Eating for the Earth: a response to Covid 19
In response to the well-received Covid and Climate Crisis education workshops offered to teachers in SA by the GSS team, schools in the midlands have requested a further workshop to investigate how diet and lifestyle factors can contribute to the quality of life for us and how we protect ourselves from getting sick during the pandemic.
Out of every 100 people in SA who have died as a result of covid, 73% had other co-morbidities and over 50% of these had Diabetes. Diabetes Type 2 is a lifestyle disease mainly caused by a poor diet of sugars, saturated animal fats and processed food. In a time when we have so little control over this pandemic, surely, we should take ownership over the things we can control like our diet.
The workshop looked at the stats and figures of co-morbidities and also explained the basic pathology behind different diet related diseases such as diabetes 2, high blood pressure and cholesterol. Teachers were horrified when they realised how easy it is to consume a modern diet of hidden sugars, fats and other proceeded foods. Our taste buds, one lady commented, have developed an addiction for the processed and unnatural food groups.
Animal products, it was concluded are not only devastating for the environment with a huge carbon footprint, but in excess, they are detrimental to our health. Whole food plants like grains, leafy greens “imfinos”, vegetables and fresh fruit provide all the essential nutrients with none of the cholesterol and added glucose, unlike animal products which are full of added hormones, antibiotics and artery clotting cholesterol as well as added sugars and salts. As our pancreas gears up to produce more insulin, the weight scales slide upwards and our poor hearst pump harder to distribute our blood to parts of the body we need it most like our brain. All in all, the message is simple: eat more plant-based food, exercise moderately, sleep well and enjoy life. Your body and the planet will reward your efforts.
Bawinile Mkhize from the Provincial DBE said “It so simple, eat plant based food and you can take better control over your immunity and life style diseases. I know many friends and family members who have diabetes and heart conditions and when I look at their diet I can understand why. We really need to be teaching the children about healthy nutrition. In my family, my youngest daughter doesn’t like meat, its me who like meat and needs to change. Sometime the older people are more resistant to change but I am going to do things differently from now on and incorporate local season vegetables and Mnfino in our meatless meals.”
Sthembile Tshabalala a teacher at Kwangubeni Primary school commented, “I found the information on nutrition particularly interesting. It brought back forgotten knowledge systems and the value of an immune boosting, nutritional plant-based diet found in plants that grow in our gardens.” She went onto say that teachers had now felt empowered to protect themselves. “Thank you for helping us to be proactive to protect ourselves, to save water, and bring back our culture”.
The workshops were concluded with a hands-on practical session using the herbs available like Aloe Vera, Lavender, Rosemary and in-season plants like onions, garlic and lemons to make some inexpensive immune supporting remedies. They even got to taste a delicious G-BOMS ( Greens, Beans,Onions, Mushroom, Seeds) salad. Teachers are now far more informed with proactive measures to help them build their immune system and be in a better position should they get Covid or any other flu/cold virus.