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23 September 2010

Unwelcome Food For My Thoughts

I stared at the glass of water in my hand, placed in front of me by the waiter, and contemplated my dilemma. I wasn’t supposed to drink that water, that’s according to scientists whom I used to trust enough to know they would only say something like that for my own good.

I am sure everybody knows water is good for you, but apparently not all the time: so say those scientists. I put the glass down. Nutritionists say that drinking cold liquids after or during a meal disturbs digestion.

I don’t consider myself a fussy eater. However, years of going through newspaper articles, internet articles and People Magazine have subconsciously turned me into a paranoiac consumer. They are never short of latest nutritional breakthroughs and ‘expert’ scientific advice on food do’s and donts. I hate scientists for doing that. 

It all started way back when I was little when scientists attacked one favourite delicacy of mine: ishwa. (Would you believe it: in English they call them flying termites: an unimaginative name for food, if you ask me. Way better to call them ‘tasty flying wriggly fatty thingies’ if they couldn’t come up with a proper name). Anyway, after years of being told that they contain healthy proteins, they had to go round and start talking about them being covered with ‘chitin’ which is supposed to give the stomach a hard time during digestion. Now everytime I eat ishwa, I feel the chitin scrapping my tongue, scrapping my throat and scrapping my stomach lining.

I wish these food experts could just make up their minds. For instance, we’ve always been told that chocolate makes you fat. Now this was a good piece of information. All the males of the world could potentially use it to avoid the impromptu dispensing of cash in a supermarket queue to gratify the whining better half. Sadly, researchers had to poke into this brown gooey sweet stuff to discover that it’s not that bad for you after all. It fights heart disease, fights aging, reduces high blood pressure and lowers your cholesterol.

This reminds me of the issue of fats. Since time immemorial, the general consensus has been that fats are nasty. But wait, new research says that there are actually good types that are very healthy for you…as long as you go for whole foods rather than extracted oils. In fact, 20-35% of your calorie intake should come from fats.

Then there is fruits. You can’t possibly go wrong with fruits, right? That’s what I thought until a Manica Post article told me that you shouldn’t have fruit for dessert. I researched the matter further (No, not because I don’t trust this paper of high integrity, but because I wanted to learn more). Additional information revealed that fruits should be taken on an empty stomach, or 20 minutes before another meal. Bothersome info, if you ask me.

Proven: scientists are crazy. They cant come up with lasting nutritional facts. Little wonder most of them still believe that man used to be ape. My advice to avoid Food Statistics and Facts Related Stress Disorder: just eat everything, and eat anything in moderation.

There is a light side to these scientific flip flops however. Not too long ago, I used to hear a lot about the dangers of tea consumption, especially its dehydrating effects. Being a self proclaimed champion tea drinker, I was recently delighted to discover that lots of tea is actually healthy! In fact, a BBC online article actually went as far as out rightly declaring that it’s healthier than your glass of water. It comes with disease fighting flavanoids and teeth cleaning fluoride. And yes, it actually re-hydrates your body, not the other way round.

I sighed, grabbed the cool glass of refreshing water and downed it in one thirsty appreciative gulp. The science can wait for the meantime: I wanted the water. Anyway, a few years from now someone is going to discover that a cold glass of water after a meal actually reduces negative butylated hydroxyanisole molecules, or whatever.

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