Plant diet way to go

ZAMBIA, like many other countries globally, is today battling with a huge disease burden putting so much pressure on the healthcare system.
Today, we hear of so many diseases that we rarely heard of in the past.
These are diseases brought about by the change in people’s eating habits and lifestyle in general.
There are so many people who think it is a sign of good living to frequent eateries that supply nothing but junk food.
Some people still believe eating meat every day is a sign of social status in life. But truth be told, bad diet and lifestyle is the reason behind the huge disease burden the country is battling with.
Needless to say, diet and nutrition are important factors in the promotion and maintenance of good health throughout the entire life course. Their role as determinants of chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs) is well-established.
According to World Health Organisation, almost half of the total chronic diseases and deaths recorded globally are attributable to lifestyle diseases such as obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
It is sad that many people continue to suffer and die from diseases they can avoid by simply changing their lifestyles.
This is why Bureau of Medical Nutrition director Jiji Cheelo is advocating change of lifestyles among Zambians. This campaign has also been top on President Edgar Lungu’s agenda.
Dr Cheelo is calling on Zambians to consider replacing eating red meat and refined foods with vegetables
and fruits to avoid lifestyle diseases like diabetes.
Dr Cheelo has rightly advised people to desist from foods like chocolate, spicy foods, junk food, meat and dairy products because of their negative bearing on health.
Indeed people need to take this free advice seriously if they are to live long.
And as advised by the medical expert, people must avoid taking too much tea, coffee, colas, alcohol, or tobacco and refined foods like white-flour products and sugar. Too much of anything no matter how good is already bad. How much more bad diet? This is a clear recipe for suicide.
Medical findings indicate that the increase in poor health among Zambians is largely due to the types of food they consume. Research has linked regular consumption of red meat to a number of health problems like heart disease, cancer, kidney problems and digestive issues among others.
“It is clear now most of the diseases are brought about by ourselves with the choices we make.
If we are to survive the scourge of sickness and degeneracy, we are to be smart about our eating habits.
Let us choose a plant-based diet which promotes eating nutritious foods,” he said.
Yes, more Zambians should wise up and be deliberate on leading healthy lifestyles.
That is one sure way to prolong life and reduce the burden on the healthcare system and the economy of the country as a whole.
Families are losing members to avoidable diseases and on the other hand, Government is spending huge sums of money in an effort to manage the disease burden.
The country is also losing out on human resource key to pushing the development agenda.
Many people are usually quick to condemn Government for any lapses in the healthcare delivery.
One thing they forget is that they too play a vital role in ensuring that the disease burden is lessened by way of adopting healthy lifestyles.
People need to consider going back to the indigenous and health foods that our forefathers relied on. Those natural foods that kept them health and prolonged their lives!
Zambia, in particular, is endowed with so many nutritious and healthy indigenous vegetables and fruits.
This is the kind of diet people should embrace. As advised, plant diet strengthens immunity.
It is even more critical now for people to adopt diet that boosts immunity as a preventive measure against coronavirus. Meats and unhealthy foods only weaken the immunity, making people more vulnerable to diseases including COVID-19.
Going by the rate at which lifestyle diseases are skyrocketing, there is need for mindset change among citizens.
This calls for heightened sensitisation on healthy living.
People need to be made aware that they have power to avoid certain diseases and even deaths by what they choose to eat and exercising regularly. Put simply, plant diet is the way to go.