Much of palm oil or saturated oil affects our health

THE PUNCH Newspaper- Kemi Ashefon

THE gospel according to Chichi Iwuamadi, a wellness expert trained in the United States, is graceful ageing.

To her, as many men and women who are conscious of their diet, their lifestyles and environment can grey gracefully without being a burden to anyone. Hear her: ”You don‘t have to be extremely rich before you look graceful. For most Nigerians, the major challenge is money. An average Nigerian thinks first of money before health.

”They have forgotten that health is wealth. To age gracefully, eat well balanced food, take lots of water, eat fruits, which are very abundant in Nigeria, rest and don‘t carry your frustrations and problems on your shoulders.”

Argue with her that money is an important factor for anyone to look graceful and she disagrees. ”Being graceful is not in how elegantly or beautifully dressed you look. It is your total package – spirit, soul and body. You can wear a million-dollar cloth and still be unhealthy.

”You could ride the best of cars and be ignorant of your blood-sugar level, your cholesterol, which could lead to diabetes, then stroke and eventually death. That you can afford a N10, 000 worth of lace fabric should compel you to buy a blood pressure detection device at home or other first aid kits.”

A graduate of linguistics, she sprang a surprise when she decided to study gerontology. To the mother of four, this decision was carried out to stamp out ignorance.

”I lost my parents when they were young – my father was in his 60s and my mother was in her 50s. My mother died of high blood pressure that resulted in stroke and she never knew she had the ailment until she came to visit us in the United States,” she recalls.

”Even my father, who was very educated, died of a similar ailment. I thought they were too young to die and discovered that many Africans are ignorant of their health status, especially as they grow older in age. So, I opted for gerontology, which is the study of the engines of the body – how you are affected mentally, socially, psychologically and emotionally as you grow older.

”If you are not aware of what happens as you age, you might not be able to know how to handle certain situations as they come. Gerontology is a broad study of ageing, which starts immediately you come out of the womb until death. It is a process.”

The managing director/chairman of Americare Medicals, Area II, Garki, Abuja, Iwuamadi is also an exercise buff. ”Wellness also means adequate exercises,” she offers. ”Oftentimes, luxuries like cars could be a minus in the life of some people. Why? They hop into the car even if the grocery store is next door.

”But I always counsel my clients to learn trekking, strolling and jogging. When you do that, the blood circulates well, you are healthier and you live longer. It is a lifestyle that must be cultivated and adhered to strictly.”

Though her family still lives abroad, she opted to come over to Nigeria in order to create awareness on how to live and work well. Married to a civil servant who works abroad, she says that her teenage children understand her cause.

”I told them that my country needs me and I have to be home to teach my people how to live well,” she says. ”I made them realise that we have all these resources in America but our people need more awareness and these resources be made available to them. Luckily for me, they understood and I get their support.

”Abroad, I work more with older citizens. The West is more particular of their older persons than what is obtained in Africa. Here, they believe immediately someone gets old, they should be left home to die. But that is what ageing is all about - take care of the old, help restore their dignity and whenever they have health/psychological problems, they would be taken care of.”

At 44, she believes age is of the mind and not of numbers. ”I feel as if I am in my 20s,” she enthuses. If you don‘t say you are old, you would not be old. When you start talking old, you feel old and you behave old. I was working with a 70-year-old man in America and he looked like in his 60s. He was very energetic and even his wife, who he was older than looked like an old woman just because she behaved and felt like an old woman.”

Anything special which she takes? ”I take grapes,” she offers, ”drink plenty of water, I snack on healthy foods and I rest. Africans take much of palm oil or saturated oil and this affects our health. I cook with pure olive oil and I take lots of fruits; this help with my going to the washroom more and it is healthy.

”Wellness is a lifestyle. To live well, a woman starts with her family – allow children eat minimal amount of food, with the essential vitamins. Get them protected from bacteria by cleaning the environment and make sure you rest well.

”Moreover, the best form of wellness is having a good spirit. When you have problems, don‘t over-stretch it, take good care of yourself, live well, and use little make-up. The sun in the tropics is very harsh and does not help ageing, so try and get sun blocks. You can also use moisturizers. I use Oil of Olay, which protects from the ultra violet rays of the sun and remember to use for the kids too.”

Also recommending massages, she opines, ”Not everyone can afford going to a spa or getting a masseur to do it but you can approach your spouse to help out. The little touches here and there help release toxins from the body.”

Born and raised in Aba, she recalls that her late mother was a vegetable freak. ”She was always giving us vegetable and at a stage, we almost refused taking her meals because vegetables were present in every meal,” says Iwuamadi. ”Though not as educated as my father, my mother was conscious of a balanced diet and made sure all her children ate well. We should try as much as possible to maintain a good lifestyle, so that our children can age gracefully.”

Any other tips for good looks? ”It is all about adhering to instructions and doing what is right,” she says. ”It is easy to age in one piece, just as it is also easy to age in pieces. Let your spirit be free and beautify your environment with bright colours. It puts the mind at rest.”


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