A Professor of Applied Biochemistry at the Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA), Ganiyu Oboh, has said research has shown that at least four of the 10 leading causes of death like heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes are directly related to food that human being consumed.
The university don also identified protein malnutrition as a major public health problem in the developing world, leading to prevalence of killer diseases.
Oboh gave this revelation while delivering the 85th Inaugural Lecture of the FUTA entitled ‘Functional Foods: Paradigm for Health and Wellness’ stating that “nutrition is an important factor that affects human health and quality of life.
According to the university don, the way out of the disturbing situation is a change in dietary habit advising that people should eat functional food to stay healthy and live long.
He pointedly said individuals who want to stay healthy should eat more vegetables and fruits and avoid junk foods.
He said there are strong evidences that global increase in the consumption of heavily processed foods.
Oboh said the increase in the consumption of processed food, coupled with lifestyle changes, particularly cultural shifts away from fresh and wholesome homemade 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”.
Quoting the Greek physician, Hippocrates who said, “Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food,” Oboh linked prevalent chronic and killer diseases to dietary pattern.
He said functional foods, 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 are 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.
He however warned against blanching which reduces antioxidant properties of most vegetables.