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Health Alert: Cheap food comes with a price

By Vision Reporter

Added 28th June 2010 03:00 AM

ALTHOUGH some people may get away with it, Jennifer Kalenzi, a 39-year-old mother of three, once became a victim of expired food.

ALTHOUGH some people may get away with it, Jennifer Kalenzi, a 39-year-old mother of three, once became a victim of expired food.

By Gilbert Kidimu and Juliet Kasirye

ALTHOUGH some people may get away with it, Jennifer Kalenzi, a 39-year-old mother of three, once became a victim of expired food.

Kalenzi bought cookies which were on a stock clearance sale at 70% less than the standard price. “They tasted normal but after about two hours my youngest son got food poisoning. All of us soon had diarrhoea and stomach pains. I thought we were going to die,” narrates Kalenzi.

Not even the drugs prescribed in a nearby clinic helped them. “We had to go to Mulago Hospital where we were all admitted for three days,” she adds.

Faisal Ssempebwa, a shop-owner says he usually sells food after its sell-by date because there is a high demand for it. He gets most of this food from big shops and supermarkets which dispose of it after the sell-by date.

“If food is well packed, even if it has expired, people can consume it without being worried. Of course it is cheaper and that is what people want,” Ssempebwa says.

Many urban residents are quick to pay for cheap food. Sometimes it is the cheaper eating joint, drink or type of food.

But cheap food usually comes with a price. Many times this food is lacking in either hygiene or nutritional value and could prove to be more expensive.

Jolly Nankunda, a doctor at Mengo Hospital, says lack of proper dish storage in some restaurants leads to poor hygiene. “Heaps of garbage in the cooking area can also lead to diseases like diarrhoea and dysentery.”

Charles Namisi, a doctor at Mulago Hospital, says cheap eating places usually lack the basic minimum standards of hygiene.

“Customers are likely to pick infections, such as cholera, typhoid, Hepatitis A, bacterial infections and worms, or food poisoning from the contaminated food,” he says.

Red meat vs fresh fish
Many people would rather eat red meat than fish because fish costs more. However, fish is an excellent source of fatty acids, vitamins and minerals that benefit the body.

Amos Mulindwa, a doctor at Care Clinic in Kitintale, says eating fish helps to prevent heart disease, lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

The saturated animal fat in red meat can cause heart disease. “Research shows that people who eat red meat frequently face twice the risk of colon cancer than those who eat it less often. Red meat is also thought to increase the risk of arthritis,” discloses Mulindwa.

Soda vs fresh juice
While fresh fruit juice might cost sh3,000 a glass, a bottle of soda costs sh1,000 in most middle class restaurants.

However, soda and other carbonated soft drinks contain a high amount of sugar, calories and harmful additives with no nutritional value, according to

Studies have linked the consumption of soda to obesity, tooth decay and heart disease.

Studies on animals show that phosphorus, a common ingredient in soda, can deplete calcium in the body, hence weakening bones.
On the other hand, fresh juice has none of these problems.

White bread vs brown bread
Note that not all brown bread is actually cereal bread. Some bakeries put brown food colour in white bread and dupe the public that it is brown bread.

Gloria Tsung, a nutritionist, writes on that high fibre foods, such as wholegrain breads and cereals, can be an effective part of any weight loss programme.

“They take longer to digest and create a feeling of fullness, which discourages overeating. “Whole grains also increase movement of food through the digestive tract. Wheat fibre can bind certain toxins, such as secondary bile acids, oxidised fatty acids and carcinogens, and remove them from the large bowel.

A fibre diet is also associated with decreased risk of developing colon cancer. On the other hand, white bread is “dead” bread. The flour used to make white bread is chemically bleached,” says Tsung.

Dried beans/peas vs fresh beans/ peas
Mulindwa says the soluble fibre in beans can help improve your cholesterol levels and lower the risk of coronary heart disease.

He says antioxidants, like those found in beans, have been linked to lowering the risk for some types of cancers and colorectal.

“Beans also slow the rise in blood sugar after a meal, which makes them a great choice for people with diabetes,” he says.

However, when beans or peas are shrivelled up and hard to cook; to make them more digestible, it is best to discard the water in which they are soaked. Unfortunately, you also lose a lot of minerals that way.

Fast food vs balanced diet
Mulindwa says eating healthy meals will build your body’s immunity and prevent certain illnesses. It helps to prevent heart disease, some types of cancer and diabetes. Healthy eating also lowers high blood pressure.

Health Alert: Cheap food comes with a price

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