Kenyans love nyama-choma. They also like to let the world know about their love for nyama-choma. Any visitor who comes to Kenya will always have a story to tell about Kenyans’ love for nyama-choma. It is one of the country’s favourite dishes, especially during the festive season like now. It’s very tasty. Its aroma is hard to ignore. Nyama-choma, in case you do not know, is simply roast meat. Mostly, nyama-choma is synonymous with beef, though other times it could be mutton or even chicken meat. Nyama-choma is mostly eaten with ugali, another stable food in Kenya. Also jokingly called the African bread, ugali is simply a baked corn flour. Unlike the white man’s wheat bread, ugali is baked by stirring the flour in boiling water until it thickens.
Ugali and nyama-choma are inseparable. Bars or restaurants that do not serve them is not worth its name. There is always a nyama-choma grill close to a bar, are at the sidelines of a weekend party. The middle-class has made it a culture to drink and eat nyama-choma from a chopping board going around. Many ‘smart’ alcoholics love to gulp down their beers after consuming large chunks of nyama-choma. They say it acts as the ‘shock-absorber’ by cushioning the belly against the corrosive effects of alcohol, thus enabling them to drink as many bottles as they want.
Nyama-choma and Cancer
However, nyama-choma is not that healthy. It poses its own health problems on its own, even for teetotallers. You should be careful how much roast meat you consume; you could be digging your grave with your teeth. Now any flesh, especially red meat, is bad for your health if not consumed in moderation. When it comes to red meat, the risks are higher. That aromatic, smoky flavour in the roast meat may be mouth-watering, but the more you sink your teeth into it, the more you dig. It is harmful.
In case you have forgotten what you are digging, it is your ‘final home’. Okay, this is not an alarmist article, really, but then the statistics show that roast meat is one of the causes of cancer. Cancer, if not handled well in time, is a killer disease. That’s the cold fact. It may be a bitter pill to swallow, but perhaps it is better you take it now and deal with its effects instead of swallowing too much nyama-choma.
What Makes Roast Meat Particular More Harmful?
It’s that very smoky, aromatic taste that holds the top harm. When the fat from the meat drips down on the hot charcoal, a chemical reaction results in a substance called polycyclic. This carcinogenic chemical rises as a smoke back to the meat. It has aromatic hydrocarbons which stick on the charred surface of the meat. The charred surface of the meat already contains other harmful chemicals called heterocyclic amines. Together, the compounds put you at high risk of developing colon, pancreatic and rectum cancers. Apart from cancer, roast meat can also lead to hypertension and then a heart attack. Diabetes has also been connected with overeating roast meat.
Roast meat is also consumed with plenty of raw salt spread over its charred surface. The raw salt puts you at risk high of developing high blood pressure. As a drinker, roast meat also encourages you to drink more. Alcohol on its own is another hazard to your health, so the more you drink it, the more the harm to your health. In the long run, beer and nyama-choma only harm you, for the two work hand in hand to cause gout, which is a very painful type of arthritis.
The Way Out
Eating boiled or fried meat (especially white meat) is much healthier compared to roast flesh. If you must eat nyama-choma, do not consume the charred pieces. Just cut them off. While roasting, make sure the meat is not in direct contact with the burning charcoal by placing it a little higher on the grill — the harm sets in when the meat burns on the fire instead of roast. It is also advisable to take your nyama-choma with salad (kachumbari) to add vitamins.
Hope for Nyama-Choma Victims
If you have already developed any of the side-effects mentioned earlier, do not despair. Your condition can be turned around. In some cases, all you have to do is change your lifestyle. Stop taking roast meat and instead take in more vegetable diet. If you have cancer, you should also consider visiting a chiropractor whose time-tested hand skills can help control your pain, relieve your headaches and the back pain. The chiropractic care can also relieve your stress which in turn will cure your insomnia. Cancer has the power to distort your central nervous system which in turn tears apart your quality of life. A chiropractor can restore your nerve function.
Physiotherapy is another alternative treatment that can reverse your condition. A physiotherapist, after listening to you, will device an appropriate exercise programme meant to restore your bone density. Physiotherapy has been proven to help cancer patients recover from their psychological (read fear), spiritual and physical complications.