Ex-teacher fights lifestyle diseases with indigenous food

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Ex-teacher fights lifestyle diseases with indigenous food

06 June 2019

The Star

In Summary

• Mugai says few people died of lifestyle diseases in the past as their diet mainly consisted of traditional foods.

• Patient with high blood pressure says she manages condition with porridge using Mugai’s flour.
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A mug of porridge a day keeps the doctor away, says Sarah Mugai, a retired primary school teacher in Embu.

She has turned her passion for traditional foods into a new career.

The 60-year-old says she has lost friends due to poor diets. That is what led her to start promoting traditional foods often considered to be poor people’s diet.

“On retiring in 2016, I realised most people in my community had abandoned traditional foods, with some terming them food for the poor,” she told the Star.

Mugai said very few people died of lifestyle diseases in the past as their diet mainly consisted of traditional foods.

“My major challenge was reintroducing pumpkins, cassavas, arrowroots and sweet potatoes to persons who ate them when they were very young and somehow hated and developed a low opinion of these foods,” she said.

She enrolled for a three-month course in nutrition in a village women’s group where she learnt how to dry cassava and mill it to make flour.

Mugai began drying, milling and mixing flours in proportions for making porridge.

A patient battling high blood pressure said she is managing the condition with porridge using flour supplied by Mugai.

“It has cassava, sorghum, millet, arrowroots, pumpkins and bananas,” she said.

At Mugai’s home in Kandete village in Embu county, she slices pumpkins into small pieces. At the back of her house are modern drying units made of stone, wire mesh and polythene where she spreads the produce.

“Exposing them to direct sunlight makes them loose some nutrients,” she says. Inside the drying house are small pieces of varieties of indigenous produce.

She says dried pumpkin seeds boost libido in men. Sorghum and millet are good for blood sugar management while a mix of cassava, arrowroot, sweet potatoes, omena, lemon grass and chia seeds help manage high blood pressure.

Original post on The Star

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