The concept of healthy living has long been associated with longevity. It originated the moment humans realised that being in overall good health ensures prolonged living on the planet earth.
Health can be defined as the state of being free from illness or injury. It is the condition of being sound in body, mind, and consciousness. According to the World Health Organization, “health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease.”
Healthy Living, on the other hand, is another issue entirely. To live healthy, one has to cultivate a certain lifestyle as part of one’s daily routine.
Food is an integral part of the daily routine of humans. It is a necessity for life. Humans must eat and nourish themselves for energy and growth. The challenge is in knowing what to, and what not to, eat. This requires a knowledge of nutrient-rich diets and healthy meals.
Regrettably, in Nigeria, a lot of people just eat food with little or no thought of the nutritional value. Many are more concerned about the cost and the affordability of a meal, rather than the nutritional value. It is no surprise therefore that many fill their stomachs with food that deliver no corresponding nutritional benefits. For instance, a daily diet loaded with carbohydrate, fat and sugary foods high in glucose may fill the stomach but will in the long term result in protein nutrient deficiency.
Protein Deficiency is the lack or deficit of protein and amino acids in the body. The deficiency can result from a protein-deficient diet or other events, such as diseases.
Protein deficiencies can lead to a variety of health problems. These include digestion problems, skin disorders, stunted or defective bone growth, and even malnutrition. These are ailments that can cause permanent damage to a human body.
According to the W.H.O Regional Director for Africa Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, “There are measures that we must take to avoid the long–term consequences of malnutrition and poor health on our societies’’.
Obviously, it is evident that protein deficiency is hazardous to healthy living. However, there are actions that can be taken to ensure that protein deficiency and malnutrition stay banished forever.
First, individuals need to identify one of the root causes of protein deficiency—a poor diet. You are what you eat. The moment you identify the meals that have a low nutrient content, you can begin to take action to change your diet. A healthier, more balanced diet is the surest way to tackle protein deficiency. Eating “fortified” foods that contain extra nutrients is key to a healthy lifestyle.
Secondly, it is important to curb the consumption of processed foods and drinks. A large percentage of packaged and processed foods contain harmful chemicals. Almost all processed drinks (including juices, beverages and alcohol) contain harmful additives for preserving the contents in them. These are potentially harmful agents and hazards to an individual’s overall health.
Finally, having a meal plan for the family is guaranteed to have an impact in reducing protein deficiency. It is important to make a meal plan with a balanced diet, all day, and every day. A protein rich diet consisting of all the right types of proteins, will have a lasting effect on the family and the nation at large.
If healthy living is the goal, a good understanding of the nutritional value of food and a conscious effort to eat a balance diet always may help to improve the score all around.