Sunday, 15 May 2022

Winning! And some thoughts about food.

So Liverpool won the FA cup. I didn’t watch it but I did see some of the nail-biting penalties, especially the last one, followed by the glorious sight of the rest of the joyful Liverpool team running to congratulate the young goal scorer. I sometimes think they should just go straight to a penalty shootout but I don’t suppose the hard core fans would accept that. Too easy a solution. We all need to see the gladiators fight it out.

And Ukraine won Eurovision. I didn’t see that either. I think the last time I watched Eurovision was in 1968, when Massiel won for Spain with “La la la la” and, if I remember correctly, Cliff Richard came second with “Congratulations”. We went to Spain as students not long afterwards, or maybe were already students there and watched it with Spanish friends. Anyway we were roundly teased by Spanish friends. After that we were too busy getting a degree, getting jobs, having children to watch much television at all, let alone Eurovision. 

So last night Ukraine won and we came second. I’ve not heard either song. My Spanish sister seems to think Spain should have won but she would say that, wouldn’t she? I haven’t heard the Spanish song either. The whole thing seems to have become ridiculously political. Quite how that translates into the rest of Europe giving us a high score, after years and years of nil points, I am not sure. 

So it goes!

Food-related stuff has been in the news, or at any rate in bits of the news that I have come across. We’ve had Tory MP Lee Anderson saying poor people don’t really need to use food-banks, or wouldn’t if they learnt to budget and cook from scratch. Incidentally there is a story going round that he claimed £220,000 in expenses in 2020/21 - including £4,100 on travel and ‘subsistence’! How do you clock up such a huge amount of expenses? Food-writer Jack Monroe pointed out that you can’t cook from scratch if you have no money to buy ingredients. Now it seems that she is suing Lee Anderson because he has suggested she has grown rich writing about the food problems of the poor - essentially benefitting from their problems. Oops! Maybe he’s attacked the wrong person there!

Then there’s the food-scientist Tim Spector singing the praises of what is essentially a mediterranean diet - lots of variety of vegetables and grains.  He accepts that we can eat a bit of meat from time to time. The qualification ‘from time to time’ always amuses me as it is sometimes difficult to be vegetarian in mediterranean countries that really like to eat lots of meat! 

Food diversity apparently cultivates a healthy microbiome – the micro-organisms living in our gut – which plays a vital role in digesting food, regulating our immune systems. “It’s that diversity of gut microbes that gives you a diversity of chemicals and, we believe, a healthier immune system and a better metabolism,” Mr Spector says. “Once people start seeing that there is this link between the food we eat, our microbes and our immune systems, I think that changes the way we think about food. It’s not just fuel. It really is changing the way our body works.”

Interestingly, he goes so far as to suggest that eating a greater variety of plant+p-based foods might have protected some people not so much from catching Covid-19 but from becoming seriously ill with it. 

“Your immune system is compromised if you don’t have a good microbiome controlling it, and so it may either under- or overreact [to pathogens],” he says. “I don’t think eating for our microbiomes would stop pandemics, but I think it could make everyone less ill if they got infected.”

Food for thought! 

Meanwhile, other experts suggest that coffee is good for us, protecting us from a range of problems: cardiovascular disease, stroke and coronary heart disease, Parkinson’s disease and almost certainly against cognitive decline in general. It’s all to do with anti-oxidants. But we shouldn’t go mad. “Research shows adults shouldn’t go over 400mg a day, which is 4-5 small cups, and no more than 200mg in one sitting.” (Coffees from high-street chains can contain as much as 300mg in a large serving.) so my dislike of huge bucket-sized cups of coffee is justified. 

Wine on the other hand is not so good. People who drink wine moderately are more likely to have a balanced diet and a healthy life style, research shows, and that’s why they might live longer. Not wine’s magic qualities then!

And the jury’s out on plant milk. 

I’m off to bake a cake!

Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone!

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