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 Online Community Lesson


Lechaim!  Ten Foods for Long Life? 

A friend e-mailed a PowerPoint explaining why ten foods helped us live longer.  While we have to keep in mind the point of the February essay “The Eleventh Commandment”, namely, that we must not believe something just because some source asserts that it be true, I list these ten foods, anyway.  It would be good, using a suggestion from that essay, to bring a group of friends together to research and reach a conclusion about the claims about those ten foods.        

          The ten foods are 

1.     tomatoes; antioxidant lycopene reduces the risk of some cancers by 40%;

2.     olive oil; reduces the frequency of death from heart disease and cancer;

3.     red wine in moderation and purple grape juice have about four times the antioxidant activity as orange or tomato juice;

4.     garlic; antioxidants fight cancer, heart disease, aging; prolong cancer survival;

5.     spinach; antioxidants and folic acid fight cancer, heart disease, and mental disorders, perhaps even Alzheimer’s;

6.     whole grains; fights cancer;  helps stabilize blood sugar and insulin;

7.     salmon and other fatty fish; Omega3 fatty acids fight chronic diseases;

8.     certain nuts; cut heart-attack deaths and lower blood cholesterol;

9.     blueberries; antioxidants can retard aging and reverse failing memory;

10. green or black tea; can cut heart-disease risk in half. 

How these foods are prepared and how much of them is ingested daily are important with regard to the health benefits. 

There remains a nagging question.  If a Montebelloan from Latin America, the Middle East or Asia is healthy and is faithful to a fatherland diet, should she change her diet to emphasize the ten above?  Is there merit to the argument that our bodies have become accustomed to a fatherland diet, this based on generations of our forebears eating certain foods?  (I say this as I just finished some homemade yogurt and an apple.) 

In light of human diversity based on genetics, mentioned in the first part of the essay “Is Everyone ‘LOCO’?”, can a list like the one above be good for every American?  Just as importantly, could the modern-day diet of America be good for anyone, in light of the quantity and quality of alterations of ingredients over the past fifty years and the need for our bodies to adjust to such alterations?  Could it be said that, if we “toughed it out” for a couple of generations, by the late twenty-first century our descendents’ bodies would have adjusted so as to handle the transfats, saturated fats, and hormones of the modern-day American diet?  Said a different way, advantageous human mutation to overcome insidious alimentation? 

As if this were not enough to make our heads swim, the environment enters into the picture.  Somebody might argue that, because of the novel toxins in the American environment, the ten foods above would become essential for everyone, regardless of our genetics, because the foods would fight those toxins to which all of us are exposed these days.  (Of course, there would be exceptions for those with allergies or food intolerance.) 

Is our conclusion, then, that there is no conclusion? 

If you answer the multiple-choice questions below and e-mail to with “Lesson answers” in the subject field, you will be credited toward a “certificate of recognition in community affairs” to be awarded in 2007 by a local nonprofit organization. 

1. In trying to answer the questions posed in this week’s lesson, we should

(a) stop reading and take a nap, hoping that we awaken with the answers.

(b) have that suggested meeting with friends. 

2. Is the fundamental problem that

(a) we are assailed by too much incomplete or faulty information, or even disinformation, making it impossible to make an informed decision?

(b) our market economy is based on never-ending consumption, which is based on a never-ending appeal to our irrational [impulsive] natures and on including addictive additives?  

March 15, 2007






























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