'Keep Close to the Plant' is a healthy living concept devised by Dr Alfred Sparman, interventional cardiologist and CEO of The Sparman Clinic in Barbados.
'Keep Close to the Plant' adopts the mentality that many health problems associated with poor diet and exercise can be easily avoided by maintaining a diet that is mainly vegetable based. By avoiding fast food and animal based products such as cheese and red meat a healthier lifestyle can be maintained.
Fast foods or Convenience foods are usually high in;
• Saturates fat and trans-fats are generally known as the most harmful fats and are usually found in high concentrations in most fast or convenience foods. These fats when consumed regularly have been directly linked to increases in body fat leading potentially to obesity. Excessive consumption of these kids of fats can also lead to cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
• Salt is usually added to convenience foods to add flavour. Healthy consumption of salt should be no more than 2300mg per day in a healthy person, that’s about one teaspoon. However fast foods are usually packed with salt either directly or through other flavouring ingredients. Consumption of too much salt can lead to fluid retention, stress on the kidneys, thirst and high blood pressure.
• Sugar is present in almost every item of fast food, savoury or sweet, either in its direct form or via another state, such as high fructose corn syrup. This kind of refined sugar not only adds to the flavour of the food, but also gives the body an instant energy bolt making it addictive. In usually high quantities it’s quickly broken down in the body and usually stored as fat. Side effects of high sugar consumption include; acne, diabetes, high levels of fats (triglycerides)
• Flavourings, preservatives and colourings for the most part are derived from chemicals or other products such as petroleum, alcohol and the like. They add to the overall experience of consuming the food as well as extending its shelf life. However the health problems associated with consuming such chemicals is extensive, ranging from rashes and headaches, to cancer and liver failure.
• MSG or Monosodium glutamate is added to a plethora of fast foods for its flavor boosting qualities; however studies have directly linked it to obesity.
With all the additives and health problems related to fast food it is understandable to want to eat organic, however there are also health concerns related to red meat consumption. Although known to be rich in iron, zinc and protein, red meat is also high in saturated fat. There have also been links between red meat and colorectal cancer due to the hormones given to the animal to encourage growth before slaughter. Other health risks that have been related in the media to red meat consumption include Alzheimer’s, Osteoporosis, Arthritis, heart disease and food poisoning as well as other types of cancers.