Friday, 31 January 2014

If you can't measure it, you can't manage it

And January 2014 rolls round to a close, Lent is still a long way off (starting 5 March). But I kicked off the New Year with healthy resolutions; adhering to them until Lent should be easy. And logging them all as we go. If one has targets (or 'ambitions' as one has to learn to call them in these politically correct times), they become easier to reach if you enter them daily into a spreadsheet.

So then. This January, my average number of paces walked was 7,647 a day, just over three-quarters of the recommended daily average of 10,000. Still, for the first four days of this year I was thick with a cold and did not venture out. The pedometers (one in my pocket, one in my smartphone - the NoomWalk app) gave accurate readings, and logging each day motivates the beat the record. I bet February's average will be in excess of January's.

Sit-ups - average here is 67 a day across the month, though now I'm up to over 110 a day, so this number should improve into February.

I've stopped drinking coffee on 5 January, though will return to it at the start of Lent - for medicinal reasons - the clear link between coffee drinking and reducing the risk of Alzheimer's disease in old age. But no more than one cup a day, in the morning. So I'm doing the 'denial of pleasure' bit now. Alcohol I will quit for the whole of Lent, as I've done every Lent for the past 22 years. This month, my alcohol intake has averaged at 2.1 units a day/15.1 units per week, with 16 days without any alcoholic drink. Entirely within safe drinking limits by a huge margin.

Sugar - this is an interesting one. This week's New Scientist leads with some shocking truths about the sweet stuff. Read the whole article (for the public good, it's not behind a paywall) here.

Here are some excerpts:
"Because hunger is no longer an important factor in most developed countries, what can make people eat more?" asks Serge Ahmed, a neuroscientist at the University of Bordeaux, France. "Food pleasure. And what creates food pleasure? Sugar." 
Unfortunately, it is a guilty pleasure. Not all scientists see eye to eye on the health effects of sugar but there is one point on which most agree: we don't actually need it. Luc Tappy, a physiologist at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland, sums it up: "You cannot live without essential fats. You cannot live without protein. It's going to be difficult to have enough energy if you don't have some carbohydrate. But without sugar, there is no problem. It's an entirely dispensable food." 
"But some researchers see something more sinister going on. To them, sugar isn't just a source of excess calories: it is a poison. ... Another sinister claim against sugar is that it warps eating habits by altering brain chemistry to make us want more. For several years neuroscientists have found it useful to compare energy-dense foods to addictive substances such as cocaine... Foods high in fat and sugar – called "hyperpalatable" foods – are known to trigger our reward systems by boosting dopamine levels much as addictive drugs do." 
"Fructose is converted into energy, but ... unlike glucose breakdown, this produces lots of oxygen radicals, dangerously reactive chemicals that attack our bodies and cause ageing... eating lots of fructose has been shown in both animal and human studies to boost levels of triglycerides in the blood, which increase the risk of hardened arteries and heart disease." 
So there we are - a damning indictment of sugar - in particular High Fructose Corn Syrop (HFCS), which the food industry insists on putting into everything from ready meals to fruit drinks

What to do? Avoid it. Fresh fruit is OK, as it is a natural source. But cakes, biscuits, confectionery - we don't need it, it is bad for you, end of story. If you want to live long, don't touch that. If you don't want Nanny State to boss you around, help save the health service money in looking after you in old age by taking responsibility for your own diet and lifestyle. Drive less and walk more.

This time last year:
Sten guns in Knightsbridge (well, Śródmieście Południowe, actually)

This time three years ago:
To The Catch - a short story (Part II)

This time four years ago:
Greed, fear, fight and flight - and the economy

This time five years ago:
Is there an economic crisis going on in Poland?

1 comment:

Mitch Ryder said...

We will continue to attempt to corrupt you with visits to the pub!

The Devil (not with the blue dress on)