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Archive of ‘Health and Environment’ category

Refined or Ruination: How Our Western Food Lifestyle is Damaging Our Health

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food

One of the rarest characters to encounter is a person who is authentic. It’s quite unfortunate but we tend to aspire to be someone or something other than ourselves. This issue appears to be an insurmountable challenge because society encourages this malady. I couldn’t agree more with Ralph Waldo Emerson “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment”.

The world has become a global village and every corner of the Earth is getting civilised and this is especially true for Nigeria. And, there are benefits to this development; we can access other parts of the world and share their goods, we can form partnerships for work purposes and create rich experiences from our different world views, we enjoy perks from the developed countries and are motivated to grow together as people of the world.

However, as with every other thing, there are draw backs; we imbibe some aspects of various cultures and for the purpose of this article; my focus is on feeding habits. Nigerians have caught the bug of western civilisation and this has affected our eating habits; our portion sizes are overwhelming and our eating pattern skewed. As seemingly unimportant as food and feeding may seem, its impact is colossal to the Nation’s growth. If we must grow as a Nation, we must learn how to eat and learning how to eat though seemingly ordinary at face value is deeply connected to our level of authenticity. From years of emulating the Westerners, we have gradually lost touch with the essence of who we really are and this has shown up in our lives. We have become refined and have settled for refined foods.

The question remains; what good is it to be refined or sophisticated? To be refined is to acquire but to be authentic involves a process of separating and moving within; essence is synonymous with authenticity. Could our love for refined foods be a mere representation of our level of refinement? The generations before us were less civilised but seemed to eat whole and less processed foods; bread was made from whole and stone ground wheat, people consumed less sugar, ate more home cooked meals and lead active lives and consequently harboured fewer diseases.

Now, we feast on refined foods; pastries, soda, unhealthy snacks. We eat out more frequently and lead less active lives. Our degree of sophistication lures us to desire “Sophisticated” foods – polished rice, white bread, and sugar. We choose juice or soda over water and fries over cooked, we tend to prefer condiments over savouring the natural flavours of food, we associate eating out with class and lead sedentary lives.

Unfortunately, the full benefits accrued from eating can only come when we accept food as they come i.e. naturally without interference or changing them to suit our “sophisticated tastes”. Foods used in this state have a lot of goodies to offer. Fresh fruits are replete with vitamins that help regulate body processes and improve your level of immunity; seeds have minerals that serve as co-enzymes in body processes and in the maintenance of body balance. The outer cover of seeds and grains possess phytoestrogen and may aid in the prevention of cancer.

Lignin, a woody fibre found in the stems and seeds of fruits and vegetables and bran layer of cereals serve as antioxidants. Antioxidants are chemical substances that help destroy free radicals that cause damage to the cells. Unfortunately, all these goodies are thrown away during the milling/refining process leaving us with products depleted of nutrients, products that have to be enriched to produce any significant benefit to our bodies, products that tend to contribute to the obstruction of our blood vessels and promote disease conditions.

In a research conducted by some Nigerian teaching hospitals, rural to urban migration, increased salt intake and fat intake, the consumption of processed foods, increased tobacco use and sedentary lifestyle were blamed for the rise of sudden unexpected deaths (SUD) in the country. The same studies concluded that the commonest causes of these deaths were cardiovascular system related, with 87.5 percent of the cases manifesting as hypertensive heart disease, myocardial infarction, stroke, cardiac rupture and coronary atherosclerosis with thrombosis.

Fortunately, these ailments can be prevented and largely managed and treated by adopting healthy dietary practices. It’s high time we returned to our essential selves and realize that pleasure is fleeting, to remember that food is firstly for nourishment than pleasure, it’s time we look within ourselves  to dig out our relationship with ourselves and with food, it’s time to realize that food is just food and will give us nothing else but nourishment. We need to stop seeking comfort, pleasures, fulfilment e.t.c from food and retrain our taste buds to accept food in its essence – the natural form.

Nigeria has lost many eminent personalities such as former captain and coach of the Super Eagles Stephen Keshi and former Eagles coach Shuaibu Amodu and so many others to sudden unexpected deaths and other ailments that could have been prevented with appropriate diets and lifestyle.

The ball is now in your court. Are you ready to make a detour and accept food as it comes without aiming to damage it just to suit your taste buds? The choice is yours to make.

Hello! I am Clare Udeagwu. I studied Biochemistry and Nutrition. I am a freelance Nutritionist and writer and work part-time at Foodsense. I love food and struggle daily to remain a master over food and not the other way round. I am also passionate about helping people gain mastery over food as they journey through an active and fulfilling life. So, welcome on board.

Longevity? ……………… Then Eat Less

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longevity

longetivity

Food means a lot for us Nigerians and it features in many events from religious to entertainment. In as much as we love food, we have failed in practicing proper feeding habits as food abuse is a norm for Nigerians. Perhaps, due to ignorance of proper feeding habits, we as a Nation have forgotten how to eat; we are caught up in many activities, eating is often relegated to the least. Forgetting that what we consume has an impact on our longevity.

It’s not uncommon to find persons gulping a cup of tea en route work or chewing/swallowing while walking or talking. These approaches to eating are quite disturbing but more disturbing are the quantity of food we consume per meal. The picture below is not uncommon among Nigerians.

Longetivity

There are various spectrum on the band of food abuse but for the purpose of this article, I am interested in focusing on the rapacious appetite of Nigerians. Aside from the fact that I profess Nutrition, I have earned the right to discuss this topic because I have being a compulsive eater who uses food to assert control whenever life seems overwhelming to me, I also use food whenever I am not content with the moment as it is. So far, I have been working towards healing these tendencies. And there is progress as I am more conscious of my relationship with food.

As a Nation we need to realize the real purpose of food, to remember that it’s firstly for nourishment then pleasure. We need to reassess how we use food and walk toward imploring it properly. And, the first step would be to watch our intentions before eating to identify why we decide to nibble when we do and be conscious of how we do it. More importantly the portion sizes of our meals. This is pertinent because Nigerians are voracious eaters. Unfortunately, when it comes to nourishing the body, we need just a little.

An average man of 5 feet and 6 inches tall who works in a building with a flight of stairs and weights about 70kg will need just about 2000kcal, this would roughly amount to 2 cups of vegetables e.g. greens, spinach, ugu, oha, a cup of vegetable B e.g. carrots, peas, cucumber e.t.c, ½ of a medium sized pineapple, 2 glass of milk (skimmed) about 4 cubes of sugar and 5 cups of rice for a whole day; a cup is equivalent to an empty tin of peak milk. These can be distributed throughout the day to meet the required dietary needs.

Scientists show that eating less could actually be a path towards longevity. It was discovered that the two biomarkers i.e indicators of longevity — low fasting insulin level and body temperature were found in rodents whose caloric intake was restricted and it’s been speculated to be so in humans as well.

As Nigerians we tend to obtain our calories from one meal type and could get all these calories from a big bowl of eba and vegetable soup with offal and meat and most times we eat with a bottle of soda making our meals more concentrated than it should be. As a result of this types of meals and  portion sizes, we eat more than is required in a day and this is the reason for the skyrocketing rates of obesity and obesity related illness and deaths in our society.

It’s not too late to take a detour and begin to eat for the right reasons and to show prudence at the table because science has now shown that as with everything, when it comes to food, less is actually more.

Hello! I am Clare Udeagwu. I studied Biochemistry and Nutrition. I am a freelance Nutritionist and writer and work part-time at Foodsense. I love food and struggle daily to remain a master over food and not the other way round. I am also passionate in helping people gain mastery over food as they journey through an active and fulfilling life. So, welcome on board.

African Women Need to do More to Keep Our Environment Clean

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environment clean environment clean Photo Credit: http://ichef.bbci.co.uk[/caption%5D

Recently I stumbled on the name Clarrise Uwineza. Clarrise is a young woman in Rwanda with a passion for Bio-technology. She found a way to turn organic waste into organic fertilizer using an innovative method.

Armed with a BSc. in Environmental Chemistry, Clarrise has found a way to empower and restore farmers by reducing organic waste in the environment and creating organic fertilizer that yields great farm produce.

In Africa, keeping the environment clean is woman’s job. Our mothers were taught how to sweep and dispose waste and they passed these lessons to us. For hundreds of years, our great grandmothers and grandmothers ensured their environment was clean.

Today in urban societies, we have forgotten these lessons. People build houses without drainage systems, people build houses with drainage systems that let out to the street. World Health Organisation reckons that in Africa 84% of urban but only 45% of rural residents have access to basic sanitation.

Poor waste disposal practices are responsible for a significant proportion of the world’s infectious disease burden. Diseases due to poor water supply, sanitation, and personal and domestic hygiene cause 4.0% of all deaths and 5.7% of all disability or ill health in the world.

Keeping your environment clean greatly contributes to good health, this is a fact we all know yet we choose to ignore.

One.org estimates that Sub-Saharan Africa faces some of the biggest challenges: only 68% of individuals living in the region have access to an improved water source and only 30% of individuals have access to improved sanitation services; nearly half of all people using unimproved sources live in sub-Saharan Africa.

 Basic sanitation practices go a long way in keeping our environment clean. As mothers, sisters and daughters, the onus lies on us to ensure there is proper disposal of waste and sewage.

Even in instances when we cannot provide the funds to make this happen, we can creatively find low cost solutions that can be adapted in our environment.

I was raised by a woman who hates dirt in any form, until her environment is clean, my mother won’t eat. So that means every morning, we have to sweep and dispose waste, my mother won’t put food in her mouth until this chore has been completed.

That is the way she was raised and that was how she raised me. I have the habit of disposing stagnant water of any form anywhere I see it even if it’s not my house. I just hate seeing stagnant water because as you know, they breed mosquitoes. This is Basic Health Science I was taught in primary school.

Little things like this can go a long way in keeping our environment clean. In the next few days, I will be interviewing Clarrise and we will be talking about our environment and how we can contribute as woman.

I think her courage should teach each and every one of us a lesson. Our environment relies on us, let us do our best to contribute to her well-being.

 

11 Tips to Help You Fall Asleep Faster

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We all love sleep, well, except someone who has never slept before and we all know that that person doesn’t exist.

Some nights, we fall asleep easily while other nights it is a battle just like the Game of Thrones.

Hopefully this little research  will help you fall asleep faster, waking up refreshed in the morning.

The sleep-wake cycle consists of 8 hours of nocturnal sleep and 16 hours of daytime wakefulness in humans.

This 8 hours of nocturnal sleep is very vital because that is the time your body readjusts itself and prepares for the next day.

Here are 11 Tips to Help You Fall Asleep Faster

  1. Keep your room cool: Your body temperature drops as your sleep, that is why you should make your room cooler. And jump start your body’s cooling process. Thus making falling asleep easier.
  2. Remove all electronics: Cultivate the habit of associating your bedroom with sleep and not watching TV, playing games, checking social media, or reading. These devices, including your phone, can engage you in non-restful activities; making it more difficult to fall asleep.
  3. Dark rooms rock: Any sort of light can disrupt melatonin levels and circadian rhythms. Make sure you room is as dark as possible. This will help you sleep better.
  4. Eliminate noise: Studies have revealed that your brain registers and processes sounds while your sleeping. Noise can jolt you from deep sleep. Causing you to wake up, shift, move, or change stages of sleep.
  5. White noise: A constant ambient sound can reduce the difference between background and loud sounds. White noise will aid you in falling asleep and staying asleep.
  6. Sleep and intimacy: Your bedroom’s only two purposes should be sleep and sex. This will condition the mind to associate your bedroom with sleep.
  7. Mattress: Make sure your mattress is right for you. Most mattresses last 9 to 10 years. Check for sagging spots and evaluate your comfort and sleep quality.
  8. Pillows: Pillows should support your neck and head. Check for lumps and sags. If you are waking up with a stiff neck most likely you are in need of a new pillow.
  9. Clean bed: Always wash your sheets, pillows, and mattresses.
  10. Make your bed: It make seem like a chore, but making your bed every morning can help you fall asleep faster.
  11. Exercise: Exercising daily will help you sleep better at night. Exercise helps reduce anxiety, stress, arousal, and depression. These emotions negatively affect sleep.

 

 

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