4 strategic ways to kill Obesity & Heart Attack + Why Nigerian elites fall and die while jogging

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A team of Heart Treatment Experts at Tristate Heart Foundation, Babcock University, Ilisan-Remo, Ogun State-Nigeria

Like stroke, the conditions that lead to heart attack develop over time. However, unlike hypertension which leads to stroke, conditions that precede heart attack are usually well pronounced.  Unfortunately, the tell-tale conditions of impending heart attack in those who are at risk are often neglected, usually as a result of lack of knowledge or because most people tend to think that it cannot happen to them.

Prevention of heart attack primarily involves avoiding the condition in which the arteries that supply blood to the heart, the coronary arteries, become narrowed by deposition of fatty material inside the vessels.  When the coronary arteries are narrowed, they suffer some damage in the process and adequate amount of blood can no longer reach heart muscles, especially during physical or psychological exaction.  This condition, known as Coronary Artery Disease (CAD), may ultimately lead to heart attack.  If however someone has already developed CAD, steps can be taken to avoid heart attack.  The steps for preventing the development of CAD are virtually the same as those for preventing heart attack.
'An ounce of prevention is worthier than a pound of cure'

A common saying is that “an ounce of prevention is worthier than a pound of cure”.  There is hardly any other situation in which the above saying applies more than the issue of heart attack. This is particularly so because once coronary arteries have been damaged by deposition of bad cholesterol in their walls, the condition cannot be completely reversed.  There is really no alternative to prevention of CAD if anyone does not want to be a candidate for heart attack, especially with the level of medical technology in Nigeria.  As noted earlier, the conditions that lead to CAD are conditions that anyone can choose to avoid.  Four of them are particularly relevant for mention here, and they are:

The overweight of Obesity…
When your trouser starts fighting your belly, you are in it
The issue of overweight and how it leads to hypertension and CAD has been discussed earlier.  If you do not want to develop coronary heart disease, you must avoid over weight or the so-called big man belle. It is not that big man belle causes CAD per se; big man belle is a common evidence of overweight, especially in men.  The so-called evidence of good living is actually a passport for heart attack sooner or later. When overweight, every additional pound you gain is a step closer to coronary heart disease and eventual heart attack.
To avoid overweight in the first place, you have to eat in moderation, no matter the food type; that is whether protein, carbohydrates or fat.  We noted earlier that the body ultimately converts all food types to fat for storage and eventual weight gain if we eat more than what our body requires.  The watchword against overweight therefore is “moderation in consumption”. The irony about weight gain is that the more weight one gains, the sharper the person’s appetite becomes and the more effective his/her digestion. As a result, the hungrier the person becomes generally. Consequently, the person who is gaining weight has the tendency to feel that he or she does not eat plenty, especially given the large appetite that always remains unmet.  This is one reason why weight loss or weight control is not always easy for those who have gained or are gaining weight.

However, excessive calorie intake can be avoided or controlled while ensuring a full stomach by including plenty of vegetables and fruits as part of every meal. In addition to helping us minimize the calorie intake by providing bulk, vegetables and fruits help a great deal to prevent constipation and associated complications like piles, which are common as age advances.  Generally, plenty of vegetables and fruits are very important for our overall health for various reasons, including the fact that they are sources of vitamins and mineral salts which are vital for overall good health and wellbeing.

For those who want to control their weight, it is recommended that at least one-third of each meal should comprise of vegetables and fruits.  Fortunately, nature has blessed us with a variety of vegetables and fruits but traditionally, many of us do not appreciate these very important dietary needs.

The tendency is for many Nigerians to think of fruits and vegetables as food for children if not less, a point that was graphically made by my elder brother when I tried to discuss the issue with him.  My brother, the headmaster in our village school, literally jeered at me that pawpaw was for puppies and perhaps children (not adults) when I tried to convince him of the importance of vegetables and fruits as part of diet.  Even if my brother’s view is considered rather extreme, the fact is that vegetables and fruits are not considered as part of a meal in many Nigerian cultures and may be regarded as an unnecessary indulgence even by many middle class Nigerians.

Sources of Obesity et al
Nigerian Billionaire Business Man, Mike Adenuga is big and influential
It has already been made clear that people gain weight as a result of the food they eat.  There is nothing like “weight gain without eating” or that one is simply naturally fat.  Even if one has the potentials for fatness, the person must eat enough food to enable weight gain and become fat.  Some people may be more prone to weight gain than others, but the only way people gain weight is by eating more food than their bodies require.  So, what you eat and how much you eat determine your weight gain or otherwise.  Eating plenty of food, such as fat, that contains a lot of calories is likely to bring about rapid weight gain.  By the same token, even if you avoid fat and eat only low calorie foods but a lot more than your body requires, you will equally gain weight.

This brings us to a common mistake that many people make when they eat a lot of protein foods.  In error, such people think that foods like eggs, meat, and fish which contain less fat and carbohydrates would not make them fat.  The fact is that any food type – proteins, carbohydrates or fat – that is consumed more than what the body requires is changed to glucose or body sugar for use as energy or changed to fat for storage if more than needed for energy. It is only in the form of fat that excess food can be stored in the body.  That means that any food, irrespective of the type, that is eaten in excess of what the body needs will lead to weight gain.

Unfortunately, appetite and digestive efficiency tend to increase with weight gain.  Consequently, anyone who is gaining weight tends to eat more and feel hungrier at the same time.  As a result, such a person usually does not realize how much he or she eats; the person tends to feel as eating only very little, simply because of the associated increased appetite and accelerated digestive effectiveness.  Such people are more likely to eat heavier meals, more often, and thereby gain more weight.  Hence it takes a lot of will power and determination to stop weight gain or lose weight.  It is therefore easier to prevent than control weight gain.

Very often, weight gain is not from the main meals we eat but from rather insensitive sources, ways that most people do not realize.  One of the most important of such insensitive sources of weight gain is snacks. As people eat bits and pieces of snacks, they do not realize that they are amassing lots of calories.  With snacks, some people tend to eat almost round the clock.  Anyone who does not want to gain weight or really wants to lose weight should eliminate snacks as a first step.  You will be surprised how much weight can be gained or lost through snacks.

Another insensitive source of weight gain for many people is the habitual drinking of soda and other soft drinks.  The average bottle of mineral or soft drink contains over 200 calories.  Some people drink as many as five or more bottles a day; so you can imagine how much calories the average mineral drinker consumes per day.  People generally do not consider soft drinks as sources of calories like food. The problem gets even worse as many people get hooked on the caffeine and other additives in the drinks.  Water is the best fluid for drink, health-wise.  It does not deliver unwanted extra calories and other health hazard, if pure.  You can drink as much water as you feel like drinking.

Alcohol is another major source of weight gain.  While carbohydrates and proteins deliver about four calories per gram, alcohol provides over seven calories per gram, next to fat that provides over none calories per gram. So, anytime you take alcohol in the form of beer, palm wine or in some other form, remember that you are consuming a lot of calories that can be converted to fat for weight gain.  Hence after taking alcohol, people tend to lose appetite because it has already delivered plenty of calories to the blood stream and men who regularly drink beer or other form of alcohol develop the pot belle or big man belle fast.


 High Cholesterol is Highway to Death…
Late Mr. Oluwabunmi Adedayo a director of the famous Tasty Fried Chicken lived on the Big Size/Side before his demise couple of years back
Another direct road to heart attack to be avoided by all means is high level blood cholesterol.  As already explained, cholesterol is a kind of fat that is got mainly from animal source.  Bad cholesterol is easily deposited on the inner walls of arteries, which leads to narrowing and blockage of arteries and clotting of blood within vessels. This condition is particularly common and injurious to the coronary arteries that supply blood to heart muscles.  High level blood cholesterol is therefore the major road to heart attack. Someone may not necessarily be fat in order to have high blood cholesterol.  That means that your figure may be average and you have high level of blood cholesterol if you indulge in eating plenty of animal foods, such as meat, eggs, cheese, sea foods like shrimps and lobsters.  Or you may be naturally disposed to high blood cholesterol.  Meat with plenty of fat, such as pork and goat are particularly high in bad cholesterol.  Fish oil is generally considered as low in bad cholesterol.


Sedentary Lifestyle is Sedentary Death Sentence
Late Nigerian Head of State General Sani Abacha lived a sedentary lifestyle in the villa and passed away on June 8, 1998 at age 59
Sedentary lifestyle is another habit that greatly contributes to heart attack among those who are disposed.  We have already noted that the Nigerian who has “made it” tends to eat more, may become overweight and have less need and ability to engage in physical exaction.  Deposition of fat, especially bad cholesterol, on the inner lining of arteries, is particularly rapid in those who live sedentary life, as opposed to those who are physically active.  This may explain one of the reasons why retired people who suddenly move from erstwhile active to sedentary life are particularly prone to increased risk of severe hypertension and heart attack.
Exercise helps the heart to work more vigorously, pump blood more forcefully, enhance elasticity of the blood vessels and therefore reduce deposition of fat in the arteries.  By exercising, people also enhance their muscle tone and the flexibility of their joints.  They are able to sleep more and their mental and physical health tends to improve considerably.  In other words, exercising routinely makes people healthier and happier.
One simple rule in nature is what you don’t use, you lose.  If anyone or part of the person remains idle, that person or the part soon loses form and function.  Hence when anyone suffers a stroke, the half of his body that is paralyzed, especially the affected arm and leg, soon becomes thin and literally shriveled.  Recent studies have shown that the brain mass of elderly people who routinely exercise is significantly larger than those of the same age who remain sedentary.  Those who exercise are not only physically fit but also mentally and psychologically more effective; they enjoy higher quality of life longer.
Nigerian Billionaire Jimoh Ibrahim (M) is on the Big Size/Side
         
Those who start and maintain exercising from early years, understandably derive better results from exercising.  However, lots of healthful advantages are gained by those who exercise routinely, irrespective of age and time of commencement.  A word of caution is however necessary here.  If you have given up exercising for a long period of time, it is not advisable for you to suddenly engage in an exercise regimen.  It is very important to get the medical doctor to give you a check up so as to ensure that it is safe for you to engage in the type of exercise regimen you plan to start.  People usually overrate their physical prowess.  In fact, it is difficult for anyone to realize how much he or she has physically depreciated over the years, especially without routine exercise.  This point reminds me of a personal experience that shows how easily we can underrate the depreciating impact of time and lack of exercise on our physically ability.
The Body system & the main symptom of diabetes

On my current return to New York after about ten years in Nigeria, I routinely took the bus to my place of work.  One morning, I saw the bus approaching from a distance and I tried to catch up by running a block of houses, about two hundred yards.  To my surprise, I could not run half the distance before I was breathless and forced to stop, panting like someone who was half hanged.  The fact was that during the intervening years when I lived like most “big men” do in Nigeria, I did not engage in routinely and vigorously engage.

Consequently, my organs gradually lost the resources to meet the challenge of more vigorous exertion that running to catch the bus demanded.  This speaks to the well known fact in the functioning of the human body as stated earlier: “use it or lose it”.  My systems had become used to functioning at a level that was just enough to enable me carry out routine activities of daily living.  They had lost the physiological reserves that normally enable them to function beyond the routine. Hence I lost my ability to engage in the level of physical exercise that was required to effectively run the distance to catch the bus.  That was beyond what my systems had become accustomed.
The blood movement in the body

There was no way for me to know that my physical ability had depreciated that much since I always felt as fit as usual.  I was shocked to find that my physical ability had waned beyond the demands of that simple exercise.  There have been many cases where individuals suffered a severe injury or even a heart attack in an attempt to perform an erstwhile simple physical activity or embark on an exercise program after a long period of physical inactivity.  It is therefore particularly important to have a medical check up before engaging in any exercise program.  You cannot be too careful in this regard.

Even when you have been cleared by your doctor to begin an exercise regimen, be careful not to rush too fast into it.  You must start slowly and gradually raise the tempo and length of your exercise over a period of weeks, no matter the nature of the exercise.  For example, you might begin a jogging or treadmill exercise by as slow as 2 to 3 kilometers per hour for about 10 to 15 minutes at a time.  As your body gradually gets used to the strain, you can gradually increase your speed to the strain, you can gradually increase your speed and length of time of each exercise section.  As for my shocking experience in realizing the level of my physical depreciation when I newly returned to New York, I made it a point of duty to jog my way to and from the bus.  The experience gave rise to my gradual involvement in more vigorous routine exercise later.
Late Mr. Hakeem Shodeinde a budding Nigerian Night Life entrepreneur equally died as a result of bad diet. He lost his kidney and died after a transplant

There is always the temptation to go vigorous and lengthen when you are motivated to start an exercise regimen, especially as you may feel as energetic as you have always been.  Perhaps, that is also an attempt to convince oneself that one has not deteriorated physically.  There is the tendency for people to strain themselves the first few occasions accompanied by body pains that can be so severe that most enthusiastic exercise beginners give it up after a couple of weeks or even days.  I know of many people who left their treadmill machine to gather dust in an obscure corner of the house after a couple of over ambitious efforts.
The pains that almost invariably accompany the beginning of an exercise regimen are as a result of microscopic tears in muscles and joints that have not been so vigorously used for a long period of time. The advice is that apart from taking it easy at the onset, some simple pain relievers like paracetamol should be taken after each episode of exercise for about a week or two when post-exercise pains usually recede.  And anytime you feel concerned about the pains or anything else about your body during the first few weeks of an exercise regimen, you should consult with your doctor before continuing.  It may not necessarily be something serious but consulting with the doctor will at least allay unnecessary anxiety and prevent unanticipated severe side effect.


(From the Book; “Early and Sudden Death; the Price of Affluence among Nigerians”. Read “5 ways out of high cholesterol, tobacco & tips for exercise” in our next post on Asabeafrika)

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