“If I don’t look after my body, I’ll have nowhere to live.”

Monday, January 30

An 87 year old homeless man was interviewed on a television program in Ireland in the 1970s.  He had lived on the streets for many years but despite having neither home nor job, he looked not just ok, but really well and healthy.    The interviewer asked him what the secret was to his vitality.

"Firstly," explained the homeless man, "living on the streets is a choice for me, as I like the freedom that it affords me."

"And," he continued, "I don't eat junk food."

He described how at the end of each day, the market vendors would give him any left over fruit or vegetables that they had.  He was also friendly with a few of the local restaurant owners and they also occasionally provided him with a free wholesome meal.  He didn’t have any way in which to cook his own meals, but he was incredibly fussy as to what he put into his own body.

“You see,” he explained, “The Reason why I don’t eat junk food is because if I don’t look after my body, I’ll have nowhere to live.”

I found this story in Jason Vale’s The Juice Master book and he advises that you read the line again…“The Reason why I don’t eat junk food is because if I don’t look after my body, I’ll have nowhere to live.”  I think that this is perhaps the most profound line that I have ever read.  Having recently felt for the first time in my life the cold fear of the thought that my body might perhaps not be a strong enough home in which I could continue to live, this old homeless man has really summed up why we need to contemplate every mouthful that we eat.

It is usually at this kind of poignant moment in a group conversation that someone says “Oh it’s all very well going on about living healthily, I know this friend/relative/gym teacher who lived so healthily and never smoked and still got lung cancer and died at 35.”  

There is always a second person who throws a “Yes and my Grampa/Great Aunt/Neighbour smoked 40 cigarettes a day from age 10 and lived to 90 with out getting lung cancer and was fine.”

I would have probably shaken my head and agreed a few years ago too, but having worked in multiple health care settings with some very ill people - my reaction now is quite different.
My immediate response is that it was bad rotten awful unfair luck to the healthy person who died young.  But I am sure that the person’s quality of life was significantly better and more enjoyable as a result of having lived healthily.  I know a lady who is 83 years old and currently has cancer in her bones and her bowel and perhaps even some in her lungs too.  She was treated for breast cancer 30 years ago and the cancer has now metastasised to her bowel and bones.  She knows that her cancer is not curable and that her current treatment regime aims only to try to keep it spreading further.  This lady has eaten healthily, everyday of her adult life.  “Before most people had even heard of the word organic” she tells me “I was buying organic food wherever I could.”   The image that comes to mind of an 83 year old with widespread cancer is really quite pitiful and heartbreaking;  especially because she has always taken such great care of herself.  Not so.  She has a more active social life than I do and swims everyday for an hour.  She often summarizes for me what’s going on in the Media, from multiple angles, and has such a great sense of humour that I’ve twice had to go and wash my face after one of her stories because and I could no longer see from tears of laughter running make up into my eyes.  She only learned to swim four years ago (age 79) after having hydrotherapy for knee surgery, and still holds a float for support, but paddles along every day for an hour.

As for the second comment, I have worked in many care of the elderly and respiratory wards in England hospitals and I am yet to see one person even just over the age of 60 who is “fine” from smoking multiple cigarettes daily over a long period of time.  No lung cancer-yes, fine-NO.  Living to an advanced age and being a smoker and not having lung cancer is all very well.  Being so short of breath you can no longer walk to the shops,  is not great.  Becoming so breathless that you can’t even dress or bathe yourself is dreadful.  Describing to your Doctor between breaths that you swear you always take care “To remove BREATH my BREATH oxygen BREATH mask before BREATH I walk  BREATH outside to BREATH smoke, I promise.” COUGH COUGH COUGH, GASP, BREATH COUGH COUGH.  Absolutely bloody awful…

There is no question that if you eat healthily, live healthily, reduce any possible stress and exercise regularly-you will be better equipped to deal with any illness that may come your way.

Super foods are foods that have been proven to help prevent and in some cases reverse aspects of cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes, hypertension, dementia and certain cancers.  This week the super food I am going to focus on is Oats…

·       Inexpensive to buy.
·       Readily available.
·       Excellent source of complex carbohydrate to sustain energy.

Different Options for Oats:
Steel Cut:
Least Processed.
Oats have been cut into two or three pieces.
Flattened and steamed or toasted lightly.
Commonly found in muesli.
Usually pre cooked and dried to reduce subsequent cooking time-
This increases glycemic load.
Often had sugar and flavourings added.
What is Glycemic Load?
Glycemic load measures the actual effect on your blood sugar of eating one portion of something, according to the foods glycemic index.
Glycemic Index (GI) is based on the idea that different carbohydrates have a different effect on your blood glucose level as they are absorbed into your body.  The higher the GI, the more rapidly it is absorbed into your body, and the more glucose appears in your blood.  Slowly absorbed carbs have lower GIs, are more slowly absorbed and so don’t raise the body’s glucose levels as much.  It is the sudden rise in blood glucose levels that cause the body to store this glucose and fat, and this is when you put on weight.  So the lower the Glycemic Index and thus the lower the Glycemic Load, the better the food is for you.   Usually, the more processed the food-the higher the GI.

Oats Health Benefits:
-Multiple studies have proven Oats to reduce Cholesterol
-Excellent source of fibre, protein, magnesium, thiamine, manganese, selenium, phosphorous, zinc, copper and iron.              
-Contain phytonutrients that aid in reducing heart disease and some forms of cancer.

What’s in ½ a cup of Dry Rolled Oats:
Calories: 153 (642 kJ)
Protein: 5.3g
Total Fat: 2.6g
Saturated Fat: 0,5g
Carbohydrates: 27.4 g
Fibre: 4.1g

Rolled Oats are the probably the easiest and healthiest to incorporate into your diet.  Have cooked oats or muesli with blueberries as a fantastic super foodie way to start the day!
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