Healthy Living for African Christian Women – Spirituality, Lifestyle and Medicine

Introduction

Health is defined as physical, mental and emotional well-being and not just the absence of disease or infirmity. It is the total feeling of wellness in body and in mind. 3John 1:2 says “Beloved, I pray that you may get along well in every way and may enjoy good health just as your soul is prospering”. The peculiar economic challenges and emergence of infectious diseases makes healthy living quite a task. As Christian mothers we must make conscious effort to lead our Christian lives in ways most beneficial, not only to our health, but also to those of our husbands and children.

Content

  • Healthy Lifestyle choices
  • Personal Hygiene
  • Use of Health care facilities
  • Stress management
  • Spirituality
  • Menopause
  • “Jedi-Jedi”

1 Healthy Lifestyle choices

The choices we make regarding everyday living, is a strong indicator of health. In 1Corinthians 6:19 the bible says “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you do not belong to yourselves? For you were bought and paid for; then give God the glory with your body”. It is therefore not only for our sakes that we should make healthy choices, but it is also a biblical obligation to live right.

Lifestyle choices are made in term of diet and exercise.

A. DIETARY CHOICES

Genesis 9:3 “every living, moving thing shall be yours for food; I have given it all to you like the vegetables.” There has been a lot of debate on what people should eat and what not to eat. Some will say don’t eat meat, some say don’t eat salt, but the most important thing is to understand that it is not about what to eat or what not to eat, but a matter of MODERATION.

The following are tips to help you make healthy choices as regards nutrition.

1. As regards breakfast:

– Take light meals in the morning

– Take at least 2 classes of food e.g. carbohydrate + (Vegetable, protein, fruits, etc) for example: yam and garden-egg sauce

2. As regards cholesterol and low density lipids (LDL)

– Just before you buy your next vegetable oil, make sure you check for the sign, – “low cholesterol” or “Zero cholesterol”

– Never over-eat EGGS, in our society eating eggs may be perceived wrongly as an indication of wealth. Eggs are good but we should limit it to at most 1 per day or 3 eggs in a week

– Reduce consumption of fried meals, and if you must fry use as less oil as possible.

3. Avoid overcooking your vegetables – a lot of micronutrients cannot tolerate the heat.

4. Salt, Sugar and Honey – Like earlier noted, moderation is the important thing.

As We advance in age it becomes beneficial to use salt in moderation, also certain food

sweeteners are better used with caution.

For those minding their blood sugar e.g. Diabetic women, it is important that you are mindful of refined sugar, however it is very important that we know that most of our staple meals are loaded with sugar. Food like Pounded Yam, cassava, etc so, what then are we to eat? if all these meals are sugar ladden. The answer is simple – ‘MODERATION” we tend to serve our cassava or pounded yam in very generous quantities, it is advised that we change that, serve just a handful of your staple meal, with generous amount of vegetables, crayfish, fish, meat etc This will supply enough carbohydrate with other nutrients without unnecessarily increasing your sugar level.

Honey is good; you could try it but remember everything must be in moderation.

5. Fruits Fruits Fruits

We are blessed with varieties of fruits; there is always a fruit in season. It will be most beneficial if you can take a fruit with every meal, yes!every meal. And I don’t mean bottled over-processed fruit juices, take only fresh fruits they are cheaper and full of benefits.

B. EXERCISES

As we age strenuous activities are best avoided but moderate exercises have benefits,

Short distances can be walked when it is not too sunny.

2. Personal/ Environmental Hygiene

The importance of hygiene is well understood and need no emphasis, proper grooming and cleanliness gives you a feeling of freshness and goodness.

Clean people don’t fall sick often.

Environmental hygiene is also a big issue, at times because of our busy schedules, the home is left untidy, making our homes a breeding site for rats and insects.

Rats, cockroaches etc find it too easy to pass diseases to us and our children

If you can’t clean up the home every day, find at least 2 times in a week to clean up. Get rid of stagnant water and nearby bushes to rid your home of mosquitoes.

Do not be careless about the source of drinking water for the family, as much as possible never patronize food vendors, COOK FOR YOUR FAMILY.

3. Use of Health Care Facilities

While Faith is important to us as Christians we should not fall into the class of misguided brethrens who perceive the use of health facilities as lack of faith, remember that Saint Luke was a doctor.

A. Regular check up

– Regularly check your blood pressure, it saves life.

– Visit your doctor for check up at worst once a year

B. Important medical tests for women: prevention is better than cure!

– Breast examination: breast cancer can be detected early and better treated.

When you bathe feel your breast for lumps, abnormal color or discharge. Stand before a mirror and compare the two breasts for any difference. If you notice anything abnormal see your doctor!

– PAPS test or Papanicolau smear test: this is done to screen for cervical

-cancer, another disease that ravage our female population. It is a life saver and we are encouraged to go for the test.

C. ANTENATAL CARE

When pregnant visit the maternity as soon as possible

D. FAMILY PLANNING SERVICES – the present economic conditions make family planning a wise decision. You will be surprised when you visit any family planning centre, at the vast methods available, you will be informed and are likely to find one suitable for you. Remember it is better to have children that you can cater for, than having a lot that you cannot care for. Family planning help plan the size of your household and also give you rest of mind and an opportunity to have a blissful and enjoyable marriage.

4. Stress Management

Matthew 6:25-34 “I tell you therefore, do not worry about your living-what you are to eat or drink, or about your body, what you are to wear. Is not the life more important than its nourishment and the body than its clothing?…

…34 Do not worry therefore, in view of tomorrow for tomorrow will have its own anxieties. Each day’s peculiar troubles are sufficient for it.”

One major benefit that faith affords us as Christians is that we could be free of worry, if we truly believe that our God is sufficient. When we put ourselves under needless stress, we make ourselves liable of high blood pressure and mental illness. Proverbs 14:30 says “A relaxed mind makes for physical health; but passion is rottenness to the bones”.

5. Spirituality

I strongly believe that there is a strong link between spirituality and health.

Jeremiah 8:22 “Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician? Why, then, has the health of the daughter of My people not been restored?” it is clear that no drug can substitute the peace of mind and health that a perfect relationship with God gives. The bible says (ASV 2 Chronicles 7:14 ) if my people, who are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. The secret of divine health is in His promises to his children, the book of Amos says “can two work together except they agree” I encourage you all to trust God fully and He will renew your strengths.

6. Menopause

This is a period in a woman’s life at which menses diminishes and stops, usually between the ages of 45 and 50. Women often experience some discomfort which may vary on individual basis.

Hot flashes or hot flushes range from a passing feeling of warmth in the face and upper body to extreme sweating and visible redness of the skin.

As estrogen level drops in the blood, the vaginal walls become dry making coitus very painful and sometimes undesirable. Decline in sexual interest during menopause may also be psychological.

Psychological symptoms may include depression, mood swings, weepiness, and other emotional flare-ups, as well as memory lapses…Stressful life events that may contribute to the emotional symptoms at the time of menopause include children leaving home and general mid-life crises.

When the symptoms are unbearable you should visit your doctor. Treatment available is known as (HRT) Hormone replacement therapy, but the benefit must be weighed against the risks,which includes – increased risk of breast cancer, heart attacks, strokes, and blood clots.But in most cases, women’s personal perception of menopause may also affect symptoms, they are often tolerable when we have the right mindset.

Other ways of reducing negative effects of menopause include eating a healthy diet, taking vitamin supplements, stop smoking, reduce caffeine and alcohol, reducing sugar and salt intake. Exercise helps to alleviate menopausal symptoms

7. “Jedi-Jedi

This is a term among the Yorubas of West Africa, used to loosely refer to a number of often unrelated symptoms, and generally judged to be due to consumption of sugar or sweet things. I must say clearly that this is just one of the numerous health misconceptions and misinformation in our society.

These symptoms like backache, passage of loose stool, pile and hemorrhoids etc are most likely not related talk-less of resulting from consumption of sweet things or sugar.

If you feel unwell, please visit your doctor. Stop engaging in unwise use of herbal concoction for a disease that does not exist. Herbal concoctions are very dangerous. They can destroy very vital organs, we see a lot of liver cancers in our hospitals and even among women who don’t drink alcohol and the commonest cause that come to our mind is herbal concoction. The bible says “My people Perish for lack of knowledge

Conclusion

Jeremiah 30:17 says “For I will restore health to you, and I will heal your wounds, says the Lord, because they have called you an outcast, “It is Zion, for whom no one cares!”

Jeremiah 33:6 says “Look, I will bring to her restoration and health; and I will heal them and reveal to them an abundance of peace and prosperity. It is my prayer that as we continue to trust God, He will continue to grant unto us good health.

© Oluwaseun Adigun 2010