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Friday, 12 August 2016

Balanced Diet: Making the Most of Natural Living in Wholesome Foods and Drinks

Balanced diet: That term has been with most of us right from when we knew how to read and write, I guess. You also know about nutritious diets. Perhaps the time has come when we will need to re-define the term ‘nutritious’. This has come to mean so many things to so many people, and almost everybody seems to define the term only according to their own whims. What about an ‘exceptionally nutritious meal’? In popular expression we would refer to exceptionally nutritious foods as very rich or sumptuous foods. But, what exactly does this mean; what should we be consuming and drinking?

Staying close to nature

Most times we know that people will refer to nutritious meal as rich meal; rich meal most of the times will also be implied to mean protein rich foods. But what we should be looking out for, even from the knowledge of basic nutritional science is – ‘balanced diet’. And even at that, most Nigerians are wont to just look out for what we term rich foods instead of going for plain balanced diet, so we can say: “Oh my soul, eat and be merry!”

Now, the point is this: There is a general misconception about the ‘richness’ of foods which did not just start today; it has been with mankind for a very long time. Even from scriptures we can also draw inference from the ways of the ‘three Hebrew boys’ – Shadrack, Mishack and Abednego, who were guests of the King of Babylon; they were offered to partake of the king’s ‘rich foods’ which they humbly turned down. The answers to our questions are inherent in their request: they asked rather that they be fed on fruits and vegetables, and ‘we all’ know the result of this when their request was granted.

Eating natural

Thus the questions would arise: What is a rich diet; what is a good diet; what is a balanced diet; is there a difference between all of these? And the next question would be: What kind of diet is actually the best for us? In a thought provoking article by Carlos Martín, Member of Dietética Sin Patrocinadores, he asked a salient question regarding nutrition. Martin wanted us to ponder on this: “How big of a difference in quality of life is there between a person who eats normally and a person who eats exceptionally nutritious foods?

Among the ailments confronting modern society today, western oriented lifestyle has actually been seen to be a heavy culprit.  And so Martin goes further to say for instance, in Kitava Island “they don't have any of the well-known western diseases: cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, diabetes mellitus type II, autoimmune disease; not even cancer or skin problems as rosacea or acne,” owing to the fact that they live and eat natural. Because of our copy-cat syndrome in this part of the world I dare say, these ailments have as well crept into our midst as we all know today.

Natural is most healthy

To most Nigerians (and I’m sure in bible days) a rich diet simply refers to expensive diet – a diet filled with meat especially, etc. Research has found out that inflammation is a primary cause of most of the diseases, especially chronic diseases that mankind suffers today – usually owing to our nutritional lifestyle. According to Lesley Klein, a dietician and medical oncology nutrition specialist at the University of Miami’s Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Society, “… what causes inflammation most is processed, sugary food and animal protein.” There goes your rich food. Is it really worth it? The answer is simply No!

Thus what we should be looking out for in the first instance is a balanced diet. We need a diet that is first and foremost complete with the necessary food nutrients in their right proportion; you need in that plate of yours - a combination of Carbohydrate, Protein, Vitamins, ‘good’ Fats & oil, Mineral salts, and Water.

When nature is behind you, you are fit and strong

Another point is that – just because meat is ‘sweet’, usually expensive, and rich in protein, does not necessarily mean you should fill your bowl with salami, sausage, bacon, or chicken, and begin to ‘enjoy’. You are simply courting problems if you do this. But rather, we should fill our plates with the right combination of all that is good and wholesome. Klein further said “Basically, the American diet sucks…; the No.1 killer is heart disease, and the second is cancer - and they’ve both been linked with our diet.” “The reason is because we know that inflammation is an intricate component to lots of chronic conditions, including diabetes, obesity, heart disease and cancer.”

Based on all these facts, the American Institute for Cancer Research has therefore advocated thus for ‘the New American Plate’: two-thirds plant food, and one-third animal. Now, this is what I would term maybe not ‘rich’, but good diet. This should also be the ‘Nigerian Plate’, and everybody else for that matter.

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