Dorothy Murugu looks half her age. At 40,it is evident that she takes good care of her body. The food scientist, turned nutrition and healthcare consultant with Bounty Health and Wellness Consulting is an advocate for preventive healthcare.
Dorothy strongly believes that prevention is better than cure is no simple adage but a scientific fact necessary for health and longevity. At a time when lifestyle diseases are becoming the bane of our existence, Dorothy might have the answer to better health.
As reported by the World Health Organisation (WHO), non-communicable diseases cause seventy percent of global deaths. The situation is not any better in Kenya as a report by the Ministry of Health indicates that 50%of bed occupancy is due to non-communicable diseases, with 55% of hospital deaths being as a result of the same.
It is such statistics and the additional fact that even children are now becoming obese that greatly concerns Dorothy. She asserts that schools and restaurants must embrace quantified recipes for the optimal health of our children.
Is food science related to nutrition?
Nutrition is only one line of it. Food science and technology delivers nutrition through value addition of our locally grown foods and makes them available throughout the year.
My specialisation in preventive health care is what has made me a professional in this area. Being a food scientist is an added advantage but my training in public health and specialising in body composition played a great role in what I do today.
What is preventive healthcare?
Preventive healthcare entails carrying out a health risk assessment of an individual, followed by advice on the intervention measures, in order to ward off the non-communicable diseases. We screen for risk factors that cause non-communicable diseases. Poor diet and inadequate physical activity are among the leading behavioural risk factors.
What are the benefits of preventive healthcare?
The benefits of preventive healthcare are broad and have a ripple effect. For example, organisations that enrol into our wellness program realise better employee productivity. This is because healthy staff means reduced sick offs and more energised employees. It also leads to a considerably reduced budget on medical expenses. For the insurance companies, it means that they can sustain the medical covers without incurring the extra expenses on paying for the non- communicable diseases. At the individual level, people who seek at the least annual preventive healthcare services enjoy wholesome health. This is because they get to understand what diseases they are susceptible to and therefore make the necessary lifestyle changes. One key benefit is that preventive health will increase the quality of life and keep off premature death.
What are some of the non- communicable diseases that can be prevented by one undertaking the preventive healthcare programme?
Some of the non-communicable diseases prevalent in Kenya today include diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular (heart) disease and certain forms of cancers. Our wellness programme goes beyond dietary advice as we put into consideration the results from the segmental body composition monitor to build a total lifestyle change programme for our clients.
What are some of the things that you assess in preventive healthcare?
The segmental body composition monitor is able to carry out a complete body composition assessment, including a precise daily caloric intake. We also have a different technology to screen for cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure. In addition, we assess the level of stress exposure of the patient, the coping mechanism in place and support them with resilience building techniques.
As a food scientist and a preventive healthcare consultant, what does your day look like?
My day starts early. With new patients, we first carry out the segmental body composition analysis. I then make follow ups with those already in our program, as well as create time for academic publications that I am currently doing. I also do menu plans for individuals, families and offer dietary advisory services for restaurants, hotels and institutions.
What training does one require in order to be a food scientist?
Training in food science or food technology, food or chemical engineering, biochemistry, nutrition, microbiology or chemistry for a first degree, then a post graduate training in a related field is important. I studied Food Science and Technology for my undergraduate and a Masters degree in Public Health. My research project focused on nutrition.
What career options does a food scientist have?
A food scientist and technologist with a leaning towards nutrition and health has many career options. One can work in the food manufacturing industry, or research institutions and other organisations that deal with food. One can also work in the health sector both in public or private institutions, as well as in the health and nutrition departments for organisations.
What is the one thing that you would tell Kenyans in regards to preventive healthcare?
Preventive healthcare is everyone’s responsibility and a win-win for everyone. It cuts unnecessary debts for the insurance. companies, organisations and ensures quality and wellness for individuals. Know what to eat, how to prepare it, how much to eat and when to eat it. Take action about your health now.