Daily Trust (Abuja)

Nigeria: Are Fruits, Vegetables the Answer to Healthy Living?

analysis

Calabar — Eye specialists and vegetarians have said fruits have special minerals that can restore sight to the blind, the partially-blind and those with some eye defects.

This assertion has brought hope to those who have some eye defects as according to the experts eating certain fruits and vegetables continuously can correct bad eyesight, since some fruits have curative materials to restore full sight!

Recently an NGO, the International Vegetarian Fellowship met in Calabar to educate people on the importance of taking up vegetarian lifestyle in order to check their weight and live a disease-free life.

Speaking on the claims propounded by the Fellowship, the chief ophthalmologist at the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital (UCTH), Dr Dennis Nkanga said he agrees with them that fruits and vegetables have the capability to improve human health and can also help solve many eye problems but he had some reservations about fruits actually restoring the sight of a permanently blind person.

"Fruits and vegetables are very rich in vitamins, and some of these vitamins contain anti-oxidants which are good for eye treatment. Some of these vitamins help to produce 'visual statement'. There are metabolic diseases which can cause damage to the eyes. Pawpaw, carrots, etc can help to correct these."

Dr Nkanga has however challenged the vegetarians to avail their claims and findings for public and scientific scrutiny so that the work of specialists could be lessened.

A powerful spiritual leader regarded as an authority on the subject, Leader Olumba Olumba Obu who is the Sole Spiritual Head of the Brotherhood of the Cross and Star whom adherents claim survives majorly on some fruits said, "Many of those who are partially blind can practice vegetarianism by eating fruit, grains, legumes and vegetables and their eyes will be opened.

"Those suffering from hypertension will have their blood normalized if they chose to practice vegetarianism. Many who are certified anemic, by eating vegetarian diet, they will be filled with blood."

Leader Obu said if people take to vegetarianism effectively, they would no longer experience any form of sickness but would be full of health and spiritual power, adding that the blood content of pure vegetarians is more than enough to donate to many people.

"People at the point of death could have their life-span elongated and rejuvenated if they turned to eating much fruits and vegetables consistently", he maintained.

Obu faults those that incessantly fall sick because he said they eat flesh of animals which carries innumerable diseases. "When I look at those who continue to eat meat, fish, egg and drink milk, tears roll down my cheeks because these are the sources of their perennial sickness. As soon as one begins to live on fruits, seeds and vegetables, you will become a new person. Vegetarians are powerful people and assorted ailments do not affect them."

Vegetarians are of the belief that some foods that human beings eat are really the cause of their assorted ailments, perennial ill-health and early death. Some even advance the debate that certain foods can make people become susceptible to some evil attacks!

In a presentation on excessive eating and how to live a drug-free life in Calabar, they stressed that much of the drugs, cigarettes and foods taken by man are poisonous and would continue to be harmful to him if he did not revert.

A staunch teetotaler advocating for healthy living, Paul Ugochukwu who is the current chairman of International Vegetarian Fellowship (IVF), renowned for the promotion of abstinence and the eating of natural foods, especially fruits and vegetables, said that people will continue to be afflicted with diverse diseases and predicaments as long as they continue to wallow in excessive drinking of alcohol and eating foods that are alien to their body.

The former airline pilot asked, "Why should people eat meat, fish, chicken, egg, etc instead of depending wholly on fruits, grains and vegetables which have complete medicinal properties to the human body, and this is the prescription from the divine essence?"

"Ignorance has made people to spend their fortunes to enrich pharmacists whereas they can live healthily without any reason to see doctors throughout their earthly lives by abstaining from excessive eating of assorted foods and drinking," he said.

Former president of the Norwegian Vegetarians Union, Parkson Edjeketa of the World Peace Committee has been prolific in his writings to promote vegetarianism. In one of his books, 'Vegetarian Reward', he said the intake of animal protein and fat is the major cause of high blood pressure, lamenting that doctors are hiding these important facts from people.

Parkson said, "For centuries medical science prominently declared the eating of fish and meat, eggs and milk as indispensable sources of protein but today after studious research these are found to be injurious to human health and major causes of ailing and early death."

Quoting from Journal of American Medical Association, he said many doctors are aware of the fact that high animal protein which they usually recommend measurably shortens human life span.

He also quoted Dr Gio B. Gori who was director of the National Cancer Institute's division of cancer cause and prevention as saying that the chemical additives, such as preservatives, artificial colours and flavours as prescribed by his colleagues are some of the major causes of cancer.

Patrick Akpan Ibanga, a private business man in his early 50s said when he was ill he visited several orthodox and unorthodox medical experts for many years without sustained cure.

"It was a doctor at LUTH in Lagos that said to me, 'since all the medications you have taken these many years did not really work on you, why not try fruits and vegetables for at least a week let's see what difference that would make."

He said he gave it a trial and he had his health restored, adding that he has since been depending much on these items.

James Richard is a nutritionist who works for a popular hotel in Eket Akwa Ibom State. He has however disagreed with these proponents of vegetarianism that eating of egg, fish and meat contributes to health hazards.

He said, "Although eating of much fruits and vegetables is good and recommendable yet research has shown that the complement of fish, egg, meat and their byproducts provide tremendous protein to build up the human body. It is not true that animals are carriers of diseases except for the ones that are sick."

Fish merchants have frowned at the position of these vegetarians, saying they are only expressing and championing personal beliefs which in the long run would not be acceptable to all.

They said for generations human beings have depended on fish and meat as their major sources of protein and health without pronounced side-effects.

Chief Ndem Okokon who has a fish depot outskirt of Calabar with much patronage from women traders said that people have been dying and many of them at very old age not necessarily because they ate fish and meat.

"Man can die from different causes. Are you sure these people are not out to sabotage our business? Such concept is strange. Eating fish makes you even healthier as against this new philosophy."

Alhaji Usman Abdul is one of the many roasted meat (suya) sellers at Bogobiri area of Calabar. He said it is strange to hear that eating of meat reduces life span and causes death amongst people. If this is true, he said, many of our grand fathers would not have survived as long as they did. He sees the vegetarian concept as introduction of another religion.

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