A woman holding her head, as if suffering from a headache. Laura, 35, had been diagnosed with high blood pressure. She was also constipated and suffered from joint pain. Photo/FILE
Laura, 35, had been diagnosed with high blood pressure. She was also constipated and suffered from joint pain.
Laura would have coffee and maybe a banana at breakfast, a ham and/or cheese sandwich at lunch (occasionally chips) and some sort of meat and vegetables with ugali for dinner. Her snacks included mandazi, crisps and peanuts, and four cups of tea daily (almost no water). She also had wine most days.
What she didn’t expect to hear was that she was malnourished, and it was this that was the cause of her symptoms.
Micro-nutrients are like a specialised oil that keeps the machinery of the body working.
Even though little is required, if you were to go without, it wouldn’t take long before the machine started to wear out and break down.
Most of Laura’s diet is refined which gives her “empty calories”, that is it lacks nutrients.
DRINKING VIRTUALLY NO WATER
Furthermore, for her body to process these food, it has to use up its stores of vital vitamins and minerals, incurring what is called a “nutrition debt”. Therefore, even though Laura’s body weight is normal, she appears to be suffering from malnutrition.
By drinking all that tea and virtually no water, Laura is also chronically dehydrated.
Joint pain is often an indicator of water deficiency. In a dehydrated cartilage, when the different surfaces glide over, the friction damage can be quite abrasive. Drinking more water, coupled with more fruit and vegetables, would not only help her joints, but her sluggish bowel movements.
Laura’s diet also lacks in essential fats. These moisturise her body from the inside. It’s a bit like watering a plant – you have to water the roots, as opposed to the leaves, for optimum health.
Laura’s high sodium diet (meat, dairy and convenience foods) dehydrate her further, so potassium-rich fruit and vegetables are crucial.
In fact, studies have found that eating two bananas a day can significantly lower blood pressure. Essential fats would further also help to lower her blood pressure, by thinning the blood.
Lastly, while the Laura’s diet is rich in calories, it lacks protein – essential for growth and repair, as well as ensuring healthy digestion.
Without adequate protein, her body will produce fewer digestive enzymes, possibly leading to a scenario where her body can’t absorb the little goodness her food actually contains.