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‘Healthy lifestyle: Why you should avoid consumption of trans fats, others’

The federal government has advised Nigerians to adopt healthy lifestyles in order to protect themselves from diseases and live long. Dr Salma Ibrahim Anas, Director…

The federal government has advised Nigerians to adopt healthy lifestyles in order to protect themselves from diseases and live long.

Dr Salma Ibrahim Anas, Director Family Health, Federal Ministry of Health, stated this in Abuja during the ministerial briefing and update on COVID-19 response and other developments in the health sector.

She said maintaining healthy lifestyle involves choices you make about what you eat, and attitude towards your environment among others.

She said every choice one made has an impact on his or her health.

She warned Nigerians against the consumption of trans fats, saying they are very dangerous to health.

Trans fats are a form of unsaturated fat, and can be either natural or artificial. Artificial trans fats are mostly formed during hydrogenation, a process in which hydrogen is added to vegetable oil to form a semisolid product known as partially hydrogenated oil.

Dr Anas said, “Unfortunately a lot of unhealthy fats have infiltrated our markets but we are working very closely with the National Agency for Food and Drugs Control and Administration (NAFDAC) to ensure that we avoid these fats.

 “Our fats are hydrogenated, called trans fats and this is done to make them solid, so that they don’t burn off easily in the frying pan.

“But unfortunately, most business marketers, especially those that are in the food business, use trans fat and this is what is mostly used today in bread making, in  cakes and several other snacks that we consume every day.”

While saying that trans fats generated a lot of problems to the circulation system, she said it caused people to have heart problems.

Dr Anas said Nigeria has one of the highest incidences of heart problems in Africa, all as a result of the consumption of unhealthy fats.

“Most of the fats have cholesterol and most of these fats are low-density cholesterol which is very dangerous, and it is called the bad fat.

“But there are healthy fats which give you high-density cholesterol. So we encourage Nigerians to be very careful and avoid all things that are trans fat,” she said, adding that margarine is a common form of trans fat.

“Nigerian should avoid it as much as they can. Nigerians like margarine, they even ask you to send it to them even when they are abroad, and they will tell you they want the Nigerian margarine; that Nigerian margarine is trans fat, we should avoid it as much as we can.”

She said Nigerians should generally eat healthy. “Most Nigerians will say they have access only to carbohydrate foods, but we have a lot of fruits, vegetables and can also balance with different varieties of protein and healthy fats. So, it’s not just quantity but quality is also vital.”

Advising on other ways Nigerians can maintain a healthy lifestyle, Dr Anas said, “I will start by saying drink a lot of water. Water is supposed to be priceless.

“Nigerians should drink adequate water to ensure that they are well hydrated at all times – whether it is during the cold or hot weather – to maintain their hydration.

“They should also ensure adequate sleep, a minimum of  eight hours per day. It is very important and very critical so that you can refresh yourself.

 “Exercise is very important too, and we must exercise at least 30 minutes’ walk per day. If you can do it most days of the week; you should walk to ensure that you are living healthy.”

The doctor also advised against smoking shisha saying it is one of the major causes of lung cancer in the country.

“Some people  even go the extreme by adding some perfume to shisha before smoking it, and this causes  so many health challenges  in the country,” she added.

She also advised people to have a work-life balance, saying one has to be alive before one can work.

“We should make the right choices so that we remain healthy and live long and make meaningful contributions to the development of Nigeria,” she added.


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