I wish to use this article to address one of the most important issues of all, HEALTH (a complete state of physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity, according to the WHO). To help guide the course of the article I’m going to be taking a prophylactic (preventive) approach and discussing a few specific lifestyle hacks that I think are important for the overall health of a person. You ready? Let’s go.
I will be focusing on practical lifestyle modifications including diet, exercise and self medication, as I believe this is the first step to a good health. You already know this and I might be sounding like a broken record, but for emphasis I’m going to repeat it. Cigarette and alcohol consumption kills, either quickly or slowly. No two ways about it. I’ve seen a lot of patients in grave conditions with diseases that are directly linked with smoking and alcoholism, diseases that can easily be avoided with a little lifestyle modification. Secondary smoking (inhaling the smoke from another person’s cigarette) is also a risky situation, one which unfortunately we can’t always help especially if you live in a place,like I do, where people smoke like neurotic monkeys. I’m not saying smoking and drinking is the cause of all diseases, but it is a big percentage that can easily be avoided. What you give to your body is what you get from your body. It’s the simple law of nature, Newton’s third law: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
Firstly, and this is important, eat right, moderately, and in the right proportion. Rice in all its forms is not the healthiest of foods. Garri, Eba, Fufu and all the starch based meals belong in the same category. A little of these, with lots of fruits of which we are ridiculously blessed in Nigeria, water, milk, moderate salt and sugar intake will be a good start to eating right. An apple a day they say keeps the doctor away, that might not be entirely true, in fact I’m positive it’s not true cos if it were I’ll be jobless, but it does provide a valid point in the importance of fruits to one’s overall health.
Next, and this one will save you a lot of money, you don’t need that soft drink or juice. The Coke, Fanta, Pepsi etc. are of no healthy use whatsoever, except you’re hypoglycemic (low blood sugar) and in an urgent need of glucose (sugar). A nice bottle of delicious water is often enough, and your body will appreciate it more.
Also you don’t have to cook everything as most vegetables are better eaten raw, or slightly cooked. Slicing that fresh tomato, and the not too hot fresh pepper with some onions and cucumber will, seasoned with a little salt and vegetable oil will make a nice healthy salad to go with that mountain of rice you’re about to devour. An occasional fruit concussion will also not do you any harm.
Next thing I want to talk about is regular (or daily if possible) exercise. This one is a case of do as I say not as I do. Regular exercise is one that I struggle with myself. My wife has been trying to get me to exercise regularly even going as far as reporting me to my father, but I’m working on it. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a rigorous gym regimen, or a fitness program. A little 20-30 min jog and workout routine every couple of days can work wonders. Statistics have proven that a 30 min walk everyday helps the body function better and improves overall health and reduces susceptibility to diseases. This is one with which Nigerian’s won’t have a problem.
Nigerians live very active lifestyles, but can be occasionally too dormant and static also. Taking time to relax helps the body function optimally. A short or long walk in the evening will go a long way in digesting that mountain of Eba and keep the blood properly circulating and the metabolism going before you go to sleep.
Listen to your Body
Pay attention to your body as the patient/body is his/her own best doctor. You want to be attentive to every little thing that doesn’t feel right with your body. The little pain, tiredness, unexplained weight loss, tiredness, lethargy etc. can be signals for some very nasty underlying conditions. Take nothing for granted. There are some symptoms that will automatically resolve on their own with the help of the body’s immune system and without any treatment. But there are other symptoms that are way more sneaky and dangerous, and will require early management if they’re not going to cause some major damage. But since it difficult to differentiate which, sometimes even for doctors, you’ll need to be attentive and report every symptom. Early diagnosis are usually of utmost importance in chronic ontological, gynecological, respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, I mean the cancers, STIs, TB and other infectious diseases.
Say NO to self-medication
I want to remind you, and I cannot emphasize this enough, of the need to avoid self-medication and drug dependence by every means possible. I personally believe in using pharmacotherapy as the last line of action in treating acute conditions or diseases. Repeated use of certain drugs often lead to diseases on their own like arthritis, anemia etc. and most drugs also have toxic effects on different organs and systems of the body. Prolonged, unindicated and uncontrolled use of these drugs, especially antibiotics can result in drug resistance, a situation where the doctor has to find other drug groups to use because the patient is already resistant to a certain group of drug, and addiction. One can be addicted to even paracetamol or ibuprofen. Addiction doesn’t necessarily have to be to narcotics or other hard drugs.
Maintain your body
Embrace the maintenance culture. Maintain your body as you would maintain a brand new 2015-model Bentley or Rolls Royce. Be aware of warning signs like constant headache, tiredness, unexplained/prolonged bleeding, the prolonged cough and flu symptoms, pain (in big and small joints, bones, back, abdomen etc.). If anything doesn’t feel right call your doctor. Occasional check-up; complete blood-work, X-ray, Urinalysis and physicals (X-ray especially for a Tuberculosis endemic nation like Nigeria, according to WHO) also will be of tremendous value.
These are just my opinions, most supported with facts and experiences coming from my little background in Medicine. These tips or suggestions are in no way definitive or authoritative. We all need to do more to maintain our body.
Take care of your body, mind and soul. Be Healthy, Be Strong, Be Safe. This has got nothing to do with anything but it’s my personal slogan and even if you don’t get anything from this article I want to leave this with you. APPRECIATE LIFE! APPRECIATE LOVE! APPRECIATE PEOPLE!
Since there are going to be comments anyway both the positive and the not too positive, feel free to share any health routines or habits that has worked for you in the past. Someone might gain something from you and as we all know and say Health is Wealth.
Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Hongqi Zhang (aka Michael Zhang)