Daily Health Tips: Can My Diet Help Reduce My Cholesterol Level?

Q: Doc, thanks for this column. I learn a lot from it. Doctor, what is the best food for someone that has high cholesterol? Thanks

A: Now, the first lesson we all need to learn is that cholesterol is not completely a demon :D There is the good cholesterol and the bad cholesterol. So, when we talk about high cholesterol, we usually refer to the bad one, Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) Cholesterol, which can lead to blockage of the vessels and inevitably, a heart attack…not good news! But we do need the good one, High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. It mops up excess cholesterol and prevents LDL from being changed into the form that causes heart disease. Indeed, we are encouraged to take foods that increase this and this in turn improves heart health.

So, what foods can help reduce bad cholesterol in the body and increase the level of good cholesterol? Here are some examples:

Oats and other whole grains which form soluble fiber that reduce the absorption of cholesterol and in addition, give you a feeling of satiety for long. This prevents you feeling hungry more often and reaching for ‘unhealthy’ snacks :D Other foods in this group include okro, beans, apples, citrus fruits and garden egg (egg plants).

Soya beans, heart healthy oils like Olive oil and Canola oil, nuts (which should only be served in handfuls) and fatty fish like mackerel also reduce LDL.

Generally eating healthy with lots of fruits and vegetables, cutting out the white carbs (pastries etc), exercising (at least 150 minutes weekly), ensuring you are not overweight and quitting smoking.

Have a good evening, fabulous people :D

 

 

 

 

 

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Daily Health Tips: Liver Disease

The liver is an organ in the body which is usually found on the right side of your abdomen, just under the rib cage. Its job is to ensure that toxins taken into the body are rendered harmless, food is digested properly and the nutrients available in it, properly absorbed.

Liver diseases can refer to problems with the liver which one may be born with or can arise from infections (hepatitis), cancer, drugs/other chemicals, toxins etc. The symptoms of liver disease include yellowness of the eyes and/or skin, dark urine, pale (light coloured) stool, itching, abdominal pain, abdominal swelling etc. You are more at risk of this if you work in a center where you handle body fluids (so this list includes healthcare workers). Other people who are more at risk include diabetics, obese people, people who take a lot of alcohol, drug abusers (this includes people who use illicit drugs and those who abuse prescription drugs), people who are in the habit of indiscriminate and unsafe sex etc

Treatment depends on the cause. The final option is liver transplant

Prevention of liver diseases is targeted at causative and risk factors: limit or completely stop alcohol use, get vaccinated, especially if you are a healthcare worker or consider that you are at risk, practice safe sex and avoid risky behavior like using illicit drugs or overdosing on prescription drugs, eat healthy, maintain a healthy weight and be careful when you spray insecticides and other aerosols. Especially for insecticides, be sure that the fumes have dispersed before coming back into the room or wear a face mask, if need be.

 Here’s to a healthier you!

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Daily Health Tips: Please Help! My Breasts Still Feel Engorged Though I stopped Breastfeeding Some Days Ago.

Q: Good Morning Doctor, I stopped breast feeding my son a few days ago but my breast is still engorged and I feel much pain still. What can I do?

A: in the good old days, mothers would tell their daughters to tie a wrapper tightly across their breasts. This helps. In fact, I believe that this is still being done by lots of people :D

If you’re more jet age, though wear a tight supportive bra. For the pain, take analgesics and also apply cold packs to your breasts.

Try not to stimulate the nipples during this period.

This too shall pass:D

Cheers

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Daily Health Tips: World Immunization Week

Happy Easter everyone! Hope you had a great celebration yesterday. The fun continues today, of course :D

This is World Immunization week and for the year 2014, it is being celebrated from April 24th to April 30th. It has the theme, ‘Immunize for a healthy future: Know, Check, Protect.’ This theme emphasizes the fact that we should know what vaccines are needed. You can find out from your doctor or health care provider. Check that these vaccines have been taken up to date and finally, ensure that the needed vaccines are taken to provide protection.

The National Program on Immunization (NPI) in Nigeria has delineated specific vaccines that children, from birth, have to be vaccinated against. There are a couple of extra vaccines that paediatricians also advice children to have. I have been asked whether they are necessary since they do not appear on the NPI schedule. Well, put it this way, cost is always an issue in making drugs or any product/service available for the whole population. So, some of these vaccines are too expensive to made available on a large scale for everyone at this time. However, there are significant moves to make a good number of them available to everyone soon.

In the meantime, focus on the compulsory ones and if you can afford it, certainly add on the extras until they become available and free of charge :D

Let’s give you a quick reminder class about the vaccines that your child should get

  • At birth, BCG and Hepatitis B vaccines are given. The former protects against tuberculosis, which unfortunately is making a comeback with the advent of HIV/AIDS. Hepatitis B can cause long term complications of the liver (cirrhosis) if contracted. Four other doses of Hepatitis B are taken at 6, 10 and 14 weeks with a booster dose at 5 years. Hepatitis B vaccine (HBV) can also be taken in adulthood especially for people who are at risk. 5 doses are required.
  • At 6, 10 and 14 weeks, the Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV)and DPT (Diphteria, Pertussis and Tuberculosis) are due. Booster doses for OPV are due at 18 months, 4-6 years and at 10 years. Booster doses for DPT are due at 18 months and 4-6 years.
  • At 9 months, the measles and yellow fever vaccines are due. A booster does for yellow fever is required once in every 10 years.

The above are the compulsory ones required for every child by the NPI.

  • Before the age of 9 months, an additional vaccine that could be given is the Rotavirus vaccine. It appears that even hand washing does not protect against this virus. Two doses of this vaccine are usually given before the age of 6 months at one month’s interval.
  • Other vaccines that could be given include chicken pox vaccine (from one year of age), pneumococcal vaccines (at 2, 4 and 13 months of age), typhoid vaccines (with boosters every 3 years). Cerverix vaccine against cervical cancer can be given at birth, one month and 6 months. It is also generally advised for children and women between the ages of 12 and 55 years.

So, join the campaign to ‘know, check and protect’ :D

Have a wonderful day, y’all

 

 

Foot note:
The pentavalent vaccine now provides the DPT, HBV and HiB in one injection. HIB provides protection against the organism responsible for pneumonia, meningitis etc. This pentavalent vaccine is taken at 6,10 and 14 weeks of life.

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And more photos…

And more photos...

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More from ‘Behind The Scenes’ of Tips for HealthyLiving With Dr Ketch Season 2

More from 'Behind The Scenes' of Tips for HealthyLiving With Dr Ketch Season 2

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Daily Health Tips: Why Do I Have Nipple Discharge When I’m Not Pregnant?

Q: Please Dr, my friend is restless, she pressed her breast and a clear watery liquid came out. She is sure that she is not pregnant. This happens when she pressed her breast. It doesn’t come out on its own. Please what do you think?

 

A: Some women who are not pregnant may have milky fluid come out of their breasts when they are not breastfeeding or even in women who have never been pregnant. This is called galactorrhea (pronounced gulactoria). This is not a disease on its own but a symptom of a problem. The hormone, prolactin which is responsible for lactation in nursing mothers, is usually produced in these cases.

 

This milky fluid can be expressed by pressing or it can spontaneously come out on its own. It can affect one or both breasts and usually there are no blood stains involved.

 

Sometimes, the cause of this discharge may not be known but some causes could be some medications, some drugs like cocaine, spinal cord injuries, some birth control pills, stress and even excessive stimulation during sexual intercourse.

 

Galactorrhea can also happen in men and new born babies! In new born babies this can happen if the mother has a high level of estrogen which crosses over into the baby and stimulates the formation of breast tissue and sometimes, some milky white discharge. Please note: this is NOT witchcraft! :D

 

If you notice this, please visit your doctor who may try to express this discharge to study. The discharge may also be clear (as in your friend’s case), bloody or even tinged yellow. These need further evaluation and the presence of lumps should also be checked for. The level of prolactin will also be assessed. This may, however, be normal in people who are overly sensitive to prolactin. In this class of people, prolactin level is normal but there is still milky discharge from the nipples.

 

Treatment is focused on the underlying cause if one can be found. If the problem is medication, please stop or switch to something else under the supervision of your physician (doctor). If there is a tumour producing prolactin, drugs can be taken to shrink it or surgery can be done. If no cause is found, drugs that reduce prolactin level are prescribed. Remember, that your friend could be pregnant and so a pregnancy test may not be out of place.

 

In the meantime, breast pads can be worn to prevent the embarrassing leaks from staining clothes, limit manipulation of breasts either by self breast examination or during sexual activity and try not to wear clothes in which there would be friction between the nipples and the material.

 

Have a great weekend everyone. Happy ‘Good Friday’ and … remember the reason why we celebrate :)

 

 

 

 

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