How your diet affects your mental health

The kind of food we eat and the timing of our meals all play a part of our mental health well being. Eating the right foods at the right time will help maintain the levels of the sugar levels in our body thereby providing the body with the vital energy currency known as ATP.

If one does not feed properly and the sugar levels drop, it could lead to tiredness, bad moods, anxiety and even depression.

A good diet is important so we should aim to eat more of whole grain foods, fruits and vegetables. These foods make for slow and steady release of sugars in the blood. It is also a good idea to reduce instant sugary foods and also what we term junk or fast foods.

Healthy living with Dr Franca: Plantain and egg stew. A nice delicious heart warming meal.




Vegetable oil

Fresh Tomatoes

Onions, spring onions

salt, pepper, seasoning


Cut the plantain and fry in the vegetable oil until golden brown.

Place a saucepan with vegetable oil on the heat, add salt. Chop the onions and to the oil. Beat some eggs together in a plate and add to the frying onions. Stir several times. Add the chopped spring onions and fresh tomatoes and scotch bonnet peppers. Stir and add seasoning. The plantain and egg stew are ready to be served.


Conflicting stories about the benefits and dangers of alcohol appear in the newspapers so frequently; it is no wonder people feel confused about the issue. The simple answer is that alcohol can be good and bad; it’s all a question of how much you imbibe. It comes down to that old adage a little of what you fancy does you good.

One to two units of alcohol a day may help protect the heart possibly by raising levels of the good cholesterol, known as HDL. Large amounts of alcohol increase the risk of stroke, weight gain and diabetes and can trigger abnormal heart rhythms. Don’t forget, the average glass of wine at about 125mls, is about one and half units and a large glass is two units. A bottle of wine with 9% alcohol by volume contains about seven to seven and half units and an 11 percent bottle between eight and nine units.

Why aerobic exercise is good for you.

Did you know that aerobic exercise increases the health and function of your heart, lungs, and circulatory system. For maximum effectiveness, aerobic exercise needs to be rhythmic, continuous and involve the large muscle groups (primarily located in the lower part of your body). Walking, jogging, cycling, aerobic dance, and stair climbing are examples of activities that use large muscle groups. Activities combining upper and lower body movements such as cross- country skiing, rowing, and swimming can lead to even higher levels of aerobic capacity.

Check your salt intake.

Beware of the hidden salt in the food we eat. How much are you eating? If you want to avoid a number of health issues try cutting down on your salt intake

According to the food standard Agency (FSA) most of us are consuming far too much salt. On average it is estimated that adults consume 12g of salt a day, twice the recommended 6g (equivalent to one teaspoon a day). The same applies to children who are consuming on average 6g daily, twice their recommended amount (3g per day). The reason why this is of such concern is that there is now overwhelming evidence to suggest that a high salt intake is responsible for a whole host of serious health problems. One of effects of eating too much salt is that it raises your blood pressure increasing the risk of strokes and heart disease. A recent Committee on Medical Aspects Report On Nutrition and Heart Disease concluded that reducing the amount of salt we eat by one third could reduce the number of strokes by 22% and heart attacks by 16% saving at least 34,000 deaths a year.

But high salt levels are also linked to many other health concerns including osteoporosis, cancer of the stomach, asthma, fluid retention and kidney stones.

Babies are particularly vulnerable as they are unable to process large quantities of salt. A high salt intake in the early months can lean to kidney, liver and brain damage another reason to keep babies on breast milk for at least the first four months. Children are also at risk especially as they often consume a high level of salty foods.

Healthy living with Dr Franca: Recipe for Nigerian Jollof Rice.




Chicken, Diced beef

Vegetable oil

Tomatoe puree

Onions, garlic, ginger, thyme, curry, seasoning, salt, pepper

Lettuce, cucumber, fresh tomatoes, mixed peppers


Steam the chicken and meat with diced onions, garlic, ginger, thyme, curry, seasoning, salt and pepper. Then more water to the chicken to make a lot of stock.

Wash the rice and soak in hot water.

Heat up vegetable oil in the another pot and add salt and chopped onions. Fry the onions until golden brown. Add the tomatoe puree and fry, add curry, thyme, seasoning, pepper.

Add the rice in the fried tomato puree and turn. Decant the stock from the chicken and meat. Pour the stock into the rice then turn. Allow to simmer for around thirty minutes depending on the rice.

Heat up some oil in the frying pan and fry the chicken and meat until golden brown.

Dice up the lettuce, cucumber, salad tomatoes and mixed peppers.

Arrange on the plate and serve.

Know your Fats: The good and the bad.

Saturated fats are solid at room temperature and are found in animal fats, such as meat and cheese. Too much can lead to high cholesterol levels, which has been linked with heart disease.

Monounsaturated fats help to increase levels of good cholesterol in the body by removing bad cholesterol from the blood. They are found in nuts, peanut butter, avocado and olive oil.

Polyunsaturated fats are found in plant and fish and are usually liquid at room temperature unlike saturated fats they can’t be made in the body so we need to include them in our diet.

They combine with oxygen and form free radicals that damage tissues and can put you at a higher risk for coronary heart disease and cancer, but some of these fats are necessary.

Omega 3s as are particularly important for reducing blood dotting and are found in polyunsaturated fats. When combined with a low intake of saturated fats they can actually help to decrease your risk of developing coronary heart disease, and can be found in oily fish.

Omega 6s are found primarily in vegetable oils, like sunflower seeds, sesame and safflower seed oil. These oils (like omega 3s) have the ability to regulate the delicate balance of lipoproteins and can reduce bad cholesterol and increase the good.

Top foods for good fats


2. Avocado




If there were one simple answer to this question, life would be much more tranquil for many’ people. Unfortunately there is not.

Snoring happens when the passages through which air passes in respiration are narrowed in any way, just as a sound is made in a tin whistle because the air is forced through a narrow space.

The causes of narrowing are many. A person who is sitting up and falls asleep stops exerting control on the muscles of the lower jaw and the palate. They relax, and this narrows the air entry. This is why so many people snore when they fall asleep in armchairs and on trains.

People lying down may also snore if they lie on their back because, again, the lower jaw drops and the muscles of the palate relax. If they lie on their sides with their heads thrown back the same effect may be noticed.

Obstructions of the airways, such as enlarged adenoids or tonsils may cause snoring. So many obstruction of the nose the mouth has to be opened to allow air in and the jaw relaxes.

Swelling of the mucous membrane lining the airways will also act as an obstruction. This happens in a person with a cold, or some other upper respiratory infection, it also happens to women during pregnancy, and in some cases during the pre-menstrual period when there is a general tendency of fluid retention in the tissues which affects the membranes in the breathing passages with all other tissues. And people suffering from allergies may develop congested mucous membranes.

The atmosphere in which a person sleeps can have an effect; a too-moist, over- humidified atmosphere can lead to snoring in a susceptible individual.

In a few people there may be a tendency for the nostrils to flatten during sleep, which can lead to snoring. And people who are overweight also tend to snore more than thin people, but it is hard to be sure why this is. After all, there is rarely extra fat laid down in the area of the breathing passages. However, it is clearly a cause because weight loss often leads to a reduction of noise during sleep.


Often, the hardest part of getting into shape is taking the first step. Here are some simple steps to help you begin your Journey.

Think F.I.T.

To make physical improvements, you need to work your body harder than usual. This is referred to as the overload principle. As your body becomes more conditioned, you need to increase the frequency, intensity, or time of your workouts in order to continue improving your fitness level.

Frequency: How often you exercise. For beginners, consider starting with 2-3 sessions per week.

Intensity: How hard you exercise. For example, the pace you walk or run, the amount of weight you lift, or your heart rate count.

Time: How long you perform an activity. ‘Time” can also refer to the number of sets or repetitions you perform in weight training.

Why some people sweat more than others.

Sweating is a process controlled by the parasympathetic nervous system, and it happens in response to a need or for cooling and also as a side effect of excitement.

The cooling effect is important. In hot climates a person would die if he did not sweat adequately. Sweating is triggered by a ‘thermostat centre in the brain. Interestingly, the sweating increases the longer a person is in hot conditions, rather than the reverse (most of us would expect a person in such conditions to sweat less as he got used to them).

On the first day in hot conditions a person will sweat about one and a half litres of fluid an hour, and after 10 days or so, this will double. At the end of six weeks he will be sweating at the rate of about three and a half litres an hour. But, one important point, the sweat will become progressively less salty. This is an important protective point, because a person who has lost a lot of salt via sweat can fell very ill indeed (this is why the diets in most hot countries tend to be salty anchovies and olives, for example).

People who have always lived in a temperate climate will have many of their sweat glands inactive, but people who live in the tropics tend to be much more efficient sweaters because all their glands operate fully.

The sweating of nervousness or excitement is due to the action of the parasympathetic nervous system, operating via a substance called acetylcholine which is similar to adrenalin. Control of anxiety by tranquillizers will reduce this sort of sweating, which is often very tiresome.

If sweating in some areas notably the armpits becomes a severe embarrassment, interruption of the sympathetic nerves which supply the area may give permanent relief.