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Understanding Nutrition History For A Healthier Life

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Pounded yam with vegetable soup (Image: Simplinatural)

“We are less healthy today than our ancestors. By disregarding traditions, we’ve predisposed ourselves to genetic damage.” Catherine Shanahan M.D author of Deep Nutrition.

It’s the 21st century and the machines, computers, social media and tech drivers are here. Giant strides in medical science, engineering, technology has made life better and easier for us. We were supposed to be a very healthy and wealthy generation but instead we started to get sicker and unhealthier. Over the last 50 years cardiovascular related health issues is the number one killer of men and women worldwide according to a WHO report.

Our diets changed and so did our bodies and health. We deciphered so many hypotheses of what could be the problem. We thought it was inadequate exercise, so we exercised more but nothing changed. Whenever we thought we knew the answer to what was happening to our health decline, we realised we were right back where we started from. We continued to grapple with modern diseases medical science seems unable to mitigate.

What does history have to do with our health?

The year is 1901 and my maternal Grandmother is preparing dinner of Amala and ewedu soup (Yam flour and a vegetable). She prepares the dinner just before sun down and gives her large family to eat. Three times in a week, she prepares the same type of meal. However, unknown to my grandmother was the fact that the fermentation process during yam flour processing had converted the starch present in the yam into more complex nutrients like minerals and vitamins by the help of a bacteria called lactobacilli.

Fermentation converts starch(sugar) to lactic acid leaving by-products like beneficial minerals, vitamins that the gut uses to produce important neurotransmitters like serotonin. Serotonin is responsible for regulating sleep, appetite, moods and pain inhibition in the brain but its production is influenced by the billions of friendly bacteria like lactobacilli in the gut. She knows nothing about the science behind what she prepares for her family but from observation over time along with thousands of other women, she knows that a good meal of amala was easily digestible, filling and kept everyone happy.

It’s the 21st century and we no longer sprout our grains for their beneficial vitamins and minerals but cart them off for processing and our diet high in refined sugar and processed oils have now started to harm our brain. Our cells are weak from oxidative stress and inflammation but we continue to eat these modern diets.

We see a spike in suicide rates and depression amongst young people all over the world with no end in sight. Maybe this is the right time to begin to study nutrition history. What worked in the past? What did our ancestors eat that made them strong and healthy? More evidence in nutritional psychiatry are starting to show a connection between what we eat and how we feel.

A critical look into traditional African diets show a rich healthy source of nutrition based on what is now known as the four pillars of the human diet according to Catherine Shanahan author of best-selling book, Deep Nutrition. What is fascinating is how African dishes combine every aspect of the four pillars of the human nutrition making it one of the most nutritious and earlier diet in the world.

Fermented food: delicacies like kunu (fermented millet drink) masa (fermented rice fried in oil) beautifully incorporate food techniques like fermentation ensuring adequate gut health and microbial balance in the body.

Organ meat: Organ meat known to contain vital vitamins are extensively used in preparing soups broth popularly known as pepper soup in southern Nigeria. It is also eaten with other delicious dishes.

Meat on the bone: dishes with meat containing bones are known to provide collagen and body building nutrient and a Nigerian dish that incorporates this is miyankuka dish(a favourite) from northern Nigeria.

Sprouted foods: sprouting known to convert carbohydrate in grains to complex nutrients like vitamins and mineral was on e of the ways our ancestors could successfully grind their grains to powdery usable forms. A traditional African dish that incorporate the technique is Eyin drink from the north central part of Nigeria.

Healthy nutritious diet is delicious, natural and better. Our generation advanced in technology, science and knowledge but needs to pay attention to a vital part of history- our nutritional history. History tell us what’s worked in the past and what’s not working now. It’s time we change the trend once again and return to our roots.

Also Read: How Working Mothers Can Find A Life-Career Balance

Author

Deborah Ogwuche is the creative director and founder of Food Channel Africa, a 24-hour television channel dedicated to showcasing African cuisines. She is a published author, a food blogger and a healthy food advocate.

Email: [email protected]

 

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Health

Airbus and Koniku launch a disruptive biotechnology solutions for aviation security operations

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Koniku Inc.-Airbus Aircraft cabin (credit: Airbus)

Toulouse – Airbus and Koniku Inc. have made a significant step forward in the co-development of a solution for aircraft and airport security operations by extending research activities to include biological hazard detection capabilities, as well as chemical and explosive threats. 

The disruptive biotechnology solution, which was originally focused on the contactless and automated detection, tracking and location of chemicals and explosives on-board aircraft and in airports, is now being adapted in light of the COVID-19 crisis to include the identification of biological hazards.

Based on the power of odor detection and quantification found in nature, the technical solution, developed to meet the rigorous operational regulatory requirements of aircraft and airport security operations, uses genetically engineered odorant receptors that produce an alarm signal when they come into contact with the molecular compounds of the hazard or threat that they have been programmed to detect.  

Airbus and Koniku Inc. entered into a cooperation agreement in 2017, leveraging Airbus’ expertise in sensor integration and knowledge of ground and on-board security operations within the aviation and defense industries, as well as Koniku’s biotechnology know-how for automated and scalable volatile organic compound detection (via their Konikore™ platform).

Also Read: Koniku Appoints Dr. Akintoye Akindele To It’s Board of Directors

With in-situ testing planned for Q4 2020, Airbus is demonstrating its ability to accelerate traditional research cycles in a real-time environment in order to develop and bring to market a game-changing, end-to-end, security solution at convincing scale and speed, thereby contributing to the continuous improvement of security in the air transport ecosystem, while increasing operational efficiency and improving passenger experience.

Visit: Airbus

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Low risk of COVID-19 in SA water systems

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There is no evidence that COVID-19 will contaminate water supplies, but the pandemic has highlighted water challenges putting communities’ health at risk, say industry stakeholders.

Panelists participating in a high-level webinar hosted by Messe Muenchen South Africa, organiser of IFAT Africa, said last week that although international scientists were using COVID-19 RNA in sewage to track the prevalence of the virus in communities, there was no evidence that COVID-19 could pose a risk via drinking water. However, the pandemic was highlighting the health risks up to 30% of the South African population faces through lack of access to piped water.

The virus does not survive waste-water treatment plant processing or the treatment for reuse, the panellists said. 

Hennie Pretorius, Industry Manager Water and Waste Water at Endress + Hauser, said: “There have been concerns that this virus could enter the water supply, but the good news is that with proper disinfection of waste water, we should not see the viruses entering rivers, and proper filtration should eliminate any risk in the drinking water supply.”

“There is no evidence of COVID-19 entering water supply systems at this stage, but even if it did, the technology exists to remove such viruses,” said Henk Smit, MD of Vovani Water Products.

Panellists said the pandemic had highlighted the health risks facing those South Africans who do not have access to treated, piped water, however.  Taking tanks of water to underserved areas raised water quality concerns, while shared taps increased communities’ risk of contracting the virus, they noted.

Also Read: COVID-19 Pandemic disrupting our food supply chain – What Next?

Achim Wurster, Chairman of the Water Institute of South Africa (WISA) said: “There could be some risks in the standpipes in poorer communities, where people congregate and touch the tap – and this is where education comes in. But we are not aware of cases of viable virus coming through treatment processes and infecting people.”

Moderator Benoit Le Roy, CEO of Enviro One, noted: “This crisis is highlighting our deficiencies. Nearly half the water we harvest, treat and convey at great cost is wasted, and we are running out of surface water and ground water. So, some of the obvious measures are to reduce, reuse and augment. But we need the political will, and the financial and risk models to implement that. I believe there is sufficient funding, technology, implementation capability and pedigree to give us water security, so that in times like this, when we have a catastrophe on our hands, we don’t exacerbate the health risks the underserved 30% of the population is exposed to.”

The panellists said that effective implementation of the Department of Water and Sanitation’s Water and Sanitation Master Plan for national water security required stepped up effort and improved public-private collaboration.

“This pandemic has brought our inefficiencies to light, and it will hopefully create more opportunities for government and private sector to sit together and find solutions, drive certain projects and get things done faster,” said Smit.

South Africa’s water supply and treatment challenges, solutions and opportunities will come under discussion at IFAT Africa, the leading trade fair for water, sewage, refuse and recycling, at Gallagher Estate in Johannesburg from July 13 to 15, 2021.

To watch the full webinar discussion, click here

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Envisionit Deep AI launches AI solution to help Radiologists and Doctors fight Coronavirus

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Dr. Jaishree Naidoo, CEO and Co-Founder of Envisionit Deep AI

Established in 2019, Envisionit Deep AI is an innovative medical technology company that utilises AI to streamline and improve medical imaging diagnosis for radiologists. They are guided by their vision to positively impact the lives of people in Africa by using revolutionary technology to democratise access to healthcare for all.

Envisionit Deep AI has just launched an online version of RADIFY, their AI solution for radiologists and medical doctors. RADIFY, in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, has been offered free of charge to support hospitals, doctors and any other public and private organisation using X-ray in the identification and treatment of COVID-19 pneumonia.

RADIFY was primarily developed to enable radiologists to diagnose more images, more consistently and in less time – whilst prioritising care for people who need it most. One of the biggest challenges facing primary healthcare in South Africa, even before COVID-19, was that they were under resourced and over used. The first line of investigation for pneumonia, and likewise COVID pneumonia, is an X-ray to pick up suspicious features that can be prioritised for further testing.

The volume of X-rays, CT scans and MRI’s generated have always outpaced the number of qualified Radiologists on hand to diagnose and generate patient reporting, creating bottlenecks in the system, often unintentionally leaving urgent cases in the queue for hours on end. RADIFY is capable of labelling 20 different pathologies on X-rays at a rate of 2,000 x-rays per minute, which is 2,000 times faster than a human being!

Also Read: These two Africans are helping businesses and individuals spend less time doing expenses with Xpensi

The chest X-Ray is the first line of investigation for COVID pneumonia because it’s the most readily available, quick and cost-effective imaging tool for the diagnosis of pneumonia – the number one killer of patients with COVID-19.  With the impending demand for testing, known shortage of specialists and the costs associated, it’s vital for healthcare to streamline this process. RADIFY can assist healthcare facilities to detect possible COVID-19 pneumonia cases in order of high, intermediate and low probability.

Dr. Jaishree Naidoo, CEO and Co-Founder: Paediatric radiologist who has served the state health care system for 20 years. Pioneered the paediatric radiology subspecialty after becoming the first South African qualified paediatric radiologist in 2010. Previously, head of paediatric radiology at Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg academic hospital and at Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital where she commissioned the first paediatric radiology department.

She has chaired the South African Society of Paediatric Imaging (SASPI), the African Society of Paediatric Imaging (AfSPI), serves on the Executive Council of the World Federation of Paediatric Imaging (WFPI) and African Society of Radiology (ASR)

To test the platform, visit https://radify.ai.

Visit: Envisionit Deep AI

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