HELP! I CAN’T REMEMBER MY PASSWORDS
By Neil Offen
If you want to stay healthy and help ward off the downsides of aging, such as getting older, it’s clear you have to carefully watch what you eat and drink. Yes, that means no more breakfasts full of Doritos, cheap beer and other essential nutrients.
This is a big change. Back in the day, which may have been Thursday, we didn’t know — or care — if a certain food would help boost our immune system and another could give us bunions. We weren’t aware that apple cider vinegar is a natural laxative and that seeds and whole grains provide the necessary amount of manganese since we didn’t know what manganese was. And also, who wanted to eat seeds when you could get a Good Humor Creamsicle?
Today, however, we are inundated with nutritional information. Through labels and blogs and books, YouTube videos and infomercials on cable channels, Facebook pages and Gwyneth Paltrow, we now have a lot more information that we can misunderstand.
But with so much information comes so many questions.
What is too much sodium and not enough vitamin D? Does this food have gluten, and does that food have palm oil? What is gluten anyway, and who invented it seven years ago? Are we ingesting too much saturated fat or taking in enough Omega-3s? Why aren’t there any Omega-2s? Is our calcium intake up to snuff? If not, should we consider taking snuff supplements?
Eating, which used to be simple and something most of us could do, has become a marathon of information overload. The National Institutes of Health, for instance, recently found that the right amount of phosphorous may either be good or bad for your health or maybe somewhere in between. Or, as they finally determined in a meta-analysis of other analyses, who really knows?
Sure, one glass of red wine a day is good for you, according to studies, but two glasses not so good. Or maybe it’s three glasses, but not right before bedtime. If red wine is good, is white wine bad? And how about rosé — whose side is it on?
We wonder: Will this food help our gout or worsen our goiter? Are we getting just the right amount of iron or too much riboflavin? How much magnesium does our Hershey’s almond nut bar provide, and what percentage of our daily need for magnesium does it have, even if we don’t know for sure if magnesium is good or bad?
We check the nutrition labels for calories for one serving size and multiply that by the six servings we just ate and realize we’re already at our day’s limit and it’s only 9:30 in the morning.
Yet, according to numbers from the U.S. Department of Numbers, on an average day, the average person should take in an average of 2,000 calories.
But wait — that doesn’t include the senior discount!
For every additional five years we’ve lived, shouldn’t you get an extra 5,000 calories? And if you’ve not had hernia surgery or gotten a knee replacement during those years, seems reasonable to add 2,500 more.
The 2,000-calorie figure also doesn’t factor in any days in the past when, by accident, we took in fewer than 2,000 calories. They roll over, right? We’re entitled to those calories we didn’t consume. They owe us.
Just don’t pay us in manganese.
Carrboro resident Neil Offen has written humor pieces for a number of different publications, in a number of different countries. His column will appear twice monthly in The Local Reporter.