Saturday, 21 June 2014

How to stay healthy during the World cup- Whether your team wins, loses or draws

Three things can happen in every world cup game – Your team may win, lose or draw. Whatever happens, these outcomes bring with them anxiety, excitement, headaches, or stress, all of which may negatively affect your health. Here are tips to make sure you stay healthy throughout the Brazil 2014 tournament.

Your current state
Problem: If you are faint-hearted or have hypertension (high blood pressure) and heart diseases, it is advisable that you do not watch matches involving teams you support. The anxiety is likely to raise your blood pressure and lead to serious implications.

Solution: a) Get busy and/or sleep during the match and get the score line of the match later or b) simply record and watch it later when you already know the scores.

Eating habits
Problem: Stress, anxiety, loss and or win may lead to an unhealthy increase or decrease in appetite for food. The increase in appetite can be for comfort foods, which are mostly high in sugar, fat and salt and/or eating more food than is needed. Whether it’s an unhealthy increase or decrease in appetite for food, they all carry risks to health.

a) Do not stock your refrigerator or stores with foods high in sugar, fat and salt like fizzy drinks, sweets, crisps etc but rather with more fruits and vegetables. This will make you reach out for a fruit or vegetable instead of sweets, crisps etc.
b) Eat before your team plays. This way, you will have a good appetite and be able to check the amount of food being consumed.
c) Get around and talk with family and friends but make sure they are optimists:). This will help you to forget the pain from the loss of a match and not to seek comfort from foods.
d) Be conscious of the fact that eating habits might be affected by the tournament and hence will require an extra effort to eat healthily.

Physical activity levels
Problem: With at least three matches currently being played and telecasted each day interspersed with match analysis making at least eight hours of non-stop football, becoming sedentary is mostly likely to increase, affecting physical activity levels. That is, one is mostly likely to stay in the couch or bed or whatever it may be for close to eight hours. Sitting and/or lying down for extended periods pose risks to health.

Solution: Whether you will watch all the matches for the day or at least one a day, get up and get active (walk, dance (i.e. if your team is winning), skip, press up or whatever activity works for you) during the half-time breaks as well as the commercial breaks.

Alcohol consumption
Problem:Again stress, anxiety, loss and or win may lead to a start of drinking alcohol and/or an unhealthy increase in alcohol consumption, which poses risks to health.

Solution:Do not stock your refrigerator or stores with alcoholic beverages. Get more tips on using alcohol safely

Sleeping habits
Problem: Sleeping habits are most likely going to be affected due the fact that a) matches may be played in timezone different from yours and/or b) the desire to enjoy every single match.

Solution: For an adult, between 7 – 8 hours of sleep is required so take a nap before the match or record and watch a repeat telecast.

Problem: Again strees and anxiety may lead to picking up smoking habits. Also depending on the anti-smoking regulations in your country, you might risk coming into contact with tobacco smoke-filled environment.

Solution: a) The healthy lifestyle guideline for smoking is no smoking. If you do, seek professional help from a health centre.
b) Avoid places, where smoking takes place as secondary smoking also poses risk

Things to remember

Do not drink and drive or drive and drink or both.

It takes 3 weeks to develop a habit (good or bad), the world cup is a month long. Let it end with developing a good habit.

 Your team has a health practitioner to make sure players are staying healthy, so why don't you also stay healthy :)?

 Any time your team is playing, they are keeping active. Why don’t you also keep active :)?

May the team that wants it most win the World Cup!

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Friday, 6 June 2014

Reducing salt intakes; 10 tips

Dietary sodium often consumed as common salt (sodium chloride) plays a key role in the body in regulating blood pressure but regularly consuming salt (through dishes, natural and processed foods) above 5g /day i.e. around one teaspoon a day is associated with hypertension. As salt is a high risk factor for hypertension, which is among the leading causes of deaths globally, it is important to make sure we do not exceed this recommended amount of salt. Below are 10 tips to help consume at most 5g/day of salt a day.

For everyone
  1. Use more natural spices such as ginger, garlic, chilli, rosemary, onions, African locust bean (‘dawadawa’), grains of Selim (‘hwentia’), prekese, ‘akokobesa’ among others to meet your taste preference instead of salt.
 2. Cut down and if possible avoid the use of processed spices such as cubes and seasoning powders because they often contain salt in high amounts. 
3. If you have to use salt in cooking, always measure. Do not pour directly into the dish being prepared using the eye as a regulator because you are likely to add more than is needed.

     4. In some countries such as Ghana, salted fish (‘koobi’, ‘momone’) and salted meat (salted pig feet, ‘kako’) are used in cooking. These are high in salt and should you need to use them then;
a.    Soak them in water overnight before use.
b.    Boil them in water before use. Remember not to use the stock.
c.    Use small quantities and/or do not add salt to the dish being prepared.

5. Do not add salt to food at the table as it is injurious to health.
6. Eat and/or use small quantities and if possible avoid processed food products such as processed meat (bacon, ham), crisps as they are high in salt.
7. Read food labels to know the amount of salt (dietary sodium) contained in the food. On food labels, the salt in the food is captured as sodium (at most 2g of sodium intake per day).

For Parents
8. Babies and children under 11 years require lower amounts of salt than the adults. Give your child(ren) a healthy start by
a.    Not adding salt or processed spices to meals being prepared for them as it can be injurious (their kidneys are not able to cope with high intake of salt) to their health. In other words prepare their meals separately.
b.    As salt habitation i.e. the association of salt to taste and hence preference for high salt food is developed during childhood, help kids not to develop a salt habitation by not giving them foods such as crisps

On Hypertension
2   9. Hypertension has no symptoms to help in early detection and treatment so;
a.    Regularly check your blood pressure. It should not be equal to or above 140/90mmHg 
b.    Hypertensive patients or people with high blood pressure should seek advice from a health professional as they require assistance (special diets, medication etc.).

Take home message
10. ‘Food taste’ is not equal to the salt in the food, some naturally occurring foods, water, processed foods contain dietary sodium (salt), and all the salt you will consume in a day should be at most 5g or around one teaspoon. 

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In the Superior Court 
       Facts: WHO
       Photo credit :

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