Oyo State House of Assembly Speaker Micheal Adeyemo, 47, slumped at home and died of a heart attack on April 27, a serious reminder to those of us he left behind to take better care of the health of our hearts if we are not already doing so.
Like many people, I am guilty of missing regular yearly medical check-ups for important organs of the body. Maybe this is because I strive to eat healthily and believe that, once I do so, the body will fix itself.
Do not get me wrong. I am a firm believer in the admonition to man that he should take care of the healthy human body and not resort to fire alarm sick care a place of health care when the body goes hay-wire, as we say. For my heart, I regularly take such food supplements as -Hawthorn Berries, Ubiquinol, Pomegranade, Omega-3 oil, Coconut oil and trust me, as many greens as I can lay my hands on every day. Those may include Lemon grass powder sparked on food, Pawpaw (Papaya) leaf powder, Spirulina powder, Wheat grass powder, Marigold flower powder, Kale vegetable powder, Asparagus vegetable powder, and What have you! My last blood pressure test last week was 110/70.
I do simple do-it-yourself tests to confirm if anything is going on inside the heart, or if anything is wrong with it. This may not be 100 percent fool- proof. But I believe it is better than doing nothing in – between the periods one has to visit a cardiologist or a general practitioner.
I walk, trying to emulate my good friend, Mr. Dotun Akintoye who tucks his Jeep aside to walk at least 10,000 steps every day. I try to improve on his standard by dumping pedestrian or foot bridges across express ways. My target bridges are the ones which link Town Planning Way in Ilupeju area of Lagos with Anthony village on the Lagos/Ikorudu Road Expressway, the one which links Palmgrove with Shomolu, on the same expressway, and the that links Oshodi with Ilupeju. Some of these foot bridges are so steep that some of its users not only stop on the way to rest, but actually rain curses on those¬ who designed and built them.
I make many friends on these bridges, as Mr. Sunday Danson will confirm. Together, we sometimes take walks on them. He marvels at my guts. When I sight a young woman slouching or resting at a landing, I grate her hand and command: ‘‘Let’s go my friend you are too young for all this’’. Often, she would laugh and we would. Later, I would tell her why she has not enough energy to go. Her heart is probably too weak to pump enough blood and oxygen to her muscles for the extra job she is giving them to do. Then, I would advise them about dietary and other lifestyle changes they must make, and suggest they see their doctors.
The heart is a bunch of powerful muscles which pumps blood and oxygen round the body to feed all the cells, and through the circulating blood removes their poisonous and other waste products. The heart receives used blood from all parts of the body through blood vessels called veins. It pumps the used, deoxygenated blood to the lungs for oxygenation, receives oxygenated blood from the lungs, pumps it to all parts in the body, including the heart itself.
For these purposes, the normal heart is expected to beat or pump blood about 72 times a minutes or 432 times an hour or 10,368 times in one day or 3,784,320 times in one year or 264,902,400 times an average lifetime of, say, 70 years. That’s a whole lot of work.
How many submersible borehole water pumps can equal this ? We maintain these machines and the fuel pumps of our motor vehicles aid electricity generators, but do not think of maintaining one of the hardest working organs of our bodies, the heart!
Because we do not dietarily and through lifestyle adaptations adequately maintain the heard-working heart, it begins to literally fall ill and speak to us in the forms of systems of its illnesses which add up to heart disease. One of these symptoms is the chest pain classified medically as angina pectoris. This pain may spread to the inner left arm, the left shoulder blade bone in the back or down to the left arm, sometimes in electrical sparks. The pain often arises when the challenged person exerts himself or herself on a task which demands that the heart supply more blood to the muscles to do more work.
Such exertion may be the climbing of stairway, the splitting of firewood with an axe or flight from danger. The pain is telling the challenged person that the heart, which is expected to play a crucial role in blood and oxygen supply for this activity is itself not receiving enough blood and oxygen to do the work. The picture emerging from this is that the arteries which circulate blood inside the heart are inflamed, blocked, narrowed and hardened, to the point that blood delivery to every cell of the heart may have become grossly diminished. A heart attack occurs when the disease progresses from diminished blood supply to stoppage of blood supply. It similar to what happens when petrol or diesel is exhausted in the electricity generator. It simply stops working.
According to the University of Maryland, Medical Centre, some symptoms of CHD (Coronary Heart Disease ) can be very noticeable.
However, it is also possible to have this disease and experience no symptoms at all or only slight symptoms. Therefore not everyone who has CHD even knows it, especially those who are in the early stages. Pain varies a lot from person to person. The most common noticeable sign of CHD is having chest pain or discomfort which is caused when the heart is not getting enough blood or oxygen. Other types of symptoms can include feeling a heaviness or like someone is squeezing your heart, pains or numbness in your breast bone (sternum), neck, arms, stomach and upper back, shortness of breadth and fatigue with activity, general weakness’’.
The big debate
This debate is all about what causes the heart’s blood supply arteries, the coronary arteries, to become blocked. It began from about the 1900s onwards and appears unresolved till this day. Before, 1900 death from heart disease or heart failure in the United States was not as rampart as it is today, accounting now for about 45 percent of deaths every year. The death upsurge has been linked to dietary and other lifestyle changes in the last century. There dietary and other lifestyle changes have been exported to Nigeria, which is why many Nigerians today suffer from these diseases and die of them as well.
In this medical debate, it has been suggested that CHDs occur when calcium and cholesterol and other fats settle on the inner lining of the coronary and other arteries, causing them to become inflamed, narrowing the space for blood to flow through them and, also, hardening them to make them become like reinforced plastic hoses which cannot dialate as blood is flowing through. This hardening is called arteriosclerosis the blockage of the vessels by cholesterol fatty plague called atheroma is atherosclerosis.
Another of the symptoms which these events throw up is hypertension. Many doctors try to resolve it with drugs which force the heart to slow down so it doesn’t kill itself. But this does not resolve atherosclerosis and arterosclerosis, and inflammation.
In his BACK TO EDEN, Jethro Kloss, a natural medicines healer, tells of his experiences during his training in morbid anatomy in the mortuary. He said there was hardly a post mortem surgery or autopsy carried out which did not reveal that almost all the critical organs were inflamed. Inflammation, arterosclerosis and atherosclerosis are believed by some researchers to be caused by the consumption of animal fats, fried foods, smoking, lack of exercise etc. That is why the doctor checks the cholesterol level and prescribes drugs to prune them down if they are on the high side. But these drugs have dangerous side effects on the heart because they block the body’s production of Co Enzyme Q10 without which the heart cannot survive, and a deficiency of which has been linked to many heart diseases, including rising cholesterol levels.
Yet another group of researchers in the great debate say cholesterol is not the problem, but dietary deficiencies which do not make the liver metabolise the excess to bile salts, which the body uses for beneficial purposes. In other columns related to this subject, I furthered discussion on this great debate to the conceptual crises of the 1980s, and of how researchers such as Dr. Udo Erasmus unified the fats theory with new and accepted concepts published in his book, FATS THAT HEAL and FATS THAT KILL.
We are back to Draxe:
‘‘CHD is ultimately a result of inflammation from fatty material and other substances forming a build-up of plaque that accumulates within the walls of your arteries. Because these arteries have crucial role of bringing blood and oxygen to your heart, reduced blood flow can slow down or stop your heart beat, causing cardiac arrest. For this reasons medical professionals use a combination of lifestyle changes, medicines and medical procedures to slow, stop or reverse the build-up of plaque. This can help lower the risk of blood clots forming and a heart attack taking place because it widens clogged arteries.
Heart diseases is sometimes called the quintessential diseases of civilization because it was rare before 1900 and it still remains much less common in pre-industrialised populations.
By mid century coronary heart disease was the nation’s biggest killer and today all forms of cardiovascular diseases, including conditions of the heart and blood vessels like angina, congestive heart failure and stroke are still the leading causes of death in many western nations. Combined, all cardiovascular diseases kill more than one million Americans a year, men and women pretty much equally.
We know that inflammation and heart disease symptoms are tied to free radical damage (also called oxidative stress) and anti-oxidant levels in the body. When antioxidant levels are lower than those of free radicals due to poor nutrition and other lifestyle factors, oxidation will wreak havoc in the body, damaging cells, breaking down tissue, mutating DNA and overloading the immune system. Environmental pollutants, alcohol, smoking, unhealthy fats and a lack of sleep can also generate high levels of free radicals’’
Saving the heart
Foods and herbs abound in Mother Nature’s workshop to make the heart indefatigable for a whole lifetime. Only a few of them can be mentioned here. Jean Carper, an author of the New York Times best writers series, will be our chief tour guide. Her book, STOP AGING NOW, offers insights into the roles played in making the heart healthy by such foods and herbs as beta carotene, Vitamin E, CoQ10, Magnesium, Fish oil, antioxidants, B-complex vitamins fruits and Vegetables, Garlic, Vitamin C, Red Wine etc. To these I would like to add Lecithin, Hawthorn berries, Pomegranate and the proprietary blend CELLGEVITY, which is featured in www.olufemikusa.com under the headline Cellegevity, Senior Citizens and their peculiar challenges.
To be frank with you, most Nigerian popular diets may not sustain a healthy heart. They would need to be supplemented with missing food factors through food supplements. What is in bread, milk, sugar, refined tea or processed tea, fried egg taken for breakfast? What is in yam or plantain flour taken as amala, if not carbohydrate and oxidized food factors which are evident in the colour changes? What of Cassava grains from which eba is made? In Ghana, these grains are mixed with Moringa leaf powder to Proteinise, vitamise and mineralize the eba, which in pure form is pure carbohydrate. What is in polished rice? The soup is where the power and health of the meal should lie. Our soups nowadays are empty chaff, nutritionally speaking. I add the powders of green vegetables such as Kale and Asparagus and Cilantro to my meals to give them life!.
Politicians are most guilty of the nutritional bashing of the heart. They hardly sleep, congesting their blood with stress chemicals. Their hearts are filled with guile, altering the normal biochemistry of the heart, which has in the FOURTH CHAKRA region and responds negatively to thoughts of hate and evil plots. They have no time to exercise well as well. They eat largely on the go.
We return to Jean Carper. She says:
‘‘Evidences compelling, showing that beta carotene wards of cardiovascular disease, probably by keeping arteries from clogging. A Harvard study showed that male physicians who took 50mg supplement of beta carotene every other day for six years had only half as many fatal heart attacks, strokes and heart diseases incidents in general as doctors taking a dummy pill.
In another Harvard study tracking 90,000 female nurses, those eating the most beta carotene (more than 11,000 I.V. daily) had a 22 percent heart disease risk than women taking less than 3,800 I.V daily. The high-beta carotene eaters risk of stroke was 37 percent lower. In a large scale multi-centre European study, those who took in the least beta carotene were at a 260 percent higher risk of a first – heart attack than those who ate the most beta carotene’’
Rich food sources of beta carotene in Nigeria include sweet potato, red pepper, carrot, dark leafy vegetables such as, spinach and Kale, melons, pears, mango, pawpaw (papaya) Kale, Lettuce, Cabbage, Pumpkin, Dandelion greens etc. Many people think first of carrots during any talk about beta carotene. They are right, it is a rich source of this carotenoid from which the body can produce Vitamin A for many uses. But there are far more richer sources of beta carotene than carrots in Nature. When spinach is juiced, it yield plenty of beta carotene.
Not many people know that Spirulina is a richer source of beta carotene than carrots.
We are told in Santegrausa:
‘‘Spirulina offers sixty percent easy-to-digest vegetable protein without the fat and cholesterol of meat: essential vitamins and phyto nutrients such as the anti-oxidant beta carotene, the rare essential fatty acid GLA, Phospholipids, B-12 and beta carotene content of Spirulina is higher than many other plant on our planet. Beta carotene in Spirulina is ten times more concentrated than in carrots. Spirulina compensates vitamins and mineral deficiencies, promotes strength and endurance, and raises the concentration of oxygen in blood. Besides, Spirulina normalizes metabolism, helps with weight control. This unique plant accelerates burns and wounds healing.
Spirulina is a natural cleanser, promotes improvement of liver functions, toxins removal.
‘‘Spirulina contains an unusually high amount of protein, between 55 percent and 75 percent by dry weight, depending upon the source. It is a complete protein containing all essential amino acids, though with reduced amounts of Methionine, Cysteine and Lysine when compared to the protein of meat, eggs and milk. It is however, superior to typical plant protein Gama Linolenic Acid (GLA), and also provides Alpha Linolenic Acid (ALA), Linolenic Acid (LA), Stearidonic Acid (SDA), Elcosapentaenoic Acid (EPA), Docosahexaenoic Acid, (DHA) and Arachidonic Acid (AA).
Spirulina contains vitamin B1, B2, B3, B6, B9, Vitamin C,Vitamin D and Vitamin E. A test done on Australian grown Spirulina by the Australian government Analytical Laboratory (AGAL) shows Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin) levels of 659.1 ug/100 grm. A one gramme tablet could provide more than three times the recommended daily intake of B12.
Mineral health Spirulina is a rich source of Potassium, and also contains Calcium, Chromium, Copper Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Phosphorus, Selenium, Sodium and Zinc.’’
It should not be difficult for regular readers of this column to now understand why I always suggest that there greens (Spirulina & Co) be added to the diet Nigerian diet is predominantly Carbohydrate. Fish and beef are expensive sources of protein. Proteins, minerals and vitamins, not to mention trace elements and co-factors, are needed to maintain cells and organs of the body which are derived from these substances and cannot function optimally without regular supplies of them in the diet.
That is why I add the powders of these greens to my pap and stews. I have told some of my friends one of my next lines of action. I am going to dry Ewedu in its season and grind it to powder. One tablespoonful of the powder added to my pap or soup is like eating two bunches of the live or fresh Ewedu. In which food canteen does one get served with more than two tablespoonfuls of the fresh Ewedu, which is like two or thrice sticks of Ewedu?
Thanks Jean Carper for even the information we cannot take today on how Beta carotene helps to prevent and possibly reverse strokes.
We will all miss Michael Adeyemo. His death was shocking. He had just ended telephone talk with his wife and children abroad when he slumped and died.