Food is undoubtedly one of the most important substances the world has been blessed with to maintain human life and growth.
Because of this unique quality it has, nutritionists all over the globe have made it their never-ending mission to ensure people are eating the right food. This is due to the effect it has on the human body; to either build or destroy it.
However, in a world where delicious and irresistible yet unhealthy recipes are being discovered all round the clock, it has become even more challenging to get people to eat what may be healthy for them.
Although eating healthy may seem improbable due to some people deeming the said healthy food to be insipid, it is high time Zambians posed the question, “Why should I consider eating right?”
Firstly, not eating right may lead to a wide range of health problems.
For example, the Civil Society Scaling Up Nutrition (CSO SUN) announced that Zambia has recorded a large number of Non- Communicable Disease (NCD)- related deaths due to people continuing to engage themselves in life-threatening lifestyles such as unhealthy diets and physical inactivity.
NCDs are diseases that are not transmissible from one person to another. Examples include Stroke, heart diseases, chronic kidney diseases, Gastritis and others.
CSO SUN Country Director Mathews Uhuru explained that NCD-related deaths could be prevented by addressing diet and physical activity.
So, if Zambia is to resolve its urgent health problem, then there is need for timely guidance from nutritionists on lifestyles and the food people are supposed to be consuming,he added.
In other words, Uhuru’s suggestion was to get people to eat a balanced diet.
So, what constitutes a balanced diet?
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), a balanced diet includes eating at least five servings of fruit and vegetables per day, reducing salt intake to less than 5 grams per day, intake of sugars to less than 10 percent, eating nine to eleven servings of grains (bread, pasta and rice) per day, less than 30 percent of total energy intake from fats; unsaturated fats (found in fish, sunflower, avocado) are preferred to saturated fats (meat, butter, cream, cheese). Proteins ( meat, fish and beans) are also advised.
This, however, should be added to physical activity of at least 150 minutes in a week as per WHO recommendation.
Brian Krans of Healthline said a balanced diet is important because a human’s organs and tissues need proper nutrition to work effectively.
Krans added that it supports human growth and physical well-being.
The nutrients provided through a balanced diet also boost the immune system thus helping to fight off diseases and infections.
Having an unbalanced diet means eating the same type of food. For example, eating only proteins.
A 2017 NCD STEPwise approach to Surveillance (STEPS) Survey report released by the Ministry of Health indicated that 90.4 percent of Zambians were not consuming the right amount of fruit and vegetables per day.
The report showed that on average, fruit was consumed on 2.1 days a week and vegetables on 6.3 days a week, with the intake of salt being 9.5 grams, nearly double the WHO recommended 5 grams.
This already shows a problem in dietary habits of most Zambians. And with the emergence of fast foid joints, there might be a reason to worry.
Most fast foods may contain high levels of Cholesterol, and the report showed that 93 percent of Zambians have never had their Cholesterol levels checked.
Siddhi Camila Lama, a nutrion coach, argued that consuming fast foods occasionally isn’t harmful, but eating them too much can result in an unhealthy diet.
Lama added that unhealthy diets can also lead to poor digestion, inflammation, obesity, increase risk of chronic diseases such as Diabetes and also impact one’s mental health.
All this can be prevented if one decides to take control of their lives and choose to eat and live right.
Living right in this sense means exercising regularly, drinking water and proper dieting of course.
It is important to note that all this cannot be achieved in a single day but is gradual and starts with the right mindset.
Living healthy is an enjoyable lifestyle and it all starts if one makes their health their priority.
Live healthy Zambia!