“Let thy food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” – Hippocrates.
Food is great: it’s delicious, fuel for the body and most importantly medicine. Individually, we all know this on some level. Food has been used to cure a multitude of ailments since the dawn of time and it is still the best thing ever for a wholesome and healthy body, at least when its done right. In a two part series, I will talk on the wonders of food and its benefits.
I attended a health seminar recently, it was on food and our health and while some of the things I already knew on a level, some things were really eye opening. If you get the chance to go for this kind of seminar, please attend. There is a lot to learn.
The gist of the whole seminar was on what to eat, the proportions, the benefits and more. These (with more research on my part) are my notes on the lessons learnt.
Wholegrains should be the bedrock of our diet and we should consume 50% of it daily, that’s half our daily intake. Wholegrains are very vital because it helps your body absorb other nutrients you get from eating other meals. They also contain Lipids and sterols which are cell building agents.
Wholegrains gives energy; are rich in fibre, B vitamins, minerals like Iron, magnesium, Zinc, Copper; antioxidants. Wholegrains aids in blood glucose control and weightloss.
Examples of Wholegrains are: Oatmeal, Corn, Popcorn, Whole grain bread, Brown rice, Ofada rice, Wildrice, Bulgur, Barley, Millet, Quinoa, Acha, Rye, Stone ground grits etc. To help with portions, a typical serving should be a slice of wholegrain bread (Who will this fill?), half a cup of oats, half a cup wholegrain pasta or brown rice, One cup of wholegrain ready to eat cereals. If you are disciplined enough to have 3 to 5 servings a day, you are good.
Fruits & Vegetables(30%)
The nutrients in fruits and veggies are vital for the total health and maintenance of your body. Every fruit and veggie known to man has only good things for the body. Fruits and veggies are the ultimate super food. One to Four cups of fruits and veggies is recommended everyday.
If I begin to list the benefits of eating fruits and veggies, This whole writeup will be about 3000 words but suffice it to say you won’t lose anything from eating them, they are just great.
Proteins are chains of aminoacids which are the building blocks of tissues in the body i.e. used for developing our bone, skin, nails, hair, muscle cells. Proteins also produce enzymes which are used for nearly every function in our body. Proteins improve brain function, disease prevention, cardiovascular health, blood pressure, etc.
Examples of good ones are cheeses, almond milk, peanut and almond butters, fish, beans, nuts, seeds, lean poultry, lean cuts of beef etc.
Carbohydrates and Fats(5%)
Carbs are one group of food we can do without, that’s why the amount you need is so small but the amount we consume in our typical Nigerian diet is way more than we need with our Eba, Pounded yam, fufu, refined rice, amala, agege bread etc. If you eat enough wholegrains, you could do without other carbs. Carbs are majorly for energy but with our modern lifestyles, how much energy do we expend?
You do need a little carb and fats in your diet though but make sure its the good ones like complex carbs like yams and potatoes, beans, plantains, good fats like coconut oil (my sister’s new obsession), avocado oil, olive oil e.t.c. A study done in the US showed that people who scrapped carbs and fats in their diet were more depressed and needed more therapy so this might be the reason we are really happy people.
I have this one down. I drink water like a fish. I recently started this water therapy thing with my sister where we drink One and half litres of water first thing in the morning. It works wonders.
An adult weighing between 55 and 80kg should drink about 4 to 5 litres water daily. Water is the ultimate toxin flusher and not agbo (herbal concoctions) as most of us think. Water is required for a healthy and well functioning body. It is important.
Caveat though: Too much water can be equally harmful. It can flush out or reduce the concentration of nutrients like magnesium, calcium, potassium. Finding a balance is important.
THE DANGERS OF SUGAR
We have all heard the dangers of sugar at a point in our lives. Sugar is bad and causes diabetes. This is true, especially as we don’t have very active lifestyles to burn off the sugar we take in. We do need a little amount of sugar but our liver can produce the sugar we need from the protein and fats in our diet; so, overwhelming our liver with added sugar is not advisable.
Sugar is dangerous because it will rob the body of magnesium, calcium, iron, Vitamins E and A to digest. We should stay away from sugar and industrially processed foods which contain a lot of sugar and chemicals.
This is important advice to me because I have a legendary sweet tooth. Ingredients like fructose, maltose, Lactose, xylulose, cellulose, sucrose, dextrose, arabinos,aspartame, acesulfame, cornsyrup are all sugar or some compound that are equally dangerous. Corn syrup is especially dangerous for men because it is burnt with mercury which robs the body of Selenium – an important antioxidant that fights prostate cancer.
And for the alcohol drinkers who think their sugar intake is low and ideal because of the hops in beer, which makes it bitter, this is wrong thinking. Most beer brands in Nigeria have about 32 grams of sugar in a bottle and I don’t see anyone drinking just one bottle. Heineken, a relatively premium brand has about 17 grams of sugar. Red wine is a good alternative. It is rich in Vitamins A, E and C and antioxidant which is good for the heart but telling this to my male friends who are bonafide beer drinkers is like preaching to the choir.
These are my notes on the seminar. I hope you learnt one or two things or know some things to enlighten us some more, please share your knowledge.
Have a great week ahead.
Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Monkey Business Images