LUSAKA, June 11 - "Whenever my tummy was full of nshima, I thought my body would be full of nutrients too. How wrong I was," said Emmanuel Mulenga of Lusaka's Roma township area.
Mr Mulenga who belongs to the micro-business community was privileged to attend a talk conducted by a giant South African nutrition firm, House of Health, which boasts of thousands of distributors across Africa and the world.
Like many other people who are unwary of their diet in most peasant communities, Mr Mulenga thought that as long as his belly was full of nshima, he would be guaranteed of good health.
However, he woke up to a rude shock when he learned that what he had in fact believed over the years was actually wrong.
He was baffled when, Uschi Triebel, a South African food expert from House of Health, referred to the body as "an amazing creation which needed critical attention to perform its functions properly, as in blood circulation. Just because you take a lot of foodstuffs does not mean you are healthy," she said.
For the human body to operate normally, she said, a regular intake of some 60 different dietary components which include proteins, carbohydrates, fats and many others are needed.
Ms Triebel was in the country to seek local distributors of food supplements for her company.
Her company boasts of having introduced food supplements like Spirulina, Aloe Vera which are selling like hot cake at Le Soleil in Lusaka's Roma township.
Other products sold by her company include African Ginger, green tea tablets, African potatoes, et cetera.
While food supply is fairly abundant in Third World countries like Zambia, much of it is processed, refined, pre-cooked, frozen, canned and stored for long periods to retain its nutrients.
Even at the growth stage, crops are often subjected to application of pesticides and other chemicals like fertilisers which tamper with the inherent nutrients in crops.
According to House of Health Product Guide, there are 2,500 different chemicals allowed in a man's body, most of which destroy natural nutrients not to talk of promoting other life-threatening diseases.
Furthermore, people not only in Zambia, are living in times of stress and having to contend daily with the pollution, noise, from the air and from water.
Ms Triebel said as a result of this, people tend to have a bad diet, common heart problems and other ailments which cannot be avoided.
It is on the basis of this that her multi-million dollar nutrition firm conducts talks every last Saturday of each month at the Le Soleil farm.
"We normally conduct lessons and talks about food supplements here. We are scouting for distributors to extend our market in other parts of the country," said Le Soleil director and sole agent/distributor of House of Health Victoria Huwiler in Zambia.
She said food supplements are vital for body growth and many Zambians need nutrition knowledge to avoid common heart attacks and digestive disorders.
According to medical journals, the body replaces nearly 99 per cent of its cells. It has the ability to heal itself provided it got a balanced nutritional diet.
In explaining the House of Health products, Ms Triebel who has been working for the food company for over ten years, asked the participants several questions like how healthy they were, if they were able to endure long spells of stress, physical or mental, without feeling exhausted?
She also asked among other concerns if they had alert and active minds or if they were able to resist infections (talking about the sound immune system) ?
"To consider yourself healthy despite suffering from obesity, heartburn, fatigue, low sex-drive or pre-menstrual tension is to misunderstand the term 'health' well," she said.
Going by medical findings, real health is freedom from regular minor complaints which means that health goes beyond the absence of disease but the positive state of one's well being, that includes the mind.
House of Health has been marketing its products throughout the world using local distributors in different countries.
Trials with children in Mexico, as far back as the early 1970s, confirmed that food supplements were an effective food source in the treatment of malnutrition.
With the rising problem of famine in developing countries like Zambia, Spirulina was being investigated as part of the answer to nutrient and protein shortages in human beings.
Mrs Wapamesa Kaubo wants to be a distributor of House of Health products after having attended a talk, at Le Soleil farm.
"I hope to open up a shop that many people can benefit from in terms of nutrition and health," she said.
With the HIV/AIDS pandemic devastating the nation, health becomes even more vital as it is closely-related to poor diet.
People should understand that having a tummy full of nshima or any other food does not guarantee good health.