- Written by Melissa Pawson for Kenyakidz
Two months ago, the Ministry of Health found that only 2.5m Kenyans consume the recommended amount of fruit. This could be impacting on the IQ of the country’s children, according to a report published last month, which suggested that women who eat less fruit during pregnancy will give birth to less intelligent babies.
The findings of the Canadian study, published in the journal EBioMedicine, found a direct correlation between the amount of fruit eaten during pregnancy, and the intelligence of babies tested at 12 months old. It also confirmed that these findings had nothing to do with how much fruit the children themselves ate.
The benefits of increasing the amount of fruit we eat does not just impact on infant IQ: according to the World Health Organisation, 2.7 million lives worldwide could be saved each year if fruit and vegetable consumption were increased.
Dr Joe Wanyoike Gichuhi, Nairobi based Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, agrees that more of us need to eat more fruit and vegetables, especially children and expectant mothers, “because fruits have more micronutrients [than most food].” Micronutrients are vitamins and minerals, essential nutrients needed to keep our bodies working properly.
“I normally encourage expectant mothers to take green vegetables because they are very rich in folic acid and help avoid constipation,” he added.
The Ministry of Health also released that 13 percent of Kenyans are now obese, the majority being women. They suggested that this is due to lifestyle patterns and diet, with more people eating diets high in carbs and sugar, with not enough fruit and vegetables.
As well as taking diet into consideration, the Ministry of Health also stressed the importance of exercise. Globally, 1 in 4 adults is not active enough, according to the World Health Organisation, and insufficient physical activity is one of the ten leading risk factors for death worldwide.
WHO recommends that adults aged 18–64 years should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity, or at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity throughout the week, and that children and adolescents aged 5-17 years should do at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous-intensity physical activity daily.
WHO also recommends eating at least five portions, or 400g of fruits and non-starchy vegetables every day. They suggest always including vegetables in meals, choosing fruit and vegetables as snacks, and eating a variety of different fruits and vegetables, particularly those which are in season.