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A worker sifts through quinoa seeds at a grain farm in Bolivia. Quinoa is the latest member of the super food family and contains minerals, antioxidants, and dietary fibres. AFP PIC

HEALTHY living is more than just common sense these days, it’s an obsession.

We rethink and revisit every life-style choice we make, be it about eating, breathing, commuting or shopping for clothes. Every sensible purchase we make is instantly relabelled as potentially harmful by a magazine article or a blog online. What a mess!

Let’s take a look at the last 10 years. Milk used to be good for us, it made our bones stronger, it contained calcium. But then, milk contained hormones and antibiotics. Ooh, don’t drink cow
milk, drink soymilk instead, they said.

But wait, no, soymilk is not a good alternative. It’s a lot worse, they said. Soymilk causes allergies and is largely grown from genetically modified crops. Very bad!

Almond milk is the solution, it seemed; only briefly of course. Regardless of the fact that it isn’t milk at all, but mostly water, it’s really bad for the environment. A definite no-no. Maybe rice milk is the real deal.

You guessed it, it’s not. Rice milk is high in carbohydrates, and that’s the stuff of Satan anyway, is it not? Which leaves us with what? Green tea.

What could possibly go wrong with green tea? Drink it, bake it, bathe in it, they said. Green tea will improve your cholesterol, its high level of antioxidants will protect you from breast, lung and stomach cancer as well as from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. It’s an all-around miracle product, except that no seriously conducted scientific research has ever proven any of it. While it won’t kill you, it won’t save you either. Bummer!

But don’t despair, they said. We have kale. Eat it, juice it, add it to your children’s cupcakes. Kale cupcakes, really?

You have second thoughts about the trauma inflicted on young ones forced to share green cake at their birthday party?
Never mind, serve quinoa, they said.

This latest member of the ever-growing super food family contains minerals, antioxidants, and dietary fibres. It packs a punch, even if you can’t pronounce or spell it right. Except, well, soaked quinoa can trigger an autoimmune response when consumed in larger quantities. But then again, this is highly unlikely since these grains prove void of all taste, except when drenched in butter. Wait, what? Butter? Made from cow milk? You must be joking!

“A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, the medicine go down-wown …” Remember Mary Poppins’s super-nanny advice to her young protégés? I bet such profanity has been cut out of the movie’s new release. Sugar is addictive, it’s consumption causes diabetes, obesity, and tooth decay. Surely, it’s the root of all evil.

But help is at hand, use artificial sugar, drink zero calorie sodas, they said. Or maybe better not. Because that stuff does, in fact, cause cancer, this has been scientifically proven.

On a slightly different note, taking a deep breath and exercising outdoors used to be good advice. Not anymore. Air is very hazardous to our health; it’s polluted with all kinds of poisons. But that’s okay, because the outdoors are a no-go zone anyway.

The sun? Totally causes cancer and other skin diseases. And do we even need to mention sunscreen lotion? It’s the choice vehicle for cancer proliferation, they say. No wonder, it looks like milk, too, come to think of it.

So now, what? What is there left for us to enjoy? What will preserve our bodies and minds, keep or make us healthy and give us eternal life? Broccoli, they say! Sustainably grown, organic broccoli. Steamed, not boiled, and bare of all abhorrent additives like salt or butter. Such fun!

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The writer is a long-term expatriate, a restless traveller, an observer of the human condition and unapologetically insubordinate.

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