By Agnes Kyotalengerire
IT is at this time of the year that many people make New Year’s resolutions. For many people the beginning of year comes with an endless list of resolutions which may include; buying the latest car model, building new houses, buying land and making a lot of money.
Surprisingly, resolutions like how to ensure they remain healthy throughout the year are often forgotten.
Yet experts assert that the benefits of being healthy are enormous and go as far as improving household income and the country’s economy.
Dr Jotham Musinguzi regional director Partners in Population and Development, African region says being healthy leads to wealth and people should take responsibility to be healthy.
Dr Musinguzi says keeping health reduces the costs incurred on medical services and consequently the money is invested in productive ventures.
“Being healthy makes one more productive. A healthy person puts in more hours at the work place which increases their productivity and ability to earn. In turn one can afford basic commodities for their family like education, medical services, food and shelter,” Musinguzi says.
In regard, with a healthy population, government will spend less on health services (treatment) and invest the money in prevention activities. Below nutritionists and health experts suggest ways to ensure you remain healthy throughout the twelve months of 2014.
Peterson Kikomeko an assistant lecturer nutrition at Kyambogo University says healthy resolutions go beyond just eating. To keep healthy in 2014, Kikomeko says there is need to focus on lifestyle, diet and physical activity.
Kimomeko urges people to make healthier food choices and ensure a balanced diet. This requires incorporating fruits and vegetables in the diet. Eating foods low in fat especially saturated fat (fat that solidifies at room temperature) and less sugary food staff is the way to go.
Kikomeko encourages keeping off food commodities that introduce unnecessary calories to the body for example alcohol and soft drinks like sodas. He says consumption of too much alcohol has been linked to the cause and worsening of different diseases like liver diseases and hypertension.
Instead he advises to focus on diet diversification. “Aim at consuming foods from different food groups like cereals, meat, milk, vegetables and fruits. The more diverse the diet is the more likely that you will obtain more nutrients from your meal,” Kikomeko advises.
Pay attention to keeping your body hydrated by drinking a lot of safe drinking water. The recommended intake is 3 litres per day for an adult.
With a number of non- communicable diseases like diabetes, hypertension and cancers on the increase, Gerald Mutungi program manager non-communicable diseases Ministry of Health says people need to avoid harmful use of drugs and tobacco in all their forms.
Mutungi says if one can completely quit smoking the better. Like alcohol, smoking causes and worsens diseases such as lung cancer resulting into death.
Mutungi advises people to avoid sedentary lifestyle and instead introduce more physical activities in their life style. You can spare 30 minutes per day to exercise and you do not have to go to the gym. You can choose to jog, walk or skip a rope in your compound,” he suggests.
He says physical activity improve health and well-being through aspects like enabling one to use the stored energy.
For people who are obese, Kikomeko says exercising regularly to shade weight and for people with type 2 diabetes, regular exercising improves their body’s sensitivity to insulin.
Health seeking behavior
Dr Musinguzi says Ugandans have not embraced culture of seeking for health services. In 2014, it is important that you seek immediate health attention when you fall sick, your child or a member of the household.
Delay to seek medical attention may worsen the condition, result into death and increased medical expense.
Infant and young child health
If you are already a new mother or an expectant mother, let your bigger focus in 2014 be put on exclusive breastfeeding, timely introduction of complementary feeds and continued breastfeeding until the baby turns two years.
Kikomeko says this will help give a baby a healthier foundation and greatly reduce on the effects of malnutrition which is still a huge burden to the economy.
To boost the children’s immunity and enable them grow to their full potential, Dr Helen Achan the president Uganda Paediatric Association says you should ensure that the children complete their immunization schedule.
Mutungi encourages people to develop a culture of doing regular medical check-up even when they do not feel sick. 2014, resolve to have your blood pressure, blood sugar levels (for diabetes) checked regularly, dental and eye check-ups and HIV screening. For ladies it is also important that you go for cervical, breast cancer and prostate cancer screening for men.
Mutungi warns that because some of the non-communicable diseases do not present with signs and symptoms most people discover the diseases in advanced stages.