Whole foods are chewy and so are eschewed by society.
Witness, 28th October, 2020.
No doubt about it, whole foods are chewy; and we humans do not like chewing. And we pay an awful price for our refusal to make the time to masticate fibrous vegetables and fruits methodically and thoroughly. I don’t really have an answer to this, but can tell you that like our tastebuds, our lips and tongues can be retrained. I know, because I have done it successfully.
Take the pulp out of orange juice and you lose more than half of the vitamins and minerals, and may get a mild dose of scurvy to boot; feeling tired and depressed? Remove the bran from wheat and you have extracted the lignans that help prevent breast cancer. The discovery of the first vitamin, named B1, thiamine, came from a very observant doctor who noted that the chickens of the wealthy who could afford white rice also suffered from a terminal disease called beri-beri.
One could go on at length. South Africans are obese because of our love of cake flour, and sugar too; over a quarter of our children are permanently stunted because the chief grain eaten is super number one refined mealie meal. Too little protein is a problem too, very often, of course.
And my own particular problem; serious constipation. I remember from childhood being given awful enemas because days would pass with no stool, and then it became impacted and very painful. Eventually I discovered, actually it was my wife who worked it out, that the solution is fibre; lots of it. But fibre means chewy foods, and initially I fought against it.
Fibre is that part of plant food that we cannot digest but it has a vital function to play in the colon. It gives the stool bulk and makes going to the toilet a two minute affair, regular as clockwork. But you do have to chew; it takes time which is probably the underlying problem. We humans love to eat on the run; or feel we have to.
There’s no time to be had for chewing our food.
The second important function of fibre is that it supplies what is known as a pre-biotic. We cannot digest it, but the teeming billions of the microbiota that inhabit our intestines wait eagerly for it to arrive; they can and do break it down, producing in the process a huge number of very important substances like short-chain fatty acids. They are the main source of energy for the cells lining the colon, but they also have a huge role to play in preventing diabetes, heart conditions and inflammatory diseases.
Eventually the penny dropped. I either had to spend more time chewing, a lot more, and embracing whole foods without irritation and impatience, or spending many more hours sitting on the loo and consulting doctors. And taking medication for cholesterol and angry, inflamed organs, and perhaps even insulin. I am already prediabetic because of the early years when I was indifferent to what I ate.
The current issue is our broad beans, also known as favas. Humans by and large eschew them because they have a lot of fibre, and are certainly chewy when they get older. But they also have the largest percentage of plant protein of all legumes, and are the only readily available natural source of L-dopa, an extremely important chemical for the brain.
That fava beans with cream and thyme in the graphic at the top is just wonderful.
Initially all that increased fibre caused bloating and discomfort; those bacteria in the gut go on a feeding frenzy, and produce a lot of gas. It’s probably one of the main reasons why we avoid fibrous food. I have three solutions.
When we returned from a stint overseas, we found to our horror that our
tiny grandchild was suffering terribly from constipation, just like her
grandfather once did. There was talk of operations, pilonidal cysts and
other horrids. Granny took her every morning down to the mulberry tree
that was in fruit at the time; in just one week the problem was over.
Ten years later she still loves them.
Fruit, vegetables and
whole grains, that’s where the fibre is to be found. We either eat them,
or suffer from a whole lot of very nasty maladies. For me personally
what works best is greens at least twice a day, often thrice.
Google the “Bristol stool chart”, it grades your poop from type 1 which is like nuts, to the ideal type 4, which is snake-like, smooth and soft, to diarrhoea, type 7. It’s all about fibre, bowel disease, and probiotic foods like kefir.
Our purple power smoothie provides both fibre and the probiotic for the gut; and tastes divine. But it is only when we become passionate about our well-being that we will make the time to pick the mulberries, pressure-cook the beets, and five minutes to make kefir. It doesn't just happen; a conscious decision is made only when we tire of consulting doctors, taking medication and suffering from maladies like daily pain in the tum, and constipation.
There is a tide in the affairs of men. Taken at the flood it leads on to fortune, and greater well-being. Take a tip from the bard and seize the day when it arrives.
Whole foods are chewy but we pay a terrible price if we avoid them; they are at the heart of the happy bowel feeding the microbiota and preventing constipation.
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Eggs Hilton is a great favourite in our home; the spinach provides the fibre for my tum.
Helen's fifteen euro salad is what cured my constipation initially.
A lightly fried onion on which kale or spinach and a legume such as green peas are steamed provides yet more fibre-rich whole foods which are chewy.
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