The first half of the year is fast ending, and your activities are quickening in pace to achieve the goals in your strategic business plan. But then, you have to be healthy to pursue those lofty goals.
Perhaps too, your body is screaming that you are 40 or nudging close to it. Except you are like the biblical Caleb, who said that he was as fit at 80 years as he was when 40, and therefore very able to take possession of the mountainous territory given to him for an inheritance, as the Bible recorded.
No doubt you want to live a long life filled with achievements. Then you must do yourself one big favour: under a series of medical tests that would prepare you for the hardwork and rough road you will traverse in the drive to achieve the laudable goals you have set.
Foods provide the nutrients and energy the body uses to build new tissues and power the functions of the various organs as well as producing motion. Yet life threatening dangers lurk in the dietary patterns of individuals. That is why Prof. Oladapo Ashiru, professor emeritus of endocrinology and human anatomy as well as medical director of the Medical Art Centre, Ikeja, Lagos recommends that a person above 35 should undergo diet typing.
There are two types of this test: Diet Typing 1 and 2. These two are the most important of all the tests.
The primary purpose of Diet Typing 1 is to evaluate your ability to handle carbohydrate. This test measures the ability of the person to metabolize sugar within 90 to 180 minutes of sugar consumption. In essence, within one-and-half to three hours the body should be able to have completely metabolized sugar. The test is called the Insulin Tolerance Test (if you want to be humourous, please call it medial ITT).
Diet typing 2 is called the blood acidity panel, which tests how well the blood is functioning. The diet typing tests form the foundation for prescribing a custom-tailored nutrition plan for individuals. Most people cannot handle carbohydrate well at all and as a result of that, in their diet, they subject the body to excessive insult by eating the wrong carbohydrates. “We eat in such a way that the proportion of the rice or eba is huge compared to the meat,” says Ashiru.
“That is the typical Nigerian food. That is an overload on the organ, the mechanism that breaks down the carbohydrate. The body has a specialized organ called the pancreas which has a tissue called the Islets of Langerhans, which secrete the hormone insulin, which controls the metabolism (that is, breakdown of sugar). It is insulin that ensures that digested carbohydrate (sugar) is evenly distributed round the body and properly handled by the cells.
“When you are intolerant to it and you also eat carbohydrates in excess, it leads to diabetes because it is like over-using the pancreas. When you eat small amount of carbohydrate, you don’t necessarily over-use the pancreas. In Nigeria for instance, if you look at the Northern population, may be because they have meat, they eat more of meat products and plenty of vegetables and less of carbohydrates, so they are slim built and very few with potbelly. But if you look at the Southern distribution, we tend to have plenty of eba, rice and all that and little portion of meat products; so you see that most of the people here are built large with potbelly. That’s the dynamics of nutrition,” intones Ashiru.
Diet typing enables you categorise yourself into a particular group, and thereby know what to do. Not knowing your health status as regards diets, is not good at all. This ignorance has led the untimely death of many people. For instance, it could lead to high blood pressure, and heart attack because the heart, blood vessels and even the blood is filled with fat and cholesterol.
Generally, when a person has not reached 40, the system would not po young people burn a lot of energy as a result of their very active lifestyles. The extra load of carbohydrates supply the massive energy needed to sustain such dynamic activities. However, as the body begins to nudge towards 40, there is a slowing down of energetic processes. Invariably, this would have certain effects on the body. For this reason, there is a real urgency and need to be aware of conditions that may pose a threat later in life.
Test of fibrinogen level
The next important test is the fibrinogen level. Fibrinogen tends to slow down the circulation of blood, and this in turn leads to arteriosclerosis, which is the thickening of blood vessels. High levels of fibrinogen also seem to correlate directly with death from heart disease, which is due to inflammation within the body and its blood vessels. When fibrinogen in the body is over a certain range, it can cause slowing of blood circulation, leading to blood clots and death from thrombosis, and when it is over a certain range, aspirin specifically formulated for management of heart disease is taken to ‘thin’ the blood, i.e make it lighter.
In essence, the result of the test tells the doctor whether the person is likely to develop heart disease. In the circulation process, the blood must pass through the whole system. If it is not circulating properly it starts to clot. Therefore, when the fibrinogen level is high, it means that the person is forming a lot of blood clots, which can block tiny blood vessels in part of the body. Should such a clot occur in a vessel supplying blood to the brain that would be a very life-threatening situation that could rapidly lead to a stroke. Alternatively, if the clot occurs in a vessel supplying blood the heart muscle itself, it leads a medical condition called coronary thrombosis or heart attack.
In either case, the victim becomes a medical emergency that ought not to have happened if care was taken. And if it blocks the vessels going to the kidney, it causes renal failure. “It is like ensuring that the gutters are cleared, so that when it rains, there will be no flooding. If you can’t check it, when you reach that age, one tablet of aspirin after food daily will solve that problem because aspirin will allow the blood to be clean, so that it can flow through the vessels freely. Aspirin is an anti-inflammatory drug; it contains acid that has the ability to bind to the blood chemical and make it loose. In other words, aspirin will destroy any inflammatory process.”
The fear most people have about aspirin is that it erodes the lining of the stomach walls; that’s why doctors warn that it not be taken with an empty stomach – it should be taken only after meals.
Stress Hormone Level (Arenal Test)
Properly known as dihyro-epiandrostrone, this is stress hormone, which tells you what your mood is. It determines your personality. If it is in very low amount, it could cause erectile dysfunction. Women who have low DHCA could also suffer from libido problems, in that they would not enjoy or be excited by sexual relationships. Beyond that these hormones are essential for the support of the muscles, the bones, the skin, sexual vitality and the brain. When these are not properly functioning, the man or woman will go into stress.
C-Reactive Protein (CRP)
This is a test of liver function. It tells you how the liver is functioning. Besides, it is a marker of coronary heart disease and stroke. If a person has low CRP, it means that the individual’s chances of having coronary heart disease is low; when it is high, the individual must then necessarily go through several processes to ensure that he/she does not have problems with diabetes, high blood pressure, so as to be able to control them. This test detects the presence of an anti-inflammatory reaction inside the blood walls and in other parts of the body, which is now considered to be an indicator of the arterioscleriotic process. Like fibrinogen, it is an excellent predictor of the risk of heart disease, Type-2 diabetes and age-related muscular degeneration, which is a major cause of blindness.
Complete Blood Count (CBC)
The idea of having a complete blood count is to determine the state of well being. It shows the electrolyte hemoglobin level and the white blood cells. It screens you for blood fat, kidney, liver and mineral imbalances as well as the adequacy of the blood cell elements. It enables you pick problems like cholesterol, or problems of the liver or renal disease; even diabetes can be detected. Early diagnosis helps in treatment of these conditions.
Prostrate Specific Antigen Test
This is primarily for men. It measures the amount of antigen in the blood responding to elevation in the prostate cells. This is very important because it measure gland. And this is done with digital rectal examination. The normal range of the PSA is 1-4 kilogrammes per mille. It should not be above 4. Once it is above, it means trhat there is something going on. And the way to help that is to take foods that are rich in tomato and foods that contain licopin, and some other vitamins. Such foods can reduce trhe PSA level. There are also hormone treatments that are available for high PSA level before it gets to the level one has to go for surgery.
This test is also an indicator of coronary heart disease.
Thyroid Stimulating Test
The thyroid stimulating test tells you how the thyroid is functioning, whether it is working properly or not. Any disorder of the thyroid gland can have far reaching effects. Thyroid stimulating hormone is usually produced in the pituitary gland which is located at the base of the brain. It is elevated when the thyroid gland is not producing enough of its hormone called thyroxine.
The last of the package of tests is called the sedimentation rate. It is a simple test that shows how thick or thin the blood is, and it is an indication of the body’s state of health. A high ESR is very bad because it promptly shows that an unhealthy activity is going on in the body.
These tests help in the early detection of diseases that could be life-threatening. Usually if you go to a good physician, he should be able to take you through these tests or send you to a properly equipped medical laboratory where these tests can be done. TRhe heart-warming point is that these tests can be easily done in the country. Remember the story in the Bible about the Ethiopian eunuch who hreard the gospel of salvation from the mouth of Philip the evangelist and believed. As they journeyed along on his carriage, they got to a small river. He alighted and said to Philip: “Here is water, and here you are, I believe in the Lord, what can hinder me from being baptized.”
So ask yourself if there is any reason why you should not take out time this month to do these tests and live long for your family. And of course, achieve your goals for the year.