Learning about Food from the Oldest Human on Earth
One can learn much about foods for good health by observing the diet of the healthiest and longest lived humans on earth. However a broad knowledge of food is necessary in order to draw correct inferences. Recently a 117 year old lady has come to the attention of media. Emma Morano celebrated her 117th birthday this Tuesday; she was born in the 1800s. She is fully alert in mind, cheerful and disease free despite her age. Therefore the attention of the world was drawn to her regular daily diet. It turned out to be two raw eggs a day and cookies.
Much of the media and world has perhaps erroneously concluded that the magic lies in raw eggs. However, this may lead to harm because in many parts of the world there is danger from salmonella bacteria in raw eggs. This dear old lady has been fortunate enough to live in an area where this infection does not prevail.
On reading further the secret lies in the lady not consuming meat and getting her protein requirements from eggs. Two eggs a day appears sufficient to provide this protein in excellent form. The carbohydrate requirement comes from the cookies. She also consumes some fruits and vegetables to meet the other nutritional requirement of a human body. However, even this brief description of her diet is useful to draw some important conclusions about diet that can benefit all. Three of these are now mentioned
Eggs: Several earlier posts of this blog have mentioned that eggs are an excellent source of easily digestible proteins instead of meat or fish. The production of eggs does not cause violence as the production of meat. An interested reader may like to check out older posts of this blog for that. However, one does need to remember that eggs are a potent food and as with any other potent food consider the old adage,
“Too much of a good thing often proves bad especially when it comes to food”
This author has often pondered over the right number of eggs per day that a human may consume so as to benefit from them and avoid harm. His conclusion so far was one or two eggs. He now revises this to two eggs per day for persons past 40-50, even three at times for younger active persons.
Two eggs per day appear sufficient protein for good health even if there is no other protein rich item in diet. Those who include milk or bean proteins in food could do with fewer perhaps just one egg a day. It may be advisable with any food though to skip a day a week so that the body does nor become dependent on any one food source in an addictive manner. This author skips them on Tuesday as per the usual South Asian tradition.
Consume the eggs any way you like but do cook them to remove chances of infection in our increasingly polluted world. It only takes a minute to convert them to an omelet or fried egg and just a few more minutes to produce a hard boiled egg. Would cooking destroy some nutrients too? Probably, but make that up with including some raw fruits/fruit juices or salad in your diet.
Wheat: Much has been written about wheat being an excellent source of carbohydrates in earlier posts of this blog. A small percentage of humans are allergic to gluten in wheat. If you happen to be one of them then switch over to rice. In this latter case though do ensure a bit of milk protein such as yogurt in your diet to make up for lost nutrients. With yogurt as per ancient Ayurvedic experience – avoid yogurt after lunch and at times you suffer from a cough or cold.
Sugar: The diet of this old lady has helped confirm a very important suspicion this author has had about sugar for long not yet known to the world. This author shares it here now. Although sugar is harmful in very many foods, its harm can be turned to gain in certain foods particularly when used with wheat or rice, in a preparation such as cookies or a rice pudding. Here is why.
Sugar Cane juice is known to be a healthy drink (except for few who suffer from sugar complications such as diabetes) however the reason sugar is unhealthy is because it is a pure chemical. It is produced from sugar cane juice by removing a wide range of other organic products from sugar cane juice. A pure chemical can never be as good for life and health as a whole organic food because the accompanying compounds provide the balance from which life has evolved over billions of years. There are a few exceptions to this rule such as common salt in small quantities. However when sugar is added in moderate proportion to wheat or rice, many of the needed organic compounds are recovered, since wheat, rice and sugar come from the same family of plants –grass
In contrast, sugar in candy, tea or coffee will likely do harm than good especially to aging persons. The most harmful is likely to be some commercial drinks where yet more chemicals are added to the mix. The cold drink industry would do well to switch over to a wide range of other herbal flavors and sweeteners and some have been suggested in an older post.
Based on what has been said in this note and earlier ones, a healthy diet consists of one or two eggs a day, some wheat preparation such as bread or cookies, some green vegetables especially leafy greens such as spinach, a few nuts from trees (again in moderation, never more than a handful, and ground for aging teeth), a fruit or two or a raw salad. Add a slice of cake a day if not cookies to it because it is one food that contains the goodies – eggs, sugar and wheat
Good food is just one component required for good health, another is a peaceful life and environment that this old lady ensured early in life by leaving the company of an abrasive spouse.
Better is just bread and water served with a loving hand than a King's feast served with an evil eye for then you shall vomit what you have eaten and lose the sweetness of your life.