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“Teacher, don’t teach me nonsense”

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By Francis Ewherido

In the 70s and early 80s, from the much I personally experienced, beverage adverts and commercials positioned them for family consumption. But then a new wave of personal health awareness came and the paradigm shifted. Now, the same beverages are being positioned as children’s food drinks. Smart marketing move in positioning, you would say, because if you visit many homes today, the adults have switched to tea (green, brown, yellow, etc) and coffee, taken with or without milk and/or sugar.


Honey is now used in place of sugar while skimmed milk is now preferred to the full cream milk many of us grew up with. Many people have come to realize that many of the health challenges we now experience are products of what we eat, drink, the technological devices, like the mobile phones, we use and how we use them, the degradation of our environment and the quality of air we breathe. In addition, many of the foods and drinks children and young people consume with ease can easily get older people into trouble health-wise

I went to visit one of my Ogas at the top. After our meal of yam and peppersoup, he washed it down with a bottle of coke. Just when I was still wondering when he resumed consuming coke after many years of abstinence, he made coffee and added some cubes of sugar. I couldn’t hold it anymore. I asked, “When this one start?” He then told me about the dizzy spells he had been having. It was diagnosed to be low blood sugar. I left him that day with my belief strengthened that moderation, not extremism, is the key to good and balanced health and life.

Now this is my problem with the new personal health awareness. On their journey to the Promised Land, God gave the Israelites, via Moses, 10 Commandments. In no time, the Israelite legal tradition grew from 10 commandments to 613 different codices (dos and don’ts), most of which may be found in the book of Leviticus, in addition to what was given in Exodus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. Our case on personal health is growing geometrically, and may already have surpassed the expansion of the Israelite legal tradition.

These days, we are inundated with a trailer load of dos and don’ts to observe to stay alive and healthy. Many of us have no personal experience of these dos and don’ts, but we observe them because our case is like that of the sensible man who prefers to live well and die even if he later finds out that there is no other heaven than the good life he lived, in contrast to one who, lives recklessly and who dies only to find out that hell is real.

But some of these teachers and experts need to stop teaching us nonsense; they should stop confusing us. They should be reasonably sure of their facts before spewing them out. They should also KISS (keep it simple and straightforward). There are too many don’ts and many of us are getting confused and exasperated.

Now take the case of eggs, for instance. Time was when we were advised to take raw eggs and milk. Then they said eggs contain some bacteria which might infect us it taken raw or undercooked. Then again, yolk was demonized as having too much cholesterol and detrimental to our health. We were advised to take only the white of eggs. I remember yolk becoming a yoke nobody wanted. Then again, they said the yolk of eggs is in fact very good for the body because it contains a rich array of minerals and vitamins and we have little or nothing to worry about the cholesterol in the yolk.

Also, some experts say an adult can consume three boiled eggs a day, others say an adult should not take more than four eggs per week. Confusing signals, isn’t it. My personal doctor does not like boiled eggs because I had a terrible experience 30 years ago, so I take one scrambled egg or omelet with fresh pepper four times a week in keeping with my policy of moderation. Three boiled eggs a day for a 40-year-old and above adult is overkill in my layman’s opinion.

My editor, Onochie Anibeze, screamed when I told him I only take fried eggs. He advised that I use olive oil, which is very healthy, but I use other vegetable oils and use serviettes to drain the oil off. Whatever expert opinion is, whole eggs are good for us and my recipe is very okay with my personal doctor. Moderation will continue to be guide, extremes sometimes make people lose their minds and become mental cases.

I informed you last week about experts’ advice that fruits are better eaten on an empty stomach, and eating meals before fruits causes acidity in the stomach. Again some experts warn that tomatoes, which they say is good for shrinking and stemming the enlargement of prostate, should not be eaten on an empty stomach because the tannic acid present in tomatoes increases acidity in the stomach and may lead to gastric problems.

Tomatoes is not alone, experts advise that green vegetables, banana, cucumber, citrus fruits (oranges, grapes, tangelo, tangerine, among others.) and a handful of other fruits should not be eaten on an empty stomach (Mark you; these are the same fruits many of us take after a fast before the main meal). Now what happens when we take these fruits after meals, as these experts are suggesting; don’t they cause acidity in the stomach and spoil the meals we had already taken before taking the fruits?

Also last week, I quoted the experts as saying consumption of raw tomatoes is especially good for prostate. Again another expert is saying, “Cooked tomato has better healing properties than the raw tomato.” And yet another expert: “It’s easier for the (human) body to use lycopene that comes from tomato products, such as tomato paste or tomato juice, than from fresh tomatoes.” Confusing for the layman, isn’t it? Personally, it does not make sense, but I respect their expert opinions.

Meanwhile, there is a long list of combination of fruits the experts told us to avoid (tomatoes and cucumber combination is one of them). I hope those who make cocktail of fruits and smoothies know this. These days, I keep it simple by taking only one fruit at a time, no more fruit cocktails. The experts also say the only fruit drinks worth taking are FRESH fruit drinks and we should drink them “mouthful by mouthful slowly, because you must let it mix with your saliva before swallowing it.” So, what about the many canned, bottled and packed fruit drinks, with NAFDAC and SON certifications, jostling for space on supermarket shelves? I no want spoil anybody market o, na question I dey ask.

It would have been nice for lay people like me to test the veracity of some of these don’ts, but who is going to bell the cat? It takes me back to 1984. I was a city boy staying in my village for the first time. Such trips then were incomplete without going to the bush and smoking out bush rats (commonly called rabbits) from their holes.

Our adventure that day fetched three or four bush rats. Then one of us said that if you touched your penis with the tail of the bush rat, you would become impotent. “Fabuuu” (lie) we all screamed. Then he quietly cut off the tail of one of the bush rats and offered it to the doubting Thomas’s to try.  None of us took up the challenge. We were all between 17 and 20 years and looking forward to fruitful married lives later.

Now the conclusion of the matter, no matter how good fruits or food are, your personal doctor, your body, remains your best guide. “An apple a day keeps the doctors away,” they say, but a septuagenarian, close to me, has almost lost her life a few times after consuming apples. Another’s stomach runs like a faulty tap after consuming pineapple or oranges. Until the experts are able to diagnose the problem, quit taking any fruit/food that is incompatible with your body. Always, always obey your body and remember moderation is key.

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