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Friday, January 28, 2022

Health Dangers of Nigeria’s Rice Revolution

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Olufemi Kusahttps://olufemikusa.com
Chief Femi Kusa was the engine room of the Guardian Newsroom for over 17 years. I am first a journalist and a Nature Doctor and I am delighted to share with you right on my site the latest discovery news straight from the herbal health world to turn the gaze of health seekers away from man-made poisonous drugs to healing medicines of Mother Nature anchored in the eternal Will of God. Whatsapp: 08094226112 / 08034004247 Call: 08116759749/08034004247

WHENEVER I see my son load up on white rice for lunch or dinner, I am unable to restrain myself from warning him that he is playing with ‘‘fire”. Many parents tell me their children are like him…. White rice gobblers. I used to shout or scream to no avail until he caught the bug, hitting the ceiling of pre-obesity in a bodymass index (BMI) test. He is luckier than most other children of his age who, hooked on white rice, develop such diseases as Type 2 diabetes, heart problems, obesity, beri-beri, muscle and nerve degeneration, eye and kidney challenges, to mention a few of the problems which can arise from the consumption of mountains of white rice every day.

I become more concerned about the health of voracious Nigerian rice eaters when I heard the good news about Nigeria’s RICE REVOLUTION in only three years of the Buhari Administration in which many of his pathological haters do not see anything good. Before Buhari came to power in 2015, Nigeria depended almost 100 percent on rice imports to feed itself, rice having become one of its staple foods. But about three years on by last year, Nigeria was growing about 85 percent of the rice it consumed every year. Rice price is crashing. Farm output is growing. And there are indications that the rice fields will balloon more next year, leaving no gap between need and production to be filled with imports. In fact, Nigeria is looking forward to becoming a rice exporting nation with rice price so down at home that it would be tempting to eat it three times a day. That is where nutrition specialists are likely to have sleepless nights and professional headaches.

Nigeria’s Rice History

When I was a boy in the 1950s, we ate rice only on special days such as during Easter Monday picnic, Christmas, birthdays or when a child was ill and the mother wished to pamper him or her. Even then, the rice was native rice, grown organically and unmilled. Women had a hell of a time destoning it in the kitchen, and it may not be totally free of stones in the rice pot or in the lunch or dinner plate. That was why uncle Ben’s Rice, sparkling white from the rice mills and stone free, made an instant market success, although it was less nutritious and more hazardous to health than Nigerian native rice. How Nigeria became a heavy eater of factory processed rice over the decades is mind boggling, from data provided by www.indexmundi.com.

1968…..                        250,000 metric tonnes

1969…..                        258,000 tonnes

1970                –           285,000 tonnes

1971                –           313,000 tonnes

1972                –           321,000 tonnes

1973                –           344,000 tonnes

1974                –           352,000 tonnes

1975                –           396,000 tonnes

1976                –           500,000 tonnes

1977                –           750,000 tonnes

1978                –           950,000 tonnes

1979                –           845,000 tonnes

1980                –           850,000 tonnes

1981                –           1,227,000 tonnes

1982                –           1,337,000 tonnes

1983                –           1,648,000 tonnes

1984                –           1,220,000 tonnes

1985                –           1,249,000 tonnes

1986                –           1,042,000 tonnes

1987                –           1,152,000 tonnes

1988                –           1,350,000 tonnes

1989                –           1,550,000 tonnes

1990                –           2,757,000 tonnes

1991                –           2,207,000 tonnes

1992                –           2,436,000 tonnes

1993                –           2,221,000 tonnes

1994                –           2,136,000 tonnes

1995                –           2,000,000 tonnes

1996                –           2,175,000 tonnes

1997                –           2,712,000 tonnes

1998                –           2,815,000 tonnes

1999                –           2,866,000 tonnes

2000                –           3,029,000 tonnes

2001                –           3,051,000 tonnes

2002                –           3,307,000 tonnes

2003                –           3,670,000 tonnes

2004                –           3,750,000 tonnes

2005                –           3,800,000 tonnes

2006                –           4,040,000 tonnes

2007                –           4,100,000 tonnes

2008                –           4,220,000 tonnes

2009                –           4,353,000 tonnes

2010                –           4,800,000 tonnes

2011                –           5,600,000 tonnes

2012                –           5,700,000 tonnes

2013                –           5,800,000 tonnes

2014                –           6,100,000 tonnes

2015                –           6,400,000 tonnes

2016                –           6,500,000 tonnes

2017                –           6,700,000 tonnes

2018                –           6,900,000 tonnes

Of the 6,700 ,000 metric tones consumed in 2017, Nigeria was able to produce 5,800,000 metric tones, which meant that import accounted for a mere 900,000 metric tonnes. This must have been bad news and bad business for Nigeria’s suppliers of rice such as Thailand where unemployment in the rice fields must be causing social problems by now.

The Politics of Rice

Nigeria’s rice resolution caused political storms in and outside the country. The government wished to stop spending money to import rice, to create employment not for citizens of other countries while Nigerians could be employed in their own country growing rice to feed themselves. Thailand and the other exporters wished to keep their citizens employed growing rice to feed Nigerians and earning foreign exchange from Nigeria in the process. It would be prepared to sell at even half of cost price if that would make its rice cheaper than Nigeria’s and more desirable by Nigerian consumers. With the Nigerian government ban on rice importation bitting and frustrating Thailand Benin Republic became a beneficiary. The economy of Benin Republic, Nigeria’s western neighbor, thrives on smuggling of banned goods into Nigeria. And the smuggling of petroleum products outside Nigeria. Thus, mountains of rice are imported into Benin Republic by Nigeria importers, Benin Republic benefits from tariff income and looks the other way despite bilaterial agreement between both countries to fight smuggling. In desperation, the Buhari Administration instructed border closure with dire economic consequences for both countries.

Nigeria winning the war   

From all indications, the war is only about one year away from ending. The government public relations machinery is poor. It is third parties who have been calming nerves frayed by high rice price with soothing reminders that laughter follows the screams of a woman in having a baby in the labour room. That laughter on the dining table can be seen already in the flicker of hope or silver lining presented by two rice projects in southern Nigeria. These are the rice seedling plant in Cross River State and the rice mill of the Lagos State government. Cross River State’s rice seedling mill, the biggest in Africa, will employ about 500 workers and earn a N70 billion naira revenue every year. The rice mills in Imota, Lagos State, the biggest in sub-Saharan Africa, will employ 200,000 workers in the rice chain and process 32 metric tonnes of rice per hour. That means that this plant can mill the 5,800,000 metric tones of rice produced in Nigerian last year in 181,250 hours or 7,552 hours or 315 days.  This must be unable to handle Nigeria’s rice consumption with dispatch. Happily, many rice mills are being built all over the country. The one at Imota will mill rice produced in south-western Nigeria.

Havocs of the Mills

We do not know the brands of Nigeria’s rice mills. So, we cannot talk as yet about the nutritional defects of the rice which would come out of them. But we do know that the rice which goes into any rice meal doesn’t come out at the other end in one whole or good piece. For it emerges as prece work. The virgin rice, that is rice before it goes into the mills, has a covering known as the hull. This is the first part of it the machines remove. The dehulled rice is brown rice. The brown part, called the bran, is where the grains nutrients are most concentrated.

The average rice business man does not wish to sell this brand of milled rice for various reasons. First, he may need to store his stocks for months or transport them overseas. For example, Thailand, Nigeria’s major rice supplier, is reputed to be the biggest rice growing ration on earth, accounting for about 30 percent of the worlds output. The rice with bran is so nutrient dense that weevils and other insects like to feast on it. This will be bad business for the rice merchant. So, he asks the machines to scrapes off the bran. Scraping it off reveals the white part of the rice grain we are all familiar with. It contains the germ or the embrayo which the plant in Calabar, Cross River State, will be extracting to grow into seedlings for about N70billion revenue every year, under the watchful care of Chinese magers. The white rice is pleasing to the rice merchant because, deprived of nutrients which can be easily oxidized or spoiled, it can keep for about one week after cooking, whereas the brown rice spoils about the day after. More harm is done to white rice when it is sent for parboiling in boilers to further extract nutrients which stubbornly cling to it after the bran layer has been scraped off. Polishing, another phase of rice processing, adds more insult to the injury by removing more nutrients. The Nigerian man and woman or child who gleefully enjoys a meal of appetizing white rice does not know what harmful or devitalized food the rice miller and the rice merchant have brought to his or her lunch or dinner or even breakfast plate.

On the plate is an almost pure carbonhydrate meal, which is far from the intention of Mother Nature, the provider. Mother Nature provides rice as a balance food which comprises carbonhydrate, fats, proteins, minerals, vitamins and lots more.

Among these vitamins, for example, are Thiamin (Vitamin B1) Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Niacin (Vitamin B3).

Among its many uses in the body, Thiamine is a vitamin for the nerve and for the muscles and the digestion of carbohydrates. If Nature formulated thiamine into the carbonhydrate stuff of rice and man removes it, it means a rice meal may not be digested or well digested and, if it has to be well digested, the body would have to release some of its thiamine stocks for this purpose. This goes on most of the time because most foods today are processed and, in Nigeria, we eat mainly carbohydrate foods. Imagine your heart, a muscle, releasing their thiamine stock for digestion. They would become weak and flabby as most people’s hearts are, enlarging sooner than later.

Palpitations and hypertension may not be too distant. All the time, we search too far away from the causes of these ailments, sometimes blaming other people for it if we are under the influence of spiritual or religious acrobats who call themselves Pastors or Alfas, without realizing the causes are in our kitchens and dinning tables! .

The Japanese who discovered the disease called Beri-bere are not like us in this regard. In www.healthline.com, we learn:

Beri-beri is a disease caused by vitamin B1 deficiency also known as Thimine deficiency. There are two types of the disease, wet beriberi and dry beriberi.. wet beriberi affects the heart and the circulatory system. In extreme cases, wet beriberi can cause heart failure. dry beri-beri damages the nerves and can lead to decreased multi strength  and eventually paralysis. Beri-beri can be life threatening if is isn’t treated. If you have access to foods rich in thiamine, our chances of  developing beriberi are low. Today, beriberi mostly occurs in people with an alcohol use disorder.

Wet beriberi symptoms include shortness of breath among physical activity, waking up short of breath, rapid heart rate, swollen lower legs. Dry beriberi symptoms include decreased muscle function, particularly in the lower legs, tingling or loss of feeling in the feet and hands, pain, mental infusion, difficulty speaking, vomiting, involuntary eye movement, paralysis. In extreme cases, Beriberi is associated with wernicke korsakoff syndrome. Wernicke encephalopathy and korsakoff syndrome are two forms of brain damage caused by thiamine deficiency. Weenicke encephalopathy damage regions of the brain called the thalamus and Hypothalamus. This condition can cause;

  1. Confusion
  2. Memory loss
  3. Loss of muscle co-ordination
  4. Usual problems such as rapid eye movement and double vision.

Korsakoff syndrome is the result of permanent damage to the region of the brain where memory is formed. It can cause;

  1. Loss of memory
  2. Inability to form new memory
  3. Hallucinations

Beriberi is most common in region of the world where the diet includes unenriched processed white rice which only has a tenth of the amount of thiamine as brown rice. Other factors may cause thiamine deficiency as well. These include;

  1. Alcohol abuse which can make it hard for your body to absorb and store thiamine
  2. Genetic beriberi is a rare condition that prevents the body from absorbing thiamine
  3. Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid gland)
  4. Extreme nausea and vomiting in pregnancy
  5. Bariatric surgery
  6. AIDS
  7. Prolonged diarrhea or use of diuretics (medications that make you urinate)

More). Breast feeding mother need daily thiamine in their diet. Infant drinking Breast milk or formula low in thiamine are at risk, for thiamine deficiency.

Thank a million, www.healthline.com. Thanks, also, Mr. S.O. Kolade (S.O.K.), my Health Science teacher at Olivet Baptist High School, Oyo (1964-68), a born teacher who taught his class many ramifications of this disease that , in 1970, I diagnosed it easily in an uncle sick and bedridden at home , took him to KETU CLINIC in Lagos, where a doctor confirmed the diagnosis. I have seen it presented in many cases since then and, all too often, the challenged people are on a heavy white rice diet. To such people, I always suggest the inclusion in the daily diet of a good dosage of Vitamin B1 and a Vitamin B-50 procured from a reputable health food store.

As you settle before the next meal of white rice, think of the following facts. In the milling of the bran, the bran part, 8o percent of the thiamine is lost. Iron and Riboflabin losses occur as well. Iron deficiency may cause anemia. Deficiency of Riboflabin (Vitamin B2) may cause cataracts of the eye lens. The symptoms of a deficiency may also include sore threat, redness and swelling of the mucus lining in the mouth, cracks on the lips and those breaks in the corners of the mouth, reddish, in flame tongue, scaly and moist skin. As proteins and Vitamin E are lost as well in the milling of rice, deficiencies of these food substances cannot be ruled out in populations where milled and polished rice has being a staple food for decades. Protein deficiency means the body will not be well maintained in terms of the repair of cellular damage, and old, tired or worn out molecules will not be quickly and regularly replaced. This may hasten the aging process. Vitamin E deficiency is a serious nutritional sin. We need it for maximum oxygen utilization, as an antioxidant, for heart, eye and muscle health, to prevent the blood from clotting and for reproductive health, among its many other benefits. The devitalization of rice by the rice mills, to classify it among the foodless foods i.e. processed foods, is incomplete. Minerals such as calcium and magnesium are also lost at the mills. In the home or industrial kitchen, there is a final touch to tantalization when, either when, either before cooking rice or half- way through cooking, the rice is washed and the cooking water drained to remove dirt, dust and farm chemical such as pesticides or herbicides. The water drained off the pots takes away lot of potassium and minerals. Potassium is needed by the muscles, including the heart, a bundle of muscles. It is needed to neutralias  poisons and acids, to prevent the blood cell from becoming acidic and  toxic. It is needed at the cellular level to extract oxygen from the plasma for use in the cells. Potassium  shows us how important it is when we are sore or a ching all over and we consume potassium rich foods and vegetables, and the soreness and a ching disappear. Dr. Mat Gerson, that Germen doctor who cured his perenal migraines with vegetable and fruit juices was among the first doctors and researchers & to teach our generation to respect potassium. He cured many cases of terrible cancers, including those complicated by chemotherapy and radiation, by including generous amounts of potassium- rich juices in the diets of his patient. And he left us  with the theory that benign and malignant tumors such as uterine fibroid or cancer occur when the cell loses potassium and sodium fills the gap. A potassium – rich cell is oxidative (oxygen using) while one deficient in potassium is fermentative (non-oxygen dependant). If potassium is scarce in the cell and oxygen cannot be extracted from the plasma, the cell would change its living mode to fermentative lifestyle, which is the lifestyle of all cancers. This is why cancer patients fare better when they improve the oxygen content of their tissues either by consuming potassium-rich foods, infusing oxygen to their diets through green foods (Spirulina, Kale, Wheat grass, Barley grass, Lemon grass, Pawpaw leaf, Chlorella, Cilantro etc), through the hyperbaric oxygen chamber or by taking Ozone injections regularly.

A staple processed rice diet over time may also cause constipation, diabetes, obesity fatigue, high blood pressure and related conditions, including stroke and heart attack. Lest I forget, I would like to add a last note on beriberi. It was discovered in a Japanese prison. The inmate were fed polished rice about three times a day. Soon, they began to develop muscle weakness and were unable to stand unaided without falling. No one suspected the processed rice diet. Whenever doctor came around and asked the afflicted ones to raise their legs, they tried and screamed beriberi, beriberi in their language, that meant “I can’t, I can’t”. But, thank goodness remnants of the prisoners food was thrown out to chickens which foraged around the waste bins. Soon, the chickens, too, were unable to stand or walk. The link thus established, the nutritional values of whole grain rice was compared with those of milled, polished or processed rice and … the differences were crystal clear.

For a large portion of the Nigerian population,there is no escape from milled rice.For wholegrain rice is too expensive although,ironically,it should be cheaper than processed rice,since it has required no financial investment to transform it,positively or negatively, from farm status.Thus,we would have to live with it.Living with it,we would have to learn how we can eat it,even as a staple food,without crumbling under malfeances.First,nutritionally civilised people do not eat a mountain of a rice meal at a sitting.One or two service spoonfuls should be enough,complemented with salads and vegetables such as carrots.Before I eat lake rice,for example,I spread on if the powder of one or two of my favourite greens…kale,spirulina,wheatgrass etc.Kale gives me àll the 23 or so amino àcids(Proteins)and carotenoids,including lutein and zeazanthin which I need for my eyes,and other nutrients.If I go for red kidney bean pod powder,I may wish to burn sugar,if my vision appears blurry or my random blood sugar has been rising,or if I feel the need to prune weight.Should I think of detoxifying,I go for chlorella.I also do ignore the leafy greens such as basil or spinach and,sometimes the florets of marigold flower or the powder.The idea is not to eat rice alone,or eat mountains of it.Everyday,I see young and old people toying with fire as they eat rice e as a whole meal.Some who fall on staircases or on the road because of weak muscles have improved or left these ailments behind once they changed their nutritional lifestyles.One of them who was introduced to me by Mrs Ronke Fashokun has had healthier limbs for more than one year now and is no longer falling while hurrying to cross a road.

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