Monday 15 May 2017

Why Mangoes Are Good For You : 5 Powerful Health Benefits

Mangoes are one of my favourite fruits. Succulent and delicious, it can be used in a wide variety of dishes. My favourite way is to put in my smoothies.

 It contains more than 20 different vitamins and minerals. This makes it one of the most nutrient-dense fruits. Packed full of nutrients, it has many powerful benefits. Here is my list of the top 5 health benefits:

1. Protects Against Cancer: Mangoes contain ascorbic acid, carotenoids, polyphenols, and terpenoids, which protect the body against breast, colon, leukaemia, and prostate cancers. A report published by the Texas A&M University claims the polyphenolic compounds in mangoes decrease oxidative stress. Oxidative stress can lead to chronic diseases like cancer.

2. Helps lower Cholesterol: Mangoes contain pectin, fibre and vitamin C that is found to decrease serum cholesterol levels.

3. Improves Digestion: Mangoes are good for digestion because of the presence of fibre that prevents constipation.  Also, mangoes contain certain digestive enzymes like mangiferin, catechol oxidase, and lactase that break down proteins and aid digestion.

4. Improves eye health: One cup of sliced mango contains 25% of the daily recommended amount of vitamin A. Vitamin A improves eye health and vision. It is essential for the optimal functioning of the retina. It also helps maintain the health of the mucous membranes in the eye, and thus helps protect the cornea and eye surface, and prevents dry eye.
5. Improves Immunity: Mangoes contain over 25 types of carotenoids, vitamin C and vitamin A. This boosts the immune system to help prevent all kinds of ailments.

Do you love mangoes? What is your favourite way of eating them?

Friday 12 May 2017

5 Diseases That Can Cause Chronic Constipation


This is a condition of the digestive system in which there is difficulty in emptying the bowels. The stool is often hard, difficult to pass and infrequent. The normal frequency of bowel movements in adults is between three per day and three per week. When there is constipation, bowel movements may be less than 3 stools a week.

Common causes of constipation include dehydration, not eating enough fibre, and decreased physical activity.

Chronic constipation can also be a symptom of a secondary disease like those below or medications. So, it’s worth checking out your symptoms with a doctor especially if there are other symptoms associated with it.
1. Hypothyroidism:  Hypothyroidism means that you have under-active thyroid hormone. It is sometimes also referred to as "slow" thyroid. Hypothyroidism slows down many of the body's systems, including digestion and elimination.  This could lead to chronic constipation. Other symptoms of hypothyroidism include puffiness in the face, especially around the eyes, hair loss, brittle nails, lower-than-normal body temperature, weight gain and fatigue.

2. Diabetes:  Diabetes can cause several health problems like chronic constipation. According to Mayo Clinic, high blood sugar levels seen in type 1 and 2 diabetes can lead to diabetic neuropathy, or nerve damage. The nerves of the digestive tract can get damaged and lead to chronic constipation. Other symptoms of diabetes are excessive thirst, weight loss, and frequent urination.

3. Irritable Bowel Syndrome:  Constipation is one of the symptoms of this disease.  A key symptom of this disease is abdominal pain caused by changes in bowel movement. Other symptoms are bloating and discomfort.

4. Parkinson’s Disease:  Constipation is a common problem in Parkinson's disease and may occur even before the motor symptoms appear. Other symptoms of this chronic and progress movement disorder include tremor, rigidity, and difficulty with balance.

      5.  Colo-rectal cancer:  This is a tumour from the inner wall of the colon or rectum. The symptoms are non-specific depending on where the tumour is situated. Symptoms include blood in the stool, dark coloured stooldiarrhoea, and constipation.

How To Know If You Are Drinking Enough Water: 7 Common Symptoms of Dehydration

how toknow if you are drinking enough water 7 common symptoms of dehydration

Did you know that roughly 70% of your body is made up of water? Water is essential for human survival and not drinking enough water can have some serious consequences. A person can live without food for about a month but only one week without water. We lose water every day through breathing, urine, stool, and evaporation from the skin. These losses must be replaced every day for the body to function normally.

Recommended daily water intake according to The Institute of  Medicine for men is roughly about 13 cups (3 litres) of total beverages a day. The recommended daily intake for women is about 9 cups (2.2 litres) of total beverages a day.

These are some of the symptoms you may notice If you are not consuming enough water:

1.   Thirst: Thirst is a way of your body telling you to drink water however, it is not always a reliable early indicator of the body's need for water. You will usually feel thirsty because you're not drinking the amount of fluid your body needs. This may be because you've been sweating heavily or you've lost fluid.

2.      Fatigue: Fatigue is one of the first symptoms of dehydration. A study from Tuft’s University found that mild dehydration of about 1 to 2 per cent loss of body weight as water can impair thinking. 

Y  Your body cells need adequate water to balance the fluids and electrolytes in the body. When you are not adequately hydrated, the blood volume decreases and your heart works harder to push oxygen and nutrients around the body making you feel tired.

     Headaches: Dehydration as explained above decreases blood volume which lowers blood and oxygen flow to the brain. The blood vessels in the brain dilate leading to swelling which causes a headache.

     In addition, when you are dehydrated, your brain tissue loses water causing your brain to shrink away from the skull. This triggers the pain receptors and gives you a headache.

4.     Dry mouth: Dry mouth is also an early but unreliable sign of dehydration.

5.     Dark urine and decreased urination: Urine naturally has some yellow pigments called urobilin or urochrome which gives it the characteristic yellow colour. This colour can change in intensity from light yellow to very dark because of what we ingest, the chief of which is water. Dark coloured urine in addition to reduced frequency of urination could mean you need to drink more water.

6.     Dry skin and wrinkles: Drinking enough water keeps it moisturised and looking supple. When you are dehydrated, the skin begins to look dry and you may notice wrinkles. So, before you run to spend a fortune on skin treatments, try drinking more water.

7.     Constipation: Not drinking enough water can lead to constipation. The colon draws water from body waste to make it solid. When there is too little water available, the stool becomes dry, hard, and difficult to move through the colon.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, be sure to drink more water every day.

Thursday 4 May 2017

What do your blood pressure numbers mean?

What do your blood pressure numbers mean

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High blood pressure or hypertension is a common disease affecting about one in four people. It is also called the silent killer disease because sometimes there are no symptoms till complications like stroke, kidney failure, and heart disease set in.

What is blood pressure?

Blood carries oxygen and nutrients around the body through blood vessels called arteries. Blood pressure is the force of the blood against the arteries. Blood pressure is recorded as two numbers.

 The top number is known as the systolic pressure. This is the pressure of the arteries when the heart beats or contracts. The bottom number is the diastolic pressure. This is the pressure of the arteries when the heart is resting in between beats.

 A sample blood pressure reading will be 120/80 mm mercury.   

What do your blood pressure numbers mean?

According to the American heart association, blood pressure recommendations are as follows:

Normal Blood Pressure               systolic     less than 120
                                                      diastolic     less than   80

Elevated Blood Pressure            systolic     120 - 129
                                                      diastolic    less than   80

Hypertension Stage1                  systolic     130 - 139
                                                     diastolic       80 -   89

Hypertension Stage2                  systolic     140 and above
                                                     diastolic      90 and above

Hypertensive Crisis                    systolic     180 and above
                                                     diastolic    120 and above

Blood pressure changes from minute to minute depending on your posture, exercise, stress, or sleep. So if your doctor gets a single high reading, he will likely take several readings over time before a diagnosis of high blood pressure is given. 

If you monitor your blood pressure at home and your blood pressure numbers are high, rest for a few minutes and then repeat the blood pressure reading to get accurate readings.

It is recommended that persons aged 20 and above, take their blood pressure at every healthcare visit or at least once in two years. You can also ask your doctor to recommend an automatic blood pressure monitor to take your blood pressure at home. 

Please read and obey the instructions of the monitor before use.

Hypertension : 8 ways to control high blood pressure

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Hypertension is a silent killer and if left untreated, can lead to complications like heart disease, stroke, and others.
If your doctor has diagnosed you with hypertension, you may be on medication but changing your lifestyle can reduce the need for drugs.
These are 8 natural ways to control your blood pressure:

Reduce your salt intake

To decrease your salt intake, consider reducing the amount of salt in your cooking and enhance the taste with herbs and spices instead. Also, reduce the intake of processed foods because they contain a lot of salt.

Eat healthy

Your blood pressure can be lowered considerably if you reduce foods rich in saturated fats and cholesterol. Instead eat foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

Stay away from nicotine and second-hand smoke

Smoking can raise your blood pressure. Also, inhaling smoke from others can also increase your risk of hypertension and other diseases.

Exercise regularly

It has been proven that exercise of about 30 minutes at least 3 times a week can reduce your blood pressure. Discuss developing an exercise routine with your doctor.

Lose weight

Being obese or overweight can increase your risk of hypertension. To calculate your ideal weight for your height, check your body mass index (BMI). Weight loss can reduce your blood pressure and make your medication more effective.

Reduce your alcohol intake

Intake of excessive amounts of alcohol can increase your blood pressure. Slowly reduce your alcohol intake. The recommended amount is a drink a day for women and men older than 65 or two a day for men 65 years and younger.

Manage your stress

Stress can really shoot up your blood pressure. Identify areas of stress in your life and see if you can reduce them. Also, consider talking to a specialist if you can't control your stress levels for help on dealing with stress.

Take your blood pressure readings regularly

Monitoring your blood pressure regularly is very important and more so, if you are hypertensive. Talk to your doctor about recommending a blood pressure monitor you can use at home. It is recommended to keep a notebook where you can write your blood pressure readings you have taken at home. When you visit your doctor for your regular check-up, your pressure readings can help to know if your medication is working.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

Diabetes: 5 warning signs you shouldn't ignore.

Diabetes: 5 warning signs

Diabetes Mellitus can be defined as chronic hyperglycemia (excess sugar in the blood) because of reduced insulin in the body or the resistance of the body to insulin. Insulin is the hormone in the body that regulates the storage and release of energy gotten from food. Insulin encourages the entry of glucose into cells.

Diabetes, like hypertension, is a silent killer because people sometimes are unaware that they have this disease until there are complications. However, there are symptoms of this disease some of which are listed below and shouldn't be ignored.

Frequent urination

This may occur when there is too much glucose in the blood. When this happens, the kidneys draw extra water out of the blood to dilute the glucose thus producing more urine.

Always thirsty

If you are drinking more water than you usually do accompanied by frequent urination, it may be a sign of diabetes. 
Thirst is caused by dehydration in the body.

Weight loss

When the body cells are not getting enough glucose because of deficient insulin, the body starts to break down fat and muscle to get energy this is more common in type I diabetes because the pancreas stops making insulin. In type 2 diabetes, the weight loss may be gradual.

Weakness and fatigue

This is also because of excess sugar in the blood which doesn't get into the cells depriving them of energy.

Cuts and wounds that take a long time to heal

The excess sugar in the blood damages the blood vessels reducing their ability to transport needed nutrients to injured areas
These symptoms may indicate diabetes so if you notice any or all of these symptoms, visit your doctor for proper evaluation.

Malaria in Pregnancy

Malaria is one of the most common illnesses in sub-Saharan Africa and it has been described as endemic. Malaria is caused by the transmission of plasmodium falciparum by mosquitoes. Though preventable, around 125 million pregnancies are at risk of malaria every year, and about 200,000 babies die as a result.1

In an endemic region, adults acquire immunity but pregnant women are particularly vulnerable especially if it is their first pregnancy, so adding prevention and treatment of malaria to antenatal care is very important.
The symptoms of malaria in pregnancy vary depending on levels of acquired immunity in the region and malaria transmission intensity. In endemic areas, there may be no symptoms but the parasites may be present in the placenta and cause maternal anemia, a condition in which the red cells in the blood are insufficient.
 Common symptoms of malaria are headache, chills, high fever, and vomiting. These symptoms usually show 10 to 15 days after being bitten. If left untreated, malaria can cause complications like bleeding, enlargement of the spleen, and kidney failure. There is also a great risk of stillbirth, miscarriage, and low birth weight babies. A blood test will confirm the presence of malaria.
Malaria can be prevented by reducing the presence of mosquitoes in the environment since they are the transmitters of the disease. Keeping the surroundings free of mosquito breeding grounds like stagnant water and dirty drains will help. In addition, the World Health Organization recommends the following:

·        sleeping under long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs);

·        intermittent preventive treatment in pregnancy with the suitable antimalarial drug administered by a doctor;

·        contact a doctor immediately any symptoms are noticed for prompt diagnosis and treatment;

·        use of iron and folic acid supplements as part of antenatal care.

1. Dellicour Set al. Quantifying the Number of Pregnancies at Risk of Malaria in 2007: A Demographic Study. PLoS Med 7(1):e1000221 (2010)

2. WHO: A Strategic Framework for Malaria Prevention and Control during Pregnancy in the Africa Region.

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