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Nairobi News : December 9th 2013
16 Monday, Dec 9 - Tuesday, Dec 10, 2013 nairobinews.co.ke Njoki Chege Good health JOY IN THE JOURNEY Counselling reminds me of frailty of life Symptoms of poisoning include stomach pains and cramps. File, NairobiNews contaminated or spoilt food. Food contamination occurs at the different stages in which the food goes through such as butchering, harvesting, packaging or shipping. It can also occur when the HOW TO AVOID FOOD POISONING F ood poisoning is common and it arises from eating food is not properly handled or cooked. Chicken is a popular delicacy in many cultures, but it is one of the most contaminated foods. The US based Foods Stand- ards Agency conducted a study five years ago which revealed that 65 per cent of chicken on sale in shops was contaminated with bacteria. There are two types of bacteria responsible for the poisoning; campylobacter and salmonella, which live in the intestines of poultry and other livestock. Chicken liver Campylobacter is a bacteria that occurs in poultry, red meat, unpasteurised milk and untreated water. The good news is, the bacteria is not harmful when you cook your chicken (and other poultry meat) properly, but the bad news is cross-contamination can occur when a person does not wash his or her hands properly after handling the raw chicken. Food poisoning emanating from chicken can also be traced to hygiene. It can occur when juices from the raw chicken drip onto the cooked poultry or any other food. Chicken that has not been cooked at the correct temperature can also bring about food poisoning. If you consume chicken that has not been allowed to cook for the right length of time, you are also susceptible to food poisoning. Symptoms include diarrhoea, stomach pains and cramps, fever and generally feeling unwell. Most people are only ill for a few Coping. Mwikali has been living with HIV for more than a decade. She shares with us her long walk, giving us a peek into her session on the psychiatrist’s couch C days. These symptoms appear within 24-48 hours of consuming the food. It is important to be aware of poultry livers which have been found to carry a particularly high risk of campylobacter. Liver remains a source of infection for its consumers if the meat is not cooked properly. Chicken livers have been heavily implicated in causing extreme cases of food poisoning. In Britain, for instance, more than 90 per cent of cases of a common food poisoning seen in catering venues in 2011 were as a result of people consuming undercooked chicken liver, often at weddings. In Kenya, chicken liver is a common delicacy, which is mostly left to children because of its tender nature. Piping hot Preventing food poisoning is easy as all that is required of you is to take your hygiene a notch higher by ensuring you wash your hands properly with soap and water before and after handling food. Always make sure raw meat does not come into contact with foods that are ready to eat, such as cooked meats or salads, as the bacteria can spread to them. Keep raw meat separated from these foods, and thoroughly clean all knives, chopping boards and work surfaces as these can collect and spread the bacteria from raw meat. You can also prevent food poi- soning by improving your cooking techniques. For instance, always cook food, especially poultry, until it is piping hot in the middle. You can check if meat is cooked properly by inserting a knife and making sure the juices are clear, and that there is no pink or red meat left. Proper cooking kills any campylobacter. ounselling session continues… where was I? Yes, we are taking a break because nerves are raw, especially mine. And so the session turns more personal and the counsellor wants to know how we deal with stresses of life. He warns that stress can cause the immune system not to respond to the njugus as expected because with it comes high blood pressure, insomnia, lack of appetite, fatigue, indigestion among other complications which could be harmful to the already compromised immune system. The elderly lady is more than will ing to go first. Major diversion She starts by telling us how a few weeks ago, her son was causing her stress. Apparently, after much insistence on her part, the son married. I almost ask how that serves to reduce her stress levels, how her blood pressure shot up and had headaches for days. In my humble opinion, she was also to blame. Why force your child to marry? In retrospect, I also understood where she was coming from. HIV teaches us the frailty of life and at times, in our subconscious, we want to achieve everything in the shortest time possible. For her, I think she yearned to have a grandchild and not necessarily getting her son to settle down. We hear you mama, all the drama in your life. But how do you deal with stress? Seeing a shrink The story was a nice break but surely, is it me or had she completely missed the point as usual? A few years back, I had to see a psychi- atrist to cope. I did not know what I was feeling, when to feel it, and life was one big dark cloud. Any time I allowed myself to think, I got so depressed. What future did I have? Would I see my son grow up? Would I suffer before I died? Would my family think less of me? Why me? So many questions. One thing the psychiatrist told me was that it was okay to feel, to allow myself to healthyyou Managing stress • Consider what you can control—and work on that: You can’t control people but you can control how you react, how you spend your time and what you spend your money on. • Do what you love: It’s much easier to manage pockets of stress when the rest of your life is filled with activities you love. Find them and do them. • Take the negotiables off your plate: Reducing your stack of negotiable tasks can greatly reduce your stress. • Do not leave yourself extra vulnerable to stress: When you’re sleepdeprived and filled to the brim with coffee, even the smallest stressors can have a huge impact. • Realise the difference between worrying and caring: Worrying about money, for instance, just gets you worked up. Caring means creating a budget and paying bills on time. grieve and only then would I begin to heal. This lady needed what this session may never offer her. She was in the grieving stage and it was gnawing at her like a cancer. But I understood since I had walked that path. Tranquillisers and time were a need not a want. I only prayed that one day she would be able to move on beyond her status like I had. I made a mental note to try and get her number before we left. Find an outlet for stress Ms Trendy’s solution to stress was long walks and chewing gum. While we were all waiting for her to elaborate, she took a phone call. I was amused by her, she was not about to divulge anything personal and I respected her need for privacy. After all, it was only fair to try and sal- vage whatever privacy one could afford. When I was asked how I dealt with stress, I said I write and also confide in a few friends who are always ready to listen. I realise it’s impossible to completely avoid stress, but the key is learning how to cope without losing ourselves to it.
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