People Daily

Obesity made me a wellness doctor

Dr Dennis Nturibi grew up as an obese child and despite his resolve not to be an obese adult, it did not change the state of things. And being a medic the weight problem persisted in his adulthood.

“Hitting my highest weight of 92 kilogrammes in 2008 acted as the perfect wake-up call and I had to strengthen my resolve to break from the vicious cycle,” says Dr Nturibi. Like many people, he hit the gym and dieted.

After a few months of intense working out and dieting, his weight reduced, but he would later regain all of it in a period of one-and-a-half years. Still determined in his quest for wellness Dennis started making small incremental lifestyle changes. “I started incorporating fruits and vegetables in my daily diet, getting enough rest and staying active,” he says.

The changes yielded results by achieving his recommended weight of 72 kilogrammes in 2012, which he has maintained to date. In his over 10 years of medical practice, Dr Nturibi has come across myriad of patients suffering from chronic diseases.

Lessons from his personal and professional experience point to one thing; that most of these cases of chronic diseases can be avoided through lifestyle modification.

Much as losing weight was a good achievement, Dr Nturibi says that it was not an end in itself, but a means to the end. “What people saw were the lost kilos, but it took an entire lifestyle shift for the change to be sustainable. My lipid ratio was lower, my blood sugars more stable and my energy levels higher,” he says.

He now makes time to teach others the valuable lessons he learnt to help them make the shift. “As a doctor I will treat you for whatever ailment I diagnose you with using conventional medicine, that’s my job. But I will also guide you on the changes you need to make to wholesomely improve your wellbeing,” he adds.

He has developed a programme dubbed Be well and also runs a You-Tube channel called bewellke where he offers guidance on the changes individuals can make to manage and ward off diseases.

His lessons revolve around the thematic areas of eating well, striking a good work/life balance, importance of rest and staying active all of which are geared towards putting chronic diseases at bay.

What Dennis offers, he says, is no magic formula. People know what is required of them to be healthy; the problem is effecting and maintaining the changes. The programme, therefore, brings together like-minded people who he helps make the transition to wellness in a structured manner.

Eating healthy, an aspects covered in the programme generally entails guiding people on eating foods rich in nutrients that build the body. “The problem is that we have foods high in caloric content due to processing and use of additives such as sugar, hence lack nutrients.

Contrary to the popular misconception that having less weight automatically translates to being healthy, there are other variants one needs to consider. Dr Nturibi recommends that people get tests that assess their cholesterol levels, lipid count, blood sugar control, blood pressure and basal metabolic rates in order to accurately know their state of health.

The four-month programme involves medical reviews on the participants, offering theory and practical sessions, which include workouts, cooking classes and lessons on proper meal plans. It aims at ensuring that there is a mental shift in individuals to help them avoid these pitfalls.

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