Saturday, June 22, 2024

We Are What We Eat


We are living in one of the most uncertain times on planet earth, witnessing extreme climate shifts, environmental breakdown, and social struggle. There is a great discord on the planet with annual and seasonal cycles of floods, fires, droughts and extreme poverty. To counter these challenges, we need to be healthy and our nutrition goes a long way in ensuring this.  According to the World Health Organization, (WHO), food plays a critical role in ensuring the health of an individual.

The spreading scourge of the corona virus, malnutrition, obesity and overweight has resulted in a double burden of immunity and malnutrition. While the world is fighting to stunt in 155 million children less than 5 years old and wasting in 52 million, more than 42 million children and 640 million adults are either overweight or obese. These polar extremes have created an explosion of diet-related Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs), limiting the physical and cognitive development of populations and placing an undue burden on healthcare systems.

The double burden can only be solved by a multi-sectoral nutrition response, which introduces nutrient-rich, holistic and culturally appropriate foods into the diets of everyone, but especially of at-risk populations. Unfortunately, current food systems are unsustainable and do not provide the foods we desperately need, increasing production and consumption of highly processed foods and jeopardizing planetary and population health.

Fast foods have taken over the market. People have become lazy and very few do actual cooking of their own foods. In Kenya for instance, food can be ordered at the comfort of one’s bed, office, and home. Fast food processing companies have taken control of the food industry and deliver food to people all hour round.

Figure 2Fast foods |Photo source:

Have you ever wondered whether those extra chocolate bars, a pizza plate and a lack of vegetables in your diet really make a difference? Yes they do, they can have a massive impact on your health.

The food we eat gives our bodies the information and materials they need to function properly. If we do not get the right information, our metabolic processes suffer and our health declines. If we get too much food or food that gives our bodies the wrong instructions, we can become overweight, undernourished, and at risk for the development of diseases and conditions such as arthritis, diabetes and heart disease.

What we eat is central to our health. Food acts as medicine –to maintain prevent and treat diseases. Your food choices each day affect your health- how you feel today, tomorrow, and in the future.

Good nutrition is an important part of leading a healthy lifestyle. Combined with physical activity, your diet can help you to reach and maintain a healthy weight, reduce your risk of chronic diseases and promote your overall health.

A sustainable food system is critical to the survival of households and communities in Africa and comes with ripple effects on realizing the sustainable development goals. By making smart food choices, you can help protect yourself.  Dietary habits established in childhood often carry into adulthood. Therefore making good eating a habit is very essential.

Nutritionists have advised people to eat a balanced diet– one that includes the five main factors of food. Unlike diets, which are often restrictive and intended for short-term weight loss, a balanced diet is diverse and adequate for activity level. You simply need to eat from all the food groups and treat food as fuel for a fit, active lifestyle.

A balanced diet includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole –grains, lean protein, low –fat dairy, seeds, nuts, and healthy oils. While your intake soft fats and sugar should be limited, there is room for a treat once in a while.

Figure 3 African dish| Photo source; Kenyan restaurant

Healthy habits are hard to develop and often require changing your mindset. But if you’re willing to make sacrifices to better your health, the impact can be far-reaching, regardless of your age, sex or physical ability.

There are several advantages to eating a balanced diet.

Long Life and Prosperity

Eating well is not a guarantee of prosperity. However, it can certainly prolong your lifespan. It reduces the risk of multiple medical risks by boosting your immune system and ability to fend off illness and disease.

Conquering the scale

Combined with regular exercise, a good eating habit will help you maintain a healthy weight for life. Staying in good body shape is the desire of every individual, it makes you feel better about yourself and contribute to an overall sense of well-being.

Feeling Good

In addition to a positive body image, a balanced diet may help prevent mental illness. According to the good nutrition combined with an active lifestyle may reduce stress, anxiety, and depression and increase your energy levels.

The Takeaway

Bad habits are hard to break, but once you adopt a healthier lifestyle, you will not regret this decision. Healthy habits reduce the risk of certain diseases, improves your physical appearance and mental health, and give your energy level a much-needed boost. For a sustainable nation, citizens should be healthy and adopting a healthy habitat is a step towards achieving sustainable development.

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