Does eating and drinking cut our life expectancy?
Eating and drinking, in general, belong among the most essential human needs. They give us energy, strength, vitamins for our body, and even a good feeling when we have something tasty and delicious on our plate.
Food influences our lives in many ways. As it is one of the most necessary needs, the human would not be able to live without it. We need and have to consume food every day, otherwise it could negatively influence our health. On the other hand, it should not be satiation. It is generally known that consusming is the healthiest if we eat more often (approximately five times a day) but in small amounts. The other rule or one could say the other significant thing about food is distinguishing what is and what is not considered as healthy, nutricious food and think about it every time we prepare our meal.
So, how could we divide food into these two groups? Almost everybody or I dare say that all of us is able to define or at least say what is considered as healthy and nutritious food and what is in contrary to it.
Firstly, let me define and describe the first group – healthy food. To this section I can rank food-stuffs like all types of vegetable, and fruit together with fish, poultry meat, whole grain and brown bread, dairy products – milk, eggs, cheese and other food rich in minerals, vitamins and other organic matters good for our body.
Together with this food go some advice helping us to keep our body healthy like eating in a quit, relaxed atmosphere, no rushing with eating, drinking a lot of liquid, mineral water, herbal tea or fruit juice, not eating much sweets, fat meat and not drinking too much alcohol and coffee.
And through these rules I have come to the second group – the unhealthy diet and food. It is not needed to write about it much now, as it is the exact contrast to the first group. To this section we could categorize stuff like fat, heavy meals containing pork, beef, fat, or on the other side sweets and deserts. Junk food, for example McDonald´s hamburgers can also be put into this category.
Other things related to unhealthiness in consuming are illnesses arisen thanks to wrong regimen. The most serious ones are probably two – bulimia and anorexia. These two mostly affects women as they still try to keep their perfect and slim figure. Unfortunately, it can lead, finally, to their bad and serious health condition. The bulimia is an illness in which a person makes himself or herself vomit after eating, while the anorexia makes you want to stop eating. Both of them then lead quite drastically to loosing her or his weight.
But let´s talk a little bit about menus nad eating habits and customs in our and other countries.
First of all, the difference between our habits and the USA´s and GB´s habits is in the main daily meals.
The first meal of the day is, as I would say, not different here and there. Nowadays, in a busy and rushing days, almost no one spend much time with breakfast, so it is quick and easy meal like a bowl of cereals with milk or yoghurt, a toast spread with butter or jam, here in Slovakia also bread, rolls, buns with cheese, ham, eggs or sausage. For drink it is tea, in Britain with milk, coffee, milk, juice or even cacao. But the British and Americans are particular in weekend´s hearty breakfasts. They usually eat scrambled eggs and bacon, egg omeletts or pancakes with maple syrup. Americans, then, enjoy snacks throughout the day – doughnuts, sweetrolls, muffins and newly favourite Jewish bagels. Later in the day it is popcorn, cookies or potato chips.
The difference, I have mentioned earlier, is in the second daily meal – the lunch. While for the American and British it is only quick, simple, light meal like for example sandwiches, piece of fruit, potato chips or crackers, Slovak lunch is a warm, main meal of the day. People have it at home, in a school´s or work´s canteen, a restaurant or a buffet. It usually contains a soup, a main course and may finish with a dessert. The difference, of course, is then with a dinner as well. In Slovakia it is lighter meal, it can be both warm and cold. In the USA and Great Britain it is a large hot meal served between 6.00 – 7.00 p.m. For the American the complete meal consists of main meat, which used to be pork or beef, but now the white meat – chicken or fish is more preferable, then it is cooked vegetables, potatoes, pasta or rice. But in America the trend is that American women don´t cook very often because food in restaurants is pretty cheap and if they cook, they mostly buy ready-to-cook food.
The British hot meal normally includes meat, sause and green vegetables cooked in hot water. They also, as the Americans, use lots of ready-to-cook meals.
And what about specific meals of these three countries?
I´ll start with Slovak specialities. In Slovak cuisine the food-stuffs like home-made pasta, potatoes, cabbage, meat and bacon dominate. Our national meal is „dumplings with melted sheep cheese and fried bacon sprinkled on the top“ and it can also be served with cabbage. The typical Slovak is also the cabbage soup served especially at Christmas time, the most popular meat is pork but also beef and in the last few years it is poultry. Among the most favourite desserts belong crepes filled with jam, ice cream, chocolate sauce or farmer´s cheese with raisins, then there are noodles with poppy seeds, melted butter and sugar, all kinds of cakes and cookies, fruit cups or ice-cream sundaes. As far as alcoholic drinks are concerned the best-known is definitely brandy made of plums. It is a very strong drink.
Cuisine of the USA is influenced by fast food restaurants. America is typical for their hamburgers, French fries and Cola-Cola. But their original food, eaten especially at the Thanksgiving celebration in November, is a meal of turkey, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, cranberries and pumpin pie. As the USA is large, in different parts of it, people have their different specialities. The south of the USA is known for the cuisine of African Americans. They like ribs, sweet potatoes, cooked kale and fried chicken. People of the southwest, which is Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, like spicy Tex-Mex dishes of corn, beans and chilli. The area of California is known for large fresh salads and healthy light meals, New England means seafood and lobsters and Colorado, Montana and the Midwest are characterized by traditional American meals – meat, potatoes, cooked vegetables and large steaks.
The same thing, which is identical as for the USA as for Britain, is the arrival of immigrants, what has led to the wide extension of international restaurants with their typical dishes and tastes. People of both these countries, for the lack of time, also buy many frozen foods, use the service of delivering meals or buy take-out food.
What is typical for British cuisine is, that British like beef and lamb, but their traditional specialities are smoked Scottish salmon, country pastés, roast beef, pudding and meat and apple pies. Not only British but also Americans enjoy barbeques. It is a gathering of family and friends where they grill meat in the backyard, at the park or on the beach. The meat is then served with fresh salad, garlic bread, beer or lemonade.
When I have been writing about the USA, I cannot miss the companies like McDonald´s, Coca-Cola and Pepsi. These giant corporates, known for their hamburgers and favourite drinks, has been famous not only beyond the Atlantic ocean but also here, in our European continent and further at the east. Europen market has nowadays been full of these kinds of products and they have a high popularity especially among the young people.
Worl-wide known and eaten is also food not including meat. It is vegetarian food. Vegetarians prefer organic and healthy food-stuffs and refuse all kinds of meat and the additional products made out of them. In spite of this, their opponents object by the fact that products made out of animals have also vitamins and matters important for human body. I am not the supporter of vegetarian food but it is all up to each of us what we choose to eat.
As far as modern trends in nutrition are concerned, in my opinion, people have started to realize that the food they eat has effect on their body and their health, so they start to add to their meals more and more vegetables and fruit, especially the fresh one, adn other food-stuffs important for human organism which is not only healthy but also tasty. And this applies not only for Slovakia but for the USA and GB as well.
Likewise food, drinks are also important for our lives. But let me talk a little bit about a few of alcoholic drinks.
Wine is famous world-wide and has a popularity among the older and younger people as well. It is made of vine. It can be white or red, dry, mellow or half-mellow.
Beer is made of hop. The best known is the Irish, Czech, German and Austrian beer. These countries have producers of these drinks with their rich history.
Whisky and brandy are typical for countries Scotland, some parts of USA, France, Italy or Spain. Scotch whisky, for example, requires only materials provided by nature. Water, yeast and peat, plus barley. The starch extracted from the cereals is mixed with clear pure water. It is a long process to gain the final product.
At the end, the answer for the „Does eating and drinking cut our life expectancy“, according to me, is YES and NO too. It is always and only up to us, what we eat and how it influences our life. We are responsible for ourselves. Nobody else is.