We Have to Believe in Freewill. We’ve got no Choice. (Isaac Bashevis Singer)
I like my coffee strong, black and with no sweetener – preferably a nice Turkish blend served piping hot in a glass, first thing in the morning. The good news these days is that I can now enjoy my favourite brew without suffering any pangs of guilt. At least that is what a whole slew of researchers have been espousing of late. Are you aware that caffeine can help lower the risks of type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease? I certainly was not. And there’s more – apparently coffee can protect against cirrhosis of the liver by lowering the liver’s enzyme levels while simultaneously combating the onset of depression. No wonder I feel upbeat these days, and all of this for the price of a cup of joe.
But before you run out to put on a fresh pot, you might want to consider mulling over what the naysayers out there have been posting about our love affair with the coffee bean. Armed with their own set of scientific studies, these killjoys are busy warning the coffee drinking public that they risk suffering elevated blood pressure, not to mention increased levels of anxiety and disrupted patterns of sleep. And in case you haven’t noticed by now, coffee is very addictive.
Feeling a bit anxious now about your caffeine intake? Perhaps you are considering a switch over to a spot of tea as your pick-me-up beverage? Well, there is definitely good news on that front. According to one study from 2001, the high levels of antioxidants found in tea can help prevent the blindness caused by cataracts. Other research has shown that the combination of caffeine and amino acids found in tea improves one’s memory, focus and concentration. If you opt for green tea then you will be helping lower your cholesterol levels. If you are prepared to take your tea consumption to a higher level, say three or more cups a day, then you can help decrease the risks of stroke and dementia while helping improve the quality of your skin. Pretty convincing arguments –that is, of course, only if you don’t mind running the risks of developing brittle bones and the loss of teeth – that bit of disheartening news comes courtesy of a study reported in the New England Journal of Medicine. Tea drinking may also not be doing your prostrate any big favours, this according to research from the University of Glasgow.
Caffeine consumption is but one of many difficult food choices facing those of us who haven’t given up on trying to eat healthier. How do you begin your mornings? When I was growing up eggs were considered a very sensible choice. By the time I got married everything changed and eggs became public enemy number 1 – apparently those delicious yolks were wreaking havoc with our cholesterol levels. Suddenly, omelettes prepared from only the whites became the rage – yum. And now, the glorious egg has been rehabilitated, at least in most circles.
It seems that cholesterol derived from foods is not the real culprit responsible for raising blood cholesterol levels; instead the real bad boys are saturated and trans fats. Three decades of scientific research have not demonstrated any link between eggs and heart disease. As an added bonus, eggs are low in calories (a mere 70 calories in one large egg) and they are loaded with thirteen nutrients and plenty of high-quality protein.
That’s all Lori needed to hear. We now breakfast most mornings on a combination of eggs, cheese, bread made of almond flour and seeds, and lots of veggies. We are now cautiously – or in Lori’s case assiduously – avoiding sugar and carbohydrates – any carbohydrates. And this is after I finally got used to eating whole wheat everything. Whatever happened to the importance of dietary fibre? I am so confused.
And it’s not only about the food that we eat. Lately, so many of our life choices have become divisive in nature. The language of politics and religion has become particularly extreme – we seem to discuss less and preach much more. Compromise, the prospect of meeting our adversaries half-way, is a non-starter. You are either with me or against me. What a shame.
My father-in-law was a real Litvak – the genuine article. As opinionated as he was he was extremely open to hearing what the other side had to say; moreover, he never felt that he was too old to learn anything new. He also had a wonderful diet. Basically, he began every meal possible with a piece or two of herring and a shot of whatever was in the liquor cabinet. After that, it pretty much didn’t matter what was on the menu. I’m not sure if this diet went by any special name but it definitely had no carbs. I think I will try and run it by Lori.