For years we were told that fibre protected us against heart disease and colon cancer, likewise the alleged immunity to heart disease conferred by red wine. We were also told that exposure to sunlight can cause skin cancer – in fact the hysteria reached such dizzy heights that even a few minutes sun could cause irreversible damage – allegedly (that panic spread from Australia, where the risk is real – I don’t think it really translates to often-rainy Britain!).
Recently, though, fibre has been shown to have little or no affect on anything very much, red wine , and any other alcoholic beverage, has been pronounced virtually lethal in even the smallest quantity and, today, we’re told that sunlight is good for us. The question is, what – if any – of this contradictory cobblers should we believe?
As for today’s recommendation to get out in the sun (because it produces vital vitamin D, of course and, apparently, a study has shown that people with higher levels of vitamin D are more likely to survive cancers such as those of the colon, breast and lung), it takes us right back to the fifties when, as a sickly child in murky Manchester, I was sent for twice-weekly “sun-ray” treatments, where I’d be stuck, along with other kids, in front of a huge bank of u-v lamps for half an hour.
Again, today, comes the news that cutting out fags (yep – I’m all for making smoking a capital offence), and booze (boo-hiss!), eating 5 portions of fruit and veg a day (for which there is zero scientific evidence), and exercising will make us live 14 years longer. Or maybe it’ll just feel 14 years longer! And isn’t that a remarkably precise figure – can you really quantify something like this so precisely? I very much doubt it.
On the subject of fruit and veg, the ideal diet is one based on veg, grains (as bread, pasta or just as grains), fruit and meat – more or less in that order. There is no evidence anywhere that says we need 5 portions of fruit and veg a day – it’s complete bollocks and, just like many other figures (8 glasses of water, for example, or the permitted units of alcohol), is a work of fiction churned out by this ever more nannying government of ours (who’d do better to focus on the important things, like extricating this country from a war it should never have got involved in). Of course, it’s supported by the fruit and veg industry, who are busy filling our media with propaganda, but the figure itself is meaningless. Eating fruit and veg is undeniably beneficial – how much you eat doesn’t really matter an iota.
One last thing to think about – I picked up a seed catalogue a couple of weeks ago (I used to be a keen gardener), and practically any vegetable you can think of (except the humble spud), is now being bred for sweetness (I do NOT want sweet Brussels sprouts – they’re supposed to be a little bitter – that’s the point!), how long before veg is declared bad for us due to the high sugar content?