Nutritionist says ‘go local’
Monday, 09 November 2009 04:25 by Jude Lizama | Variety News Staff
WHEN thinking about healthy foods, “go local,” said Dr. Lois Englberger, research advisor for Pohnpei’s Island Food Company, who spoke at the 10th Annual Guam Diabetes Conference held at the Hilton Guam Resort and Spa in Tumon yesterday.
Englberger promoted the positive benefits of growing and eating more locally grown produce to reduce the skyrocketing rates of diabetes in the Micronesia region and endorsed the “Go Local” campaign.
Initiated in the 1980s by Bermin Weilbacher of Pohnpei, the “Go Local” concept goes beyond the idea of self production of food. It also promotes a range of objectives that includes culture, health, economy, environment and food security.
Research conducted in 1998 by Englberger confirmed foods grown in the FSM region such as Karat, giant swamp taro, breadfruit and pandanus contained high levels of nutrients such as provitamin A carotenoids, beta-carotene, riboflavin, zinc, calcium, iron, and fiber. These foods were found to protect against micronutrient deficiencies and certain non-communicable diseases.
A shift toward imported foods in the 1970’s has resulted in over half of FSM children under five-years of age suffering from vitamin A deficiency. While a U.S. Navy study conducted in 1948 cited no cases of diabetes in Pohnpei, a 2002 study by the World Health Organization found that 32 percent of adults in Pohnpei suffered from diabetes.
“We’ve got to eat right and have our physical activity right in order to avoid diabetes,” Englberger said. “Eating and controlling eating has to involve motivation to change. Motivation is the key. We can use information and knowledge to affect our motivation, beliefs, and attitudes.”
While foods rich in fiber help combat against diabetes, work by the doctor showed that carotenoid-rich foods helped fight against diabetes, certain forms of cancer, and heart disease.
Vegetables rich in carotenoids include most berries but also spinach, sweet potato, cantaloupe, watermelon and pumpkin among others.
Englberger cited lessons learned from her study which highlighted the importance of motivation; utilization of various methods of promotion including multimedia; repetition of standard messages, social marketing, slogans and acronyms and supportive healthy food policies, as well as passion.