By Dayo Johnson, Akure
A University don, Prof Ganiyu Oboh yesterday linked prevalent chronic and killer diseases in the country to dietary pattern.
He pointed out that protein malnutrition has been identified as a major public health problem in the developing world, leading to prevalence of killer diseases.
Oboh who is a professor of Applied Biochemistry at the Federal University of Technology, Akure, FUTA said this while delivering the 85th inaugural lecture of the university.
He said that “research has shown that at least four of the ten leading causes of death -heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes- are directly related to what we eat.
Professor Oboh, who spoke on the topic, ‘Functional Foods: Paradigm for Health and Wellness’ said “nutrition is an important factor that affects human health and quality of life.
He said the way out is a change in dietary habit advising that people should eat functional food to stay healthy and live long.
According to him, individuals who want to stay healthy should eat more vegetables and fruits and avoid junk food.
He said there are strong evidences that global increases in the consumption of heavily processed foods was causing health challenges.
According to him, this coupled with lifestyle changes, particularly cultural shifts away from fresh and wholesome home-made meals to take-outs have contributed to high rates of preventable, chronic diseases.
“Today, there are different problems related to diet and lifestyles. There are many modern systemic diseases in which dietary pattern plays significant role in the incidence and pathogenesis of such diseases. Proper nutrition and healthy lifestyles may represent good pre-requisites for the prevention/management of these diseases”.
Defining functional foods, he said they are foods or food components that confer additional health benefits to the consumer beyond their conventional nutritive values.
The don also said the science of functional food is a junction between two important concepts: food and health Oboh said though functional food research seem to be an emerging field, there are evidences to support that interests in how food can promote health and prevent diseases has been preserved over the centuries, especially in ancient Indian and Chinese traditional medicine.
He further said with prevalent global epidemics of obesity, Type 2 diabetes and other predominantly diet-related diseases there is an urgent need to explore innovative strategies for promoting healthy eating.
Oboh said his research group has investigated some common staples in Nigeria vis-à-vis their nutritive and medicinal potentials and discovered that tropical green leafy vegetables, fruits, legumes, cereals, pepper fruits, tomatoes and spices are potent antioxidants.