Poor eating habits killing Jamaicans - nutritionist
The practice of companies flooding the local market with a variety of processed foods has been given the brunt of the blame as one of the leading causes of untimely deaths in Jamaica.
Stating that he understands the reasoning behind companies adding preservatives and other chemicals to products, Dr E. Anthony Allen, a consultant in healthy lifestyle and wellness, added that they may give foods a long shelf life and good taste, but they kill.
"The big metropolitan companies, for their foods to remain fresh and not to be infested with insects, they put in various preservatives for long shelf life, which means that it can withstand days of shipping around the world and can stay on supermarket shelves for a long time," said Allen.
"Like with white rice, you remove parts of the rice that relate to germination (to kill protein content). The problem is that the rice will stay fresh, but will lose nutrient value. The same thing goes for flour. You have foods that are specially prepared for long shelf life, like cornflakes and other types of cereal, soft drinks and a variety of foods, and, therefore, it has additives, especially sugar and, in many cases, salt. In that process, the additives are destructive."
He outlined that companies usually make a habit of producing items with certain chemicals, which raise dopamine levels in the brain, leading to excess cravings for the items, which is unhealthy.
"I don't want to knock the food industries, but we have all these additives, which remove live protein components of foods, for long shelf life. It has been reported that additives to food, like salt, sugar and grease also stimulate dopamine in the brain, which is your brain's pleasure centre. The food then gives you a kick, a sense of pleasure. In that way, foods become addictive, and have negative effects on health," Allen highlighted.
... Gov't must make healthy foods more accessible - consultant
Healthy lifestyle and wellness consultant, Dr E. Anthony Allen, is adamant that the Government must play its role in making healthy foods more accessible to the public.
He is also of the opinion that if more is done from an education standpoint, the general transition to healthier eating becomes easier.
"Foods that are necessary for good health consist of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, as well as whole grains and small amounts of starch. Most Jamaicans and even people in the Western world are illiterate when it comes to nutrition. The point is that each individual family, community and institution has the responsibility to provide education on the subject as well as access to healthy food," Allen said.
"Through promoting agricul-tural programmes and backyard gardens/school gardens, the problem can be solved at the different levels. We should seek to find ways to increase our agricultural outputs to make the right foods accessible."