Research has shown that the incidence of lifestyle diseases, particularly Noncommunicable Diseases (NCDs) is rising so steadily that it has become mandatory for each of us to prioritise our health by positively transforming our lifestyle.
It is worth noting that, in Accra, which is the capital city of Ghana, cardiovascular diseases (CVDs), commonly known as diseases of the heart and blθθd vessels, rose from being the tenth (10th) cause of death in 1953 to becoming the first (1st) cause of death in the year 2001.
In addition, deaths caused by NCDs have been rising steadily. For instance, according to the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS, 2010), in the year 2008, noncommunicable diseases caused 40% of all deaths recorded in Ghana. In 2016, noncommunicable diseases accounted for 43% of all deaths in Ghana. Of all the noncommunicable diseases, diseases of the heart and blθθd vessels, diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases and cancers pose the greatest health risks to both young and old.
Ofori-Asenso & Garcia (2016) mentioned that the lifestyle of many Ghanaians is changing rapidly and is becoming more Westernised with time. For instance, some people unfortunately think that it is more classy to eat from plush restaurants than to eat home-cooked meals. Some also erroneously think eating fast foods is better than eating our local dishes.
Let us look at five main things we have to check with all seriousness if we want to live long in good health.
1. Reduce the Consumption of Red Meat
I knowmanypeople might ignorantly disagree with me on this point. They may argue that meat is a good source of protein and is so attached to them that they can never do away with it. However, if you really love your life, you would reduce your consumption of fresh meat drastically. Meat has been proven to be very addictive due to the presence of substances such as hypoxanthine , inosinic acid and guanylic acid . These substances are similar to caffeine and they act as stimulants. So, when you stop eating meat abruptly, you might surely face withdrawal symptoms like what people face when they stop using hard drugs. It is therefore advisable to reduce your meat intake gradually rather than stopping all of a sudden.
According to Pamplona-Roger (2016), recent studies have linked regular meat consumption to these types of cancer: cancer of the mouth and pharynx (according to studies conducted in Uruguay), kidney cancer (according to German Institute of Human Nutrition in Bergholz-Rebrucke), colon cancer (according to the Medical Research Council of Cambridge (UK)) and breast cancer (according to the Montebello Institute of Epidemiological Investigation (Oslo, Norway)).
Please try as much as possible to reduce your intake of fresh meat of all forms and if possible, try eating more fruits, vegetables and fish.
2. Avoid Excessive Consumption of Eggs
One may ask : What at all are they saying here? After condeming meat consumption, is it now the turn of egg too? The fact of the matter is that, it is not my intention to take away all the things you love eating from you but I would like to introduce you to the dangers of some of these things you love so much. Egg is cheaper and easier to get than meat. It is unfortunate that some of us mistakenly consume excessive amounts of eggs because we think they are less dangerous. Well, let’s check these out. According to Pamplona-Roger (2016), “egg contains so much cholesterol because cholesterol is required for the development of the nervous system and endocrine glands of the embryo. However, humans do not need to take in cholesterol through their food, since the liver is capable of producing even more than the body needs. One egg contains about 250 mg of cholesterol, an amount close to 300 mg daily upper limit. This means that eating one egg a day and any other animal product (milk, meat, fish, etc.) substantially surpasses the 300 mg of cholesterol considered the maximum daily allowance.”
Never eat more than two eggs a week and discard the yoke of the egg and use only the egg white because the egg white doesn’t contain fats. Reduce the consumption of foods prepared with many eggs in one meal such as fried rice and some types of noodles.
Also avoid eating raw eggs and eggs with cracked shells and eggs contaminated with feces on the shell because all these eggs are not wholesome for consumption and is likely that they have been infected with microorganisms.
3. Avoid Eating Excessive Amounts of Sugar
Though sugar is very sweet in the mouth, it has a bitter unpopular side. Eating sugar without eating food with fibre places one at a disadvantage. Sugar has been suggested to contribute to diseases of various forms including gallstones (according to studies by the National Institute of Public Health in Bilthoven (Netherlands), stomach cancer (study in Marseilles, France), Crohn’s disease, gastroduodenal ulcer, diabetes, colon cancer and retarded fetal growth.
Sugar is found in excess in cakes, confectionery products (toffees, chewing gums etc), chocolate, biscuits, ice cream and yogurts.
In place of artificial sugar, both fresh and dried fruits can be used as the source of sugar for the body. Moderate amount of honey has also been suggested to be a good alternative to the use of white sugar.
4. Eliminate Excessive Use of Salt
Salt is an indispensable ingredient in many cuisines around the world. Without it, some say food is tasteless. In spite of it’s usefulness, it has to be used in moderation. When it is abused, it has dire health effects on us. It has been shown that sea salt is the best salt because it contains calcium, potassium and magnesium, in addition to sodium chloride. It also contains a small amount of iodine. The danger with salt consumption is usually amplified with eating from restaurants and food bought from outside. Usually, the seasonings and some of the artificial spices are so harmful that we cannot finish talking about them. In addition, salted fish and meat are some of the types of foods that increase our salt intake, even when used in our homes. Other sources of salt are canned foods of all forms including baked beans, potato chips, sardines and many others.
Excessive consumption of salt leads to hypertension, which in turn cause great damage to us, as it is the precursor of many lifestyle diseases.
5. Be Careful With Soft Drinks
Who doesn’t love the chilled soft drink on a hot afternoon? We mistakenly think soft drinks quench thirst but those who have tried quenching their thirst with solely soft drinks know very well that even Quench does not quench the thirst.
Soft drinks come in various forms and they include fruit-flavored beverages , cola beverages , tonic water and " bitters ". Apart from the sugar, most carbonated drinks lack nutritional value. Cola beverages usually contain caffeine and are not good for people suffering from insomnia, and children. Regular consumption of cola beverages is known to increase the risk of urinary stones.
The consumption of soft drinks also causes dental caries, stomach irritation and decalcification , just to mention few.
The safest drink for the body is pure water. Nothing else can replace water in its usefulness to the body. Therefore, reduce the intake of soft drinks and increase the intake of water and you will see positive changes in your health.
Take good care of yourself because you are important to the world.
Thanks for reading .