Eat healthy, rest and exercise
9 months ago, 9 Mar 00:40
I was saddened to learn of the sudden death of Justice Joseph Onguto on the evening of March 1. I was soon involved in a passionate discussion on the family WhatsApp group; a dis that was understandably driven by fear and ignorance. I had much to say, and was consequently urged to share this on a larger scale. So here goes: First, let’s remove issues like ‘a hole in the heart’ from this discussion. There is general sentiment that this might have been the case here, however, these are quite rare, and fact is if you were born with one, until you find out, there’s not much you can do about it. The genesis of most of these issues is in the endothelium. This is a one-cell layer, thin membrane lining all your blood vessels. It is in fact the largest organ in the body, and not the skin. Think of it like the plastering in your house (however, this one is alive). The endothelium produces a chemical called nitric oxide. One of the critical roles of NO is to enable the relaxation and contraction of blood vessels. When the endothelium is damaged, it produces less NO. Less NO results in stiffer arteries. One of the earliest consequences of stiffer arteries is rising blood pressure and erectile dysfunction among many others. Stiffer arteries are more prone to plaque deposits (encouraged by other mechanisms that occur at the same time). This is what we medically call atherosclerosis. People erroneously associate this condition with high cholesterol. There is some truth in this, but this is a secondary mechanism. The primary mechanism involves inflammation of the endothelium. An inflamed endothelium gets damaged. Usually the body will repair this, the same way the skin is repaired. However, if the rate of damage is faster than the rate of repair, then the body resorts to ‘patching’. The body uses cholesterol to do this. This is what is commonly called an artheromatous plaque. However, note that the body’s preferred solution is definitive repair, but when the damage is too fast, the body can’t catch up. Damage is triggered by many different factors. The final pathway is always the production of free radicals. Some of the free radical producing processes include cigarette smoking, excessive alcohol intake and eating foods we consider common such as fried foods, high sugar and salt foods. The body needs anti-oxidants to neutralise the oxidants. Where do the anti-oxidants come from? Yes, fruits and vegetables! So, we are eating all these oxidation-promoting foods, and less of the anti-oxidation foods. So, when we live like this, it means many of us have subclinical heart disease. This means we’re sick, but there are no symptoms. When we exercise, or take the sexual performance enhancing medication, these processes make our hearts work harder. For years, there won’t be a problem, but then one day, as the disease has been progressing, the system reaches a tipping point. And your heart is pushed to the edge. At this ...
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