Today we are continuing on our series on the Prevention of Stroke. We will be looking at the healthy Diet.
You are Welcome.
Most authors will advocate eating ‘the Mediterranean Diet’. This may sound loud or far-fetched to us. This is the diet of the countries that live near the Mediterranean sea like Greece and Italy. Studies have shown that such persons are less likely to die from heart diseases and stroke.
The Mediterranean diet however is a lot like our traditional African diet. In fact, medical literature written many years ago noted that there were no Hypertension, Diabetes, Stroke and Heart attack in Africa. The painful truth is that we imported these diseases by changing our diet to the ‘Western Diet’. It is therefore pertinent that we go nearer our African diet than the imported western diet.
It will interest you to know that the world refers to our food as ‘The Healthy West African Diet’. Notable is the fact that ‘uncultured societies’ (bush men) do not have these diseases listed above because of their Primitive Diet. The diseases come on board not with age but with urbanization.
The world is saying ‘AFRICANS GO BACK TO YOUR FOOD’!
COMPONENTS OF OUR FOOD ARE AS FOLLOWS:
1. Fresh foods
We eat all our foods either fresh, in their natural forms or with minimal processing. We eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables (fresh from the farm). You note that we just kill our chicken, goat, bush meat, cook and eat it immediately. When it comes to beef, we buy it bleeding on the table. Other foods like yams, potatoes, grains are left in their natural forms (may be dried) till the time for cooking. Some other foods undergo minimal processing like preparing Garri, Amala, Tuwo, Akamu, Agidi ETC. The process required does not involve additives or preservatives.
2. Plant products
We eat more of plant based meals. All our staple foods are derived from a plant eg grains, yam, beans, potatoes ETC. Note that whole grains are very healthy, however, the excessive processing make them into pasta and pastries; unhealthy forms. We naturally do not eat a lot of meat in Africa. You note that we name our meals by the carbohydrate component. For example: What did you eat; we will reply ‘Rice’, ‘Yam’, ’Garri’ ETC. This is because that was the major component of the food with one tiny piece of meat (I am not advocating large quantities of Garri or pounded Yam—-). Meanwhile, the Western world name their dishes with the meat content eg bacon and egg, Steak, beef casserole, meat balls, corned beef ETC. This tells us the difference in the components of our food. They eat much more meat than we do. We borrowed large quantities of meat from them. It is therefore wise to limit our intake of red meat. We should eat lean or white meat ( like poultry) .
3. Plant oils
We Africans eat mostly plant oils like palm oil, groundnut oil, coconut oil, olive oil, avocado pear, cotton seed oil,ordinary pear ETC. Plant oils are the healthier oils to eat. We borrowed animal oils like milk, cheese, butter, margarine, salad creams, cakes, meat pies ETC. Dairy products were not a major part of our meal in most parts of Africa. It is wise to limit their consumption.
4. Sea foods
Sea foods are very important because they contain Omega 3 fatty acids which are healthy. Sea foods include fish, crayfish, periwinkles, clams ETC.
5. Fresh fruits, vegetables , nuts and seeds
Our African diet contains a lot of fresh fruits, vegetables. Hence we are able to eat our sugar in unrefined forms. We borrowed the refined forms like sugar, sweets, candies, chocolates, cakes, soft drinks ETC.
6. Limit Salt intake
We already noted that salt should be reduced. Using herbs and natural spices may help in reducing the salt intake.
7. Drink gallons of water
Some of us (like me) barely drink water. We drink tea, coffee, soft drinks, juice ETC. Please let us all repent like me and increase our water intake remarkably.
Worthy of note is that our children should be introduced to this ‘Healthy African Diet’ very early in life. Limit the intake THE WRONG FOODS (sweets, chocolates, soft drinks, cakes, meat pies, biscuits ETC).
Thank you for reading. It is not an easy journey but it can be done. Let us do it together.