Thematic Green Messages

Author: Dr. Isaac Kalua

8th Jan 2021 at 09:23 pm

Healthy Lifestyle

You Must Improve the Quality of Your Life through What You Eat


Author Dr Kalua writing on You Must Improve the Quality of Your Life through What You Eat
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On a recent trip to Elgeyo Marakwet County, I bought 3kgs of honey that the main shop in Moiben Centre was selling. Knowing that honey from this region is famed for its purity and rich viscosity, my wife and I did not hesitate to purchase the honey. Regrettably, upon arrival at my father-in-law's place, we discovered that the honey wasn't authentic. It was the usual concoction of sugar, water, select chemicals, molasses and severely diluted honey.

These days, there is an increasingly high number of poison masquerading as foodstuff in our supermarket shelves. There is a time our TV screens were awash with news about chemical preservatives like sodium metabisulphite being added to meat, mostly in supermarkets to keep seemingly fresh. It's not surprising that imported Tilapia fish from Far East is dramatically preserved and sold in Kisumu town before being distributed across the country. Counterfeit planting seeds and chemical fertilizers have become a norm in the market not to mention donkey and game meat that is on offer in our local butcheries.

This tragic reality of unsafe food was also revealed in August 2019 when 5,000 bags of sugar suspected of containing mercury went missing from a go-down in Mombasa. During this same period, expired foodstuff was discovered to be circulating in the market. The foodstuff included spaghetti and rice. More than one year later in September 2020, the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) seized 993 bags of expired bags rice.

This problem of expired or substandard products has become so bad that KEBS now has a big role to play not just in ensuring public health but also saving lives. However, no amount of market surveillance can rid us of unsafe, substandard products if business greed continues to permeate our society. KEBS can inspect factories and certify products but they cannot inspect consciences or stem greed.

Greedy individuals who are hell-bent on selling bad products in order to reap big will go to any length to hoodwink both KEBS and the public. They have even been able to incorporate innocent honey traders deep in rural places into their evil value chain.

This greed has also played out in the maize sector. A past exposé revealed how a large chunk of maize consumed in the country had high amounts of aflatoxin. Millions of Kenyans consumed this maize. The extent of the harm done to them will probably never be clear. Also contaminated by aflatoxin was peanut butter since just like maize, groundnuts are highly susceptible to this toxic chemical.

Considering that aflatoxin contaminates crops at the soil and storage level, not at factory level, it could be that the millions of Kenyans who consume maize directly from their farms are silently agonizing from this toxic chemical. Ultimately, healthy food starts from healthy farms. Which begs the question, how healthy are our farms in this country?

Unfortunately, a sizeable percentage of the vegetables consumed in the country are not healthy and fit for human consumption. This is due to a variety of factors including the type of pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers that farmers use. One of these herbicides is glyphosate, which the International Agency for Research on Cancer has linked to cancer. Kenya's Pest Control and Produce Board shouldn't wait for activists to raise the alarm about such products. The safety of Kenyans should always be foremost in the work of such institutions.

We are what we eat. Disease always shadows bad food. In the same vein, good food always keeps disease at bay. As such, our vegetables and grains must be free of toxic chemicals. Although we should minimize consumption of processed food, when we do eat it, we must always ensure that it is well packaged and not expired. Relevant authorities must ensure that such food does not land in the markets. However, the biggest responsibility lies with Kenyans themselves.

Can you casually allow a stranger to walk into your home and spend several nights there? Not at all! Then why do we allow strange food into our bodies? Strange food in terms of the chemicals used to produce it or strange in terms of expired dates.

One of the lessons of Covid-19 was that good food will increase the strength of your immune system and the overall health of your body. That's why at the height of Covid-19 doctors would prescribe foodstuff like lemon and ginger. This advice is still relevant today, not just for Covid-19 patients but all of us. You are what you eat, so if you want to be healthy, eat healthy food.

~ Think Green, Act Green!

by Dr. Isaac Kalua, the founder and chairperson, Green Africa Foundation ~ 9th January, 2021.

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Dr. Isaac Kalua

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