Thursday, 27 September 2012

Dry Skin: Know your Facts.

Dry Skin: Know your Facts.
Most people would agree with me how difficult it is to get the right balance of skin. So many people would have tried so many remedies maybe without success.
The skin's oil glands produce natural oil, which protects the skin against water loss. Dry skin (xerosis) can be the result when the oil is depleted.
Most people struggle with dry skin at some point in their lives, especially when they are past middle age. The lower legs, sides of the abdomen, arms and thighs are most commonly affected.
Dry skin can result in scaling, flaking or itching and the appearance of fine wrinkles. It is rarely a serious condition. However, some people suffer from a severe form of dry skin called itchthyosis vulgaris. This condition develops when the skin cells fail to shed and form thick, dry scales instead, hence the alternative name: fish scale disease. It can be inherited, or may be due to other medical conditions, such as Aids or hypothyroidism, and can be disfiguring.
Dry skin is most frequently caused by the following:
  • Weather: It is more common during the winter months, because of the lower humidity. Wind and extreme heat can also dehydrate the skin.
  • Frequent bathing or showering washes away the skin's natural barrier.
  • Harsh soaps, perfumed moisturisers and detergents can dry out the skin.
  • Air conditioners and heaters.
  • Metabolic changes that occur with normal ageing or as a result of certain medical conditions.
Signs and symptoms depend on a person's age, health status, exposure to environmental factors and the cause of the problem. It includes:
  • Discomfort or tightness
  • Skin appears rough, shrunken or dehydrated
  • Itching
  • Fine lines or cracks
  • Severe redness
  • Deep fissures
Dry skin usually responds well to home treatment. Take the following steps:
  • Don't bath or shower more than once a day. Cleanse your face only once a day.
  • Don't use harsh soaps. Mild moisture bars are best. Avoid highly alkaline products, or products that contain alcohol.
  • Use warm (not hot) water.
  • Pat-dry your skin instead of rubbing it.
  • Apply a bath oil or moisturiser on damp skin. Thick, greasy moisturisers are most effective.
  • Use a humidifier if the air is dry.
  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day.
  • Use a sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 15 to retain moisture.
Consult a doctor if the condition doesn't respond to home treatment; if it keeps you awake at night; if you have a rash, or open cuts or sores from scratching.


Friday, 21 September 2012

Candida: Facts and some Alternative therapy

Candida: Alternative/complementary therapy

Candida albicans is a fungus or yeast that is always present in the body. The beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract and the female urogenital system control the growth of candida.

The overgrowth of candida is often caused by the excessive use and abuse of antibiotics. Antibiotics kill the good, harmless, beneficial bacteria along with those that cause disease. Candida then begins to proliferate because the natural growth control is no longer present. This causes thrush in babies and young children and candidiasis in adult women.

What you didn't know about candida
Although candida infections are mainly found in women, men can become infected too. To avoid cross-infection, partners should both be treated if one is infected.

The contraceptive pill disturbs the normal hormone balance in the female urogenital system and can also result in excessive growth of candida.

Diabetics are also prone to candida infections, since candida organisms flourish in a sugary environment. If you often have problems with candida, you should have a glucose-tolerance test.

How do you know if you have candida infection?
Candida infection is manifested in a number of ways:

  • Chronic vaginal infections characterised by a thick white, crumbly, itchy discharge. This is often mistakenly regarded as the only symptom of candida infection.
  •  Infection of the mouth and the rest of the digestive tract with a white layer on the tongue, sore throat, painful and red mucosa in the mouth, anus, penis, skin, fingernails and toenails.
  • Systemic infection on account of increased intestinal permeability that allows candida fungi to enter the bloodstream ("leaky gut syndrome"). This can cause diarrhoea, general fatigue, low libido, menstrual disorders, muscular pain, painful joints, headache, bloating, allergies, reduced immune function in chronic respiratory infections, depression and poor concentration.

A conclusive diagnosis can only be made by undergoing specific tests (for example, a test for candida antibodies with IgG, IgM, IgA, as well as food tolerance tests, white blood cell count tests and glucose tolerance tests). Before seeking any treatment, you must first be sure that you do have a candida infection by going for a routine check-up and a vaginal smear.

Talk to your doctor  before you can think of other methods.

Try other options under your doctor's supervision. Your doctor should be aware of any complementary therapies that you may be using.

Natural remedies

What to take

1. Herbal help
Consult your doctor or a professional herbal practitioner before using any of the herbs mentioned in the following section, especially if you are pregnant, suffer from a chronic disease or are on other medication. Boost your immunity so that you don't get thrush in the first place: take vitamin C, zinc and Echinacea, golden seal (Hydrastis canadensis), calendula and garlic supplements. Studies have found that taking all three during a bout of thrush can reduce the symptoms or shorten the duration of the infection. Most of these herbs will keep the fungal growth in check. Apply them to the affected area or take them orally.

You can also treat a thrush infection with grapefruit seed extract because the seeds of the grapefruit have anti-fungal properties.

2. Aromatherapy
Tea tree oil and lavender oil are gentle enough to use on infected skin and the mucosa on the inside of your mouth. Apply directly to the skin or put three drops of each on a vaginal tampon or sanitary towel. You can also add these oils to your bath (ten drops of each). Regular use should soon clear up the problem.

3. Friendly bacteria in capsule form
Capsules of Lactobacillus acidophilus or Bifidobacterium bifidum (two capsules twice a day) will also contribute to the regrowth of a normal bacterial population in the body, thereby balancing the excessive growth of candida. These capsules can either be taken orally or opened up and made into a paste to apply directly into the vagina.

4. Natural yoghurt
Natural yoghurt can also be used as a douche. Mix natural yoghurt with 10ml of apple vinegar, ten drops of tea tree oil and 10ml of golden seal root extract (hydrastis). Add the mixture to a hot bath and have a long soak. Insert a tampon covered in live, natural yoghurt into the vagina. This will soothe the inflammation and is also believed to combat candida.

5. Supplements
Consider taking vitamin and mineral supplements and include more vitamins and minerals in your diet to support the immune system and the urogenital system. Focus on: vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E with 100 IU of selenium a day.

A combination of carotenes, magnesium, calcium, B-complex vitamins, coenzyme Q10, molybdenum, chromium and essential fatty acids (omega-3 and omega-6) may also contribute to the treatment and prevention of candida infection.

Ensure that the following are in the antioxidant combination you use: bioflavonoids (e.g. garlic, quercetin, peppermint, camomile, rose hip, pawpaw, green pepper, broccoli and tomatoes are all rich in bioflavonoids), and zinc.

6. Homeopathic help
According to Johannesburg-based homeopath Dr Debbie Smith, "Candidiasis is a complex problem that contributes to many different health problems. Homeopathy focuses on addressing particular problems, such as constipation, diarrhoea, headaches, indigestion and vaginitis. A homoepathic consultation would be advisable as this is a complex problem."

What to do

1. Watch what you wear
Don't wear tight-fitting underwear or clothing. Avoid vaginal deodorants, soap, powder and perfume. Avoid underwear made from synthetic fabrics such as nylon. Wear cotton panties.

2. Change your diet
Go on a low-sugar and low-yeast diet: sugar and yeast-filled foods, like cakes, chocolates and biscuits, are believed to trigger candida attacks, so avoid these foods. Also limit your intake of bread, ready-made meals, yeast extract, soups and alcohol.

Avoid refined sugar, white flour, white rice, canned or processed foods, fizzy drinks, coffee, fruit juices, bananas, grapes, fermented foods such as cheese, smoked fish, dairy products, honey and mushrooms for 30 days.

Eat plenty of fresh fruit (apart from those mentioned) and vegetables, natural unflavoured yoghurt, fibre-rich foods, brown rice, fresh fish, chicken, olive oil, oatmeal porridge and drink plenty of water.

If your symptoms improve, you will know that the problem is candida. In any event, you will feel much healthier, more energetic and lose a few kilograms as well.

3. Stress management
Stress management is essential in the treatment of candida infection. Chronic stress weakens the action of the immune system and aggravates the frequency and duration of the disease. Most people who have to cope with the burden of recurrent candida infection are psychologically, physically and emotionally taxed.

Balance must be restored, not only in your intestinal flora but also in your life. Outbreaks are often connected to stress at work, changes in living circumstances and the eternal conflict between work, domestic chores and family life.

Please note: This natural medicine guide does not replace the assessment and advice of your doctor. Whatever the case please consult a professional.


Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Diabetes and Dieting Tips

Diabetes and Dieting Tips

I thought it would be a good idea to add on to what I have already blogged about on Diabetes, a request from a friend looking after a diabetic patient. It is always important to look after oneself especially where diet is concerned.

If you have diabetes, and need to lose weight for health reasons, it is all the more important for you to stick to your changed eating plan.

There are ways of making life a little easier for yourself, and remember the slower you lose weight, the longer it stays off.

  • Eat breakfast. This will prevent you from feeling starving at 11 am and eating a chocolate doughnut from the office canteen.
  • Drink lots of water. It will cleanse your system and make you feel fuller.
  • Eat at regular intervals. Don’t wait until you are starving, because then you are more likely to overeat.
  • Eat slowly as it takes 20 minutes for the signals from a full stomach to reach the brain.
  • Eat lots of fruit and vegetables. Fruit will also prevent your blood sugar levels from dropping.
  • If you really crave something, have it – in moderation. The moderation is very important if you are diabetic – eating a large piece of chocolate could have serious consequences.
  • Don’t let your diet put an end to your social life. If you are invited for dinner, don’t tell the hostess what she can and can’t cook. Just eat whatever there is in moderation. Or else, eat at home beforehand and just taste everything. When going to a restaurant, get a salad, or share something with another person. Don’t make your diet everybody else’s problem. You might not get invited again.
  • Don’t snack while doing other things like watching TV or cooking.
  • Low-calorie does not have to mean tasteless. Experiment with condiments and spices to make your food less bland.
  • Plan to have mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks of fruit or rice cakes or low-calorie or sugar free bars. Just check the fat content as well. Make sure that you have these readily available.
  • Remember that your calorie requirements increase when you are premenstrual, but then, so does your metabolism, so don’t punish yourself too much.
  • Learn to reward yourself with things other than food, such as a new book, a movie or a nice magazine.
  • Don’t obsess about food and what you should and shouldn’t eat. Say to yourself that if you really want something, you can have it, in moderation, so you won’t think of food all the time. There is nothing more boring than someone who can speak about nothing else than the diet they’re on. Except perhaps someone talking about their dreams.
  • Don’t give up your diet because you ate something about which you feel guilty. What is really important is what happens the majority of the time, so if you stuck to your eating plan from Monday to Saturday, don’t abandon all efforts because you ate something you shouldn’t have at Sunday lunch.
  • Brush your teeth often. When your mouth feels fresh, you are less likely to be tempted to snack.
  • Accept that there may be a psychological reason why you have a tendency to overeat. Go and see a counsellor

Compiled by Abigal Muchecheti

Author, Married to a Devil


Monday, 17 September 2012

Euthanasia / Assisted Suicide: What are your thoughts?

Euthanasia / Assisted Suicide

I have been asked by a friend to contribute for a book into the subject of Suicide for a charity and since I am looking into it I thought I should also look into ‘assisted suicide’ or euthanasia. My thoughts on the subject are no one has the right to take away life. This is a debatable area but I know where I stand on the subject. As far as I am concerned, it is wrong to take away or help take away life. What ever I have compiled is not an attack on anybody’s beliefs but facts based on research. In Africa though, I have not heard much about assisted suicide, it’s more of individual suicide due to various personal or family problems.

 The word euthanasia originated from the Greek language: "eu" means "good" and "thanatos" means "death."

Like so many moral/ethical/religious terms, "euthanasia" has multiple meanings:

One meaning given to the word is "the intentional termination of life by another at the explicit request of the person who dies."  That is, the act must be initiated by the person who wishes to commit suicide.

 The term "Physician Assisted Suicide" or "Assisted Suicide" is preferred because it is unambiguous. It implies that the individual does the requesting and a doctor or other individual meets their needs.

Others define "euthanasia" as including both voluntary and involuntary termination of life.
A Canadian pro-life group, by Environics used an extremely broad definition of euthanasia: "the use of lethal means to take the life of someone who is sick, depressed, elderly or disabled." This is a very broad definition that would cover the following situations from a terminally ill person in intractable pain who is not depressed and who repeatedly pleads for help in dying. This is commonly called physician assisted suicide, to a teenager who is depressed because his first love relationship failed and who wants help in committing suicide.
 It is important to differentiate among a number of vaguely terms:
Passive Euthanasia: Hastening the death of a person by altering some form of support and letting nature take its course.
For example:

  • Removing life support equipment (e.g. turning off a respirator)
  • Stopping medical procedures, medications etc.
  • Stopping food and water and allowing the person to dehydrate or starve to death.
  • Not delivering CPR (cardio-pulmonary resuscitation) and allowing a person, whose heart has stopped, to die.
Perhaps the most common form of passive euthanasia is to give a patient large doses of morphine to control pain, in spite of the likelihood that the pain-killer will suppress respiration and cause death earlier than it would otherwise have happened. Such doses of pain killers have a dual effect of relieving pain and hastening death. Administering such medication is regarded as ethical in most political jurisdictions and by most medical societies.

These procedures are performed on terminally ill, suffering persons so that natural death will occur sooner. It is also done on persons in a Persistent Vegetative State -- individuals with massive brain damage who are in a coma from which they cannot possibly regain consciousness.

Active Euthanasia: This involves causing the death of a person through a direct action, in response to a request from that person. A well known example was the mercy killing in 1998 of a patient with ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease) by Dr. Jack Kevorkian, a Michigan physician. His patient was frightened that the advancing disease would cause him to die a horrible death in the near future; he wanted a quick, painless exit from life. Dr. Kevorkian injected controlled substances into the patient, thus causing his death. Charged with 1st degree murder, the jury found him guilty of 2nd degree murder in 1999-MAR

Physician Assisted Suicide: A physician supplies information and/or the means of committing suicide (e.g. a prescription for lethal dose of sleeping pills, or instructions on how to commit suicide with helium or carbon monoxide gas) to a person, so that they can easily terminate their own life. The term "voluntary passive euthanasia" (VPE) is becoming commonly used.
 Involuntary Euthanasia: This term is used by some to describe the killing of a person who has not explicitly requested aid in dying. This is most often done to patients who are in a Persistent Vegetative State and will probably never recover consciousness. It has been used to refer to government programs of genocide -- for example the program for exterminating developmentally challenged Germans by the Nazi Government during the late 1930's.

Reasons for Euthanasia
  • Everyone has a right to decide when their life should end.
  • If the quality of life has become so bad, a person may feel too much physical or emotional pain.
  • It provides a way of relief when a person's quality of life is low
  • Frees up medical funds to help other people
Reasons against Euthanasia
  • Doctors have a problem with euthanasia because they have sworn an oath that does not allow them to take part in the killing of people.
  • Sometimes it is not clear if an ill person really wants to die. Euthanasia should only take place if someone really wants it or if they understand how ill they are.
  • Euthanasia devalues human life
  • Euthanasia can become a means of health care cost containment
Euthanasia and Religion
Many religions think that euthanasia is immoral. Some religions regard it as a type of murder.
  • The official Roman Catholic Church is against euthanasia and says it is a crime. Protestants, on the other side, take a more liberal view.
  • Hindus think that, even though helping a person end a painful life may be good, it interferes with the cycle of death and rebirth.
  • In Islam all forms of euthanasia are forbidden.
  • In Japan more than half of all Shintoists think that you should be allowed to help a person die if they ask for it.
I believe no one has the right to take away or even assist in ending another person’s life. Life is a gift from above and is not for us to take away. Would you do it to anybody you love? Something to think about!!

Compiled by Abigal Muchecheti

Author, Married to a Devil








Sunday, 16 September 2012

Women: How not to sabotage your own health

 Women: How not to sabotage your own health

You consider yourself a smart woman. You see your gynecologist every year, and perform your breast self-exam monthly. You try to watch what you eat and find time for exercise whenever possible. You almost always practice safe sex -- well there was that one time you forgot. It’s always good to look after one self. Are you taking time to do the things that can reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease, and other health conditions? Most women are too busy and barely get the chance to do anything after a long days’ work.  I have to admit, I put off going to see my gynecologist as well, so come on girls, let’s do it.

·         Did you know that wearing nylon panties, tight-fitting jeans, pantyhose without a cotton panel, or other garments that restrict airflow and hold in heat and moisture are contributing factors in yeast infections? Wearing cotton panties and avoiding such garments mentioned above will lower your risk of vaginal infections.

·         Many women are under the false impression that if they see their gynecologist for a Pap smear every few years and perform monthly breast self-exam they have nothing else to worry about. However, all women need a comprehensive routine physical every 1 to 2 years to screen for other health conditions that may arise including diabetes and heart disease (the leading cause of death among women). Remember a clean bill of health only begins at your gynecologist's office.

·         Having unprotected sex, even once, can lead to sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) including HIV/AIDS, and other vaginal infections. Condoms should be used during every act of sexual intercourse, unless you are in a mutually monogamous long-term relationship, regardless of any other birth control method you may use. Remember birth control pills and other forms of contraception do not protect against these diseases which can cause future reproductive health issues, as well as death in some cases -- a condom is your best protection outside of abstinence.

·         Are you getting an adequate amount of calcium in your daily diet? Chances are that you are not. Calcium is not important only for growing kids -- it is a crucial nutrient throughout a woman's life. Calcium has been shown to significantly reduce the symptoms of PMS and is necessary to protect yourself against the bone-thinning disease osteoporosis later in life.

·         Did you know that smoking is the most preventable cause of death in this country? Sadly, more than 140,000 women die from smoking-related causes each year. We all know that smoking increases our risk of heart disease and cancer; however for women smoking can play a significant role in infertility, miscarriage, and other reproductive health issues.

·         Do you exercise regularly? According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), just 30 minutes of exercise daily can significantly reduce your risk of disease. The benefits of regular exercise include a significant increase in life expectancy and improved overall health. Regular physical activity reduces the risk of cancer, heart disease, and osteoporosis, as well as reducing or improving the symptoms of menopause, PMS, diabetes, and numerous other conditions.

·         Overeating, eating too much fast food or other restaurant meals is something many of us are guilty of -- this can lead to weight gain, high blood pressure, gallstones, diabetes, and heart disease. The increase in the number of cases of gallstones, in women under 40, may well be attributed to the high fat content of too many fast food meals eaten by today's busy women.

·         Finally, don't forget to take time to give yourself a break. Find time to relax, read a book, take a warm bath, or do something just for yourself. You'll be surprised at how much better you feel when you remember to take care of your own needs and relieve the stress of everyday life in our fast paced world.

Stating the obvious, yes but it takes a strong will to do even two of the things I have listed above. So go for it and see how far you can go. Remember your health is important.

Discuss any issues with your GP or any medical profession.

Compiler- Abigal Muchecheti

Author, Married to a Devil



Friday, 14 September 2012

Malnutrition: A Global Curse.


Seeing emaciated pictures of children on TV and in news always brings tears to my eyes. It does so especially considering the amount of food that is lost in through man made causes like war and unnecessary conflicts. Furthermore in the developed countries so much food is thrown away but how do we get the balance? What does the future hold for the malnourished children besides more and more suffering if they survive? Please help if you can.

Hundreds of millions of people are affected by malnutrition throughout the world, but most of the cases come from third world countries. Malnutrition is a condition of the body when it is unable to absorb the right amount of nutrients in foods (Malnutrition). This low level of nutrient intake exists because of low levels of food in certain parts of the world. These low levels of food occur because of poor farming techniques, poor storage, extreme weather conditions, and poor supplies. Malnutrition causes many physical problems for people worldwide, but the world can alleviate these problems through many humanitarian acts such as sending food and supplies and teaching farming techniques.

Healthy diet

Eating a healthy, balanced diet is vital for maintaining health and fitness. To stay healthy, we need to eat foods from a number of different food groups, including:

  • carbohydrates
  • proteins
  • fats
  • dairy


There are two main groups of nutrients:

  • Macronutrients are the main nutrients that provide the body with energy and help growth. They include carbohydrates, protein and fats.
  • Micronutrients are vitamins and minerals that are required for many specialist functions inside the body. For example, you require a regular intake of iron to help in the production of new red blood cells.

Causes of Malnutrition

Food shortage is the main catalyst of malnutrition and there are many causes of food shortages around the world. One of the main generators of food shortage in the world is the lack of competent resource distribution from governments. Another cause of the food shortage is the use of poor supplies by third world countries.

Lack of breastfeeding

Experts say that lack of breastfeeding, especially in the developing world, leads to malnutrition in infants and children. In some parts of the world mothers still believe that bottle feeding is better for the child. Another reason for lack of breastfeeding, mainly in the developing world, is that mothers abandon it because they do not know how to get their baby to latch on properly, or suffer pain and discomfort


 An alcoholic is a person who suffers from alcoholism - the body is dependent on alcohol. Alcoholism is a chronic (long-term) disease. Individuals who suffer from alcoholism can develop gastritis, or pancreas damage. These problems also seriously undermine the body's ability to digest food, absorb certain vitamins, and produce hormones which regulate metabolism. Alcohol contains calories, reducing the patient's feeling of hunger, so he/she consequently may not eat enough proper food to supply the body with essential nutrients

 Poor diet

 If a person does not eat enough food, or if what they eat does not provide them with the nutrients they require for good health, they suffer from malnutrition. Poor diet may be caused by one of several different factors. If the patient develops dysphagia (swallowing difficulties) because of an illness, or when recovering from an illness, they may not be able to consume enough of the right nutrients.

Underlying Causes

Mental health problems

Some patients with mental health conditions, such as depression, may develop eating habits which lead to malnutrition. Patients with anorexia nervosa or bulimia may develop malnutrition because they are ingesting too little food.

Mobility problems

 People with mobility problems may suffer from malnutrition, simply because they either cannot get out enough to buy foods, or find preparing them too arduous.

Lack of safe drinking water

Water is synonymous with life. Lack of potable water, poor sanitation, and dangerous hygiene practices increase vulnerability to infectious and water-borne diseases, which are direct causes of acute malnutrition


Poverty is far from being eradicated. During the last two decades, the number of people affected by extreme poverty in sub-Saharan Africa has nearly doubled, from 164 million in 1982 to some 313 million as of 2002. Poverty alone does not lead to malnutrition, but it seriously affects the availability of adequate amounts of nutritious food for the most vulnerable populations. Over 90 percent of malnourished people live in developing countries.

Lack of access to food

Most major food and nutrition crises do not occur because of a lack of food, but rather because people are too poor to obtain enough food. Non-availability of food in markets, difficult access to markets due to lack of transportation, and insufficient financial resources are all factors contributing to the food insecurity of the most vulnerable populations. People are increasingly dependent on international markets for all or part of their food supply, particularly between harvest periods. Many people are increasingly vulnerable due to fluctuations in the prices, as was recently illustrated during the global food crisis.


Certain illnesses and infections, such as tuberculosis, measles, and diarrhoea are directly linked to acute malnutrition. A combination of disease and malnutrition weakens the metabolism creating a vicious cycle of infection and undernourishment, leading to vulnerability to illness. HIV and AIDS have become a leading cause of acute malnutrition in developing countries. A child infected with HIV is more vulnerable to acute malnutrition than a healthy child. Anti-retroviral drugs are more effective when combined with adequate, regular food intake. So ensuring a healthy diet is an important aspect of HIV control and treatment.
If the HIV-infected child becomes acutely malnourished, her/his diminished nutritional state will increase the likelihood of infections, and may lower the effectiveness of medications — either anti-retroviral treatment or for other illnesses and infections. When severely malnourished, an individual may not be able to tolerate medications at all. The combination of acute malnutrition and HIV and AIDS thus considerably increases the chances of morbidity, placing the child at a higher risk of death.


Conflicts have a direct impact on food security, drastically compromising access to food. Often forced to flee as violence escalates, people uprooted by conflict lose access to their farms and businesses, or other means of local food production and markets. Abandoned fields and farms no longer provide food to broader distribution circuits. As a result, food supplies to distributors may be cut off, and the many populations dependent on them may be unable to obtain sufficient food.

Climate change

In 30 years, the number of natural disasters — droughts, cyclones, floods, etc. — linked to climate change has increased substantially. The effects of climate change are often dramatic, devastating areas which are already vulnerable. Infrastructure is damaged or destroyed; diseases spread quickly; people can no longer grow crops or raise livestock.

According to UN studies in over 40 developing countries, the decline in agricultural production caused either directly or indirectly by climate change could dramatically increase the number of people suffering from hunger in the coming years.

Effects of Malnutrition

Out of the 15 million childhood deaths from malnutrition, about half of these deaths are caused by protein-energy malnutrition (Water-related diseases, 2008). This type of malnutrition is the most common form of malnutrition worldwide and occurs when the human body doesn’t consume enough protein and calories (Water-related diseases, 2008). One of the severe forms of protein-energy malnutrition is called marasmus (Water-related diseases, 2008). When a person acquires this condition, his or her body basically disintegrates to almost nothing. The body’s fat, muscle, and other tissues waste away (Water-related diseases, 2008). The other form of protein-energy malnutrition is called kwashiorkor. This condition occurs when the body receives a normal amount of calories, but not enough protein (Water-related diseases, 2008). Kwashiorkor affects the properties of the liver and causes inflammation to the tissues of the body (Water-related diseases, 2008).

When the body is deficient of essential proteins, other conditions can happen to the body. When the human diet is lacking in iodine, cretinism and irreversible brain damage will occur (Water-related diseases, 2008). Cretinism is a severe stunt in growth due to a lack of thyroid hormones (Cretinism, 2008). The thyroid hormones use iron in the body to control metabolic rates, protein synthesis, and cell growth and differentiation in the body (Thyroid hormone, 2008). When humans lack vitamin A, their bodies are susceptible to blindness and an increase in risk of infection and death (Water-related diseases, 2008).

When the body is lacking iron, fatigue sets in along with anaemia, splitting headaches, and glossitis (Grigsby, MD, 2006). Glossitis is an infection on the tongue (Glossitis, 2008). Anaemia is a state of the body when there are low levels of haemoglobin, a molecule inside red blood cells (Anaemia, 2008). When there are low levels of haemoglobin, organs and tissues of the body don’t receive enough oxygen (Anaemia, 2008).

 When there are low levels of vitamin D in the diet, the human body slows its growth and can contract rickets (Grigsby, MD, 2006).

Rickets is the softening of bone which can lead to body deformation and fractures (Rickets, 2008). When the body lacks zinc, a diminished immune system sets in and the ability to heal wounds is decreased (Grigsby, MD, 2006).

 Also, hyperpigmentation can be acquired by the body (Grigsby, MD, 2006). Hyperpigmentation is the darkening of the skin due to an increase in melanin, the pigment of the skin (Hyperpigmentation, 2008).

Abdominal changes are another effect of malnutrition (Grigsby, MD, 2006). People with malnutrition have very poor abdominal musculature which can lead to abdominal distension (Grigsby, MD, 2006). Also, the body’s fat tissues infiltrate the abdominal region which can cause hepatomegaly (Grigsby, MD, 2006). Hepatomegaly is the enlargement of the liver which results in metabolic tumours and increases of toxicity levels in the body (Hepatomegaly, 2008).

Malnutrition can also cause negative effects on the body’s skin. Grigsby, MD (2006) states that the body’s skin becomes dry and can be easily peeled away, leaving raw areas on the body (p. 4). Also, hyperpigmented plaques grow over these raw areas on the body (Grigsby, MD, 2006). The nails on a person’s hands and feet change from a smooth, healthy texture, to an unhealthy fissured or ridged texture (Grigsby, MD, 2006). A person’s hair can change, too. Grigsby, MD (2006) says the body’s hair thins and hair colour fades away to a dull brown (p. 5). The hair follicles become weak and hair can be easily pulled out of the skin (Grigsby, MD, 2006).

Through malnutrition, chronic illnesses and diseases can be easily acquired as well. One chronic illness that correlates with malnutrition is cystic fibrosis (Grigsby, MD, 2006). Heart disease and neuromuscular diseases also combine with malnutrition effects (Grigsby, MD, 2006). A disease that is easily contracted by people affected by malnutrition is the measles. The measles is under control in most developed countries, but in countries with low food levels, the disease is more destructive. People contract measles easily when they have malnutrition because the lack of vitamins and calories in their bodies greatly reduces their immune systems’ abilities.

Malnutrition’s effects are especially hazardous to children. Grigsby, MD (2006) states that children who have malnutrition can experience dwarfism (p. 4). Also, these children can experience prematurity and developmental delays (Grigsby, MD, 2006). Malnutrition even has its grasp on babies before they are born. Mothers-to-be who are lacking essential vitamins and nutrients in their diet often give birth to badly deformed babies (Belli, 1971). Also, rickets and anaemia have been associated with babies who have mothers with malnutrition.

Solutions for Malnutrition

Even though there are many causes of malnutrition, and its effects are powerful and widespread, there are ways for the world to fight back against malnutrition. The main solution for malnutrition is humanitarian actions. The World Food Program (WFP) is a major humanitarian group and accounts for more than one-half of the food shipments to Africa (Haile, 2005). In 1999, the WFP assisted 20 million people in Africa and the number has risen to 36.4 million people helped in 2003 and more than 60 million in 2011.

Humanitarian programs like the WFP are only as effective as their plan of action and funding. These humanitarian groups rely on funding from the government and donations of money and food from people around the world

Besides donating money and food to programs, starting centres that nurse people back to health cuts down on the cases of malnutrition.

Besides volunteering and donating food and money, teaching good farming practices raises food production. Haile (2005) says that farmers use traditional agricultural calendars created years ago that don’t coincide with today’s weather patterns (p. 2180). Teaching farmers seasonal forecasts helps them make favourable decisions for their agricultural strategies (Haile, 2005). Farmers who follow seasonal forecasts are able to make good planting schedules by knowing when to use certain fertilizers or plant certain seeds depending upon the climate and season (Haile, 2005). Also, seasonal forecasts help farmers predict when the rainy season begins (Haile, 2005).

Teaching agricultural monitoring also helps farmers with food production like Oxfam does in Africa and other affected areas. Farmers must calculate the start of season (SoS) in order to know when the agricultural season begins (Haile, 2005). Agricultural monitoring also needs farmers to monitor the length of growing period (LGP), which is the time between the SoS and end of the season (Haile, 2005). Agricultural monitoring informs farmers about the length of the upcoming rainy season and the critical periods of when to plant and pick crops (Haile, 2005).

Politicians should not be selfish and think of the people to avoid man made malnutrition. Wars and conflicts only make things worse for civilians.
Compiled by Abigal Muchecheti
Author, Married to a Devil



Thursday, 13 September 2012

Women and the Heart Disease

Women and  the heart Disease
I am not talking only about women for the sake of talking about women but because often women's heart condition is not talked about as much. Everyone knows the seriousness of breast cancer and the need for women to constantly check their breasts for lumps and have regular mammograms when they reach a certain age.
What is not widely known is that heart disease kills six times more women than breast cancer.
Although one in three men and one in four women suffer from heart disease in South Africa, there's very little awareness around this. Another factor that adds to this statistic is that women also show the biggest increase in obesity, which heightens the risk.
What's more, women present with different signs and symptoms - a situation which often leads to late diagnosis of the disease. So be warned and look after yourself.
How is heart disease different in women?
  • Chest pain is often the first symptom that will alert you to problems. But women and their doctors often misinterpret this symptom. Women are far more likely to land up with a diagnosis of heartburn or gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD), or even stress or depression. In men, the presence of chest pain will accurately predict CAD more than 90% of the time. In women, however, this predictive value falls to around 70%.
  • The risk factors for CAD are similar in women, but there are differences. The ways in which cigarette smoking, hypertension, diabetes, family history and obesity affect women are subtly different from the ways in which they affect men.
    • Cigarette smoking – possibly the most important risk factor for CAD – has declined in men, but increased in young women. Smoking as few as one to four cigarettes a day seems to increase the risk of death from CAD in women.
    • Lipid levels are generally lower in women than in men between the ages of 20 to 55. But after the age of 55, women’s cholesterol levels rapidly rise and may be higher than those of men of the same age. The levels of HDL cholesterol (the good form of cholesterol) are higher in women than in men until after the menopause. After menopause, increased total cholesterol, decreased HDL cholesterol and triglycerides are as important as risk factors for CAD as they are in men.
    • After the age of fifty, women are twice as likely to suffer from high blood pressure as men of the same age. Because women live longer than men, there are many more hypertensive women than men. In spite of this, all major studies on the effects of hypertension on CAD have been carried out on men. There is no reason to believe that hypertension is not a risk factor for CAD in women, so look after you blood pressure!
  • Diabetic women are more likely to develop CAD than men with diabetes. This is probably because diabetes is associated with high blood pressure, obesity and high blood lipids - factors which are more common in elderly women than in men.
  • Family history is a particularly important factor in women – more so than in men. This is particularly the case in young women.
  • Obesity is a difficult risk factor to evaluate in women – other than the fact that it predisposes to type 2 diabetes. Women tend to accumulate fat on their hips and thighs, where it doesn’t carry the same risks as the abdominal accumulation of fat that is more common in men. However, after the menopause, women often experience a shift in fat distribution, with more landing up around the tummy. This may lead to a higher risk of CAD.
What about HRT and heart disease?

Women with heart disease should not use hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to prevent the risk of further heart disease. Such use increases the risk of blood clots. It also increases the risk of heart attack in the first year of therapy.
Talk to your health-care provider about lifestyle changes and other action steps that have proven to be safe and effective in helping to prevent heart disease.
Ways to prevent heart disease and stroke include lifestyle changes and such drugs as cholesterol-lowering statins and blood-pressure medications. Lifestyle changes include: not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, being physically active and managing diabetes.
What does all this mean?
If you have a strong family history of CAD, you need to take prevention particularly seriously.
 About 20% of women with one or more relatives who had CAD before the age of 60 have a 10-year risk of CAD of about seven per 100.
 A 50-year-old woman with a brother or sister with CAD faces a 10-year risk of more like 15 per 100.
Another factor to take into account is the fact that because women tend to show signs of heart disease later in life, it is often more advanced when it is first diagnosed than it is in men
Women also have smaller blood vessels and so suffer more from the effects of plaque. The bottom line here is that women suffer disproportionately more deaths when they have a heart attack than men do.
Having said all this, for most women, however, being female is worth about 10 to 15 years of life without significant CAD. This is the same as being a non-smoker, not having diabetes and not having a strong family history. You can see this as a kind of grace period – more time to alter your lifestyle if you need to, to reduce any risk factors you may already have.
Don’t see this as an excuse not to look after yourself and take regular exercise though. CAD is still the leading cause of death in women in Western countries and Africa is no different.
See your doctor.