By Etienne Mainimo Mengnjo
YAOUNDE, Cameroon – Dr. Eustace Bonghan Berinyuy, Lecturer at the Faculty of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, University of Yaoundé I, has urged Cameroonians to avoid artificial food.
In an interview, the academic don said parents should educate their children on traditional food because they contain little or no artificial substances, yet they are very nutritious.
“Let us go back to the local and traditional diet that we grew up consuming in ethnic groupings, villages and towns: kiban from Nso, achu from Bamenda, eru from Manyu, ekwang from Ndian etc. They are more delicious, cheaper, accessible and available. Let us exercise patience, stay focus and don’t allow all fast and artificial food to derail us. Some may be good like infant food formula or fortified beverages. They are good in emergencies and nature has endowed us with enough nutritious food and in various forms of juice, beverages, local drinks, deserts etc. Parents should educate their children on our Cameroonian food because they are quite numerous and very nutritious. Let us go back to our roots, eat our local dishes and stay healthy,” Dr. Berinyuy stressed.
According to him, “Copying and pasting” of foodstuff from developed countries is not good. Our food taste even better than French fries, Irish fries, shawarmas, American pizza etc. We should be able to select or choose nutritious food that will compliment what we lack. There is a big difference between eating fast food or artificial food and natural food,” he said.
To Dr. Berinyuy, “the common poultry birds are raised with artificial feeds, growth analogues, antibiotics etc. which through biomagnification or bioaccumulation enter the human body through food chain. These birds grow up differently with different characteristics; they cannot run nor meet with another one, soft bones etc. The chickens are ready in at least two months or less. Imagine us being feed with such a diet or consuming such birds! This type of foodstuff is not meant for us and cannot be comparable to our local chicken”.
“Our garri used to take days in bags to dry and other natural toxic constituents like cyanogenic glucosides are oxidised but with the availability of machines, garri can be ready an hour after harvest. The implication is that most of the toxic non-nutrient constituents are return and available on consumption,” he said.
Going by him, “there are various types of maggi in the market, but we have tomatoes, beef, crayfish and others ready at affordable prices in the market. While make choices of food the body may not recognize as natural? The implication is that they contain chemicals which contribute adversely to our health.”
“Despite the abundance of fruits, mangoes, oranges, pawpaw etc. throughout the year in our markets, there is still a choice for artificial fruit juices and unclassified drinks. Rice can be prepared with various colours red, green, yellow etc. nowadays with artificial flavors and ingredients. Most of these ingredients are not friendly to the body, while the local spices with rich nutrient content are being belittled,” he further said.
He said, “When you visit a school in a city, you will discover that there are more children wearing eyeglasses than those schooling in the rural areas. This is not just a function of wealth or fashion but could be associated with the food being eaten. Diet is a major contributing factor to this challenge. Even watch the children that feeds mostly on indomie, spaghetti, biscuits, white or polished rice etc. in a playground, and you will notice them falling so many times while the children feeding on our local cocoa yams, maize, potatoes and others has more energy and stamina. This difference is quite clear and can be avoided.”
Besides COVID-19, he pointed out that, there is an increase in cancers, fibroids, diabetes, high blood pressures and in fact modern diseases. To him, diets especially the artificial food, play a major rule in contributing to this menace. “I always advise that we should go in for our natural food and that is where Africans belong more because we still have that natural fauna and farming space though being checked now by fertilizers, pesticides, weedicides etc” Dr. Berinyuy said.
He, however, stressed that traditional methods of farming and processing of foods needed improvement or empowerment and not “cut and paste”. “Today even crickets, earthworms, camellias, contributing to soil fertility are disappearing due to bad farming or “modern farming” methods. Most food needs some degree of processing and not all processed foods are bad for the body. He insisted that chemically processed foods have to be eaten with care. Most processed foods tend to be high in sugar, artificial ingredients and impermissible quantities of carcinogens and other products.
Because of this, they are a major contributor to obesity and other illnesses.”
“Chemically processed foods also contain refined ingredients, artificial substances and with sometimes little nutritional value since the target is a particular flavour or satiety and not considering the health implications.
These artificial ingredients occur in the form of added flavouring agents, colours, texturizers, preservatives, sweeteners and other processing aids. Most of these contributes enormously to our poor health and make us vulnerable especially to COVID-19,” he said.
“Other behavioural problems include aggression, sleeplessness, irritability, and restlessness. These behavioural changes are common in children, who ingest higher doses of artificial food.”
Dr. Berinyuy insisted that a return to our traditional methods of preparing and dieting will provide a healthier society and even a good fight against COVID-19.