An agricultural expert, Mr Khalifah Onu, has said the rising consumption of junk food in the country is leading to the appearance of several diseases.
Onu, the Managing Director, Combined Business Services (CBS) Agro Limited, and producer of Hogargilem Natural drink, said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, on Thursday in Abuja.
He said that a new diet health paradigm was evolving, which placed more emphasis on the positive aspects of diet.
“The new lifestyle adopted by Nigerians today has changed their basic food habits,” he said, indicating that the changes had led to incidents like obesity, now a global issue.
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“Heart disease continues to be a primary cause of death in most of the developing countries, followed by cancer, osteoporosis, arthritis and many others.
“Consumers being frustrated with the expensive high-tech, disease-treatment approach in the modern medicines are seeking complementary or alternative beneficial products and the red tape of managed care, makes nutraceuticals particularly appealing,” he said.
Onu noted that nutraceutical is the hybrid of ‘nutrition’ and ‘pharmaceutical’.
“Nutraceuticals are food or part of food playing a significant role in modifying and maintaining normal physiological function that maintains healthy human beings.
“The principal reasons for the growth of the nutraceutical market worldwide, are the current population and the health trends. This is not particular to Nigeria,” he said.
Onu said that the food products used as nutraceuticals can be categorised as dietary fibre, prebiotics, probiotics, polyunsaturated fatty acids, antioxidants and other types of herbal/natural foods.
“These nutraceuticals help in combating some of the major health problems of the century, such as obesity, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, osteoporosis, arthritis, diabetes, and cholesterol.
“On the whole, nutraceutical has led to the new era of medicine and health, in which the food industry has become a research-oriented sector,” he added.
The managing director said that with the ever-changing lifestyle of Nigerians, the antioxidant defence systems are often overloaded, resulting in oxidative stress.
“Moreover, the levels of antioxidant defence mechanism decrease appreciably with age. These may result in the development of a great many diseases,” he said.
Onu said that the response of nutraceuticals could vary from person to person, adding that it had proven health benefits.
He said that the consumption of nutraceuticals within their acceptable recommended dietary intakes, would keep diseases at bay and allow Nigerians to maintain their overall good health.