The role of nutrition in achieving optimal health (1)
A senior citizen sent a video to me some weeks ago. The speaker, Dr Chidi Ngwaba, a physician who specialises in lifestyle medicine really did a great job.
I found everything he said so interesting that I started searching for his social media handles. While on the search, I stumbled on how a colleague of his introduced him while preparing people for a health talk a couple of years ago.
The colleague said “Why would a surgeon put down his scalpel to talk to his patients about diet and lifestyle? Tune in for my live conversation with Dr Chidi Ngwaba.”
The part, “Why would a surgeon put down his scalpel”, reminded me of what Thomas Edison, an American inventor said in 1903 that, “the doctor of the future will give no medicine but will instruct his patient in the care of the human frame in diet and the cause and prevention of disease.”
There is a section of Seventh Day Adventist Hospital, Ile-Ife, Osun State, where patients are treated with food and plants.
Indeed, the future that Thomas Edison predicted is here. Join me on this journey and let us take an in-depth look at nutrition and how it can make or break our health.
By the time we are done, be ready to say “I do” to a healthier you.
Nutrition is the process by which an organism procures its nourishment – the supply of nutrients required by its body and cells to stay alive. It is a fundamental aspect of a healthy lifestyle.
By making conscious choices about what you eat and maintaining a balanced diet, you can boost your overall well-being, reduce the risk of chronic diseases and enjoy a longer, more fulfilling life.
Remember that nutrition is not just about what you eat today, but an investment in your future health and vitality.
God seemed to be passing a message on the right kind of diet for mankind by putting man in a garden after creation. What you have in gardens are fruits, vegetables and foods in their raw forms and not processed foods like cakes, doughnuts, puff puff and bottles of carbonated drinks.
However, it is unfortunate that man has ever been rebellious about eating these God-given foods. No wonder an American cultural anthropologist, Margaret Mead, said, “It is easier to change a man’s religion than to change his diet.”
When I was told to give a name to this column, I threw it open to my siblings and they made different suggestions. One of them made a rib-cracking joke by suggesting, “Eat right or you die.”
It is funny but that is the truth! As good as food is to our bodies, it can still be the cause of illnesses if we make wrong choices. Like one of the leading figures of early American history, Benjamin Franklin said, “Few die of hunger, many die of eating.”
Bestselling author, Dr Mark Hyman, also said, “Food is the cause and food is the cure of most diseases.
Our forebears were healthier; they were mostly nomadic. Hunter-gatherer culture was the way of life. The lifestyle of hunter-gatherers was based on hunting animals and foraging for food.
Foraging is the act of searching, identifying and collecting food resources in the wild, including a wide range of uncultivated plants, mushrooms, herbs and fruits that grow naturally in our surroundings.
I have shared with you how we went to my village for holidays while I was young. The source of drinking water then was a river. The people drank the water and they were healthy. They had the strength to do their farm work and none suffered from any waterborne disease.
I have also told you how in Garkawa, Plateau state, where I observed my National Youth Service Corps, there were wells of water without coverings and after each rainfall, the water became muddy.
That was how they used the water and they were still healthy. The only answer to all these is that these people were eating right. The greatest benefit you can enjoy by eating natural diets is that your immune system will be fighting infections for you.
Unlike now, we are sedentary and as if that is not enough, we also eat unhealthy diets which are risk factors for many non-communicable diseases.
A lot of references have been made to the benefits of eating natural diets.
Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, favoured the use of food in treating patients. He once said, “Leave your drugs in the chemist’s pot if you can heal the patient with food” and “Let food be thy medicine and medicine thy food.”
Let me remind you of stories I already shared.
There is a group I belong to on Facebook that upholds abstinence from carbohydrates as a means of shedding weight and staying healthy.
One gets to see things like, “Admin, you must look for my menses”, often because there are usually high cases of unplanned pregnancies.
In the same group, those who were hypertensive stopped their medications because their blood pressure normalized.
The truth is, that good nutrition is tied to good health as well as to the prevention and treatment of many health conditions.
In another group, they had a ‘no soda challenge’ and it was a huge success.
One of the members said, “This is the best menses I have had all my life.”
Do you still doubt what eating right can do to the body? Okay, this one will blow your mind. In 2003, at the age of 26, Bestselling author, Chris Wark, was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer.
He had surgery but refused chemotherapy. He used nutrition and natural therapies to heal himself. He is still alive today and he is cancer free!
You cannot fix your health until you fix your diet. That health challenge you are going through may not be hereditary but dietary.
The fact that someone in your family died of diabetes does not mean that you will be killed by the same disease. Even if it is hereditary, it does not mean it is written on stone; you can be a jinx breaker with a good diet.
A study titled ‘The Role of Nutrition in Maintaining Optimal Health’ by Martin Clarke, concludes that nutrition is a cornerstone of optimal health, influencing physical, mental and emotional well-being.
By prioritising nutrition and making informed food choices, individuals can optimise their well-being and enjoy a higher quality of life.
Here are some ways in which nutrition plays a crucial role:
- Boosts natural immunity
Not only does optimal nutrition fend off chronic health conditions, but it also boosts your immune system. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, which are sources of nutrients such as selenium, iron, zinc, protein and vitamins C and D, supports the function and growth of immune cells.
- Lowers risk for chronic conditions
Pairing optimal nutrition with making healthy lifestyle choices like exercising regularly and not smoking or excessively drinking alcohol is a winning combination. It plays an important role in lowering your risk of developing chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure.