Saturday, 24 September 2011

What would mother have thought?

Europe on 5 fruits a day
How times have changed since our parents’ day, when meat and two veg constituted a well-balanced diet. Now we are all getting fruity on our five a day. I was brought up on the advice "an apple a day keeps the doctor away." Half a century on it seems to have worked for me. Having lived through rationing, the world war two generation found creative and resourceful ways to deal with their rumbling tummies. These however, as we now know, were not always the sound nutritional answers to what their bodies needed. My mother scorned new dietary thinking, she had an impatience with people discussing their cholesterol levels on the grounds that she had lived through a war and eaten double cream all her life God forbid she would have pooh-poohed anything as modern as colonic irrigation.I in turn expressed my disdain for some of her culinary eccentricity.Cutting the crusts off the toast and serving them up separately to the toast itself and then eating them with salted butter and marmalade instead of the toast. I suppose in hindsight having suffered rationing it was her interpretation of frugality. Nothing must ever be wasted.Where does that leave us?
The Mediterranean diet is a very good example to follow. Olive oil replaces saturated fats. Eggs, dairy and poultry in moderation and reduced amounts of red meat, sugary puddings and confectionaries. Eat plenty of fruit, vegetables, fish, legumes, wholegrains and nuts. And of course take lots of exercise.
It has all gone to the other extreme. We now think we are all nutritional experts.At the click of a button one can find an online diagnosis.Every time we sit down at the dinner table someone will raise the subject of the benefits of five-a-day,anti-oxidants,unsaturated fats, low cholesterol and "friendly" bacteria. I am not so sure about intimacy with bacteria.Should we be sprinkling our food with an array of salt.Common sense and moderation are the order of the day I am sure. Listen to your body not the newspaper.
If you ask the question "what food group should you avoid?", the most common answer will be "fats." While it's true that, in large amounts, some types of fat are bad for your health (not to mention your waistline), there are some we simply can't live without.Among them are the omega-3 fatty acids, found in foods including walnuts, some fruits and vegetables, and freshwater fish such as bream, mackerel,salmon, sturgeon,( I am looking forward to a new healthy diet of Algarvian caviar ).
The benefits of omega-3s include reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke while helping to reduce symptoms of hypertension, depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), joint pain and other rheumatoid problems, as well as certain skin ailments. Some research has even shown that omega-3s can boost the immune system and help protect us from an array of illnesses including Alzheimer's disease.

Are we healthier for all this? We like to think so. I am not so sure.

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