Frequently Asked Questions
  1. Q. My baby was quite well during the first 4 months of life but when I started leaving her with the maid to go to work, she gets sick very often. Is it because the maid is not clean enough?
  2. A. This is a very common problem among African babies during the weaning period. Although good hygiene is important it is also important to understand that weaning problems can cause ill health in your baby. The protein in cow’s milk (or formula) is more difficult for the baby to digest at such a young age. This means that your baby can actually develop protein malnutrition inspite of taking milk. The underlying reasons for this are covered in the book A HEALTHY YOU:Tame Africa’s Infant Malnutrition. Mother’s milk from a healthy mother is the best food nature intended for your baby. The protein is optimally digested and absorbed, in addition to other nutrients. Other benefits of breastfeeding include immune factors, which protect the baby especially during the first 6 months when the baby’s immune system is still weak.

  3. Q. I am a form three student and since I joined boarding school, I get headaches and stomach aches often. I have been treated for malaria and typhoid many times with no change. The problem seems to vanish when I go home for holidays, although I have noticed I no longer enjoy fruits the way I used to. I have now been referred to a counselor.
  4. A. This is a very common problem in secondary schools across Kenya. I had no idea until a friend advised me to watch certain religious telecasts, especially on Sundays. Many healing crusades are held which show many young people, some on the verge of dropping out of school due to many learning problems, including lack in attention, night mares, hearing voices, or even commands to go and do harm to a specific person. Most public boarding schools feed their students on a mainly maize diet. The chemical imbalance due to a deficiency in niacin which is common on a maize diet is discussed in detail in the book ‘The Heritage of Maize Is Killing Africans: The Kenyan Story’. The imbalance cause many problems, including difficulties appetite disorders. Some symptoms can be relieved by supplementing niacin in the diet. More complex problems should be discussed with your Health care Provider.

  5. Q. I am a middle aged woman and my skin has become very dry and dark. When I travel upcountry, sun exposed areas of my body get even more dark. Creams no longer work for me. I have also lost weight although I eat normally; in addition I have developed constipation and some gas. I have also developed a yeast infection which doesn’t seem to heal completely. I have visited 3 gynecologists for this problem; the last one sent me for an HIV test which was negative.
  6. A. You have developed the dermatitis (skin rash) of pellagra, which can affect all the body’s coverings, including the genital mucosa. What you perceive as yeast may Infact be pellagra vaginitis; any yeast infection may be secondary. You need to liaise with your Health Professional in order for both conditions to be addressed concurrently. Apart from diversifying your diet, you may need to take some supplements. When pellagra is advanced, niacin supplementation alone is not adequate. The spectrum of nutrients that are needed in adressing the problem are discussed in the book ‘The Heritage Of Maize Is Killing Africans: The Kenyan Story’.

  7. Q. I am a young man from Western Kenya who ferries boda boda clients for a living. Lately I have been getting very tired and at the end of the day, and I get very bad headaches. Usually I take painkillers, but what worries me now is that I am unable to perform in bed. I have been told to eat more because the work I do during the day is heavy; however, my appetite is very low. Please help.
  8. A. You raise a common problem among young people in Western Kenya. Infact, a national survey done recently in Kenya (‘Kenyans who will never get married’ Daily Nation 28th June, 2007) indicates that many young people in the region no longer wish to get married. Pellagra affects many systems in the body, including hormonal imbalances. In addition, pellagra can directly affect blood vessel tone, leading to sluggish blood flow and impotence among the affected. You need to take extra niacin in your diet. However, if your condition is longstanding, you should acquire a greater understanding of this problem.

  9. Q. My grandfather’s appetite has improved on zinc supplements, but he has developed nose bleeding which can get serious at times.
  10. A. Zinc can upset the B vitamins in the body, especially in maize eating communities. Vitamin B12 is a common deficiency in affected communities. This deficiency interferes with the ability of platelets to clump together, a necessary step in controlling such bleeding. You should give your grandfather a few doses of vitamin B12. Stop frequent use of zinc now that his appetite is better. You need to acquire a greater understanding of supplement use, which is discussed in the book, ‘The Heritage of Maize Is Killing Africans: The Kenyan Story’ If still in doubt, seek more advice from your Health Professional.

  11. Q. I am trying to wean my son who is 4months off my breast milk, but he is resisting. I have also noticed that when I force him to eat solid mashed food, some e.g. carrots, appear undigested in his stool. What should I do?
  12. A. If you have enough milk,express it for his use. Your breast milk is considered adequate nutrition for the first six moths; this allows the maturity of the digestive system. After six month, your baby should be evaluated by a Doctor in order to rule out common conditions like anemia. In addition, get a greater understanding of weaning problems in the book ‘A HEALTHY YOU: Tame Africa’s Infant Malnutrition.

email Dr Nelly at dr_nelly@nutritionafrica.com.

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