Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Celebrating a victory?

Days leading to the end of the year are demanding. Plans, strategies and timelines to achieve the following year’s objectives need to be drawn so one hits the ground running on the first day of the New Year. Yesterday was one of such days. I therefore came home very tired with supper on my mind. Just when I finished dinner, I heard my phone ringing, as though the person calling knew I was done with dinner. The truth is I had forgotten about my phone all day but not my packed lunch and snack. While I placed my lunch and snack at a place where I would easily see to remind me to re-fuel my system (body), I just left my phone unattended to in my bag. I got to my bag only after the call has dropped and realized it was from one of my girlfriends. Before I could call back, her message came through, this only required an SMS reply from me.

After replying her message, I switched on my laptop to check and reply the emails, Facebook messages and comments I have received. And it was in the process of doing these activities, I got reminded of the return leg of the World Cup 2014 Africa qualifiers between the Black stars of Ghana and the Pharaohs of Egypt through Newaccra. Who else but Newaccra to blog (Ghana vs Egypt),  and post on this match to remind me? And truly they tell the African story in a beautiful way. 

The Newaccra post however got me thinking of how supporters of each team will be celebrating should the victory go in their favour. If what I have seen in the past is anything to go by, then expect the drivers to be hooting their horns, music being played on the highest volume, the drinking spots (pubs) full with bottles of alcoholic drinks being empty among others. The drinking of alcohol, which is mostly exceeded by people in celebrating their team’s victory, got my public health nutrition head worried throughout the night; I could not sleep but to write this post to ask how you celebrate a happy event. Do you also empty bottles of alcoholic drinks exceeding your alcohol intake to celebrate an event?

A happy event might be once a while and exceeding your alcohol intake on such occasions should not be a big deal, many might say but I also know that, little drops of water make a mighty ocean. This therefore means developing a behaviour of regularly exceeding your alcohol intake will be in the pipeline (like it is mostly said in Ghana, just that this pipeline is likely to be short), putting an individual at risk of liver diseases, reduced fertility, high blood pressure, increased risk of various cancers and heart attack among others. 

These risks are not only associated with exceeding alcohol intake regularly as the recommended amount of drinking alcohol by a person does not imply, an individual is safe from alcohol-related problems. Drinking the recommended amount of alcohol only put you at a lower risk of the alcohol-related problems mentioned in the previous paragraph as drinking alcohol is never completely safe. Drinking the recommended amount of alcohol only minimize your risk of alcohol-related problems. As I mentioned the recommended alcohol intake in my previous post on alcohol, I will not bore you with a repetition of it. If this your first visit to this blog or you might have forgotten, click on this "I watched him the entire night" to read. 

The harmful effects of alcohol are often hidden and only emerge after some years. Unfortunately by then, serious health problems could be developed, which is most likely going to prevent you from enjoying life to the fullest, living it to the longest as well as preventing you from contributing effectively to the economy of your society. 

Let’s cut down on our alcohol consumption and if possible avoid it, as the harmful effect of alcohol depends on how much we drink.

May the best team win.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

In the Superior Court

AD 2013
(affectionately called SALT)                                          PLAINTIFF/APPLICANT
(Al-So called WHO)

TAKE NOTICE that Quarrelsome & Partners, Lawyers for and on behalf of  the Plaintiff/Applicant herein shall move the Honourable Court for an order of Injunction to stop the Defendant/Respondent herein whether by themselves or their agents, workmen, servants, assigns and all other persons, natural or otherwise claiming through them,  from spear-heading, propagating, facilitating, encouraging or otherwise engendering by any means whatsoever attacks on the semi-good character and high reputation of the Plaintiff/Applicant pending the final determination of the issues between  the parties in terms of this motion paper and the supporting affidavit.
Court to be moved on……..the ……day of ……..2013 at 9.00 in the forenoon or so soon thereafter.


I, SODIUM CHLORIDE of Salt-town Estates solemnly swear to this affidavit and state that:
  1. I am the Applicant/Deponent and I swear to this affidavit on matters which are within my personal knowledge and experience or have otherwise been brought to my attention in the course of my usage in soups and industries.
  2. For centuries, I have served mankind very well. From being used in cooking meals to preserving food, to being used in food and other product processing. I gladly play my roles. My work doesn’t stop here.
  3. I continue to play roles in your body as well. For instance inside the body, my first name, Sodium regulates blood pressure.
  4. How I do this would require me giving you a physiology lecture which I bet you are probably not ready for.  If you however insist on knowing more, I recommend WHO, FSA, CASH etc websites to read.
  5. I love to read everything readable, listen to everything listenable and watch everything watchable and it was during these activities I came across stories that have saddened my heart leading to the present lawsuit against WHO.
  6. Do you know CASH, WASH, PWASH, AWASH? I am not really bothered about the first letters of the acronyms. What bothers me is the last three letters ASH, Action on Salt and Health. So whether it is consensus or world, the fact that actions are being taken on me is worrying.
  7.  I play good roles especially concerning health, regulating blood pressure. So why would groups, countries, organization take actions on me?
  8. Do you know this year, most health awareness campaigns worldwide are on salt? It is one thing to get the world’s attention with good deeds but it is another when it is for the wrong reasons.
  9. A good campaign to educate the world about my true character is not an abomination to me and I may support it sometimes.
a)     Sodium regulates blood pressure. Hence Sodium’s regulation of your blood pressure is a direct response to the amount of Sodium and me you take into your body.
b)     The more of me consumed, the more I put pressure on your blood regulation believing you want it, judging from your heavy intake of me.
c)      For instance, when you consume more than a teaspoonful of me a day (5g/day), you increase the amount of my first name, Sodium in your body. It then puts more pressure on your blood regulation and when this continues your blood pressure becomes elevated.
d)     The unintentional activity of Sodium elevates your blood pressure beyond the normal range. I must however say, other factors contribute to elevated blood pressure but it looks like my activity is the highest of all the risk factors.
e)     This elevated blood pressure predisposes you to hypertension, a major risk factor of cadiovascular diseases.
f)       You know, one in three adults worldwide is hypertensive. I know you would doubt me because the one in three adults you meet show no sign of hypertension. This is because hypertension unlike other diseases has no symptoms making it very dangerous.

  1. The WHO and others intensify educative campaigns on the nitty-gritty of                   my  true character to point out my usefulness and harmfulness.
  2.  All persons beware that they consume salted nuts, chips, pizza, chicken, fries, cereals and many more on their own volition and at their own peril.
  3.  It is only just and equitable that this honourable court orders the WHO and others to refrain from attacking my character and person for the hypertension, heart attacks and sudden death of persons who consume me without restraint.
  4.  Just imagine, how can you complain: “ waiter! There is soup in my salt!” and turn around to blame me? That is injustice.
  5. I solemnly swear.

Credit: Augustine Kidisil and Irene Danquah

I watched him the entire night

dinner-party-games-girls-1.1-800x800I could not take my eyes off him, the moment the girls and I entered this classy restaurant to celebrate my birthday. Yeah, I had to mention the classy bit to let you know how my purse was crying that evening. How I comforted the purse for the rest of the month is another story all together. Now where was I? Aha! So like I was saying, I had been watching this young man since the time I sat for dinner. It was not only his good looks, charming smile or…errrmmm I will end the list here, just know looks and smile are dependent on a person’s taste, but also the bottles on his table.

Those bottles which I believe was a litre in volume each, containing a percentage of alcohol,  my not very good eagle eyes could capture were all nearly empty. It got me wondering if this good looking gentleman with a charming smile knows there is a daily alcohol intake stipulated by the experts for him or he just can’t be bothered.

Hmmm, I would have loved to use his alcohol intake as an opportunity to get to know him ;) but for this equally beautiful and charming young lady he sat at the table with to share those bottles I just sat down and watched them both but him more. Obviously, unlike poles attract :) . For this lady I guess her alcohol intake on this occassion clearly indicates she really understands and appreciate the Beijing Conference.

The least I could do was to take a leaf of my sweet scented notepad and write this http://www.nhs.uk/LiveWell/Alcohol/Pages/Alcoholhome.aspx  with my equally sweet scented pen. So pleasant was the fragrance, the lady with whom he shared his table gave me ‘the stay off my man’ look when the waiter gave him my note. Knowing what I wrote in the note, I was the least perturbed.

As we passed by his table after paying for that expensive dinner, he gently grabbed my hand, gave me his charming smile and said “Meet my sister  (with an emphasis )and can I have your number as we especially me, would love to talk more about this note”. I couldn’t believe my blessing as I pulled out  my business card and it was in pulling out my business card did it dawn on me that, he is now a client :( , so….too bad yeah? I know.

Anyway, what can I say, there is a risk with every job but that shouldn’t stop us from doing it. And as you love your job like  i do mine, I know you will understand why I look forward to hearing from them to talk about alcohol intake.

The pink sheet of the world bank

Two months ago, the World Bank predicted an economic growth for Sub-Saharan Africa for the next 3 years. Forgive me my dear reader for I am not in position to furnish you with the better and further particulars of this prediction as my economics cannot analyze this report to confirm their prediction, so let us take this prediction on the World Bank’s pink sheet for now. And besides the trusting ratings of World Bank is near 100% if not 100% so there is no need to doubt this prediction.

Back to the  pink sheet from World Bank. On the face of this pink sheet, I would say it is good news for the continent as it implies a reduction of poverty, elimination of hunger, the building and improving of infrastructure and many morein the coming few years. As much as I would love to talk about poverty and hunger please permit me to comment on the infrastructure bit . I believe if you have spent your entire undergraduate years living with students of planning and building technology programmes like I have, you will understand my interest in infrastructure plans is not only born out of public health.

Infrastructure plans! I imagine they will be far advanced in Sub-Saharan African countries, as their leaders like all leaders in other continents are keen on making their countries better for both their citizens and those of other countries and other continents. I believe in these plans will be roads, bridges, electrical grids etc. I also believe their various ministers, mayors, district chief executives are having a hard time deciding on which plan to approve or disapprove, continue or terminate or make changes to meet objectives. I hope in these objectives will be one that seeks to prevent disease, promote and protect the health and wellbeing of Sub-Saharan Africans. One of the objective towards health and wellbeing of the population I hope to see will be one that seeks to provide a supportive physical activity environment.

In my post yesterday on the international student, I mentioned how a supportive environment must be built to encourage individuals to be physically active and also stay active as this together with other health behaviours (eating balanced diet, no smoking) will improve the quality and length of life? Hence on my mind today are there questions. Do the infrastructure plans that are being approved or executed by the transport ministry, city, and town councils in Africa have provisions made for cycling lanes to encourage more cycling among their citizens and less bus and train transport? Do the road infrastructure plans being approved or executed have in them demarcated pedestrian walkways and zebra crossings to encourage people to walk and also have traffic lights and street lights been checked to ensure they have been properly placed to encourage walking at all times? Yes an all time-walking by people. You know we are different people with different schedules so a one sized jacket cannot fit as all. Thus my call for the need to ensure all individuals can engage in physical activities that suit their schedule. I know this will mean adequate security in our cities and towns so let us hope, the city and town councils, ministers and governments have included security in their plans. Have sport centres being included in ther country, cities and towns’ infrastructure plans? Have opens spaces and parks being demarcated in these plans?

I can go on and on with questions but let me not bore you with my numerous questions. You know when it comes to the health and wellbeing of a population questions are always on my mind. In this situation, my concerns are as result of how it is difficult to find cycling pathways, open spaces and parks in the country I hail from. I wonder how many there even are. It is also difficult to for me to go for a walk as pedestrian walkways and traffic lights are either poorly placed or absent. Even if I wanted to visit a sport centre or gym, I would have to travel quite a distance to get to one and if I got to one, the price will be another headache I have to painfully endure as it is high due it being privately owned and also not having the owner speaking the promotions language. All these have made my mind to be filled with too many questions.

I strongly believe when a supportive physical activity environment is built, together with other factors (food etc.), the predicted booming economy would not just be felt in the pockets of Sub-Saharan Africans but also in their healthy bones and flesh. For what use will the money be for an ailing Sub-Saharan African body if not for treating illness? Perhaps, you might not be a Sub-Saharan African, but these concerns of mine on a supportive physical activity environment which you have read are not just concerns for only Sub-Saharan Africans but for every individual, city, town and country as we all deserve better health and wellbeing. Thus, I believe it is about time, we all start taking interests in the infrastructure plans of our town, city or country.
My dear reader, considering the benefits of being and staying active (diary of an international student), am wondering, if it is about time leaders of Sub-Saharan Africa and all other continents call KPMG (in this instance the public health officer) to audit the pink sheets (infrastructure plans) presented by petitioners (planners) before they are approved and to be executed especially if they are not doing so? Should populations take keen interest in these plans or should they place their faith in their town, city and country planners?

As I end this post, my last question is this, while some of us wait for a supportive environment to assist in being and staying active, are there any basic things we can do to keep us, active?

Diary of an international student 4

Dear Diary,S
I can’t help but notice how international students especially those from Africa to other continents become physically active individuals as soon as they begin their education in these continents. It is as though they just read or heard through the various forms of media (website, digital signage) available to them in the country, city or university of study that an adult their age (19-64years) requires at least 150minutes/week of moderate intensity activities. Ha! I almost forgot I didn’t carry you along with me during the physical activity lectures hence I need to explain moderate intensity activity to you. You know how I can’t keep things in my head so permit me to use the explanation given in the 2011 report by the 4 chief medical officers of the countries that make up UK even as we wait for my prayers for a refrigerator-like head to be answered.

They explained moderate intensity physical activities to be those activities that will cause adults to get warmer and breathe harder and their hearts to beat faster and still being able to carry on a conversation. Examples include brisk walking and jogging. These experts also have what they call vigorous intensity physical activity. This, they explained as activities that will cause adults to get warmer and breathe much harder and their hearts to beat rapidly, making it more difficult to carry on a conversation with examples such as running and sports such as football and swimming. These explanations Diary are based on the average person’s ability so if there are people who cannot converse during a moderate physical activity, I guess it is about time, they become more committed to physical activity and for those who can still converse during a vigorous physical activity, thumbs up but please take it easy a little.

Now let’s go back to the story of the international students. My dear Diary, I am still wondering what are the factors influencing these international students decision to stay physically activity. Could the availability and location of facilities such as sports centres, gyms, open spaces and parks available in their universities and cities be factors influencing their decision? Or is it that these facilities may be comparatively cheaper than those back in their home countries, cities and universities (the truth Dairy, I wonder how many of these facilities are available within accessible distance from these students’ residence or offices back home)? Perhaps, this decision to stay active can be attributed to influence from other people.

As I continue to wonder what these influencers are, it is interesting to however note Diary, these students are only active in the gyms and sports centres. While some of them in their bid to utilize their one year by pass will jump on a bus even when their destination is 5mins away, those without one do not own bicycles (these bicycles can always be sold when these students are returning home). While I can try to understand why those international students who have a year’s bus pass do not own a bicycle (which in my opinion is not a tangible excuse), I wonder what the excuse is for those who do not have a year’s bus pass especially with cycling lanes demarcated to encourage more cycling and less car or bus or train transport in the cities in which their studying. I guess I have to email the little things that we do article to them. Will I be right to say these students only associate being physically active to going to the gyms, sports centres or keep fit clubs? Or could it be that, they are on the quest to achieve a certain body image for a lady/gentleman at their place of study or back home so their visits to these facilities to lift weights?  May be their highest influence could be due to the benefits associated with staying active (Reduces risk of a range of diseases, e.g. coronary heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes etc).

Whatever the factors (cost, convenience, body image, health, information and many more) may be, we won’t be able to tell as you and I will not be there when they are making the decision to stay active and can only use the face of the pink sheets available to say, our dear international students are at least trying to stay active for a quality life now and tomorrow. Nonetheless, as I am not a cat, I intend to find out which factor(s) is (are) the highest influencer(s) in the physical activity decision making process of students both home and international so that their universities and perhaps their sponsors can develop the appropriate health improvement materials to assist these students in making healthier lifestyle choices.

The little things that we do

Luxury, comfort, fast-track are all words we love. Is it any surprise to know technology has been welcomed so well into our homes, workplaces etc? With just a touch of a button, we have moved from the ground floor to the 5th floor within seconds. By just appearing in front of a door, it opens and by just walking into a building, the lights are turn on. Photonics, my expert friend tells me it is. A touch of a button and our laundry is done, our food cooked and warmed. In fact, it looks as though the world has become; a world of a touch of buttons. How lives have become fast-track and comfortable? And O! Who would let go the luxury of fast cars, trains etc to walk only to become tired? I could go on and on about how technology has made our lives simple, easy, fast, comfort etc but I know you are already aware so I would spare you the long talk.

The question on my mind is; has technology become a good servant or a bad one? Don’t get me wrong. I love technology but with the world getting more sedentary and consequently raising the prevalence of overweight and obesity among all age groups, I only have one choice i.e. to wonder if technology is the cause of our predicament or our lifestyle choices? For instance, why would a person on the ground floor of a building take the elevator to the first floor? Why would someone choose a 2-minute bus drive over a 10-minute walk when he/she is not late? Why have we taken an addiction to pre-cook meals and habitually ordering of meals when we have ample time to get into the kitchen to cook? Why have we developed an addiction to car rides and not walks in the parks? Why are the cycling lanes not full of cyclists but the roads are are full of drivers? Why……..

I can guess your answer, “I don’t have time. Time is money, don’t you know that?” I pray soon you wouldn’t have to make time for diabetes, cardiovascular diseases etc and spend the money you made while “saving time” on them. Having a normal BMI (18.5 -24.9) hasn’t only got to do with eating the required amount of food your body needs or opting for low caloric food but also been physically active  and making good lifestyle choices.
Take note, physical activity is not synonymous to exercise; exercise is part of physical active. Just know that, sometimes it is those little things that we do that makes us stay active and fit. But remember not to rule out exercise.

Beginning today, let’s make a conscious effort to walk, take the stairs, cook, etc. At the end, technology is only a servant that needs to be checked and not a master that has to check us.

Diary of an international student 3

Dear Diary,
I know it’s been long . My hard disk is even annoyed with the fact that I keep saving posts on it without submitting them to you. Hmmm, what can I say but the words of the little boy in the advert, ‘it’s not fault’. I hope to be a good editor when my paparazzi bring their stories. I know you might be wondering what happened for me to make this post. You will understand after you read these 3 stories

Story 1
I know I have been preaching that international students go global with their diet but the recipe which was formulated by this international student have put me in a state of shock and I am just wondering which country or group of people take this recipe. I am hoping by putting the recipe up someone might help me with the country.

Recipe of an international student
1 small cup of corn flakes
I small sachet of spaghetti
1 medium sized baked beans
(Any brand will work).
Boil the Spaghetti and when it is about ready, add all the other ingredients.
I am serious this is not a joke.
My advice, this definitely exceeds your Eatwell Plate (To know more Google eatwell plate)

Story 2
I don’t know if this is being food secured or nutrition secured. Just like malnutrition I think the definition of food security and nutrition security should both have under food security (food insecurity) and over food security (Hope FAO comes out with a new term for this). If you do not know the meaning of each I suggest to you to call FAO to audit to this post. Why am I asking for a definition for over food security and over nutrition security (these are my own terms, so don’t call the Afari Gyan of FAO on me)? Can you believe the international student is actually preparing ground (pea) nut soup with a whole chicken and eating the soup in a day? Yes in a day! If he was eating the soup alone, it could have been quite pardonable, but with an accompaniment, this should give public health nutritionists headaches.
My advice, food security does not mean over eating. WHO is already battling with obesity and hypertension, so please do not add to the number.

Story 3
My last story is on this international that has just refused to buy products in the country in which she is studying. I know there are some products that are just produced in her country but in her case tinned fish is not one of them. She still insists on buying Made in her Home Country tinned fish. I am just wondering what she will do now as EU has ban importation of this product from her country. You cannot blame the EU, they have to ensure the food system is safe for its citizenry and if a country is following the guidelines and have not provided the evidence with references, they have no other choice but to take such action.
My advice to her, instead of collapsing after reading about the ban, please psych yourself up to embrace other tinned fish.

I told you I had lots of stories my dear Dairy. I will end here as I do not want to bore you. Till I bring you more stories remember, health, wealth and happiness.

Diary of an international student 2

Dear Diary,S
In my first post, I told you about the amount of local food the international student has packed and how he has made searches on Google for shops that sell local foodstuff. Can you blame her Diary? From childhood, her taste habitation have only known these foods and since this taste habitation have developed into adulthood, the only foods it recognizes are those packed in the suitcases and sold at the international shops.

Is it then any wonder a friend of this international student who has been missing out on some local foods due to the unavailability of shops in the town he is learning in couldn’t take it any longer, he travelled to visit her and some other colleagues just to get some local food to eat? His hunger for local food was so obvious, one of the team members that hosted him exclaimed “I now know why A was always itching to visit us,  just see how aggressive he was …oh poor banku and tilapia in the hands of visiting A…LOL  (unedited). Another also said “when it comes to food, I will vote for A go go go my man (unedited).”

These students really enjoy their local food and I think it would take a very long time for them to try out dishes from the Land they are studying. Why do I say this; read what one wrote; Students shall not live by books alone; every ball of banku also counts (unedited).

International student, I know your taste habitation is used to these local foods but if you have been very courageous to taste the education of a foreign land why not its food? It would be difficult at the beginning just like your studies (fitting into a new system of education) but with time you would definitely get use to it. Variety always spices up life.

Did I hear you O! International student say, “You would bring Asanka Delight to this foreign land?” Diary, I guess we have a long time to wait to reformation.

Till my paparazzi bring you the next story on how the EU’s decision to stop the importation of Tuna from the homeland of this international student nearly caused him to be admitted, it’s cheers!

Your little can do much

According to the UN, approximately 870 million are suffering from hunger that means one out of eight people suffers from hunger. Hunger is deadly, killing 2.5million children annually. These children die out of malnutrition. The rest who do not die are undernourished with vitamin A deficiency, iron deficiency anaemia and stunting being prevalent amongst these children. Undernourishment affects not only one’s physical state but also the ability to maximize one’s potential. The good news is hunger can be eliminated.

At the heart of eliminating hunger is food security; making food available, accessible and affordable in one’s country. To achieve food accessibility and affordability, food must be available first. Food availability is harnessed by better agriculture production. It is therefore important to make sure all the determinants of food security especially those that affect agriculture production are managed well to minimize if not eliminate its effect. Determinants such as the labour force in agriculture, the land and ponds, seedlings, tools and equipment used in agriculture and others when improved would ensure better harvest to feed population(s). Again, good transportation systems, good markets conditions etc would also make safe and nutritious food accessible and affordable for all.

Yet, there is one determinant of food security that renders the efforts made to minimize or eliminate the effects of the other determinants mentioned above ineffective. This factor is poor political condition (political unrest). During a political unrest, farmlands, infrastructure, irrigation systems, farm machinery, crops etc are destroyed. Where crops are not destroyed, they cannot be harvested either as a result of destroyed farm equipment and/or farmers unwillingness to go out for obvious security issues. Even if these crops are harvested, transporting the produce to market places to make them accessible to feed the whole population also becomes difficult for transportation systems are in worse conditions and where they are not; insecurity associated with such unrest makes it difficult for one to go the marketplaces to sell or buy food. With most farms destroyed, little produce harvested and the inability to market the produce, farmers in a country going through a political unrest have very low household incomes to buy other uncultivated foodstuff and essential household commodities. Again, with little or no food on the market, with shops closed and people unwillingness to go out for fear of losing their lives, people are unable to get adequate food to feed the household.

Such is the situation in countries such as Syria, Mali, Sudan, and Somalia to mention but a few. In Syria today, 46% of its population who are dependent on agriculture are faced with destroyed farmlands, infrastructure, irrigation systems, transportation systems etc as a result of the political unrest. Syria has also been hit by bad weather conditions. These put together is making it difficult for Syria to feed her population. Many have been displaced and many have fled their homes without anything but the clothes on their back as they seek secured places for their families. Find out more from here; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pq8Bpc9etgE. With little or no food production, with shops closed or destroyed with thousands displaced from their homes and seeking refuge, how can the father provide food for the family? How can the mother feed her hungry children? And how can pregnant and lactating mothers filled with fear, anxiety etc feed their unborn babies and babies respectively.

This is not the time to teach a nation going through such crises how to fish; this is the time to give fish. For how can we teach them how to fish when the ponds, fishing nets, boats etc have been destroyed? This is the time to create a safety net for them. This is the time to help them survive for we need one another to survive in this world. The world would not be complete without Syria, Mali and the others. We cannot watch on as hunger wipes them out for this would make our world incomplete. Thankfully, the United Nation has set up the World Food programme and other relief agencies to bring together our collective efforts to help save the people especially children who suffer the most from hunger. We cannot go to Syria, Mali and the others to help them but WFP and these agencies can. Their work is supported by countries, organizations and individuals like us. Remember, the UN is all of us and thus need our support.   Yes! Your country has supported these crises but the continuous conflict in Syria, Mali and other places have made these funding from various countries, organizations and individuals very little. If countries, organizations and individuals continue to contribute their little, it can do much. Remember little drops of water make a mighty ocean. Our little can do much for Syria, Mali, Sudan, Somalia etc. Let us help WFP to provide fish for these countries and when peace is finally restored, they can teach them how to fish.

Every child deserves this smile.
Every child deserves this smile.
Remember, a child went to bed hungry yesterday, would go to bed hungry today and tomorrow. Again a child died yesterday, would die today and tomorrow out of hunger and malnutrition. It wasn’t just a child that went to bed hungry or died; it was the next Steve Job, Oprah Winfrey, Barack Obama, Ertharin Cousin, Lionel Messi etc. Should such future prospect not be allowed to maximize his/her potential because of hunger? Should our world be robbed off such a gem that would have made our world better than it is now? The answer is obviously NO! Let’s say NO to hunger. Let’s all join hands in feeding these populations especially women and children who are the most vulnerable by donating our little. Visit the WFP and other agencies and make a donation today to help save a country and a child. Every child needs to eat and be strong to smile like this child. Every child needs a nourished brain and body to look into the future with a confidence to maximize his/her potential like this child. Let’s not deprive a child these. Visit WFP (https://www.wfp.org/) now and make a donation.

A letter to the Ghanaian

Dear Ghanaian,
How are you doing? I guess the football season has ‘cooled off your tempers’ after the elections. This however brings a question to mind; should you always be reminded you are a Ghanaian when the national team is playing a tournament or a qualifier? Why do I ask this question? I noticed how most of you were intolerant of one another’s view during the political season to the extent that some blocked and ‘unfriend’ friends on the social network, facebook and some splashed their facebook timelines with insults and unfortunate tribal remarks. I do not even want to talk about what transpired on radio and television. On Sunday the 22nd of January, 2013, I read different comments on the performance of the Black stars. They were varying but the reason behind the comments was obvious; every Ghanaian had wanted the Black stars to win the match against Congo.  This made me to wonder, how can Ghanaians argue from different angles during the football season and accept one another’s view yet when they argue from different view points during the political season, they do not see the reason behind the argument to be; we all want quality life (I dare not use better Ghana for obvious reasons) for Ghanaians and the generations to come. Anyway, I did not come to talk politics and football; I came to talk about what this blog is known for.

On the 17th of January, 2013, I read the President has commissioned a five-year $663,299,496 Accra Sanitary Sewer and Stormwater Drainage Alleviation (please click on the hyperlink to read more). I heard most of you say, “it’s about time”. Yes! I agree it is about time. It’s about time Ghana’s drains, streets, markets, public places, private places etc are clean and smell good because clean environment is not just for flood management or tourist attraction but for our nutritional well-being as well. I would not be surprise if a few are waiting for such projects to be commissioned to clean their homes. As we are all advocate for clean environment, may I remind you that, this onus falls on the government. Yes! The government. Make no mistake you are the government. The government is not the elected few but you and I as well. In any case, did the AMA, KMA… Bosses or the President create the filth you see on your streets, drains and market places? Do not ask me who created it because I did not come here to call the police but the ambulance.
As a student public health nutritionist, I have come to know for an individual to yield his/her potential to the maximum he/she needs to be nutritionally well too. Nutritional well-being is not just about eating the right food and doing the right physical activity. Nutritional well-being (security) as defined by the World Bank in 2006 exist when food security (availability, accessibility and affordability of nutritious food, for more visit the FAO, WHO, USAID etc websites or visit this blog again) is combined with a sanitary environment, adequate health services and proper care and feeding practices to ensure a healthy life for all household members. If the World Bank is defining nutritional security, then you should know nutritional well-being is associated with wealth (money).

From the above definition; how clean is Ghana’s environment? Which environment do Ghanaians sell and purchase their food? Where do they eat their food? I guess the Ghanaian is in the best position to answer these questions. I know the AMA, KMA etc and other bodies are working very hard to make Ghana’s environment and market places clean to meet high standards. However their efforts are not yielding the results to give sanitary environment for Ghana’s nutritional security. Why is this so? I can attempt to answer this; some Ghanaians if not all, litter the environment intentionally and unintentionally with the assumption that the AMA, KMA etc have been paid to clean their filth. Some say, “If I don’t make the place dirty, someone would not get work to do (creating employment right?)”. In case these people didn’t know, there are places in the world where the environment is clean but they still have ‘AMA, KMA’ working? Who are you then; the Ghanaian who helps to keep the environment clean or one who does not? In either case, it doesn’t matter as long as the market places you purchase your food isn’t in the best conditions, your nutritional well-being is still at risk. The next time you or someone else decides to litter the environment, know you are putting yourself, the country and the future generation at risk nutritionally and not only economically (flood management, tourism and investment, as though nutrition is not an economic issue; cross check this with the World Bank). We put the future generation at risk as well because an unhealthy parent gives birth to unhealthy baby who grows to continue this unhealthy and uneconomical cycle.

I know some would also say “we would cook our food for long to kill any present germs”. That is very thoughtful, but as you kill the germs, know that they are not the only ones ‘dying’ but some nutrients for which you are eating the food for are also been ‘killed’. I believe you know now what you have been feeding your poor body with if you belong to this school of thought. Don’t be deceived, you who buy your foodstuffs from the supermarkets, you still get to breath in the ‘lavender’ of the capital city and other cities and towns. Only God knows what is in this ‘lavender’ you are breathing. To move Ghana from a middle income country to a developed country, nutritional security plays a key role (healthy individuals to work in the economy) and thus, the environment especially market places, places where food are stored, cooked and eaten need to be secured.

The next time, you think of littering the environment think not of the AMA, KMA etc, think of your nutritional well-being. The next time, your assembly man, Church etc wake you up to clean your community, do not grumble but look forward with gladness because you are protecting your well-being and that of your community, country and future generations. Let us not only think of clean environment as an attraction for tourism, flood management, investment etc but let’s see it as a protection of our nutritional well–being.
Remember, one litter you drop will eventually come back to you. No one sows a corn seed and expect melon fruits.

Till I bring you another slice of the cake, continue to keep your environment clean.

Diary of an international student 1

Dear Diary,
Dear Diary
After being in the queue for more than an hour to go through checks, the international student has enplaned. The long queue certainly took the excitement of his journey away but this is not the only thing stealing his excitement; the food he is leaving behind. Don’t get him wrong he is also sad about moving away from his family and friends but you know how technology has provided solutions to bring them close despite the distance. O how this student wishes, technology can help transmit food along cables. Then Fufu, Banku, Tuo Zaafi (Ghanaian dishes) would be a dial away.
Fufu and Light soup (Ghanaian dish)
Fufu and Light soup (Ghanaian dish)
With suitcases full of dried fish (koobi, Amane, Keta school boys), shito, flour (Fufu, Banku, Tuo Zaafi, okro) etc, this student hopes the first few weeks wouldn’t be difficult to deal with ‘food nostalgia’. Rumor has it he packed more food than books and clothing. It is my prayer this student meets favourable weather conditions at the land he is travelling to study. O! Diary, how I wished you could see the way the food items were packaged. You may think this student has been a ‘bookman’ (a term in Ghana for a person who ensures passengers’ luggages are well packed into buses) before. Trust me this packaging would by-pass the watchful eyes of the immigration officers at the airport. Did he hear of the predicament of this other international student who was delayed by officers due to the 20kg of local food he was carrying as they thought he was into imports and exports of local food without the proper documents (I don’t know what got him off the hook though)?  I guess he did.
Image by Google
Image by Google
Before boarding the plane, he made searches on Google for shops in the city where he can get local food ingredients to buy. As usual, Google was helpful to give a list of such shops. Thank God for Google. I think he should be grateful to God that, many of his countrymen live in this new country and city he is travelling to. This brings questions to mind; what would he have done if there were no such shops? Would he have packed food lasting for the period he was going to be in this new place? I believe his diet would have been like students who find themselves in this kind of situation. They only eat a particular type of food (your guess is as good as mine). I am just wondering if these students have heard about diet diversification and its importance to nutritional well-being (this is another topic for later discussion but if you are impatient to know, contact a nutritionist. Google would help but always critique what you read).

As the plane is landing at its destination airport after hours of being air bound, the only thoughts of this student are Mummy’s Ampesi and Garden eggs stew, Mama’s Banku and Okro stew, and my thoughts; how can one accept the world to be a global village when it comes to communication, business etc but can’t go global with food? Perhaps, diets would be more diversified and the benefits for health and wealth might be amazing.

Till my paparazzi and I bring you more stories on this student Diary, Cheers!
PS: Both He and she shall be used to denote the international student

Speculations, rumours, any iota of truth

The season is over but the reason for the season still lives on. During the season, I couldn’t help but notice how people celebrated it and the decisions they made with the hope of correcting these decisions in one way or the other. As it comes with the season, there were lots to eat and drink and most people if not all forgot to eat in moderation. “Let’s eat and drink for the season is annual”, many said. For others, it was “let’s eat and drink because once the season ends, the head pastor would declare a 30-day fasting period, perhaps, we can use that to lose the weight we might gain (hmmm, I hope head pastors do not read this)”. For those in the orthodox Churches, their hope of losing weight would be during The Lent period. And for others, they might have to wait for their spiritual emphasis months (dear reader, please note I am in no way implying fasting is a period of losing weight, some actually maintain their weight during fasting periods, lol).

Yet still there was another group, the students, who wouldn’t miss this season to put on some flesh since studies have left them looking undernourished (this would be a great concern for public health nutritionist you know?). And for another group, they boycotted keep fit clubs, gyms, jogging and anything exercise. “Who would want to exercise during this season?” They rhetorically asked. For them, their consolation was in the fact that, once the season is over, they would gather more vim to start these activities again or wait for institutions and organizations to organize physical activity programmes like ICGC Life Walk, Nestle Milo Marathon to partake in them. This, they believe would bring them back into shape. For others, their workplace activities  would make up for loses in their physical activity level.

Whatever their motivation was, I cannot tell but only speculate. All I know is this; is human nature to indulge oneself once in awhile especially when the opportunity presents itself and find quick fix solution to avert the consequences if any should arise.

Another season would soon come in the not too distant future. I wonder if they would eat their ‘bodies’ out even though that season would require a sober reflection of one’s life. I can only imagine so I sit here like the keen observer enjoying the mundane activities of life.

The drink

As I take a journey down memory lane, I reminisce the good times I had during my undergraduate years at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST). There, I made new and wonderful friends and got introduced to a lot of campus life activities. Of all the things I got introduced to, there is one I very much appreciate; The Drink (please don’t jump to conclusion, am no glutton. I just enjoy good food).

It was consumed by almost everyone on campus, lecturers and students alike. Every market in the halls of residence had it on sale. And at the KNUST Commercial area, one was bound to find many people queued to buy it as if it was the launch of the iPhone N. The sellers here, made sure there was hot pancake to accompany it. Drink-ups were not void of it and most often, it featured on the ‘Item 13’ of students’ gatherings. The reading rooms and students’ learning desks were all decorated with this drink. And O! One could not meet a couple taking a lovers’ stroll on Friday nights without this third party – the drink. Of all the places that sold this drink, the best place I loved to make purchase was at the Department of Biochemistry and Biotechnology mini shop stationed behind the Chemistry block. This was because, I was sure that the drink contained the live cultures (probiotics) I needed for my digestive system.

Interestingly, this was the same drink; a food company in Ghana introduced onto the Ghanaian market some years back and was rejected by the sweet toothed Ghanaian claiming it was sour. But here it was on KNUST campus, doing so well with its demand sky rocketing. The demand for this drink is not only high in KNUST but in most western countries.

To tell you the truth, the reason I took delight in taking this drink for the first two years on campus had nothing to do with the drink’s usefulness to my body. I took it for its sweet sour taste and also because it was very filling (considering my limited budget for food) and sustained me for longer lecture hours. Additionally, I thought the drink to be healthy (less sugar and little or no food additive). Perhaps the noise about it on campus, made me join others in consuming this drink (this is no peer pressure). These reasons I believe would be what many students would give for consuming this drink. It was not until my third year in Biochemistry almost the same time I began having problems with milk intake (details in my previous blog, IT’S MILK….) that I came to appreciate its importance. Had the preparation of this drink being taught in the first year of Biochemistry, I am certain, many of my course mates including myself would have gladly abandoned the frustrating fascinating Biochemistry programme and started a business producing this drink. How wise of our lecturers to have saved the best for the last and now we can boast of being Biochemists, who are fully prepared to contribute our quota to society.

The benefits of the drink are numerous and research into its importance is still underway. Below, are some importance of it to the body:
  • It contains beneficial bacteria called probiotics, which are able to repopulate and sustain healthy bacteria in the intestines, which fight infections consequently boosting one’s immune system.
  • It is rich in calcium, phosphorus, riboflavin, iodine and contains good amounts of vitamins B12 and B5, potassium, zinc, protein and molybdenum.
  • According to a research carried out by the International Journal of Obesity, the drink’s consumption showed significant weight loss among obesed adults.
  • For the lactose intolerant, the drink serves as a best substitute for lactose-containing products as the lactose in the drink has fermented into lactic acid thereby eliminating the possibility of any stomach troubles (details in my previous blog, IT’S MILK….).
  • And for the female suffering from vaginal infections, the drink can help maintain a healthy balance of natural bacteria in the vagina.
Looking at its nutrient rich content and health benefits, one would expect to find this drink on most shelves of supermarkets and mini shops in Ghana and not just on KNUST campus. I must however say, this drink is gradually becoming popular among Ghanaian folks and can now be seen on the Ghanaian market but some are being sold under appalling conditions. I think you would find the market tips useful when buying YOGHURT – ouch! I have mentioned the drink’s name. Now it’s no secret that THE DRINK is YOGHURT. 

When buying yoghurt look out for these;
  • Select brands containing rich amounts of live probiotics culture. These means traditionally fermented yoghurt is the best choice.
  • Go for the freshest yoghurt on the market by checking the production dates and expiration dates. The closer the date of your purchase is to the production date, the fresher the yoghurt.
  • Avoid yoghurt containing high amounts of sugar, and additives.
  • As it is a fresh dairy product, it must always be stored in refrigerators and not on the heads of street hawkers. Heat is likely to destroy the live probiotics culture.
IS IT ANY WONDER, THE BIOCHEMIST FROM KNUST LOVES TO PREPARE FRESH YOGHURT (as known on the Ghanaian market) AND SELL (research indicates that every biochemist from KNUST has at one point thought of making yoghurt a business)? Their sole aim is to help Ghanaians enjoy healthy drinks ceteris paribus.
Friend, make yoghurt a part of your diet. It is not only good for the lactose intolerant but for you as well.

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