sealant to the moisture you introduced in steps 1 and sealed in step  2 with oil.

Because my hair is a type 4,the above method works out very well and  will also do for most hair types.If you hair is more loosely curled  read on The Natural Hair Rules blog about  the L.O.C.O method which  works out pretty well for these other  hair types.

This is where you use a Liquid.Light oil.Cream then a heavy oil like coconut or olive oil as a sealant.It would be great to confirm if any of you with finer hair have used this method and what the results were.

Back to the conversation about type 4 hair..I have found out that with hair you just need to know what works and does not work for it,for me as stated earlier,hair gels  my hair  does not like,it dries out , breaks and on the occassion that I have to use it, I make sure it is washed  out by evening.

My hair type  loves moisture and the daily wash is a must after which I apply olive or coconut oil and sometimes a cream.

I also try to avoid any heat treatments like having it blow dried and combing it out and only finger comb it during a wash or when I am applying oil to it which reduces on the breakage.This approach has helped it retain its curl pattern which when people ask what I use on my hair to be able to retain the curl pattern,I simply say I hardly ever use a comb on it.

At the moment I am in Nyasuba Locs which I had done by Onea on Hair ,what I love about them them is that they are light and that there was no need to have my hair straightened in order to have them done which is a win win for my hair and my scalp as well.I am maintaining the locs and my hair by using olive oil on my scalp  every other day .I have had the locs for about 2 weeks now and I am doing a wash next week.

Do you have type  4 hair? what is your hair care regimen like ?

Would love to hear from you as well as hear on your experience with hair products.

 

 

 

WHY YOGHURT IS A WOMAN’S BEST FRIEND

 

At one point in their life,a woman will get her first yeast infection and she will go rushing to her doctor,scared , confused and itchy.

Yeast infections  are fungal infections,pretty common among women and are caused by the organism Candida albicans and affect the skin and mucous membranes of a woman’s  vagina ,they could also affect your oral cavity as well.If you are a mother and have breastfed your baby,you maybe familiar with oral thrush,these two conditions are caused by the same fungus.

Candida albicans is commonly found in our mouth,digestive tract,vagina , skin  as well and is usually harmless.The reason for the harmless existence of this fungus is because good bacteria is also present and this ensures  a  perfect balance is   maintained between  the candida albicans and the good bacteria .

However some certain conditions do occur which affect this balance and the result is that  there is overgrowth of the candida albicans which then results in  a yeast infection.

The conditions that favour an increase of the candida albicans could  be  illness or  if someone is on  medication like  antibiotics .

Antibiotics kill both the good and bad bacteria and the death of the good bacteria causes an increase in the amount of the candida albicans.

The main symptoms of a yeast infection  are  itching of the vulva and area around the vagina and there  may also be  discharge.

Left untreated it is  possible for the infection to be passed on to her partner or it may end up in a woman’s blood stream which then makes it very difficult to treat.

Normal treatment for yeast infections is a topical cream or oral antifungal medication.

Something  you might want to do to ward of yeast infections  whether you are on medication or as part of living healthy  is  take natural yoghurt.

Natural yoghurt contains lactobacillus acidophilus, “a good bacteria ”  which is   present in your intestines as well as the  mouth,vagina  and helps provide the good bacteria your body needs  to  keep yeast infections at bay.

There is no set rule on the amount of yoghurt to take while on a dose of antibiotics  but a serving or two a day  of natural yoghurt  while you are on medication is a good idea.

(A serving of yoghurt is a bout 175 grammes or 3/4 of a cup.)

There is a lot of anecdotal advice on how to treat yeast infections but it is always advisable to seek the advice of a medical professional  first .

 

YOUR BMI IS IMPORTANT AND MORE…

BMI POST

 

“…the leaner we are, the healthier we are. And of course, the more physically fit [we are], the better off we are when it comes to over all health.”

Dr David Lau,University of Calgary

A couple of days ago,to be specific on Tuesday I posted an article from the Independent on How Clean eating was having an effect on young women and had gone on to demonize certain food groups,you may want to read it,please do.

Thereafter followed a vibrant conversation from the people who read it and rearing its head very often were these 3 letters -BMI.

BMI or Body Mass Index as we know it has been  bandied around by health and medical professionals and we have scared people into thinking that it is the be all,end all and ultimate marker of good health.What scientist have found is that BMI scores vary among different groups and some like countries in South Asia have developed their own way of calculating BMI’s among their populations.

At its inception , the BMI was  a simple,easy tool to screen populations at a time when  Western populations were having to come to terms  with the increase in obesity in their populations that were becoming more prosperous and were seeing changes in dietary habits.

Health and medical professionals now  use the BMI  to determine “how much body fat ” you are carrying .Research however shows that the amount of body fat individuals carry varies across ethnic groups.

For most people in Kenya ,finding their BMI score is a scary thing , especially when they  find out that they score a higher  or lower than average score and fall on either of two extremes, severely underweight or morbidly obese.

As a guide a Body Mass Index  was developed thanks to a population of individuals who were all of European descent.Any  casual observer can l see  that as Africans our physiology is different from Europeans and since the BMI does not differentiate between body fat and muscles we will have different scores among different ethnic groups .

But what is the Body Mass Index really and how did it come about and is it really a good indicator of how healthy you are or of how much weight you should gain or lose?

To better understand what the Body Mass Index is,we have to go back in history ,more than 150 years ago to  the 1830’s  through to the 1850’S when the BMI was first developed by the Belgian Lambert Adolphe Jacques Quetelet.

As a tool for studying population trends and giving a rough idea of the health status of groups to medical professionals it proved very useful .What it was not able to point out was the amount of visceral fat individuals carried with them.

Visceral fat you said…this is the fat that is around your abdomen and internal organs and is the dangerous kind of fat that will predispose you to conditions like diabetes Type 2,hypertension and other cardiovascular diseases.

The amount of visceral fat we carry is more worrying  than the BMI score .

When you first get your BMI,remember it is the value got from the weight of an individual divided by their height squared and will give you kg/m squared. 

The resulting value is used to classify  individuals as underweight,normal weight,overweight or obese.As such when describing an individual’s BMI score,one often hears the description of the resulting value  being how far from the ideal  one’s weight is from what is desirable for their height.

Over the years there has been an increase in the concern of using a universal cut off point to determine the health of individuals and scientists have been calling for a more individualized approach to determine the health of individuals as Body Mass Index has been shown to differ among ethnic groups .

In a paper titled   Ethnicity and BMI ,that was published in the British Journal of Nutrition by Amy Luke a Professor from the University of Loyola’S Department of Preventive Medicine and Epidemiology,she wrote:

“The WHO’s 2004 call for more research to be conducted in diverse populations seems quite important and necessary if the relationships between BMI,body fat and chronic disease are to be better defined.”

Individuals who are more athletic and have more muscle than fat may  also inadvertently find themselves in the overweight bracket and shorter people find themselves being classified as thinner than they really are.

As a result with the BMI ,  it does not differentiate between body fat and muscle and  people will sometimes find themselves in the wrong classification. Some scientists have argued that using a waist to height ratio would give a better and more specific evaluation of a person’s health .

Why a waist to height ratio ?

Because a waist to height ratio is a better indicator of abdominal fat  and abdominal fat has been shown to be a better predictor of  individuals predisposed to obesity related health conditions.

However,the jury is still out on this and the BMI remains king. .

To be clear, the Body Mass Index is a good tool for population studies but not for individualized health care.The World Health Organization has defined obesity as a condition in which excess body fat affects the health and well-being of an individual and it has used the Body Mass Index as a tool to classify individuals ,research however  has shown that Body Mass Index across ethnic ,cultural groups differs and genetics and environmental   factors also   affect  our well being.

When the BMI was developed humans were leaner and having mainly focused on Western societies where diets were different from lets say individuals in Africa and Asian countries,the Index was and is a guide and could be used with other more specific tests to determine the  health of  individuals .

In this paper published in the scientific journal  PLOS ONE ,scientist from Leeds Beckett University do say that Body Mass Index while  remaining a useful tool  for population screening is not able to identify individuals at risk of developing obesity related medical conditions.

Do we then get rid of the BMI and stop using it as a guide to screen individuals at risk of health complications ?

No,we should not, instead of chasing a number that determines how perfectly healthy we are,it will be more useful to adopt a healthier lifestyle by making healthier food choices and adopting  more active lifestyles .

Active lifestyles where we incorporate more exercise will ensure we burn more of the visceral fat we carry,making healthier food choices like cutting back on alcohol,cutting back on deep fried foods,eating more fiber rich foods are ways of ensuring that you can lose the abdominal fat you carry with you and reduce you waist to height body fat ratio.

My challenge to the great scientists and researchers in Africa  would be for us to adopt more multi pronged approaches to tackle the heath challenges of the continents population .Countries in South Asia have been able to do so.

We could  do more research on the increasing number of lifestyle conditions that are on the rise on the continent and share ideas of how we can help our populations adopt more healthy lifestyles.We should promote consumption of more indigenous foods,advocate for more active lifestyles and create policies that will advance healthier lifestyles.

For now do not just rely on your BMI,take a more active step towards living healthier by making more healthy food choices and becoming more active.

 

 

 

 

6 WAYS TO MANAGE YOUR SUGAR CRAVINGS

 

Eath produces the food your body needs! (1)

The last post I did on why sugar is not good for your body  elicited a lot of interest and questions from people on whether there are ways to manage sugar cravings in a healthy manner.

Before I explore ways of how to manage sugar cravings I thought I should mention a hard and cold truth about sugar .

Sugar has no nutritional value whatsoever,yes it does sweeten some foods and drinks  the craving for sugar is derived from the pleasure it triggers through the release of dopamine into our brain.

Sugar has no proteins,vitamins or minerals that the human being would need in order to  be healthy .

The danger with the added sugar we take in  is that it plays havoc with our metabolism and it also contributes to a lot of the lifestyle diseases we see on the rise.Everything from obesity,heart disease,tooth decay are related to consuming more sugar than our body needs.

Sugar gives you nothing but empty calories and consuming foods high in sugar and fats leads to nutritional deficiencies  as well as it affects the consumption of other healthy foods.This deficiency on certain nutrients then leads to deficiencies that compromise our health and leave our immunity exposed.

The way to stave your sugar craving is to look for healthy alternatives to sugar that give you more than the sugar high and are high in nutritional value.

1.Take a fruit and leave out the sugar in your hot beverages.

Instead of having your tea with sugar,leave it out and instead have a fruit with your breakfast.Not a fruit smoothie because fruits have sugar in them in the form of fructose and over consumption of sugar in the form of fructose is unhealthy as all excess fructose will get turned by your body into fat.

2.Make your snack choices healthy ones.

To stave off the hunger pangs when you are feeling low on sugar at 3 pm Monday afternoon,take a fruit instead of the afternoon mug of tea.

Note:Intake of fruits should be limited to about 2-3 in a day.

Nuts and seeds also make very healthy snack choices nuts  provide essential vitamins from the B group,Vitamin E and minerals like potassium,calcium and magnesium and they will leave you fuller for longer as they slowly get broken down and sugar gets released into your body in amounts your body can use.

3.Take note of your calories

Take your calories from whole grains,starchy root vegetables like sweet potatoes,grains,cereals and not from baked foods .When you make healthier choices about where you will get your calories from,these sources of carbohydrates as highlighted are also sources of other micro nutrients  that your body needs.

As you grow older your body needs less calories and what your body needed when you were 20 will change as you head towards your 30’s and 40’s when you become less active and your body’s metabolism slows down.

4.Take water

Sometimes the hunger pangs we think we have that force us to reach out for something sweet may actually be a sign from our body  that we a dehydrated.Pick up that glass of water instead of a doughnut ,a cookie or a fruit drink.

5.Make your  food choices healthy choices.

Instead of eating three large meals during the day,stagger your meals through out the day in small portions and make sure they are made up of foods from all  the major food groups,cereals/grains,milk and dairy,fruits and vegetables,nuts and seeds.By taking your foods from the natural sources you are ensuring your body is able to metabolize the food in such a manner that stabilizes your blood sugars through out the day rather than experiencing the highs and the dramatic falls that come with consumption of processed foods which are high in sugar and fat.

6.Get to exercise

If you are struggling with your sugar craving,getting physically active will help you mange those cravings as it forces you make more healthier food choices,take in more water and you will definitely have to take in more than sugar for  your muscles to get working and to be physically fit.

Exercising will force you to be more conscious of your food choices and it will lead you to healthier ones.

 

Managing your sugar cravings is not easy but it can be done if you know how sugar affects your body and brain you will make healthier food choices.To find out how your body and brain are affected you may want to read the previous post.

If you find this information useful or you would like me to address something you are interested in knowing more of,please let us know in the comments section.