One of the essence of fruit consumption done 30 minutes before the main meal has been identified as a major boost to better quality of health, solution to many chronic diseases ailing mankind and ultimately promotion of longevity.
In relation to the present Nigerian society, only a few Nigerians have been able to cultivate the habit of taking enough fruits, however, Professor Isaac Oluwalana of the Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA) has recommended a daily intake of 400g of fresh fruits which should constitute at least 20% of the daily food intake for a healthy life style.
The Professor of Post-Harvest Technology, who aligned himself with similar consideration by nutritionists and medical personnel that consumption of fruits and vegetables is a major solution to many diseases of civilization and various age related ailments, also highlighted common tropical diseases that could be tackled.
Prof Oluwalana while delivering the 103rd Inaugural Lecture of FUTA on the topic: “Give us this day our daily fruit: A Panacea to Wastage, Ageing and Micronutrients Deficiency Diseases”, pointed out that fruits in the daily diet are strongly correlated with overall good health, improved gastro intestinal health, vision enhancement, reduced symptoms of diabetes, anemia, gastric ulcer, rheumatoid arthritis and many other chronic diseases.
According to him, the exact mechanics by which fruit consumption reduces human diseases has not yet been fully understood but the general consensus among physicians and nutritionists is that phyto-nutraceuticals in fruits are responsible for mitigating some of these diseases.
He highlighted common tropical fruits in diseases management to include citrus fruits, bananas, plantains, pawpaw, water melon, cucumber, and pine apple. He said these fruits contain Vitamin C, Vitamin B complex, dietary fiber, phytonutrients and minerals which have anti-oxidants, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.
Prof Oluwalana however lamented that despite the enormous nutritional and health benefits of fruits, nearly 40% of the fruits produced are wasted globally every year due to improper handling practices leading to physical and microbiological damages, lack of storage facilities, non-adoption of recommended appropriate technologies and lack of integrated approach to production and marketing of the commodities.
He recommended that intensive public enlightenment on the nutritional and health benefits of fruits be made by appropriate government and non-governmental agencies to the Nigerian populace.
He also proposed that government in the short term should adequately fund research of storage technologies that is less dependent on electricity and upscale the available ones; while on the medium to long term basis, provide stable electricity that would enable Nigeria to tap the existing electricity dependent technologies, that can extend storage life of fruits and vegetables for several months.
The lecturer who is also the Head of Department, Food and Science Technology of the institution, said tha,t government should formulate policies that will make access to loan and financial assistance easy.
This he said will to a large extent encourage the farming youth population to take fruit cultivation which will also in return make agro-processors and marketers get interested in the fruit businesses, thereby making the fruits and its products available to consumers.
He further urged government, as a matter of urgency to revitalize Nigeria Agricultural research centers and the universities by injecting funds into them to conduct meaningful researches in fruits production and preservation.
Professor Joseph Fuwape, Vice Chancellor of FUTA in his remarks said the choice of the lecture was apt considering the increased prevalence of chronic and debilitating health issues confronting many Nigerians.