BY YAYA ADEMOLA
THE adage – you are what you eat – was first used by a French lawyer, Anthelme Brillat, in 1826 when he said, “Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are.” Decades after its use, it crept into the English Language lexicon. The adage is targeted at demonstrating the fact that what we consume is what our body system will process in the construction and repairs of its cells, hormones and neurotransmitters. Just like its identical twin – health is wealth – this popular saying gives credence to health as the most important thing for every individual.
A good health is connected to physical appearance, mental balance, attitude and perhaps, spiritual wellbeing. We cannot, therefore, afford to take our health for granted as it requires servicing for maintenance via what we eat. A healthy person is a happy man/woman who is built to face any challenges of life. An unhealthy person cannot be wealthy because he/she requires a good health to acquire wealth in the first instance. Assuming he/she inherits wealth, he/she will not enjoy it without a good health. The wealth inherited may all be drained into the struggle for good health. Again, an unhealthy man/woman cannot attain the peak in life.
As a result of neo-liberal policies and several severe attacks on the living standard of the mass majority of the people, in the process of our daily struggle to eke out a living, we seem to have relegated to the background the quality of what we eat, which has consequently poorly affected our health, resulting into preventable terminal ailments and sudden deaths in some cases. We should not wait to be told by the doctor of specific foods to eat and not to eat. Lackadaisical attitude to our health is a tactical suicide mission. Conscious alert to our health via what we consume is desirable and worthwhile. An evaporated wealth could be recovered overtime through hard work but a lost health may never be regained.
Many valuable and irreplaceable people have been lost to ailments that could be prevented, healed and managed if they had been conscious of what they consumed. As foods and all necessities of life are becoming increasingly prohibitive for the mass majority of the people, one thing is certain – we do eat one thing or the other – and this is the crux of the matter. Within the context of what we eat, we should be conscious of what we consume. I strongly believe that a better Nigeria where decent working and living condition for mass majority of the people is possible. Foot drag on socio-economic development will not endure forever. To attain a nation of prosperity, there is need for us to struggle together for that better Nigeria and partake in benefitting from its fruit having yielded. Hence, a quality health must be guaranteed first and foremost.
I have some associates whose only time they consume fruits is during Ramadan. After that 29 or 30 days, it is bye-bye to fruits until the next Ramadan. I also have non-Muslims who don’t bother to eat fruits at all. In fact, some do openly express their contempt for fruit! It is as bad; and interestingly, when they eat, its pounded yam with bush meat and constant visitation to eat junk at eatery. They consume expensive foods that are not necessarily beneficial to their system. Meanwhile, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables that our body system requires for healthy living are not necessarily more expensive than other foods they consume. In fact, in most cases, they are cheaper. Therefore, what we have is attitudinal problem rooted in poor education.
Ila-alasepo – okro – also known as ladies’ finger is a good vegetable that is very rich in minerals, vitamin k, calcium, iron, niacin, copper, phosphorus, antioxidants and fibre among others. Research has it that lectin from okro is used to treat human breast cancer. It also reduces cancer cell growth by 63% and kills 72% cancer cells. Again, constant consumption of okro has capacity to lower blood sugar for those with diabetes. Interestingly however, consumption of this fantabulous vegetable which flows with amala, fufu, eba and the likes is seen as poor people’s food as it is relatively cheap!
Living healthily has no fundamental link with the soap one uses to bathe or the cream one applies on the skin, it is the quantum of fruits, vegetables and clean water one takes at the right time that matters. In addition, some forms of exercises are required for fitness but it depends on each person’s capacity, each person needs to consult his/her doctor accordingly. We also need to get immunised against some killer ailments like Hepatitis B, yellow fever and co, which are readily available in virtually all General and Teaching hospitals.
A serviced car does not malfunction on the road; a serviced aircraft does not misbehave in the air; a serviced man/woman does not die unnoticed. How do we service ourselves? Eat correct meals, fruits and vegetables, and drink clean warm water or water at room temperature (never cold water) at appropriate times. Have medical check-up once in a while, if not regularly. Get all necessary vaccines on killer ailments and consult your doctor anytime there is a problem. Doctors are human beings’ mechanics. Regular check-ups to assess our health situation matters as ailments discovered on time could be nipped in the bud and be better managed. Most people who had activities yesterday and suddenly die today had one sickness or the other which they didn’t know about because they didn’t consult to know as there was no check-up to alert them.
Adherence to these protocols is not easy but it will boost our immunity to the extent that no ailment finds place of abode in our system if eventually religiously followed. Ailments do not like to visit anyone who eats fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans and legumes among others like recommended drugs. No! They seek refuge in the system of those who violate these recommendations. As every secret of life is in the book (Google, these days), so does secret of healthy living in consumption of fruits and vegetables. Most drugs are extracts from them.
Yes, things are rough for the mass majority of the people. However, the burst will not last forever as bubble comes not necessarily tomorrow but later today. We cannot afford to eat just anything all the time. If we eat our vegetables and fruits like recommended drugs, we will pay none or less courtesy visits to the hospitals and live healthy, long life. This should be taken as a New Year resolution.