WINDHOEK – A registered dietician has stressed the importance of taking in enough calcium because it reduces the chance of developing osteoporosis when older.
Annalien Turner of Eat Clean Namibia dieticians told New Era recently that drinking sugary beverages including soft drinks has become more common. These drinks are no longer consumed just as treats, she explained.
“We think we should drink soft drinks every day but we shouldn’t. We should drink water every day and milk is also important for the bones,” said Turner.
She said that people who do not take in enough calcium run the risk of developing osteoporosis, a medical condition in which the bones become brittle and fragile from loss of tissue, typically as a result of hormonal changes or deficiency of calcium or vitamin D.
“You build bones until you are 35 years old and from there you lose bones so if you don’t take in enough calcium you run the risk of developing osteoporosis,” said Turner.
Sher said osteoporosis is a silent disease.
“It is not like you are going to feel that you have got a headache. It is when you fall when you are older and you break a wrist or hip, or if you go for a bone scan and the results reveal that your bone density is not high and then you must just maintain and not lose bones too fast,” Turner added.
Parents have to be deliberate in feeding their children, especially girls, calcium-rich food because when they are teenagers they start thinking of dieting.
“The first thing they do as teenagers when dieting is to cut out the milk and dairy products and that is one of the worst things they can do,” said Turner.
Other calcium-rich food other than dairy products include seeds, sardines, salmon, beans, lentils, almonds, whey protein and some leafy greens.
She also touched on lifestyle diseases, saying that there is a direct link between being overweight and lifestyle diseases.
“Sometimes I attend to obese and really overweight people and they don’t have any risk factors but I would say they are few. If you are overweight you have a high risk of developing lifestyle diseases,” said Turner.
People can assess their risk of developing lifestyle diseases by assessing their body fat percentage as well as body mass index, amongst others.
But the most important one is the middle circumference. The fat there is very active fat and gives out a lot of inflammatory substances that are quite toxic, and the fat there is close to our organs, like the heart, she explained.
The contributing factors are eating habits, not exercising, not sleeping enough, especially women, said Turner.
“I don’t have data on that but my feeling is that after women have had children their sleeping patterns are impacted on because there is also a direct link between not sleeping enough, depression, stress and being overweight,” said the dietician further.
“It’s a pity that healthy food is expensive but there is also a perception that healthy food is expensive, although it is not always cheap.”
In order to reduce the risk of people developing lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure and some types of cancer, Turner believes that the government needs to “come in and play a role”.
“They either need to subsidise food or healthy food should be made cheaper,” she opined.
“If you can buy a two-litre soft drink for N$18 and you pay about N$30 for two litres of milk something is wrong. People are paying more for vegetables. But then I always say you need to invest in your health because health is wealth,” she added.