Recently, I took an appraisal of health issues in Lagos we have attended to in our public and primary health campaigns. From the study of about 300 individuals report from health assessment surveys and biometric screening, I found out that there are 6 common health issues faced by these Lagosians. This study cut across different social status, landscape, tribe and gender. So, I present to you, our top 6 health issues faced by Lagosians. Please note that there may be others but these are the most encountered from our own experience.
Disclaimer: The content of this thread is for informational purposes only. The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. I don’t recommend or endorse any specific tests, physicians, products, opinions, or other information that may have been mentioned.
#1: Fatty Liver
What is it: Fatty liver, or steatosis, is a term that describes the buildup of fat in the liver. While it’s normal to have some fat in your liver, more than 5 to 10 percent of your liver weight is fat in the case of fatty liver. By considering the contribution by alcohol, fatty liver may be termed alcoholic steatosis or nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), and the more severe forms as alcoholic steatohepatitis (part of alcoholic liver disease) and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).
Causes: The most common cause of fatty liver is alcoholism and heavy drinking. Others include obesity, hyperlipidemia, or high levels of fats in the blood, diabetes, genetic inheritance, rapid weight loss, side effect of certain medications, including aspirin, steroids, tamoxifen, and tetracycline.
Why High in Lagos: It is not difficult to spot why many Lagosians develop fatty liver. Just look everywhere you go, you see fried food all around you on the street. Because many eat out, they rely on these fried foods to survive. From ‘iya basira’. to road side vendors to fast food, the evidences are every where. After work and weekend enjoyment with lot of alcoholic drinking is also common place.
Effect: NASH progresses to scarring and ultimately to cirrhosis, with all the complications of cirrhosis, for example, gastrointestinal bleeding, liver failure, and liver cancer. Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is currently known as the most common liver problem, characterized by excessive lipid accumulation in hepatocytes, which may progress to other liver diseases such as nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, hepatic tissue fibrosis, liver cirrhosis, and failure or hepatocellular carcinoma.
Remedies: You can reverse fatty liver disease by reducing or eliminating fatty foods and foods high in sugar from your diet. Choose healthier foods like fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Replace red meats with lean animal proteins like chicken and fish. Others include limiting or avoiding alcoholic beverages, managing your cholesterol, losing weight and controlling your blood sugar. Foods and supplements that fight cell damage, make it easier for your body to use insulin, and lower inflammation may help reverse fatty liver disease.
Supplement: Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant, and an obvious choice once the role of oxidant stress was made clear in NAFLD (Medina and Moreno-Otero 2005). People with fatty liver disease and NASH have depressed levels of vitamin E in their blood, the result of increased oxidation (Bell et al 1992, Bahcecioglu et al 2005).
#2: Cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein (LDL))
What is it: Cholesterol is carried in the blood attached to proteins called lipoproteins. There are two main forms, LDL (low density lipoprotein) and HDL (high density lipoprotein). LDL cholesterol is often referred to as “bad cholesterol” because too much is unhealthy.
Causes: Eating too much saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol can cause high cholesterol. Saturated fat and cholesterol are in foods that come from animals, such as meats, whole milk, egg yolks, butter, and cheese. Trans fat is found in fried foods and packaged foods, such as ‘Akara’, cookies, crackers, and chips. Smoking is another risk factor.
Why High in Lagos: It is not difficult to spot why many Lagosians develop cholesterol. Same reason why they develop fatty liver eating fried food all around. Even fast food joints are not left out. Don’t forget that many Lagosians eat both breakfast and lunch outside their home.
Effect: High cholesterol and high triglycerides affect the heart and can put you at increased risk for heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
Remedies: Ways you can maintain a healthy cholesterol level include:
1. eating skinless poultry with no visible fat
2. eating lean meats, in moderate portions
3. eating low-fat or fat-free dairy products
4. consuming polyunsaturated fats and mono-unsaturated fat instead of saturated fats and transfats
5. exercising for at least 30 minutes per day, four days per week
6. avoiding fast food, junk food, and processed meats
7. eating grilled and roasted foods instead of fried foods
Supplements: Omega-3 fatty acids are commonly used to lower triglycerides and LDL. Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats that increase your heart’s health. These fats are naturally found in fatty fish, such as salmon. Plant oils such as canola and olive oil also contain omega-3 fatty acids.
#3: High Blood Sugar (Hyperglycemia)
What is it: Whenever the glucose (sugar) level in one’s blood rises high temporarily, this condition is known as hyperglycemia. The opposite condition, low blood sugar, is called hypoglycemia.
Causes: Diabetes mellitus is one of several persistent conditions causing high blood sugar levels. Your blood sugar may rise if you: skip or forget your insulin or oral glucose-lowering medicine, Eat too many grams of carbohydrates for the amount of insulin you took, or eat too many carbs in general, have an infection, are ill, are under stress, become inactive or exercise less than usual, take part in strenuous physical activity – especially when your blood sugar levels are high and insulin levels are low.
Why High in Lagos: To me diet rich in sugar, snacks, lack of exercise due to high demand of job and oxidative stress are the culprit here.
Effect: Increased thirst, Headaches, Trouble concentrating, Blurred vision, Frequent peeing, Fatigue (weak, tired feeling),
Weight loss. Ongoing high blood sugar may cause: Vaginal and skin infections, Slow-healing cuts and sores, Worse vision, Nerve damage causing painful cold or insensitive feet, loss of hair on the lower extremities, or erectile dysfunction, Stomach and intestinal problems such as chronic constipation or diarrhea, Damage to your eyes, blood vessels, or kidneys
Remedies: Before deciding how to treat one episode of high blood glucose, it is important to figure out why the number is high. Insulin is the medication that will bring blood glucose down the fastest. Apart from administering insulin, the fastest way to lower your blood glucose is to engage in physical activity. Follow a diabetes diet plan and adjust the plan as needed.
#4: Insulin Resistant
What is it: Insulin resistance (IR) is a condition in which the body’s cells become resistant to the effects of insulin. That is, the normal response to a given amount of insulin is reduced. As a result, higher levels of insulin are needed in order for insulin to have its proper effects, and the pancreas compensates by trying to produce more insulin. This resistance occurs in response to the body’s own insulin (endogenous) or when insulin is administered by injection (exogenous). With insulin resistance, the pancreas produces more and more insulin until the pancreas can no longer produce sufficient insulin for the body’s demands, and then blood sugar rises.
Causes: Some medications can contribute to insulin resistance. Others include excess weight (particularly around the waist), high blood pressure, elevated levels of cholesterol, triglycerides in the blood, Obesity, Pregnancy, Infection or severe illness, Stress, Inactivity and excess weight, During steroid use, Older age, Sleep problems (especially sleep apnea) and cigarette smoking.
Why High in Lagos: High blood sugar is the main cause here. Stress in my opinion is another main cause. Just look at how Lagosians enter buses in the money or after work, you will understand what I mean. Or check the emotional frustration from traffic queue. Some persons unfortunately mistake stress for exercise. Oxidative stress from free radical damage in environmental toxins is another posible cause.
Effect: One of the earliest and most noticeable effect of insulin resistance is weight gain, particularly around the middle. Others include Hunger, Difficulty concentrating (brain fog), High blood pressure. Insulin resistance is a risk factor for development of diabetes and heart disease. If insulin resistance develops into prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, the symptoms will include increased blood glucose levels and more of the classic symptoms of type 2 diabetes.
Remedies: Lifestyle changes (for example, diet and exercise) clearly are important, and education about these changes needs to be directed to groups at risk for diabetes.
Supplement: Nutritional supplements that are effective for reducing insulin resistance include fish oil, chromium, white bean extract, DHEA, vitamin D, magnesium, alpha-lipoic acid, omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, cinnamon, beta glucans, resveratrol, and polyphenols found in cocoa, green tea, and apples.
#5: Kidney Diseases
What is it: Your kidneys filter extra water and wastes out of your blood and make urine. Your kidneys also help control blood pressure, electrolyte balance and red blood cell so that your body can stay healthy. Kidney disease means that the kidneys are damaged and can’t filter blood like they should.
Causes: Diabetes (also called Type 2, or adult onset diabetes) and high blood pressure are the 2 leading causes. Some of the other diseases that may affect the kidneys include infections, kidney stones and inherited diseases such as polycystic kidney disease. Immune system diseases, such as lupus, and long-term viral illnesses, such as HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C, can also cause problems. Drugs and toxins, including long-term use of some medications, such as NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like ibuprofen and naproxen, and intravenous “street” drugs can permanently damage your kidneys.
Why High in Lagos: In my opinion, High blood pressure, environmental toxins, chemicals and alcoholic consumption is the main cause.
Effect: People with kidney failure may experience nausea, vomiting, weakness, fatigue, confusion, difficulty concentrating and loss of appetite.
Remedies: There are numerous causes of kidney failure, and treatment of the underlying disease may be the first step in correcting the kidney abnormality. If you have diabetes, a program of diet, regular exercise, glucose monitoring, and medications to control blood sugars and protect kidney function can help. Nutrition tables and textbooks indicate meats as the major dietary purine source. Maximize fluid intake. Especially drink fruit and vegetable juices. Orange, grape and carrot juices are high in citrates which inhibit both a build up of uric acid and also stop calcium salts from forming.
Supplement: Some herbal supplements have aristolochic acid, which is harmful to kidneys. Adding a vitamin B complex supplement to your diet, one that especially has B6, is important to prevent kidney stones.
What is it: Diabetes, often referred to by doctors as diabetes mellitus, describes a group of metabolic diseases in which the person has high blood glucose (blood sugar), either because insulin production is inadequate, or because the body’s cells do not respond properly to insulin, or both.
Causes: People with diabetes have high blood glucose, also called high blood sugar or hyperglycemia. Type 1 diabetes is caused by the immune system destroying the cells in the pancreas that make insulin. This causes diabetes by leaving the body without enough insulin to function normally. This is called an autoimmune reaction, or autoimmune cause, because the body is attacking itself. Type 2 diabetes has several causes: genetics and lifestyle are the most important ones. A combination of these factors can cause insulin resistance, when your body doesn’t use insulin as well as it should. Insulin resistance is the most common cause of type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes can be hereditary.
Why High in Lagos: Virtually, all the health issues listed above are major factors in developing diabetes. So there is no need to look far.
Effect: Diabetes dramatically increases the risk of various cardiovascular problems, including coronary artery disease with chest pain (angina), heart attack, stroke and narrowing of arteries (atherosclerosis). If you have diabetes, you are more likely to have heart disease or stroke. Nerve damage (neuropathy). People with diabetes have a higher risk of blindness and other vision problems. Diabetes can damage the kidneys and may lead to kidney failure. A common result is amputation.
Remedies: Controlling blood sugar (glucose) levels is the major goal of diabetes treatment, in order to prevent complications of the disease. Type 1 diabetes is managed with insulin as well as dietary changes and exercise. Type 2 diabetes may be managed with non-insulin medications, insulin, weight reduction, or dietary changes. More research shows that diabetes can be reversed through changes in diet and lifestyle as well as supplementation.
Supplements: Research has shown that magnesium-rich foods or magnesium supplements may be helpful for people with diabetes because it can help promote healthy insulin production. Research has shown that taking a potent daily multivitamin dramatically reduces the incidence of infection and the number of sick days taken by patients with type 2 diabetes. Chromium, a metal and an essential trace mineral, is thought to naturally help reduce blood sugar levels. Others are Omega-3 fatty acids, Ginseng, Glucosamine and Alpha-lipoic acid. Fibre rich supplements can also help in reversing or managing diabetes.
Over to you
Have you been recently diagnose of any of these health issues? Then share what has helped you to navigate or eliminate the problem. If you have any question(s), you can also ask.