Dr. Chinasa Trinitta Amadi is the founder, Ariella Health and Fitness Ltd, a company that offers consultancy services in healthy living, weight loss and wholesome foods. The Russian-trained medical doctor and UK-certified nutritionist returned to Nigeria to propagate her message of lifestyle change that will help reverse chronic diseases like hypertension, diabetes, obesity and other non-communicable illnesses. Working with 30 medical and non-medical staff, her advocacy in this field of preventive medicine holds promises of reducing the economic and financial burden on Africa’s deficient healthcare system. Assistant Editor CHIKODI OKEROCHA reports.
The gospel of healthy living, which she so passionately propagates, is simple, but profound in its outcome if adhered to diligently. The founder, Ariella Health and Fitness Ltd, a company that offers consultancy services in healthy living, weight loss and wholesome foods, Dr. Chinasa Trinitta Amadi, has been consistent with her message that by simply being more intentional with one’s health and adopting lifestyle modifications, treating and, often times, reversing chronic diseases like hypertension, diabetes, obesity and other non-communicable sicknesses will be a walk in the pack.
Chinasa, who is a Russian-trained medical doctor and UKBoard-certified nutritionist, said she had reached over 6,000 clients around the world with her message that lifestyle modifications such as eating the right foods, getting enough sleep, exercising, and managing stress effectively are the tonic to improving one’s overall wellbeing. Between last year and January this year alone, the Abo-Mbaise, Imo State-born lifestyle medicine physician’s client base hit 2,500.
She also said she hoped to reach or work with over 10,000 clients in the next five years; projecting that by this time, Ariella Health & Fitness Ltd would have become a household name. Although, Dr. Chinasa has been in the health and wellness field for about 10 years, shewas certified a lifestyle medicine physician by the International Board of Lifestyle Medicine last year. This made her one of the about 15 board- certified lifestyle medicine physicians in Africa.
However, unlike other medical professionals who would have most likely stayed back and practiced in Russia where she trained, Dr. Chinasa chose to return to Nigeria. That was in 2013. “I have a lot to do for my people. Aside being a certified Nutritionist, I am also a lifestyle medicine physician. Right now, we are just about 15 in Africa. So, I think that we have a lot to give back to our community; we have a lot to help eradicate lifestyle diseases,” she told The Nation.
Chinasa, who is the director, Trinitta-Rose Charity Organisation, said the goal of lifestyle medicine as a specialty was to help reduce or, possibly, eradicate the prevalence of hypertension, diabetes, obesity and other non-communicable lifestyle conditions among people. While noting that these chronic health conditions can be prevented by lifestyle change, she said what is required of health enthusiasts is personal discipline and intentionality to learn how to eat better, move better, get enough sleep, and exercise.
Reiterating that “it was important that I come back home and render that service despite how difficult it is,” she stated that it had always been her desire to feed her passion for preventive medicine. It was her passion to help her community and Africans generally to eat healthy in order to live healthy that led to the founding of Ariella Health and Fitness Ltd.
With a tagline, “… Rediscover you,” the company has been combining the finest of clinical and lifestyle medical practices to offer weight loss services, meal prep services, corporate workforce fitness, and health talks, among others, to its clients from diverse backgrounds. It also offers lifestyle medicine practice and consultations, as well as has several published books on fitness.
The company, which has offices in Lagos and Port Harcourt, Rivers State, works with a team of 30 well-motivated medical and non-medical staff from both locations. Its target clients include health enthusiasts, especially women in urban Nigeria, aged 25-55.
Chinasa explained her choice of target audience thus: “I feel that if you get the women in the healthy pack, they will influence their families, their men and their children.”
She insisted that in pushing her message that “health is wealth”, and that “prevention is cheaper than cure,” she was not driven by money, but by passion.
“Of course, we need the money to survive, but it’s first about the passion; the passion drives me,” she said, noting that the message had been well received based on feedback from clients, as people were becoming more intentional with their health.
“People are becoming more aware. People are beginning to place a premium on themselves. I will say the difference between now and five years ago or even 10 years ago when I got into this health awareness fieldis much. People are learning to take charge of their health. Obesity is a growing epidemic globally and people don’t want to be obese anymore, it’s not good for their health. So, we see people taking charge,” Chinasa said.
She, however, said there was still a lot of work to be done considering that health was one of the most-abused sectors. “We have a lot of education to do. First of all, our people need to be re-oriented about the concept of getting specialised care from professionals. It’s very important. It’s not been easy trying to change the perception or mindset of people,” she said.
Chinasa said the need to heed medical professionals’ advice, especially those in her area of specialty, had never been this compelling. For one, she said doing so would help correct the misconception around genetic predisposition on health. “People still think that because their father had hypertension, they must have hypertension. Because your father had diabetes, you must have diabetes. No. Genetic predisposition on health is just 10 per cent, epigenetics is 90 per cent,” Chinasa explained.
While also clarifying that it didn’t have to be that because everybody in one’s family has high blood sugar, one too must have high blood sugar. She said those were some of the things she had been trying to change.
Her words: “Even these days, we are seeing people that don’t even have any genetic predisposition coming down with hypertension, diabetes, arthritis, and other non-communicable diseases. So, those are the people we are targeting.”
She blamed the rising cases of chronic health conditions on people’s lifestyle. “We are adopting a Western lifestyle. We are leaving our whole food, our vegetables, our local foods and we are going more for packaged foods; we are going more for processed food; we are going more for fast foods, and these fast foods take us down the fast lane of ill-health. So, it’s predominantly our lifestyle. That’s why these are called lifestyle diseases,” she stated.
According to her, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, arthritis and even some cancers have been linked to lifestyle. “We don’t move anymore. You find out that we sit down at one point for the rest of the day, and most times the only time we stand up out of eight hours in the office is just two times to just ease yourself, that’s all. We are not intentional with moving. We are not even intentional with sleeping. How many people know what sleep is in Lagos?
“Those are practices that affect us down up to the cellular level. And that’s why we are seeing the rise in these conditions,” Chinasa emphasised, citing a scary statistics, which projected a 103 per cent increase in diabetes in Africa by the year 2023.
“Initially, Type 2 diabetes, which is the most common diabetes, was called adult diabetes. But now, we are seeing it in people as young as 10, 11 years old. It was associated with age before, but now a lot of young people are coming down with it,” she said.
While noting that in the case of diabetes, for instance, the first question to ask is: “What are you eating?” she said it is not for one to say he or she doesn’t take sugar, but for him to admit that he is eating the wrong things. “You know they say prevention is better than cure. I say it’s not better than cure; it’s cheaper than cure, because one session of dialysis, in the case of kidney failure, is not less than N40, 000.
“Then, imagine having to eat your vegetables, and you are having your beans with some vegetables or maybe yam porridge with so many vegetables, it won’t cost you up to N1,000. But the first thing you say oh! It’s expensive. But it’s cheaper than the hospital bills. So, prevention is cheaper and better than cure. Lifestyle medicine is more of a preventive medicine. So, we are trying to help people learn the rudiments of prevention for themselves and for their families,” the expert said.
Although Chinasa and her team currently propagate this message of lifestyle change without any government support or involvement, she, however, said it will be interesting to see more particular interest by the government for preventive medicine because it will reduce the burden of healthcare generally.
“Our healthcare system is already very deficient. So, it’s not good to worsen the burden. Teaching people to prevent diabetes, hypertension, putting up policies that will make them improve their lifestyle; maybe give them some sort of incentives will reduce the burden on healthcare as a whole.
“It will also help the already meager budget allocated to healthcare. So, in the long term, it’s going to be cheaper for the government. So, I look forward to, hopefully, possible collaboration because it will be beneficial, especially to the future,” Chinasa said, adding that her company currently relied on social media space and other platforms to propagate its message.
Interestingly, she does not owe the success of her gospel of healthy living so far only to her avowed passion and training in this specialty. Her own personal health challenge when she was much younger also contributed.
At 16, she was already hypertensive. She was also a bit overweight, weighing 80 kg. Despite being obese, with her BP also going up, she started eating healthy, being intentional with moving, and learning different ways to exercise without going outside.
Her efforts paid off. She said since then, she had never heard a BP drug in eight, nine years, not one BP medication. She has never had asthma crisis in over three or four years either.
Chinasa said part of her plans for the next five years was to set up a lifestyle medical facility in Nigeria, strictly for lifestyle medicine. “That’s the goal, a place where you can come to, like away from the usual, and then you are getting these lifestyle specialised care,” she said.