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‘Let thy food be thy medicine’



A siren from a hearse in a village could send a spine-chilling fear among the villagers not a long time ago here in Lesotho. Its sheer sight would leave the whole village in eerie silence for weeks to come. It was feared and was a disturbing sight that signified a passing away of one of the village members. Death was rare, one would not see any funeral procession for months. If there was a funeral service at any given time, businesses were closed, farming activities halted, people would speak in whispers until after the burial. These were the connotations of respect to the deceased. Life as we know it has changed, people are dying in high numbers so much that attending two funerals concurrently has become the norm. A parade to the cemetery no longer compels the shops to close doors as was the norm, blaring sounds of paid juke boxes are no longer frowned upon when the hearse passes by. Obituaries that used to grab listeners’ attention when read on radios no longer spark that interest, in fact we will rather change channels because it is too boring to listen to a list of dead bodies being read out. What happened to us? Have we grown numb to the pains of death or have we gotten accustomed to the passing away of people so much that we no longer care? Death is now common, so much that time-table of burials have become the order of the day to avoid congestion at the burial sites. Yes, death does finally come to us all, but the sheer numbers of funerals each weekend are worrying. Ask anyone who has been to a funeral in the past weeks or months, they all have one thing to tell, mofu o ne a kula ka ‘nete (the deceased was really sick). So, are we dying like ants mainly because we are sick, despite medical advancements and sophisticated apparatuses meant to prolong our lives? We are getting sicker and sicker each passing decade. Our people are dropping like flies because of the “diseases of civilisation”. These have been proved by scientific evidence to be diseases positively correlated to Western diet – obesity, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, acne, dementia, the list is too long to fit this article. We have been told to “eat less and move more”, but the advice is as bad as it has ever been. We get fat despite our strict adherence to this advice. We are told to never skip breakfast, eat a balanced diet, to eat our fruits, but still our obesity rate has sky-rocketed through the charts. The dietary guidelines have left us more confused and frustrated by a fact that our health is getting worse by the day. We have left our lives in the hands of the leviathans only interested in profit making not health. Ours is a “profit-care” not a health-care system. Scientific studies meant to make our health better are heavily funded by the very same food industry dishing out sub-standard meals for our consumption. The system is well rigged against the very people it was supposed to serve. It is well known that a high consumption of refined sugars and processed carbohydrates, void of nutrients, are among the food groups that are causing all kinds of metabolic dysfunctions. But the cereal companies are seen leading and funding the so called “studies” to find “solutions” to our metabolic problems. U keke ua qosa thokolosi ho moloi. We are frequently bombarded with ‘flashy’ and ‘glossy’ advertisements telling us we should take our breakfast without fail. The purported breakfast meals are nothing but refined sugar and carbohydrates, none of which are essential for our optimal health. Millions are poured into advertising these “junk” products, bearing names of highly respected health organisations across the globe, masquerading as “healthy” foods. We are cajoled, coaxed and by all means convinced through the media to consume more and more of these cheap toxic ‘food’ despite our failing health caused by the same food. A type 2 diabetic is told to continue consuming refined carbohydrates and sugary food stuff as long as he or she takes her medication well despite the fact that over consumption of these foods is making us very sick. Our doctors, and of course our nutritionists recommend to patients to consume more than half of their total energy intake every day from carbohydrates. As long as our health care is in bed with the food and pharmaceutical industry, the two Goliaths seeking profits over and above everything else, we are on our own. Maybe the best advice so far comes from one of the leading medical Doctors by the name of Sarah Hallberg. She advises that in order to reclaim our health back, we should start first by ignoring the dietary guidelines as we know them. Hers are simple rules for eating. If the food is packaged, and has the following imprinted on it: light, low fat, or fat-free, leave it in the grocery store because if they took the fat out, they surely have put more sugar and chemicals in it.   One of the suggested methods is to try by all means to prepare your own meal. Real food does not come in a box and no one should tell you real food is natural. This you should know by just looking at it. Meat has to look like meat. Despite what the adverts tell you, do not snack. Eat when you are hungry and do not eat when you are not. The hearses, with their spooky headlights, will be visiting our villages once more in the next coming days. There will be several funeral services this coming weekend, and there will still be more in the next. Many of the departed will be gone because of the diseases that are reversible, and could be cured by proper nutrition. So, one of the solutions to this metabolic pandemic that kills our people in numbers, is exceedingly clear. We should stop using medicine to treat food-related diseases. For the disease whose root cause is processed carbohydrates and refined sugars, take away sugar and carbohydrates or at least cut back on them. Maybe we should remember what we used to know. We knew it a long time ago: “let thy food be thy medicine”, this was said thousands of years ago, and today, in this day and age we should get back that notion. We must never allow our own forks and knifes to dig our graves. l Tšepang Ledia is a Public Relations Officer at Lesotho Electricity Company. He writes in his own capacity. For feedback, send to: Tšepang Ledia

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