Children grow taller naturally by consuming soya beans—Expert

A nutritionist, Professor Ibiyemi Olayiwola, has asked Nigerian mothers to feed more soya bean and soya products to their children to ensure they grow tall as well as be protected from protein malnutrition, a reason many children are vulnerable to illnesses and end up with low intelligent quotient.

Olayiwola, a professor of Human Nutrition at the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Ogun State, speaking at the seventh Nigeria’s Protein Deficiency Challenge: Soya bean to the Rescue” webinar, stated that soya bean is one of the foods that children need to eat to grow taller naturally because of its high protein content and easy utilisation by the body.

According to her, more than 30 per cent of soya bean is protein and a better source of protein than beef. It contains good fat and is cholesterol-free, making soya and its different products suitable for all age groups.

The food expert declared that no age is spared of protein deficiency in the country, but children, lactating mothers and pregnant women are more vulnerable to its deficiency due to inadequate intake of foods rich in protein.

Professor Olayiwola lamented that in the last 20 years no significant improvement has been made in reducing the prevalence of under-nutrition in children under 5 years and women of reproductive age group.

The don said that only 25 per cent of children under the age of 5 in Nigeria take the minimum acceptable diet, which is supposed to include legumes.

She added, “The minimum acceptable diet, we expect the mother to give should have all the five groups of food, including vegetables, fruits. Only 11 per cent are in compliance and this is a very serious problem.”

Mrs Josephine Chukwunweike, a food technologist, said Nigeria is the largest producer of soya bean in sub-Saharan Africa and Nigerian needs to educate more on the benefits of its consumption and processing.

Mr Charles Nkwoala, a community nutritionist and lecturer at the Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, said people will only eat soya bean and other highly protein-rich food if these foods are available and culturally acceptable and if they know the advantages of eating them.

“Acceptability is about the food that is promoted, processed as well as packaged. So, to improve the nutritional status of individuals, we must engage them from the food approach to ensure that they eat more food varieties. There is a need for more research to produce more recipes that actually use soya beans. The last aspect of it will be a community nutrition education to improve their knowledge, their attitude, acceptability of these products and then increase their skill on how to use it, store it, and process it for consumption.”

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