Friday, 31 January 2014

Leaking Roofs and Musical Moments

(This reading is based on Proberbs 27 and is read in accordance with the Revived by His Word initiative of the General Conference of SDAs.)
"A continual dripping on a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike" Prov. 27: 15
Experience taught us that it was both safer and less laborious to set a container to catch water dripping from the roof of our house. What that would mean however, was that the dripping of the water would become more audible than if it were to fall directly to the ground. This was something we had resigned to live with - even when there were several containers that had to be set in a single room. As the saying goes, "If you can't win them, then join them." So when a couple of my nieces stayed with my mother and myself (all my siblings had left home), as a coping mechanism, we decided to appreciate the "musical moments" with the combined sounds of the variously sized containers, made of various materials, and having water dripping in them. We decided that this was our "orchestra." So instead of getting to us, it became a game to pick out a tune.
There are times when the "roofs" of our marriages, our extended families, our jobs, our communities, our countries and yes our Church leak, and there are things within these situations that just drive us insane - like dripping water that echos in your head, and just won't allow you to sleep. Why not discover a tune, a rhythm in that "dripping sound?" And isn't it the truth that in fact some of the most beautiful musical compositions were born out of the brutal tragedies in individuals' lives?
I'm thinking for example of the song written by Horatio Spafford, "When peace like a river, attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll. Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, it is well, it is well, with my soul." This song came to Spafford as he made his way to be with his wife, following the tragedies of losing his business during the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, and then his four daughters as they traveled by ship to Europe for a vacation with their mother. Horatio was to join them shortly thereafter.
I pray today that even amidst your most distressing challenges you will always hear a song in the dripping taunts of the things that trouble you most. Blessings.

To read and/or listen to Proverbs 27 and to read other related blogs, please click here. 

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Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Mama, Honey, and Our Overstayed Welcome

(This reading is based on Proverbs 25 and is read in accordance with the Revived by His Word initiative of the General Conference of SDAs.)
"Have you found honey? Eat only as much as you need, lest you be filled with it and vomit./ It is not good to eat much honey; so to seek one’s own glory is not glory./ Seldom set foot in your neighbor’s house, lest he become weary of you and hate you." Verses 16, 27, 17
A common thread in these passages is that they offer lessons in temperance/moderation; being moderate in what you do and in how you perceive yourself. My recollection of those early days of Bible Class when I joined the Church as a teenager is that temperance was defined as, "The abstinence from that which is harmful/bad and the moderate consumption of that which is good."
Hmm Honey!
My mother recalls a childhood experience she had when unexpectedly she came into possession of some honey. In her glee of landing such a rare acquisition she thought she'd enjoy it fully - before she got home. She drank it fast; she drank it all. Of course, it didn't take too long before she began to feel the effects of too "much honey." Its effect lasted for days. And to this day, Mama doesn't use honey, as its very odor takes her back to that horrific moment when in her childish innocence she drank too "much honey." We have a saying in Jamaica that in essence states, "Too much of one thing (even a good thing), becomes good for nothing." The secret to a really good life is found in achieving balance, which forms the foundation of Adventist education: "True education... is the harmonious (balanced) development of the physical, the mental, and the spiritual powers."-- Education, p. 13.
Overstayed Welcome
It's Saturday night, and "Six Million Dollar Man" will be on TV. The only problem is that we don't have a television home - but our neighbours do. So we gather in the neighbours' living room and the show is on in earnest. There is the roar of a pickup truck as it drives into the yard. The patriarch of the family, a building contractor, had come home. Suddenly the door opens from outside and he enters. He says nothing, but walks to the television and slams it off and went straight to his bedroom. We stood in deafening silence for a brief moment, stunned by what just happened. At first it was disappointment... then embarrassment. Dejected, we foraged our way in the dark to our home. Today, I don't much go to people's homes. But when I do, I'm always keen to leave even before I get a hint that it is time.
I'm glad that with our Heavenly Father, we can never catch Him a bad time; He never gets tired of us, but is always available. We can never have too much of Him; we can never praise Him too much - only that we do these in different ways that allow us to achieve balance in our lives. So we abide in His presence and praise Him in the sanctuary, in our homes, at work/school, on the play field, etc. Thank You Father for being accessible to us.

To read and/or listen to Proverbs 25 and to read other related blogs, please click here.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Prosperity, a Gateway to Humility

(This reading is based on Proverbs 24, and is read in accordance with the Revived by His Word initiative of the General Conference of SDAs.)
"A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest; so shall your poverty come like a prowler, and your need like an armed man." Prov. 24: 33, 34
Poverty bears no Christian nobility that it should be a thing desired. Too often is the required humility of those who profess to be followers of Jesus attached to the humble (poverty stricken) conditions in which one exists. Poverty does not mean humility. According to the text, poverty is the result of laziness. This of course is situational, because whereas one my live under the reign of a suppressive/tyrannical government, or a setting where the rule of law is largely non-existent and criminals freely plunder, then poverty may be attributable to circumstances outside the individual.
Truth be told humility is best demonstrated through one who is of a lofty station in life - which would make Jesus Christ, Creator of the universe, the epitome of humility: "Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." Phil 2: 6-8. The text also suggests that humility is a choice and not a default outgrowth of ones circumstances - "He humbled Himself."
I get the sense that Solomon is here implying that where it is up to us to determine our lot in life, we shouldn't sleep too much, but actively seek out opportunities; don't slumber or slouch so much when opportunities are available; and don't quit so easily when you need to be pushing. Otherwise, poverty will creep upon us like a prowler, and our unsupplied needs will stick us up like an armed man. Under such conditions we may not be able to behave with certain obvious displays of pride - not by choice, but by the dictates of our situation. Such a display of "humility" is suspect.

Let us therefore work diligently and wisely; make our efforts count, then employ the fruits of our labour in humble service to our fellowmen and in the promulgation of God's eternal Kingdom.

To read and/or listen to Proverbs 24 and to read other related blogs, please click here.

Monday, 27 January 2014

"Good Song: Wrong Crowd"

(This reading is based on Proverbs 23 and is read in accordance with the Revived by His Word initiative of Seventh-day Adventists.)
 "Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, for he will despise the wisdom of your words." Prov. 23: 9
Years ago when I worked in the hotel industry I participated in a staff end of year get-together where we had a talent parade. With the encouragement of a coworker I entered the face off. What a mistake that was; I was virtually booed of the stage. Drenched in regret and embarrassment, my boss sought to reassure me as we made our way home later that evening. "Good song; wrong crowd," he said. He then went on to describing the demographics of the masses of the persons present, and that by virtue of their background it would be difficult for them to appreciate the genre of music I brought to the stage. I understood what he meant and was soon consoled.
So as one who occasionally ministers in music for worship services, I'm now particularly wary of concert scenes, where I fear that the mindset of patrons are more for the entertainment than the ministry of the Word in music. I'm never one to entertain; I always seek to minister. Also, I only minister songs that mean something to me. Accordingly, I abhor the very thought of sharing a song that would fail to bear the impact it has the potential to have on its listeners.
Incidentally, I've also learned from my own family (half of whom belong to another denomination) to be mindful of when and how to speak of the things that mean much to me; how and when to speak of my thoughts of and experience with God. It seems we have reasoned/argued beyond the point of usefulness, where now I mainly just pray for them as far as religious matters go.
I remember sitting in a church service one Sabbath, where the California Baptist University Orchestra and Choir participated in the service. The music was especially rich that Sabbath. And as I sat and soaked it all up, the tears just flowed as I was transported to Heaven. But at just about the time that that was happening to me we were asked to exchange thoughts with someone close to us. The brother who stood beside during the service was similarly impacted as I was (his eyes were teary too). He said one word that fully captured my mental frame at that point, "Heavenly." I couldn't have agreed more. What a relief it was to not have needed to feel "cute" about my tears; for they were fully understood. "Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, for he will despise the wisdom of your words." Thank God for those with whom to share our love for Him.

To read and/or listen to Proverbs 23 and to read other related blogs, please click here.

Friday, 24 January 2014

I Hereby Waive My Right

(This reading is based on Proverbs 20 and is read in accordance with the Revived by His Word initiative of the General Conference of SDAs.)

In Romans 15: 1 is articulated the spirit with which Christian individuals are often inclined to surrender their right to freely indulge in a particular activity. It says, "We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves." Notwithstanding the seeming option resident in the expression, "ought to," could it in fact be a requirement of a professed follower of Christ?

There are many who deduce an element of choice (option) in Proverbs 20: 1, "Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise." The verse, many claim, does not give an explicit, "Thou shalt not...." The case for choice is further made when, especially in the New Testament persons are seemingly encouraged to moderate consumption, as opposed to outright abstinence. The expression quoted here is, "Not given to much wine." 1 Tim. 3: 8; Titus 2: 3.

Alcohol and other drug abuse on the rise among U.S. teens

But let's allow the Bible to not be explicit on the issue of alcohol consumption, and let's decide not to allow the Spirit of Prophecy to chime in on the issue. Does it seem reasonable for a Christian to allow his/her judgment to be impaired? Proverbs 31: 4 says, "It is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink. That's explicit! But you might say, 'O, but that's for royalty. But aren't we born again, adopted heirs (children) of God; a royal priesthood? John 3: 7; Rom 8: 17; 1 Pet. 2: 9. And do we not live in a context where we are like prey in the path of a hungry lion, and we're told to be SOBER (1 Pet. 5: 8)?

Finally, let's look at some of the effects of alcoholism today: broken families, carnage on the roads, loss of economic productivity (not for manufacturers of alcohol). Is it really worth it? Imagine a recovering alcoholic joining the Church and during fellowship lunch after service on Sabbath, wine is served. Do the math. By my calculations, the spirit of Romans 15: 1 would be most appropriately invoked at this stage. It's not always about pleasing ourselves; sometimes a right has to be waived for the greater good. Blessings.

To read and/or listen to Proverbs 20 and to read other related blogs, please click here.
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Simple Health Tricks To Get You Back On Track

May not only old negative acquaintances be forgotten, but also poor eating habits. May new healthy eating habits be remembered and cemented in 2014. Over the holidays, some persons consciously and subconsciously threw 'health' caution to the wind, not realising that as the celebrations got more and more intense, the wind would have got stronger and at times there would be heavy rain (temptations) to erode the good health habits that we formed over the years.
Depending on one's willpower and determination, some persons may have made unhealthy food choices. The main thought being, 'it is only for a little while, what harm can that do?'
Well, now the pants, skirts, tops and dresses have shrunk, and the blood sugar and blood pressure are high.
Below are some simple tips to get you back on track to a healthier you in 2014 and beyond.
Eat from smaller plates. Replace the nine- and 11-inch plates with seven-inch or breakfast plates.
Drink from smaller glasses and bowls. Use four- to six-ounce glasses for juice or drinks instead of nine- to 16-ounce glasses.
Drink more water. In fact, replace juice or drinks with water as often as possible.
Establish appropriate mealtimes. Do not skip meals.
Start the day with breakfast. Eating breakfast will give you the right start for the day. Breakfast should be a mix of carbohydrates, protein and fat or foods from at least 3 food groups. For example, unsweetened/lightly sweetened whole grain cereal with milk (cow's/soy/almond) and a fruit, OR bread/crackers with egg/sardines/cheese served with tomato/ lettuce or a fresh fruit, OR yam, green banana, dumpling served with mackerel/beans and vegetable or a fresh fruit. A bowl of fruit or a glass of juice, whether it be fruit or vegetable is NOT an appropriate breakfast unless a protein and a fat source are added to it. Fruit may be consumed with cheese, milk or yoghurt along with some complex carbohydrates such as old-fashioned rolled oats or crackers or bread. A blend of fruit and/or vegetables with oats and milk is a good choice. The protein and fat help to prevent or reduce hunger and snacking.

Make breakfast and lunch the heaviest meals and dinner or supper the lightest. This depends on your lifestyle and your most hectic time of the day. If you work on the night shift, your heaviest meal should be when you are most active and your lightest meal when you get off work in the mornings.
Limit sugar and fat intake. Share leftover sorrel, cake and other pastries with friends and co-workers. Get rid of the temptations that are still in the refrigerator, freezer, cupboard and all the other secret hiding places, like in the trunk or under the bed.
Package leftover meats, bones and store in freezer or deep freezer. Use turkey, ham and beef bones to make soups and stews with lots of peas and beans.
Re-establish an exercise routine. Use up the excess fat that is on the waist and hips as energy. Exercise for at least 30 minutes, three to five days per week.
Be sensitive to another person's weight gain. It is better to not comment, than to speak and offend. We all know when we have gained weight. Silence is golden!
Start making healthy lifestyle changes TODAY, one step at a time. You will get (back) your rhythm to better health in 2014.

Marsha N. Woolery, RD, is a registered dietitian/nutritionist at Fairview Medical and Dental Center, Montego Bay and adjunct lecturer at Northern Caribbean University. Email

Food And Nutrition For Healthier Breasts

Breast cancer is a common form of cancer in Jamaican women of all ages. Our diets include substances that may prevent and cause breast cancer. Most studies have shown that a low-fat diet with reduced intake of alcohol, exercise and a reduction to normal or near-normal body fat may reduce the chances of breast cancer development.
Conditions that increase the chances of breast cancer development include:
The consumption of foods that help to produce high levels of oestrogen during pregnancy (which will affect the unborn child) and after menopause.
High alcohol intake when folic acid rich food intake is low. Foods that are good sources of folic acid include liver, green leafy vegetables, lean beef, potatoes, oranges, dried peas and beans and wholewheat products.
Consumption of meats that form a harmful compound called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons when prepared at high temperatures, such as grilling, barbecuing, smoking or broiling.
Eating foods that contain nitrites or nitrates such as smoked, salted and pickled foods. Sodium and potassium nitrates are found in a variety of foods and are the ingredients that give hot dogs and luncheon meats their pink colour.
Oxidative stress or damage to cells by harmful substances.
Making healthy food choices by reading food labels and being aware of how foods are prepared, and living a healthy lifestyle can be helpful in reducing breast cancer risk, but also remember there are other factors or exposure that must also be taken into consideration.
Diet alone cannot prevent breast cancer. Food and lifestyle choices that can lower breast cancer risk are:
Breastfeed newborn infant exclusively for six months and continue after introducing foods from the family pot up to two years and beyond.
Eat moderate amounts of animal foods that are low in fat. Remove skin and visible fat from chicken, beef and use low-fat milk and fewer than three egg yolks per week. Eat less processed animal meat and red meat.
Increase the intake of omega-3 fatty acids by eating more sardine and tuna packed in water (and not oil), mackerel in tomato sauce, fresh salmon and trout. Omega-3 fatty acid protects the cell from damage, which may cause cancer.
Use unsaturated fats such as canola, olive, sunflower or other vegetable oils. All oils should be used in small amounts, regardless of the source.
Consume a diet that is high in fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are low in calories and high in fibre, minerals, vitamins and phytochemicals and antioxidants. Each day it is recommended to consume 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables, 9-11 servings of unrefined staples such as yam/potatoes, wholegrain breads and cereals and 2-3 servings of peas, beans and nuts. One serving of fruit is four ounces of unsweetened juice or fresh whole fruit, one serving of vegetable is half cup cooked or one cup raw, one serving staples is four ounces cooked yam/potato/one slice bread/half-cup porridge/one cup dried cereal, one serving peas and beans is half-cup or one ounce/ handful of nuts. At each meal, eat a variety of vegetables with different colours to be able to get the phytochemicals and antioxidants.
Phytochemicals such as alpha and beta-carotene are found in yellow/orange foods such as carrot, pumpkin and mango. Lycopene is found in cooked tomato, watermelon and pink grapefruit. Anthocyanins are found in red and purple foods such as grapes, prunes, red wine and berries. Flavonoids are found in yellow/orange foods such as cantaloupe, oranges and papaya. Lutein and Zeaxanthin are found in yellow/green foods such as callaloo, spinach, avocado and honeydew. Indoles and sulforaphanes are found in green foods such as cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower.
Eat foods made from soybeans such as tofu and soymilk. It is recommended that soy be offered to children at an early age because the phytoestrogen (oestrogen found in plant foods) is of additional benefit to reduce cancer risk. The use of soy is controversial for persons diagnosed with cancer, so soy should be consumed in moderation after diagnosis.
Increase physical activity or exercise to lower the amount of fat on body. According to Michels et al (2006), gaining weight before puberty causes more fat cells to be available and with more fat cells in the body, there will be more oestrogen being made. Oestrogen is made by fat cells.
It is extremely unlikely that any one food or substance is responsible for the prevention or development of breast cancer. Therefore, the general recommendation is to eat a variety of foods from all food groups in moderation, limiting fat and processed foods and exercise 3-4 days per week for at least 30 minutes.
Let's eat and drink for healthy breasts!!
Marsha N. Woolery is a registered dietitian/nutritionist in private practice and adjunct lecturer at Northern Caribbean University; email:

Oils And Fats -Which One Should I Choose?

Is there a difference between all the fats and oils that are on the shelves in the supermarket? Yes, there is a difference. Some fats will be solid or semi-solid at room temperature or on the counter top, while others will remain or become liquid or melt if left at room temperature.
The amount and type of fat that is consumed can make a difference in our bodies. The dietary recommendation for fat is to consume:
Less than 35 per cent of total calories from fat, with an emphasis on fats and oils from plant sources.
Less than 300 milligrams of cholesterol per day.
Less than 10 per cent of fat intake should be from saturated fat.
Fats are made up of fatty acids - saturated and unsaturated. Saturated fatty acids are found in meats, such as the fat on chicken, beef or pork. Saturated fats remain semi-solid at room temperature, while unsaturated fatty acids found in plants are liquid at room temperature and are either monounsaturated or polyunsaturated.
Foods from animals such as beef, chicken, fish, goat, milk, cheese and eggs, in addition to having saturated fat, have cholesterol. Cholesterol is found only in animal foods because animals have a liver and the liver makes cholesterol. Hence, plants do not have a liver and, therefore, foods from plant sources do not contain cholesterol.
So the question now is, how should I choose the oils and fats for better health?
All oils have a combination of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids. Plant oils that naturally are high in saturated fat include coconut and palm oils. But coconut oil, a Jamaican favourite, in its virgin state, is a better choice than hydrogenated oils because of its chemical make-up, which includes high levels of lauric acid.
Corn, soybean, olive, safflower oils are high in unsaturated fatty acids, but these oils are usually hydrogenated (changed to trans fats) to make margarines in tub and stick forms, shortening and used in the preparation of deep fried foods and baked products such as patties, cookies/ biscuits, chips to increase shelf life.
Recommendations for choosing a margarine:
The oil in the ingredient list should be 'non-hydrogenated'.
Water should be the first ingredient on the list if it is a margarine spread.
Product should soften or separate oil and water, if not stored in refrigerator.
Fat in some foods are hard to detect and provide lots of fat in the diet. Foods that have 'hidden fat' include:
Ice cream
Hot dogs/sausages
Whole milk
French fries
Tarts and pies
Reduce your intake of dietary fat by:
Removing skin and visible fat from all animal flesh.
Skimming fat from soups and stews.
Using less oil/margarine/ butter/spreads/ salad dressings and gravies.
Using low fat or skimmed milk when preparing meals.
Reading nutrition facts labels for the presence of animal fats in such foods as bacon, chicken/beef/ham fat, lard, butter, cream, nuts, egg or egg yolk solids, partially hydrogenated shortening or vegetable oil. These foods are high in saturated fats. Note that on a food label, ingredients are listed by order of weight. So if fat appears in the first five items then the item may be presumed to be high fat.
Choosing foods that are low in saturated fat and cholesterol.
Choosing foods that are high in unsaturated fatty acids, and that are free of trans-fats.
Eat more fresh fruits, vegetables, peas, beans and whole grains, which are fat free.
Our bodies need dietary fat, but choose more unprocessed foods, and eat in moderation!
Marsha N. Woolery is a registered dietitian/nutritionist at Fairview Medical and Dental Center, Montego Bay and adjunct lecturer at Northern Caribbean University; email:

Jamaican Yam - Simply Nutritious And Delicious!

Jamaicans love roast yam.
Jamaicans love roast yam.

Yam, a starchy root, is a favourite food in most Jamaican homes and even for those in the diaspora who are willing to pay a big price for a taste of this simple yet delicious food item.
There are different varieties of yam, and they all have a unique taste, flavour and texture. Some are dry, some waxy, some soft, and the sweet yam- mmmmmm (mainly available a little before and after the Christmas season) - is even softer. Might I add that the latter is my favourite; soft and so delicious when mashed with ... - I will not disclose - it is a heavenly experience.
In the Caribbean, yam is in the staples food group because the main nutrient provided is carbohydrates. Yam provides the body with:
  • fibre, starch and sugar
  • potassium
  • protein
  • vitamins B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B6 (pyridoxine), folic acid, and pantothenic acid. These vitamins help us to get energy from carbohydrates and fat.
Yam is referred to as a complex carbohydrates food source because, in addition to the starch and sugar that provide energy, yam has soluble and insoluble fibre. Four ounces of cooked yam provides 80 to 100 kilocalories and four grams of fibre. There is more soluble fibre present in yam than insoluble, which makes it easy to digest and is a suitable food for young children.
The fibre in yam:
Slows the release of sugar or glucose from the blood into the cells. For this reason, persons with diabetes should consume yam to achieve better blood sugar control.
Increases satiety or makes the person feel full for a longer period of time. Yam is a recommended food for persons who are trying to lose or maintain weight because they will feel hungry less often.
Reduces the risk of being constipated (hard bound), because fibre increases bulk in the stool and with adequate amounts of fluid in diet, waste products and toxins will be removed from intestines or tripe.
Lowers low-density lipoproteins (LDL), or the bad cholesterol, by holding on to LDL cholesterol and removing it in the faeces.
Reduces the risk of colon cancer by not allowing harmful substances that are eaten to stick to the lining of the colon (large intestines).
Yam is rich in potassium and four ounces of cooked yam has about 816 milligrams. The potassium is needed to:
  • Control heart rate
  • Control blood pressure
  • Maintain sodium and potassium levels in the cells
Potassium is usually restricted in the diet of persons with kidney disease and it is recommended that they seek guidance from a registered dietitian in meal planning. To reduce potassium in yam, it can be soaked in water overnight. Water should be thrown off three to four times then cooked in fresh water, a process called leaching.
Yam has protein, about one gram in every four ounces. Of all the roots and tubers, yam has the highest amount of protein but should be consumed with peas or beans or fish or any food from animals to improve the protein quality.
Yam has no fat, no gluten and is a poor source of iron.
The versatility of yam makes it an interesting food but most Jamaicans are comfortable just peeling, slicing and cooking it. Yam can be used for flour, drinks, casserole, porridge and salads.
 Jamaicans love roast yam.
Yam, like all carbohydrates-rich foods, should be eaten in moderation. The end product of yam digestion is sugar (glucose) and too much sugar in the body is stored as fat, which may cause weight gain if adequate exercise is not done.
Yam should be consumed with protein-rich foods to maintain one's health
Yam should be part of a healthy diet that includes fruits and vegetables.
Introduce yam to children early so the food can be liked. Mash and offer to infant at seven months old.
Make yam part of your gluten-free diet.
Consume yam for good health and to improve our Jamaican economy.
Marsha N. Woolery is a registered dietitian/nutritionist at Fairview Medical and Dental Center, Montego Bay and adjunct lecturer at Northern Caribbean University; email:

A High Protein Diet Or What?

A high-protein diet has been touted to make a person lose weight and control blood-sugar levels and increase muscles in persons who lift weights. Is this a fact or a fad?
Most of us consume more protein than the body needs, so why is it that there is a problem with obesity, diabetes and struggles with gaining muscles in some persons who are always pumping iron at the gym?
The basic principle of the high-protein diet - whether Atkin's, South Beach, HCG or Zone - is the consumption of high-protein, low-carbohydrate foods. These diets, usually provide:
  • fewer energy-rich foods
  • fewer vitamins
  • fewer minerals
  • less fibre
  • higher fat
  • higher protein, most times in the form of animal meat, which is high in saturated fat and cholesterol.
Why does the body need protein?
Protein is needed by the body:
  • for growth in children and adolescents
  • to make and repair new cells and tissue
  • to make enzymes for digestion
  • to strengthen the immune system
  • to make strong hair and nails
Adults are no longer growing and need to eat only enough protein to match whatever protein they break down and lose in urine, faeces, skin, hair and nails every day.
How much protein does the healthy adult require?
The normal, healthy adult needs 0.80 to 1.0 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight. The body weight used should be the lean or ideal body weight. A person weighing 70 kilograms, or 154 pounds, would need 56 to 70 grams of protein per day.
Sources of protein in the diet include:
  • starchy foods from the staples food group such as yam, rice, green banana, macaroni
  • peas, beans and nuts
  • vegetables when cooked
  • milk and milk products
  • animal flesh such as chicken, fish, oxtail, beef
How much protein is in the foods we eat?
One serving of:
Starchy foods is half-cup rice or four ounces yam/potato or one finger green banana and provides two grams of protein
Peas and beans is half cup red peas, gungo or lentils or half cup soy milk or two ounces tofu and provides four grams of protein
Cooked vegetables is half-cup steamed callaloo or carrot and pak choi and provides two grams of protein.
Cow's milk is half-cup or one ounce of cheese and provides four grams of protein. Low-fat milk provides three grams of fat per serving.
Animal flesh without skin and bones is one ounce chicken or beef or pork and provides seven grams of protein. Animal flesh with little or no fat on it will provide three-five grams of fat per serving.
How much protein is too much and what are the health effects?
Consuming more than one and a half to two times the amount of protein than the body needs is considered too much.
Excess protein in the diet is not stored as protein for future use, but some is stored as fat and the balance is passed out of the body in the urine.
Some studies have shown that a high protein diet causes the kidneys to overwork in order to get rid of excess protein in the urine in the form of urea and nitrogen.
Some studies have shown that, the higher the protein intake, the more calcium is passed out of the body in the urine which increases one's risk of developing osteoporosis.
A diet rich in animal protein is usually low in fibre, phytochemicals and has high amounts of saturated fat and cholesterol, which increases the risk of developing heart disease.
Animal flesh is the richest source of protein, and high intake of red meat, especially in the processed form, has been shown to increase the risk of colon cancer.
The substances that are used in the curing and processing of the meats have been linked to increased cancer risk.
The methods used to cook animal protein at high temperatures also increase the risk of cancer development.
High-protein diets increase urination and may cause dehydration.
While on a high-protein diet, individuals may be advised to consume individual amino acid supplements or protein shakes. This habit may cause an imbalance in the absorption of amino acids and may also cause an increase to toxic levels in the body.
For a healthier body:
  • Calculate your protein requirements. most persons consume too much protein
  • Eat less animal protein
  • Substitute foods from animals with peas, beans and nuts. These foods are more filling due to fibre content and are very low in fat.
  • Remove skin and visible fat from animal flesh
  • Choose low-fat milk and dairy products.
At heaviest meal, consume three to five ounces of animal flesh (amount similar to a deck of playing cards) or three servings or six ounces of tofu.
Choose wisely for a healthier you!
Marsha N. Woolery is a registered dietitian/nutritionist at Fairview Medical and Dental Center, Montego Bay, and adjunct lecturer at Northern Caribbean University; email: